FreeWheel looks to scale OTT advertising with new ad products

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Marketers are clamoring for the opportunities internet-connected TVs and over-the-top platforms like Roku and Amazon Fire provide, namely to reach audiences who are unsubscribing to traditional cable and the targeting capabilities that come from IP-delivered content. But currently it's extremely cumbersome to buy audiences across OTT, connected TVs and video-on-demand to achieve any sort of meaningful scale.

To solve for this, Comcast-owned FreeWheel is introducing a one-stop shop for buying commercials in these emerging forms of TV. Dubbed Drive, the suite of new ad products will allow buyers to access inventory from FreeWheel's clients, which include more than 60 of some of the top TV networks and publishers that are being served on platforms like Roku, Amazon Fire, Google Chromecast and Apple TV, among others.

And since FreeWheel utilizes Nielsen's digital audience ratings, this means agencies can make apples-to-apples comparisons on how their campaigns that run on these platforms stack up to their linear buys. And ultimately, it is looking to prove campaigns drove a specific outcome, like a customer made a purchase or took a test drive.

Down the road, there's also the potential to combine FreeWheel's tools with Comcast's set-top box data.

This comes as the entire industry scrambles to figure out how to aggregate audience reach in a fragmented TV landscape. It's a mission that's been adopted by companies like AT&T's Xandr advertising unit, which recently announced a partnership with pay-TV distributors to create a solution that would allow marketers to purchase household addressable inventory at scale.

FreeWheel is focused on protecting publishers' control over their inventory and making sure the fraud that has perpetuated the digital landscape doesn't occur in a new TV marketplace, says Neil Smith, general manager, FreeWheel Markets.

"The explosion of viewing options makes it difficult to aggregate scale. FreeWheel's Drive gives us the opportunity to optimize video investments across some of the most premium content producers in the industry. It's a great step forward and a hint of what's to come in the evolving video ecosystem," David Cohen, president, Magna North America, a division of IPG Mediabrands, said in a statement.

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