Roblox is leaning into advertising and just made a big hire from Meta to get closer to marketers

  • Roblox is preparing to open up its self-service ad network to more advertisers this year.
  • It just hired Stephanie Latham from Meta as VP of global partnerships.
  • Roblox’s partnerships boss Christina Wootton said 2024 will be its “year of scale” for ads.

Roblox, the online entertainment and gaming platform, announced a significant hire in its partnerships division on Monday, as it prepares to expand its new advertising network and attract more brands to create virtual experiences.

Stephanie Latham has been appointed as Roblox’s vice president of global partnerships. She comes from Meta, where she led the social network’s North American entertainment, technology, and telecom sales organization. Latham will report to Christina Wootton, who previously served as VP of global partnerships before being promoted to chief partnerships officer earlier this year.

“2023 was a year of testing and learning, and 2024 is our year of scale,” Wootton explained to Insider.

Roblox launched Immersive Ads earlier this year in two formats. Image Ads are static, non-clickable images that appear within a Roblox experience, whereas Portal Ads are images with a door that teleport users to other Roblox experiences and games. Robux, Roblox’s in-game currency, is used by Roblox developers to earn a portion of the revenue generated by Immersive Ads.

Advertisers such as NARS Cosmetics, H&M, Spotify, and Nascar were among the first to test Immersive Ads. Roblox has stated that it intends to make the Immersive Ads self-service ad platform available to more advertisers later this year.

Wootton stated that Roblox is currently working with third-party measurement partners and producing brand lift studies in order to attract more marketers to the platform. It is also expanding the agency partner program, which was announced in the summer and included the ad agencies Dentsu and Vayner3.

In previous earnings reports, Roblox stated that advertising and licensing agreements account for a “insignificant” portion of its bookings. The company has stated that it plans to share its advertising revenue forecast at its investor day in November.

Marketers can collaborate with Roblox to create their own virtual experiences in addition to Immersive Ads. Gucci famously sold a virtual handbox on Roblox for more than $4,000 in 2021. Vans World, Sunsilk City, and the My Hello Kitty Cafe are also popular brand experiences. Brands can already pay to sponsor virtual items and experiences.

In August, the company announced that more than 200 brands had collaborated with Roblox to date, and Wootton stated that visitors to branded experiences spent an average of 11.7 minutes there in July.

According to Wootton, a key early indicator of Roblox’s success with marketers is that brands are beginning to build their own internal Roblox teams.

“We’re seeing budgets shift from ‘innovation and experiential’ to ‘media and marketing’ as more and more brands and agencies are being educated on this space,” Wootton stated.

With many marketers’ budgets being squeezed this year and a slew of new ad platforms vying for dollars — from Netflix to Uber — Roblox is entering the ad market with a relatively limited offer at a highly competitive time.

“They are very unapologetically pro-player,” said Brent Koning, Dentsu’s executive vice president and global gaming lead. “That’s refreshing as someone who has been in video games a long time, but that could be frustrating as an advertiser because you want to be able to open the floodgates.”

According to Nilesh Ashra, CEO of the Pragmatic Futurism consultancy, Roblox offers an enticing combination of scale (66 million daily active users as of July) and a destination for brand building that lives in the platform permanently.

“The main challenge for brands is if your eyes light up at the size of the audience and you try to market, you’ll be found out really quickly,” Ashra stated. “You’ve got to make stuff that feels almost exactly tonally what the mainstream culture is inside Roblox.”

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