New FreeWheel System Unites Direct, Programmatic TV Buys

FreeWheel, Comcast’s ad tech company, said it is rolling out a new system that unifies the way it handles decision making for TV commercials bought both directly through traditional media sales channels and via programmatic technology.

NBCUniversal, also owned by Comcast, and The Trade Desk, a large demand-side buying platform, have both signed up to use FreeWheel's new unified decisioning.

The technology was piloted last year and is now fully operational, FreeWheel said. By Integrating both direct sales and programmatic channels in a single system, more buyers get access to premium video inventory. That makes media buying more efficient for buyers and increases the value generated by sellers.

“As sales channels for premium video continue to diversify, it’s imperative that we reduce marketplace friction for buyers and sellers,” said Dave Clark, general manager, FreeWheel. “Our work on unified decisioning supports our overarching efforts to connect advertisers and publishers in a way that facilitates their ability to buy and sell premium video, and ensure advertising goals can be precisely achieved across all screens.”

Related: Trade Desk Offers Free Access to Digital Ad Training Program

The new technology combines ad servers and supply-side platforms into a single system, letting media sale organizations consider programmatic demand, including guaranteed deals and private marketplaces; rules, objectives and requirements of buyers; category and competitive separation requirements and ad repetition and relevance.

“We’re now able to combine direct sold and programmatic capabilities into one, making it even easier for clients to access all of our premium video inventory in whatever way works best for their business while allowing us to continue to improve the consumer experience,” said Krishan Bhatia, executive VP, business operations and strategy, at NBCU Advertising and Partnerships. “Since first incorporating this FreeWheel capability into our platform, we’ve seen 170% growth in programmatic video revenue, and we believe there is significantly more growth to come.”

For automated ad platforms FreeWheel’s technology eliminated the need for techniques that may limit the number of advertisers who get to see and bid on an ad impression, such as header bidding.

Since using FreeWheel’s new systems, access to connected TV inventory has increased 300%.

“FreeWheel’s technology brought the entire industry forward by implementing unified decisioning for connected TV,” said Brian Stempeck, chief strategy officer at The Trade Desk. “For advertisers, this makes increased scale available on premium content. Publishers also benefit, as they now can make the best choice possible on who buys the ad. Connected TV is one of the fastest growing channels in our industry, and unified decisioning is a big win for every part of the ecosystem.” 

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.