New Publishing Tech
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Q&A: FreeWheel’s new digital integrated ad management platform

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FreeWheel is a provider of comprehensive ad platforms for publishers, advertisers, and media buyers. Powered by premium video content, robust data, and cutting edge tech, the company is empowering the way publishers (and marketers) transact across multiple screens, data types, and sales channels. With the launch of its new digital integrated ad management platform, WNIP caught up with Thomas Bremond, General Manager, International, FreeWheel, to find out more…

Can you give us further background about FreeWheel?

FreeWheel, a Comcast Company, was founded in 2007 by Diane Yu, Doug Knopper and Jon Heller. After seven years the ad tech startup was then acquired by cable and media giant Comcast Corporation for $360 million in 2014. FreeWheel has proceeded to acquire StickyAds, a France-based supply based platform (SSP) vendor in 2016 as a means of growing its international presence, and entering into the programmatic space.

What business problem is your company addressing?

At FreeWheel we recognise the challenges facing digital publishers. For instance walled garden dominance – digital giants are capturing the lion’s share of digital media spend. Furthermore, reliance on multiple platforms has created operational inefficiencies. This complicated supply chain then means transparency and control is often lost. Finally, buyers today expect guaranteed results in order to invest.

It is therefore down to publishers to excel in three key areas to win in the new TV landscape. Through programmatic expertise, smart brand associations and strong value propositions for marketers – all powered by a digital full-stack solution.

What is your core product addressing this problem?

FreeWheel’s new digital integrated ad management platform has three pillars at its core. First, it allows publishers to retain control over how they monetise their inventory. Secondly, it provides unified operational ease when it comes to managing programmatic businesses alongside direct-sold campaigns – so more time can be spent on selling campaigns, rather than troubleshooting. Finally concentrated access to demand will allow publishers to see if they are truly optimising the value of their inventory.

Can you give some examples of companies successfully using your solution? 

Erik Dubbeldeman, Founder of StreamAds:

“We have been collaborating with FreeWheel for many years, and the decision to use the Unified Ad Decision solution as our primary platform seemed like a natural and beneficial one for us. By running both our programmatic and direct sales channels competitively within the same decisioning engine, we are able to sell impressions at the right price. FreeWheel has provided us with strong support and guidance so we can transact seamlessly, and reach a highly-engaged audience in a brand-safe environment across all screens.”

Pricing?

Unfortunately, due to contractual obligations, we cannot publicly share much detail around pricing. We can, however, mention that as a software provider, we typically apply a subscription/licencing fee, as well as a “per cent of media” model based on the volume of business that the publisher transacts via our platform. We charge an incremental per cent of media fee for certain advanced features/capabilities.

What are other people doing in the space and why?

There are many players in the video advertising space today, claiming to have similar “unified” solutions for publisher’s IO-based and programmatic businesses. However we believe our full-stack software solution is best-in-class, and is best positioned to support the “new TV: OTT/CTV” segment in Europe.

How do you view the future?

We are continuously investing in our software solution to keep it fresh and innovative – focusing on four significant areas in what we call our digital stack roadmap. The first is Programmatic Guaranteed – a highly desirable transaction type for both buyers and sellers. Data enablement is another through 3rd party integrations and data partnerships – here we have a full pipeline of additional partnerships to pursue in 2020. In addition, FreeWheel is continuously making updates to remain compliant with GDPR. The final section on our roadmap is attribution and measurement, where we plan on carrying out a prospective partner audit and selection in the final months of 2019.

Thank you.

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