Roku Marketing with Custom Travel Channels

The Vacation Channel recently had the opportunity to prepare a presentation on Roku marketing at the VA1 Governor’s Tourism Summit 2022.

We shared our experience as tourism marketers focused on video production, and discussed how we grew our business from a small TV channel that was exclusively featured in coastal Virginia hotels to a streaming media service that has exploded in the East Coast travel market.

Since our Roku launch in 2020, we’ve developed custom Roku channels for destinations looking to provide potential tourists with a unique experience that shows them everything they need to know to plan their next vacation.

The Vacation Channel on Roku

Our custom Roku channel features a variety of content from Virginia tourism destinations: museums, historic sites, amusement parks, attractions, outdoor activities, shopping, dining and lodging opportunities.

Content on our channel is mostly produced by our team, and varies in length from 15-second spots to 15-minute programs. Advertisers can purchase airtime in variable increments, but we charge a flat rate for any spot under 2 minutes. New viewers tune in every month to learn more about travel in Virginia!

Why Roku?

Streaming TV just surpassed cable in terms of viewership numbers, and Roku has been the dominant streaming platform since 2018, followed closely by Amazon Fire TV (all our streaming channels are also developed on Amazon Fire TV, but Roku is where we are seeing traction and growth because it’s native to so many new smart TVs).

Plus, it has a targeted advertising platform that helps us grow our subscriber base each month. The Vacation Channel’s Roku app is consistently ranked in the Top 15 Travel Apps on Roku (of more than 400).

Roku and Amazon Fire TV have shown steady growth since 2018, where other platforms have plateaued.

In 2022, streaming TV cornered 37.6% of overall TV viewership, making it the top medium. That 37% is comprised of various streaming platforms you’re familiar with, like Netflix, YouTube and Hulu, but one-third of viewership on streaming TV is made up of other smaller apps, including The Vacation Channel!

30% of streaming viewers are tuning in to smaller apps like Peacock, AMC, Showtime, etc. But that category also includes a world of independent, niche apps like The Vacation Channel. There are currently more than 400 apps in the Roku Travel category alone!

Who is Tuning In?

The Vacation Channel has more than 40,000 household subscribers, and we’re on track to have more than 50,000 by year’s end! Most Roku households are a prime audience for travel marketing: they’re concentrated on the East Coast within a day’s drive to Virginia. Ages are a broad range of Millennials to Boomers.

Why Are They Tuning In?

We’re targeting these viewers through Roku poster advertising on the home screen. Users who click the ad will install the channel and start watching. More than 4,000 new users per month turn on their TV, see our ad, and choose to watch The Vacation Channel over other streaming services like Netflix, HBO and Hulu.

After that, our app remains on the home screen next to their other favorite entertainment apps—it’s like having a billboard in someone’s living room, reminding them that their next great vacation is just around the corner.

How Long Are They Watching?

Our viewers are watching The Vacation Channel for an average of 25 minutes! Most of our videos are 30-seconds long, so that means they’re seeing programs from multiple advertisers each time they tune in. On the channels we’ve built for regional tourism partners like Currituck, NC and Colonial Williamsburg, we’re seeing viewership extend to an average of 40 minutes and 62 minutes, respectively.

Unlike social media, where you’re competing against a deluge of content for your audience’s attention, Roku provides an uninterrupted experience. Our viewers aren’t tuning in while they’re at work, or waiting in line at the store, or distracted by their busy lives—they’re at home on the sofa, relaxed and eager to plan their next vacation.

What Would You Say to Your Audience if You Had Their Attention For More Than 15 Seconds?

For the past few years, marketing has been trending toward short-format content on social media. Most YouTube ads see viewership drop off after 5 seconds, and many videos on Facebook won’t be viewed for more than 30 seconds.

But if you knew you had someone’s attention for a half hour or more, how would that change your marketing message? What new information could you share with viewers?

We all know that video production is costly and time-consuming, so it helps knowing that the ROI is a captive audience. With viewership numbers like that, potential visitors can do a deep dive into your content and get the full picture of what it’s like to experience your destination. Lead them down your marketing funnel in a brand-new way!

Average watch time on our Roku channels is more than more than 40 minutes! How would it change your messaging if you didn’t have to squeeze it into a 30-second video? What if you had long format content that shows viewers all the fun they could be having at your destination?

With your own custom channel, you can give viewers exactly what they want to see, and showcase a variety of content based on their interests. Streaming media allows users to do a deep-dive into everything your destination has to offer.

It’s not apples-to-apples, but it’s important to consider how each of these platforms are different, and how they can be important to your Media Mix. Most Roku users are watching content for an average of 40 minutes.

Don’t you wish you had that kind of engagement on your other digital platforms?The best part is that Engagement is CONTAINED. There are no other brands competing against you, and your video doesn’t roll into your competitor’s. It’s all YOU, and we have seen that users will watch one program after another.

What Type of Content Works for Roku?

Give old videos new life on Roku! It’s a great place to showcase both short and long-format content. Our clients gained traction with a wide variety of topics: holiday videos, behind-the-scenes snippets, how-tos from makers/creators, and outdoor adventures!

Is Roku a Good Fit For Your Destination?

Marketing your destination or attraction with The Vacation Channel is a great fit for anyone in Virginia who is trying to reach tourism audiences. We have options that will fit most budgets, whether you’re a small business looking for an airtime package on The Vacation Channel or you’re a DMO looking to leverage your existing video library on a new platform.

Check out this guide to see which Roku option is right for your business.

Let The Vacation Channel help you find a way to leverage all your video assets in a way that aligns with your marketing goals! Click here to learn about our airtime packages, with pricing to fit every budget. If you’re interested in airtime or a custom channel, send us an email!

Reach out to The Vacation Channel to learn more about how Streaming TV can work for your destination.

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