Comcast's FreeWheel will make its first upfront pitch to advertisers next week as it looks to build more awareness for its media business and position itself as a leader in the much-ballyhooed advanced TV space.
This comes as more media companies talk up their ability to granularly target TV audiences at scale and prove that commercials drive business outcomes.
"There's a lot of confusion; people don't know what's real and what's not. We want to showcase what they can actually activate on today," says David Clark, general manager, FreeWheel.
This is what led FreeWheel to call its presentation a NowFront, because it wants to emphasize what marketers can do currently. While Clark doesn't point fingers, he notes that there are companies that will go out with press releases way before there's a tangible and working product.
As part of its pitch on March 13, FreeWheel will announce a deal with Inscape, a subsidiary of Vizio, to utilize data from more than 10 million Vizio smart TVs to better target specific demographic and audience segments in its TV ad deals.
The presentation is also a way to promote its media business. For several years FreeWheel has been aggregating linear and digital inventory from premium publishers, but Neil Smith, general manager, FreeWheel Markets, says the company isn't known as a media sales organization. FreeWheel will use the upfront to formalize its FreeWheel Media Group.
The majority of this business has been conducted in scatter when marketers decide they need more scale of a certain audience. But Smith says he wants to encourage advertisers to have these conversations during the upfronts at the same time that they think about their ad deals with the network groups.
"We don't want to take share from TV networks... but with the way the industry is changing and the way marketers want to reach audiences, scale across all screens and measure results, they need to think about it during the upfronts," Smith says.
In October, FreeWheel introduced a one-stop shop, dubbed Drive, for buying commercials in emerging forms of TV. The suite of ad products allows buyers to access inventory from FreeWheel's clients, which include more than 60 of the top TV networks and publishers that are being served on platforms like Roku, Amazon Fire, Google Chromecast and Apple TV, among others.
FreeWheel is now working with Adobe to surface Drive programmatically to advertisers to remove friction from the buying process.