It’s great when everything comes together. Like when your 11-month-old can finally coordinate gross motor skills enough to balance. And then walk. Happy days!
The Walmart x Roku integration is an excellent example of how long-standing digital principles can come together and then apply to innovations in emerging technologies. The partnership will open up a whole new world of experience. With the power of both Kroger and Walmart Data, Roku's OneView platform has become a key consideration for retail brands and CPGs, alongside Amazon.com's DSP.
Specifically, Roku and Walmart are tapping into the best (yet often elusive) practices of being "frictionless" in the path to purchase, and using first-party data to enhance the consumer experience. Other retailers, media companies and marketers should take note. Let’s examine the various technologies coming together — as well as some lessons to extract.
The e-commerce landscape is still fraught with friction. There's no quicker way to make me abandon my cart than to not accept Apple Pay, for example. I'm still shocked at how many sites don't auto-populate my city and country shipping/billing info once I enter my ZIP code.
Typing on CTVs one letter at a time (to enter a password or search for videos, as examples) is painstaking. The QR code version of CTV shoppable experience has had limited adoption because the process adds friction: Consumers must decide they're interested in an ad, grab their phone, unlock their camera, and focus on a QR code to scan (when they could just "google it" instead), all in less than 30 seconds. The process is clunky and consumers quickly give up. But now, there’s a better way. This new partnership will show how hurdles will be dismantled and the road of the customer journey will be smoothed.
Use First-Party to Enable Easier Purchasing
The experience that Walmart and Roku are rolling out solves for the friction of re-typing address and payment information. Roku already has your contact and payment information, so it doesn't need to ask for it again.
Instead, viewers can use the payment systems already in place to buy directly off the ads that Roku x Walmart serves them with the click of a button. It's a frictionless process. Roku is enabling its first-party data to add value to its customers' experience.
This should be the goal of every brand that has first-party data.
Look to TV and Beyond
Furthermore, the recent announcement represents the next step in the evolution of connected TV screens as a multifunctional digital device. Single-purpose digital devices have all evolved into multifunctional ones or died (hello iPod). Connected TVs have proliferated into the mainstream with a single purpose: watching videos.
However, today's CTVs offer more than just TV and movie watching. They offer gaming hubs, NFT marketplaces, and now, e-commerce shopping. CTVs will continue to evolve from a screen into a device as applications in augmented reality, Web 3.0, the Internet of Things (IoT), and the metaverse grow.
Today, CTVs integrate with voice technology via the remote control, Alexa, and/or connected home systems. Expect further innovations into CTV shoppable experiences that eliminate the need for another device (e.g., phone, camera, remote) altogether. CTV shopping will become ultimately frictionless when the viewer can say "Hey Roku, buy that," instead of clicking the OK button on the remote.
The stakes for Roku and Walmart are huge. Amazon has propelled itself to be a $31 billion ad business, third only to Google and Meta, on the back of its ability to bring together inventory with its first-party data. Advertisers have had limited options outside of Amazon, but a burgeoning partnership between Roku and Walmart may prove to be a disruptive force that pushes retail media forward — and Amazon to innovate its offerings further.
Because let's be honest: Once our toddlers are walking, they add and then combine skills, like holding something in their hands and walking away with it. Case in point: My toddler hides the remote control in the hardest-to-find places exactly when I need it most. I can’t shop on CTV without that remote — at least not until voice commands are empowered to save the day.
Jesse Math is vice president of advanced TV and video solutions at Tinuiti, the largest independent performance marketing firm across streaming TV and the triopoly of Google, Facebook, and Amazon.
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Jesse Math is the vice president of advanced TV and video solutions at Tinuiti, the largest independent performance marketing firm across Streaming TV and the triopoly of Google, Facebook, and Amazon.