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Roblox opens up to video ads, signs media tech deals

May 1, 2024
an illustration of the robox logo with a play button in place of the first O

Illustration: Tiffany Herring/Axios

Roblox has made video ads available to all advertisers and inked new partnerships with media measurement providers, the company said on Wednesday.

Why it matters: The moves come during the annual upfront season as the gaming company looks to lure more ad dollars from traditional channels.

The big picture: In-game ad spending is expected to rise 13% to $8.5 billion this year, according to a recent IAB report.

  • The gaming sector has captured more ad dollars as the sector's ads become easier to buy and measure. That growth has been spurred, in part, by new tools like the VC-backed ad platform Anzu.

Zoom in: Prior to Wednesday's announcement, advertisers could make big branded interactive worlds with Roblox, like Walmart's Universe of Play and Mattel's Barbie DreamHouse Tycoon, or buy static ad units — image ads and portal ads.

  • Now, brands can buy video ads.
  • "We need to lower the barrier to entry and allow any brand to build and buy advertising on the platform. You don't have to learn what a UGC item is or what limiteds are. ... You just want to reach your audience at scale," Roblox's head of immersive media solutions Ashley McCollum tells Axios.
  • The company has been staffing up its ads team with ex-Yahoo Ben Fox as vice president of operations, partnerships and ex-Google David Vespe as head of engineering, ads.
  • Roblox also recently partnered with PubMatic to offer programmatic media buying.

Between the lines: To meet advertisers' needs for measurability, Roblox has partnered with Integral Ad Science (IAS) and Kantar.

  • Roblox will use IAS' tech to offer viewability and invalid traffic measurement. That integration will be available for Roblox's static ads and video ads.
  • "Because of the immersive environment of these games, calculating viewability can be complex," IAS' senior vice president of product management Craig Ziegler says. "Marketers want to know that if they're paying to have a video embedded … [that] it's a viewable, human impression."
  • Kantar will provide brand lift studies.

Fun fact: Roblox held a closed-door lunch with ad clients this week, opting against hosting a formal stage presentation during IAB's NewFronts.

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