Comcast's FreeWheel Rolling Out Unified Ad Decisioning Across Direct, Programmatic

FreeWheel, Comcast’s ad-server business, is rolling out unified decisioning capability that enables buyers and sellers to transact across all demand sources within both direct-sold and programmatic advertising.

The capability, which was piloted last year, will be available marketwide in the second quarter.

FreeWheel says it built programmatic capabilities, traditionally handled by supply-side platforms (SSPs), into its core software platform in response to increased demand for buying premium video inventory via programmatic.

NBCUniversal and demand-side platform (DSP) The Trade Desk are already using the unified decisioning capability.

Since incorporating the capability into its One Platform, NBCUniversal has seen 170% growth in programmatic video revenue—and expects “significantly more growth to come,” according to Krishan Bhatia, executive vice president, business operations and strategy, NBCU advertising and partnerships.

FreeWheel is opening the unified decisioning capability to more than 30 DSPs. For DSPs, it opens access to additional premium inventory by eliminating the need for waterfalling or header bidding — SSP practices that limit the number of advertisers who can see and bid on an ad impression, according to FreeWheel.

This has increased access to CTV inventory within The Trade Desk’s platform by 300%, reported Brian Stempeck, the DSP's chief strategy officer.

In addition to making premium content available at greater scale for buyers, the capability helps publishers “make the best choice possible on who buys the ad,” said Stempeck.

According to FreeWheel, its platform can now inform buy and sell decisions by factoring in account programmatic demand across multiple sources, including guaranteed deals and private marketplaces; rules, objectives and requirements of the buyer; TV-level compliance, such as category and competitive separation requirements; and user experience considerations including ad repetition and relevance.

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