Gaurav Shirole, Roku: Buy TV the way you watch TV

Advanced TV: An industry on the rise

Identity Architects is about getting to know innovators and industry leaders who are taking the reins on building a privacy-safe and secure future. That starts with establishing great relationships with your consumers which enables companies to get permissions to collect first-party data, but then it’s on the data owners to make the right decisions, adopt the right technology and embrace the right practices to ensure that relevancy is being driven in a privacy-safe manner. 

The Advanced and Connected TV industry is booming. Strategy Analytics reported earlier this summer that more than a third of global households have a Smart TV as of 2020. That number however is expected to skyrocket over the next five years, with Smart TV ownership likely to reach more than 1 billion homes by 2026. This growth is global, with expansions happening at similar rates throughout North America, Western Europe, Asia Pacific, and elsewhere.

With many new entrants to the market, on the consumer side and from a provider perspective, there have been changes that advertisers have had to adapt to. On the latest episode of Identity Architects, InfoSum’s North America President Lauren Wetzel is joined by Roku’s Gaurav Shirole, Director of Ad Measurement to discuss the state of the ATV/CTV sector, privacy, and measurement for the growing space. 

Privacy comes first

Privacy focuses have changed and gone mainstream over recent years, with Apple taking out billboards and companies making data privacy a pillar of their marketing and advertising. While it may feel off-brand for some companies, Roku has made it key to their customer relationships for years. 

Shirole and Wetzel focused on privacy matters in the industry, saying “Roku was born as a kind of consumer-first company, and it still very much is that. And so I think we take privacy very seriously as a company.”

"[Roku is] a vertically integrated company… that just makes it easier for us to be kind of transparent with consumers and makes it simpler to activate. I think that's one of the reasons we've taken big bets, by launching our own streaming channel, the Roku Channel, and launching OneView. So I think we're going to continue to do what we can to deliver value to consumers, because at the end of the day, that's the the lifeblood of our ecosystem, as well as ensure that advertisers are able to take advantage of how easy it is to work with Roku -- to buy TV like they watch TV."

Roku’s customer-first approach also carries over into the way they message their privacy focuses. With a first-party direct relationship with its consumers, Roku is in a unique position as a platform to explain to consumers how their data is being used and how to control it. 

Shirole says of the relationship, “So as a platform with the first party consumer relationship we’re uniquely positioned both to make sure that the consumer understands what's happening with their data, as well as enabling advertisers to use that data in a way that is is is advantageous to their campaigns... but doesn't compromise on the integrity of our promise to our consumers.”

A deeper dive into Gaurav

Shirole had an interesting path into the industry, having started his career in political campaigns before pivoting to more traditional advertising industry roles.

"My first job in advertising was on the Obama campaign as an analytics person, and I was responsible for figuring out which cable system and local broadcaster, every voter in the voter file in a swing state was in, and then doing some math about figuring out if it was more efficient to buy national ads or local ads or both. So I was really thrown into the thick of it out of the gate."

Suggestions for Identity Architect listeners who are still green in their careers, “Don't stop learning and make friends with folks that are smart and stay curious. I've learned so much from the folks around me and I wish I had done more.”

Thanks to Gaurav and Roku for joining us on Identity Architects!