FreeWheel, Partner, Will Collaborate On FourFronts Marketplace

FreeWheel and AOL’s on Thursday announced a partnership that will see’s demand-side platform (DSP) integrated into FreeWheel’s “FourFronts” private marketplace.

The deal is significant because it sets up as the first DSP that will power the buy-side of the programmatic video program ABC announced it will participate in during the TV upfronts, which is expected to roll out this summer. FreeWheel's "FourFronts" marketplace is what ABC will use to sell its online video inventory during the trial. A FreeWheel representative said future buy-side integrations are expected in the future.

In addition, three agencies have joined as members of the trial program: Magna Global, Optimedia and Starcom MediaVest Group. Magna is an IPG agency, while Optimedia and SMG are both Publicis Groupe agencies.



“The full power of programmatic buying comes to life when we’re able to apply the best audience targeting and digital practices to premium publishers,” stated Todd Gordon, executive vice president and head of U.S. investment at Magna Global.

When ABC announced the program earlier this month, it said it will offer “reserved” inventory, meaning advertisers will need to commit to spend levels in advance over a defined time period, per Media Daily News.

To account for this, FreeWheel will be using’s “programmatic reserved technology,” which is essentially technology that helps online video advertisers mimic TV upfront buys.

However, the tech is geared for online video because it allows advertisers to use first-party data to buy audiences, not just programs. This is further evidence of the ad industry’s shift toward audience-buying, and it gives us a look at how new methods (audience-buying) are being applied to traditional methods (upfront-like deals). claims that this will be the first time video advertisers will be able to buy audiences via programmatic in a reserved fashion. The company says it had not previously been possible because advertisers do not want to share their first-party data and publishers have been reluctant to put “premium” video inventory up in RTB environments.

To help ease publisher concerns, there will be no real-time bidding (RTB) in the trial program. For buyers, their first-party data will be protected by being placed into what describes as a "'data escrow' environment."

“‘Data escrow' simply means that the publishers will be able to respond to an advertiser's audience-targeting requests without the advertiser having to hand over their valuable data. FreeWheel and will be handling these requests, but not storing the data long-term or handing it off to publishers,” an representative explained.

This type of buying and selling could also be described as “programmatic direct” -- a trading method that has taken off in the past 12 months because it allows publishers to maintain control, while still letting advertisers make use of their targeting data.

Teg Grenager, chief product officer and co-founder of, stated that the goal of the pilot program is to help “move the industry forward toward the inevitable multichannel, data-driven world of TV.”

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