Roku introduces pop-up ads for OTA and cable viewing

Roku has started rolling out its Roku OS 9.2 update for Roku TVs and, in a previously unannounced change, the company has introduced interactive pop-up ads for OTA and cable viewing.

The feature was first spotted by Cord Cutters News over the weekend. The publication showed a pop-up ad for the 2008 Ricky Gervais-starring Ghost Town during a Geico commercial – stating that the film is sponsored by the US insurance company. The pop-up also showed a prompt for the viewer to set a reminder using the Roku remote. 

The report goes on to say that the pop-ups will only be shown for ads that have partnered with Roku. 

For users uneasy with the feature, it is easy enough for them to turn this off with an options in the privacy menu to turn off “Use Information From TV Inputs”. This will disable the pop-up ads but will also turn off more ways to watch and discover content. 

While this is a bolder step for Roku, keeping track of what viewers watch is nothing new for the company. For some time, Roku has tracked what users watch on their antenna to suggest content with a similar appeal on different streaming service. Only now is Roku using the data to partner with advertisers. 

The latest Roku OS update was revealed towards the end of September with the flagship feature being the redesigned 4K Spotlight channel to help users find content. It also introduced a range of new voice capabilities.

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