Streaming has revolutionized how viewers consume media and how advertisers promote their products, and Allison Levin, VP of Ad Sales & Strategy at Roku, has been one of the leaders in the forefront of this transformation. She sat with FUTURE NOW’s Founder & CEO, Peggy Kim, for a recent Leadership Talk.
Levin was the first ever ad sales hire at Roku eight years ago, and she has gone from leading a team of 1 to a team of over 500. Today, Roku is the #1 TV streaming platform in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico based on hours streamed, and closed out 2022 with over 70 million active accounts globally.
She has pioneered upfront deals with some of the largest ad agencies and holding groups and has been instrumental in growing Roku’s portfolio of clients. She and her team are responsible for driving new products and go-to-market strategy for the overall advertising business.
Levin explains that since Roku is an engineering and product-first company, it requires a lot of translation. She has three main areas of focus: working internally to prioritize and determine what products are going to be the most interesting for advertisers; how they can best serve their consumers; and what partnerships will be the most strategic for the future.
When it comes to partnerships, data and metrics are key. Levin says, “When an advertiser can measure the success of their campaigns can actually see the data and the insights, they're much more likely to come back to continue to spend to grow with us in the platform.”
“What I love the most is helping to solve challenges for marketers with building new stuff. And you know, this, we’re still in the early innings of streaming TV. And so, there's still just so much we're building that's happening. And that's very, very exciting.”
The clarity of Levin’s interests and passion for sales strategy and marketing has come with time, experience, and the guidance of mentors. A skilled debater in high school, Levin initially thought she would become a lawyer. But she changed her mind when she got into Boston University, where she majored in communications with a focus on public relations and then marketing.
“I think, for me, the passion was always selling, telling stories, and helping to tell a story to a market that's backed by data and insights. And over time, you know, I had a boss who helped me to understand to see really, that my power was standing in front of those marketing programs and in front of those stories. And that sales is probably a good place for me to start.”
During her conversation with Kim, Levin stressed the importance of curiosity and how it fosters innovation and growth. “My dad runs his own business, and he told me from an early age, ‘If you are going to be the chef, you better pick your own ingredients.’ For me, anything I do, I want to understand the components of it, I want to fully know the details. I do not necessarily need to be a part of all the details, but I at least need to understand it to be successful at it….You need to understand the ‘why and what’ behind it.”
In an industry that is constantly changing and as Levin and her team continue to build and innovate, she points to the value of fearlessness.
“Every day we wake up and think about how we can make the best TV streaming ad platforms for marketers and consumers. We reimagine what TV could be. All because TV was this way for 50-60 years on the linear side does not mean that experience has to be recreated for streaming.”
Levin and her team continue to push the boundaries when it comes to the future of streaming. Innovation only moves forward when people are brave enough to think outside the box and dare to fail. Levin posits, “What’s the worst that can happen?”