Next week’s Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity comes after a period of massive upheaval for the media and marketing industries that sped up longer-term shifts. The pandemic led to greater consumer adoption of internet-connected television, and media companies raced to differentiate their streaming services with vast libraries of movies and TV shows.

More recently, advertising is having a bigger role in streaming as platforms including Netflix and Disney+ introduce services with commercial breaks. Ad-supported video on demand (AVOD) and free, ad-supported television (FAST) are giving marketers a way to reach audiences among a wider variety of connected devices.

“That’s what FreeWheel is focused on delivering. It’s a goal of focusing on: how do we connect the multiplatform viewing experience that exists today?” Mark McKee, executive vice president and general manager of FreeWheel, an ad-tech unit of Comcast, said in this interview with Beet.TV. “It’s focusing on: how do we connect buyers and sellers to make it so much easier to transact?”

Unlike the days of a small group of broadcast networks controlling the distribution television content, a program today can be viewed on 300 different end points. The variety adds another dimension of complexity to the media-buying decisions by advertisers.

“That’s what’s really exciting about it for our programming partners, for the advertisers and agencies and then for us,” McKee said. “There’s certainly complexity into the ecosystem because of the partnerships that many of these programmers have as they look to distribution, as they look to monetization and sales.”

Growth in Programmatic

Automation of television advertising sales is growing as marketers seek to manage cross-platform campaigns on a smaller group of ad-tech platforms. Programmatic advertising has become a bigger part of the upfront sales season, when media companies seek advance commitments on their advertising inventories.

“It still is a relationship business at the end of the day, a trust business at the end of the day, and ultimately, how do you reach those great consumers in an engaged fashion,” McKee said. “Whether it’s programmatic or not, that’s the end goal. And so I’m just happy that FreeWheel is playing an active role in helping to connect those two worlds.”

You’re watching “The Road to Cannes 2023 – Making TV Advertising Relevant Across Screens, Platforms and Cultures,” a Beet.TV Leadership Series presented by FreeWheel. For more videos from this series, please visit this page. For more information on FreeWheel’s activations at Cannes Lions 2023, please visit