Retail media meets CTV: we’ve come a long way from infomercials!

Long gone are the days when you phoned in your order after seeing something you fancy – with retailers joining forces with streamers, what does that mean for brands?

Following the recent hook-up between Roku and Walmart, Tim Sleath, VP of Product Management at, wonders whether this ushers in a new age for interactive advertising…

Shoppable television has come a long way since QVC – the UK’s first dedicated television shopping channel, launched in 1993. The channel’s multiscreen video service, which capitalised on advances to interactive television technology, followed in 2008. Amazon Live, Facebook Shops and Instagram’s Live Shopping are all live video commerce channels that have taken over the digital spheres and impacted consumers’ purchasing journeys. 

Today, digital video is a core aspect of modern marketing, and connected TV (CTV) is the next stage in the evolutionary chain. Smart TV’s streaming capabilities allow viewers to watch their favourite programmes when it is convenient for them. And brands are about to be able to leverage this from a marketing perspective. 

Roku and Walmart’s recent partnership – the first between a streaming platform and retailer – will transform the way that shoppable interactive ads are delivered to consumers. Both parties assert that this will “change the way customers interact and shop TV and video content”.

So what does this mean for advertisers – and why are interactive CTV and video ads so important moving forward? 

If you’re just tuning in… 

CTV viewing experiences are changing. Viewers would traditionally settle themselves onto the sofa for this ‘lean-back’ activity, but no more. Post-pandemic this is a ‘lean-forward’, engaging touchpoint. 

Smart TVs are an effective tool for marketers trying to build deeper connections amongst audiences as well as increase purchase consideration. American brands have already sensed CTV’s potential, and Insider Intelligence predicts US CTV ad spend will hit more than $29bn in 2026 – rising from $9bn in 2020. Video ads provide interactive experiences, and these expand beyond CTV. 

Viewers can already scan QR codes displayed on TV ads, to be ushered into an interactive brand experience on their mobile device. And Roku’s commitment to convenience will drive even further changes. 

The streaming giant’s 61m subscribers will be able to complete transactions without needing to go to Walmart’s website, or even to scan a QR code. Overlays will instead be displayed over existing ads, with Roku’s payment platform ensuring users don’t have to endure the tediousness of inputting their payment details via remote control. 

Convenience is a central pillar of Roku and Walmart’s partnership. But why should this development cause marketers to actively consider including CTV advertising into their media mix?

Convenience dominates prime time

Brands can’t ignore consumer’s desire for unique, relevant experiences. Research shows that 80% of consumers are more likely to purchase products or services from brands providing personalised experiences. 

Consumer expectations have changed, and seamlessness needs to be prioritised – premium user experience (UX) is built on convenience. Roku’s viewers will purchase products without needing to switch devices; a departure from YouTube’s mobile app casting for a ‘second screen’ experience.

Assisting consumers across all touchpoints on the shopping journey should be brands’ primary focus. Interactive tabs displayed on Smart TV or mobile video ads are an effective way to deliver large quantities of additional information. These can include: 

  • Dynamic product gallery
  • Product details
  • Reviews
  • Store locator

Smart TV ownership is soaring in the UK, with household penetration of Smart TVs reaching 67% in 2021 – compared to 11% in 2014. CTV advertising offers brands the opportunity to significantly improve their reach.

Interactive video ads also offer greater engagement potential. CTV ads reported 96% completion rate in Q2 2021 – despite overall video completion rates being down. These stimulating ads immerse viewers in the advertising experiences. This is crucial for improving retention rate and ensuring consumers remember your messaging – both cornerstones of successful advertising.

Time for brands to change the channel?

A lot has changed since that first QVC broadcast almost 30 years ago – but brands’ objectives remain the same. Increasing conversion rates will always be the end-goal, and Roku’s partnership with Walmart is paving the way for retailers trying to offer smooth purchasing journeys. 

Advertisers can’t afford to ignore interactive CTV ads and their personalisation capabilities. Brands that incorporate this extra dimension with their audiences can expect a stronger, more engaging relationship with their customers, who may not even have to be told: “don’t touch that dial!”.