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Former Roku Execs Launch Smart TV Advertising Network

Two former Roku executives are getting ready to compete with their old colleagues in the TV advertising space: Steve Shannon, formerly senior vice president of content and services at the streaming device maker, and Jim Lombard, who headed advertising sales at Roku, came out of stealth with their new smart TV advertising startup Tetra TV Tuesday. Shannon heads the company as CEO, while Lombard serves as its chief revenue officer.

Tetra TV wants to help advertisers reach audiences across all connected TV platforms, explained Shannon in a recent conversation with Variety. “Advertisers are excited about connected TV,” he said, predicting that the entire $70 billion TV advertising market would eventually move to streaming media.

The hold-up has been that it’s hard to target smart TV audiences across individual devices and apps, argued Shannon: “It is such a heterogeneous environment.” For advertisers looking to reach large audiences, there have really only been 2 platforms, he said: Roku and Hulu.

Tetra TV now wants to open up similar audiences across devices including Apple TV, Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV, Roku, Sony PlayStation, Xbox, as well as Samsung, Vizio, Sony, and LG smart TVs. The company isn’t divulging its publishing partners, but Shannon said that it had signed up several virtual pay TV operators as well as other streaming apps, allowing it to target a total audience of 50 million households.

The company’s strategy is to sell audiences, demographics and locations, and it is not trying to compete with publisher’s own ad sales teams. “We don’t sell against channels,” Shannon said.

Tetra won’t just be competing with Roku, but also a growing effort of other smart TV platform operators to build out their own advertising networks. Amazon in particular has begun to help publishers sell some of their ad inventory. Shannon didn’t want to comment on any competing efforts, but expressed confidence that this wouldn’t be a winner-takes-all scenario. “There is room for a lot of players,” he said.

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