Over the last decade, Jukin Media has built a portfolio of digital-first media brands that, in recent years, has become a staple of the free ad-supported streaming TV (FAST) ecosystem. Those brands, which first found success on social media to the tune of 215+ million followers combined, have made an impressive transition to streaming TV, each now a 24/7 linear streaming channel carried on top FAST platforms like Peacock, Pluto TV, The Roku Channel, Samsung TV Plus, and XUMO. Those channels — FailArmy, People Are Awesome, The Pet Collective, and WeatherSpy — now combine for more than 8 million monthly hours viewed across streaming platforms.
Jukin Media has partnered with SpotX since early 2019 to monetize its ad-supported linear streaming channels and scale its connected TV (CTV) footprint. I caught up with Mike Richter, Director, Programmatic Strategy & Ad Ops at Jukin, to hear about the launch of WeatherPod, Jukin’s new weather forecasting product, and how its CTV business is growing.
Michael Petropulos: What’s new at Jukin? How have your content offerings and viewership evolved recently?
Mike Richter: During these uncertain times, we feel fortunate to have been able to continue to provide both our streaming platform partners and consumer audiences around the globe with fun, uplifting content to offer moments of entertainment and distraction.
Throughout this past year, not only did we launch two new ad-supported streaming TV channels, People Are Awesome and WeatherSpy, but we also expanded our distribution for all four of our owned-and-operated channels to include Peacock, Redbox TV, and TiVO Online, in addition to existing partners The Roku Channel, Samsung TV Plus, Xumo, Pluto TV, Vizio WatchFree, and more.
Most recently, we launched an exciting new ad product called WeatherPod, which runs on our newest channel WeatherSpy (WeatherSpy is a new weather network geared toward millennial and Gen-Z audiences).
MP: Congratulations on launching WeatherPod! What can you tell us about the new offering and your foray into hyperlocal weather forecasting?
MR: Thank you — we’re really excited about it and how well the WeatherSpy channel is performing as well as the prospects for WeatherPod. For context, last year we partnered with AccuWeather, the media company that provides commercial weather forecasting services worldwide, to add local weather forecast data to WeatherSpy. The WeatherSpy channel is currently streamed on Peacock, Plex, The Roku Channel, Samsung TV Plus, VIZIO WatchFree, and XUMO.
WeatherPod is a programmatic ad unit that allows advertisers to sponsor real-time weather updates in the top 10 DMAs, with data powered by Accuweather. It’s unique because it provides brands with a personalized way to own daily weather forecasts in a 24/7/365 real-time environment. It can be bought programmatically or direct, allowing advertisers to wrap around an engaging and useful piece of content, as well as reach younger audiences via OTT platforms.
MP: How do you work with advertisers, and what programmatic capabilities do you offer?
MR: Our four streaming channels feature full-episode programming, and we offer advertisers everything from sponsored content, branded placements, direct-sold campaigns that can span both our CTV and social media footprint, and, of course, a robust programmatic offering with all the targeting capabilities brands need.
Additionally, we have custom streaming TV products like the WeatherPod which we just mentioned, and a new offering that we’re rolling out soon which pairs custom creative that’s native to our channels with an adjacent brand spot.
Finally, complementing our CTV business, we have a licensing and creative production arm of Jukin that helps advertisers leverage user-generated content for use in ad creative — over the years that unit has worked on more than 3,000 ad campaigns for major brands.
MP: How are you integrating data into campaigns with Audience Management Engine, and how is this helping advertisers reach the right audience?
MR: The Audience Management Engine allows us to utilize both first- and third-party data to increase the value of our inventory and match advertisers with the right audience. Besides audience growth, data enablement has been a key factor in the growth of CTV demand. For years advertisers have utilized the TV screen to reach wide audiences and drive high returns. As audiences have grown and platforms expanded, it led to advertisers spending more money, but resulted in lower frequency and return on investment. Enabling first- and third-party data in CTV allows advertisers to hone in on their target audience, reduce waste, and increase frequency.
The data integrations through SpotX give us access to more than 250 specialized providers. This allows us to increase the scale we can offer beyond contextual and geographic targeting. We are also able to import data from our advertisers and create premium pools of inventory to reach niche audiences across the globe. This has led to higher CPMs and more efficiency.
MP: You’ve seen some pretty remarkable growth over the past year. How has your strategy changed along with your evolving viewership?
MR: Part of what’s so exciting about our growth — roughly 100% month-over-month viewership growth in 2020 — is that it allows us to continue to innovate and reinvest in our streaming TV ecosystem. We’re able to support additional launches with new distribution partners, it allows us to innovate and roll out new ad products, and finally and maybe most importantly, our growth and success thus far allows us to reinvest in our programming. We’re developing even more original series and we’re looking to license existing shows that we think our audience will love. At the end of the day, it’s about operating channels that people love to watch, and we’re continually trying to do exactly that.
MP: Why did you decide to partner with SpotX and how has our partnership helped fuel your growth?
MR: When it comes to CTV monetization, SpotX is a household name. If you want to grow your CTV business, it goes without saying that you need to partner with this incredible team. I am fortunate to have worked with SpotX prior to joining Jukin Media and when I took on this role, I was excited to see SpotX as an existing partner. From that point, we hit the ground running!
Over the past two years, our growth has been extraordinary and a big thanks is due to our dedicated team at SpotX. This industry is changing quickly and growing at an incredible rate, which means you need a stellar account team with each partner. I am proud to work with you and your team at SpotX. Not only do you show true dedication to our success, we’ve also built a relationship that makes it enjoyable to hop on our weekly calls. When I think of our partnership, I think of the word “team.”
MP: Thank YOU for being a great partner. We’re also so proud to work with you. What’s next for Jukin in 2021?
MR: We have a lot of really exciting things in the works across all aspects of our streaming TV operation. We have new ad products, we have distribution deals in the works that will take our channels to even more homes both in the US and internationally, we have new programming that will launch over the next few months across all four of our channels, and, finally, there may even be one or two really big initiatives like new channel launches or big strategic partnerships.
It’s an exciting time for the CTV and ad-supported streaming space, and we’re thrilled that our channels are resonating with viewers in such a resounding way.
Learn more about Jukin Media’s premium inventory and plan your next campaign with SpotX Explorer.