True[X] Engagement Enabled by FreeWheel

True[X] says it is working with FreeWheel to make its engagement-based ad format easier to integrate into premium video programming that runs online.

True[X], owned by 21st Century Fox, and FreeWheel, owned by Comcast, will be working together on other new ad formats, including ones that will run on connected TVs and video on demand.

The engagement-ad format offers viewers a choice. They can choose to interact with one ad at the beginning of a piece of long-form content and watch fewer ads during that program, or they can receive a normal ad load.

David Levy, CEO of True[X], says 75% of consumers choose the interactive ad. That’s good for advertisers and good for the networks, who receive more revenue for the interactive ad than for the linear ads that get displaced, Levy says. 

“Delivering a seamless ad experience will help drive the maturation of premium video across all streaming devices,” said Amy Pisano, VP of Enterprise Solutions, FreeWheel. “The partnership with True[X] naturally aligns with FreeWheel’s commitment to enabling publishers to achieve the highest value for their inventory, as well as our efforts to drive the evolution and upward direction for the premium video economy.”

Before teaming up with FreeWheel, engineers from networks that wanted to use the True[X] format would need to work with True[X]’s engineers to integrate ad serving systems. Since most networks already work with FreeWheel, adding True[X] becomes more “plug and play,” Levy says, making it easier for more networks to adopt it.

In the U.S., FreeWheel works with AOL, DirecTV, Fox, NBCUniversal, Turner Broadcasting and Viacom.

In addition to Fox, True[X] has been running its ad format with Hulu.

Advertisers can buy the engagement based ads from the networks or directly from True[X}. Levy says True[X] works with networks through a number of financial arrangements. If a network thinks it will do a lot of business with engagement ads, it might license the format. If they just want to test the waters, a revenue sharing arrangement might be best, he says. 

As part of 21st Century Fox, True[X] fits in with the kind of advertising innovation that reduces ad loads that CEO James Murdoch has been talking about at investor forums.

“There’s a need for being more efficient with consumers’ time, because there’s less and less attention out there and more people vying for it,” Levy said. Ultimately True[X] is looking to create a better experience for consumers and generate more revenue per viewer for networks.

Levy says True[X} will be working with FreeWheel to create advertising models for connected TVs and VOD.

“VOD is in our opinion one of those under-tapped resources in general. There’s amazing quality of content and it’s really not monetized in the best way today, so we are going to see some big innovations in that space this year,” he said. "That’s going to be a space that gets really exciting.”

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.