iHeartRadio on Roku: Brand New Experience

Ratio helped our client iHeartRadio launch another new living room app in addition to the AppleTV app we developed for them and launched recently. This new app is on the Roku platform and takes full advantage of Roku's new SDK 2.0 (or SceneGraph) capabilities. The app combines a user interface that pushes the boundaries of the Roku platform while at the same time introducing a monetization formula that recasts the economics of music applications.

The first step in building an audience is creating a rich and engaging app that will attract and retain users. We believe the iHeart Roku Channel sets a new bar for music applications on the platform.

The design is largely inspired by the AppleTV version of the app, which has received rave reviews and a substantial amount of promotion by Apple in the AppleTV Marketplace. Upon opening the app, the user lands on the home screen that presents all of the options users have (Radio Stations, Artist Radio, Genre Radio). For those familiar with Roku this looks nothing like a traditional Roku app, instead showcasing sleek designs, overlays, transparent tiles and a rich set of animations and navigation options previously not possible on the platform. Once inside the app (above), there are a number of choices and experiences the user can take advantage of.
This screen shows a number of the great features for the channel. First, there is the option to choose from local radio stations – this is driven by the user's location, then the user can browse trending artists and select them to listen to the artist radio station, launching the full screen player. Users can browse other content while enjoying music, a "mini-player" in the upper right of the screen shows what is currently playing.

Once the user begins playing a song or station they are presented with the player where they can control the music available. Users can like or dislike artists and make that a part of their profile for future reference. This screen in the app, and in particular the player transport controls, redefines the standard for how a Roku Music Channel looks and feels.

The other key aspect of the iHeartRadio Roku app that makes it so unique is the monetization model. The iHeart Radio app takes advantage of two innovations that have never been done before on the Roku platform with an audio app.

The first is that the app utilizes video TV ads (:30 and: 15 pre-roll video ads). Perviously, music apps have run audio-only ads, and not full video ads. While this may make sense on smaller form factors, in bringing music services like iHeartRadio to the Living Room Ratio saw a new opportunity to better monetize them with video ads – an assumed aspect of Living Room viewing. The economic impact of this is significant: the average CPM for a video ad is $20-$30, whereas audio ads typically command between a $5 and $10 CPM.

The second innovation in the iHeartRadio Roku app is that it implements Nielsen tracking. Roku’s implementation of Nielsen through the Roku Ad Framework means that the ad inventory that is sold within the iHeartRadio app is ascribed the same attribution and value as video ad inventory sold by the broadcast and cable TV networks (including mapping to audiences and demographics). These publishers garner among the highest CPMs in the media ecosystem and this is where the biggest ad budgets are being spent. The largest and often times most valuable portion of the $70 billion video ad industry is measured and accredited by Nielsen. By implementing Nielsen tracking iHeartRadio's Roku ad inventory is primed to be sold at the highest CPM rates in the industry.

Ratio is very proud of the work we've done on this second platform for iHeartRadio, and translating their brand to Roku in a way that is authentic for their users and also stretches both the user interface and ad monetization boundaries of the platform.