FreeWheel Wins Consolidated ViacomCBS Ad Tech Business

(Image credit: FreeWheel)

FreeWheel, cementing its place as the key advanced advertising technology provider to TV networks, emerged as the winner as ViacomCBS consolidated its business,  sources familiar with the situation said.

Before Viacom and CBS merged late last year, Viacom worked with FreeWheel, a division of Comcast, while CBS worked with Google. 

Also Read: FreeWheel, Google Wrestle Over ViacomCBS Ad Tech

While both companies were happy with their respective vendors, media companies are moving toward managing their inventory on a single platform in order to simplify life for their sales reps and provide clients with large-scale cross-platform campaigns.

The Viacom and CBS ad sales teams were combined earlier this year and ViacomCBS has been evaluating its vendors since the merger.

Also Read: AMC Networks Move Ad Tech to FreeWheel

The move is also likely to save ViacomCBS money at a time when it is looking to show Wall Street post-merger cost synergies.

A ViacomCBS spokesman declined to comment. Spokespeople for FreeWheel and Google could not be reached.

Earlier this month. AMC Networks moved its ad tech business to FreeWheel from Google. 

For the majority of networks, FreeWheel provides the technology, data enablement and convergent marketplaces needed to let buyers and sellers transact across screens, across data types and across sales channels.

Also Read: FreeWheel Helps Automate NBCU Linear Ad Scheduling

Google has made many attempts to crack different aspects of the TV ad market. At this point its main TV ad tech company is a big one in The Walt Disney Co. Google also worked with The CW, a joint venture between ViacomCBS and AT&T. It was unclear whether The CW business would be moving to FreeWheel as well.

Viacom was an advanced advertising pioneer with one of the earlier advanced targeting products in Vantage. Viacom was a founding partner in Open AP, which aims to standardize target audience definitions and make buying them across networks easier. After the Viacom-CBS merger, the CBS television network also joined Open AP.

In August, ViacomCBS consolidated its digital video into a single platform it dubbed EyeQ. The new platform was designed to make it easier for advertisers and media buyers to access CBS Interactive, Viacom Video and Pluto TV. ViacomCBS EyeQ lets advertisers buy video in different ways using different technologies.

With The Walt Disney Co. deciding to use Google’s technology platform in November 2018, it was a big deal.

At the time, the companies said the agreement would deliver a premium offering to market that leverages the value of Disney’s brands and content and combines them with Google’s technology, reach, expertise and understanding of digital offices. 

Disney’s digital ad business was previously handled by FreeWheel.

Comcast acquired FreeWheel in 2014 for $320 million. It was already the platform that many TV networks used to serve ads as more of their content went online.

FreeWheel this month agreed to acquire Beeswax, which will give it the ability to offer programmatic advertising capabilities using customizable bidding technology.

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.