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FreeWheel and StickyADS.tv deal opens the way to holistic ad management platform covering direct and SSP sales

Thomas Bremond, European Managing Director at FreeWheel
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FreeWheel has been outlining its roadmap towards an end-to-end advertising management platform that supports direct sales and also programmatic sales via exchanges (supply side platforms), provides holistic yield optimisation across both demand sources, and applies broadcast standard compliance requirements to advertising inventory whether it is sold direct or via an auction. This is what customers want from FreeWheel and it is what the company believes it can now deliver following the May acquisition of StickyADS.tv, the Paris-based supply side platform that specialises in digital advertising. The solution will cover advertising across any screen. The combined platform will be firmly focused on the supply side of the industry.

Comcast-owned FreeWheel already supports automated and guaranteed direct sales with television-grade compliance for a number of major broadcasters and Pay TV platforms. Most of its existing customers still sell the vast majority of their advertising direct – often as much as 95% according to Thomas Bremond, European Managing Director at the company. However, this figure is expected to fall. Agencies are asking broadcasters for more inventory to be made available programmatically and FreeWheel wants to give them a way to manage advertising that is sold via exchanges as well.

This requires that core competencies contained in FreeWheel (like ad decisioning, managing compliance and other restrictions, and yield optimisation) and the core competencies from StickyADS.tv (like managing private exchanges, auctions) are combined. “We will be in a position to offer an end-to-end advertising management stack that covers direct sales and all other demand sources,” Bremond explains.

The first step on the road to this end-to-end solution is price comparison management between direct sales and SSP demand for digital inventory (thus covering IP video whether it is linear or VOD, destined for connected STBs, desktop, mobile, etc.) This is the result of an early integration between the FreeWheel and StickyADS.tv solutions. This means you can compare the price offers that are being returned from an SSP against prices achieved for direct sales inventory. This could be used as the basis for deciding which campaign gets to serve an ad, if price is the most important criterion. One of the next steps will be to manage yield optimisation across direct and SSP demand sources.

FreeWheel will be setting out its product roadmap to customers in the next few months. Ensuring that the FreeWheel compliance management is extended to the SSP demand is one of the future projects, for example. The existing FreeWheel platform will continue to work with multiple SSPs and Bremond also points out that migration to more SSP sales at broadcasters will take time – it is not going to happen overnight. “The objective is to help our customers get the kind of capabilities and services they currently get from us for direct sales, but for all their programmatic trading as well,” he concludes.

FreeWheel knew it had to move towards a holistic platform that covers direct and SSP sales and StickyADS.tv was already one of its preferred partners when the two companies agreed to an acquisition. Bremond says they share the same DNA, both born-and-bred on the supply side of the industry with the interests of television companies and publishers at heart. The reaction to the deal among customers has been extremely positive. Right now, the two companies do not share any customers but there will be an announcement fairly soon that will change that.

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