Providers of premium TV programming have more ways to reach audiences who are spending more time watching video on connected devices like smart TVs and mobile phones. The growth of connected TV (CTV) has added another layer of complexity to the advertising marketplace.
“Our focus has always been around premium TV, and how do we help the ecosystem, both buyers and sellers, transact in a way that has migrated from one screen to multiple screens,” Mark McKee, senior vice president and chief revenue officer of advertising technology company FreeWheel, said in this interview with Beet.TV. “That’s become a complexity not only for the publishers that are creating this great content or the distributors that are putting out that great content, but also for the advertisers and agencies.”
FreeWheel, which is owned by Comcast, provides a variety of services to bring together buyers and sellers of advertising time, including a sell-side platform (SSP) for providers of premium TV content, including multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs) and virtual MVPDs.
“The importance of having the ad server and an SSP be in one adds tremendous value to our publisher clients,” McKee said. “The biggest value … is the ability to have unified decisioning as it relates to how they monetize their inventory, how they curate or utilize their audiences — that’s across their direct-sold, other automated or programmatic fashions as well as the rights that they have between MVPDs and other publishers.”
The commingling helps to provide a holistic view of how publishers monetize their content, protect brand safety and distinguish themselves from competitors.
“While it might be a new screen and a new way in which it’s distributed, it’s still premium TV,” McKee said. “The rules that apply in the TV ecosystem must apply in these new formats and ways of transacting.”
With advertisers seeking to target audiences based on other criteria beside age and gender, consumer data have become more crucial. Because advertisers want to protect their proprietary data and the privacy of their customers, identity resolution also is a priority.
“We’re helping to resolve audience in the TV ecosystem in a way that protects the consumer first and foremost, but in addition to that, allows for the data owner, whether that be the advertiser, the agency or the publisher or the MVPD, or anyone in between, to remain in control of that data,” McKee said.
To expand its programmatic services in TV and video advertising including CTV and video on demand (VOD), FreeWheel last year agreed to buy Beeswax, a software as a service (SaaS) advertising company. FreeWheel also is focused on addressable advertising, which gives marketers a way to reach different households during the same programming.
“Our sights are set on addressability and helping to pull back together the fragmented audiences that exist for publishers and for the agencies and advertisers that are looking to transact against them,” McKee said.