Comcast's FreeWheel, Fox TV Strike Programmatic, Addressable Set-Top-Box Deal With Auto Marketer

Looking to put itself on equal footing with rising advertising interest for connected TV platforms, Fox Television Network, through supply-side platform (SSP) FreeWheel, has struck a significant programmatic, addressable TV deal with an automotive marketer.

It's using pay TV set-top-box video-on-demand inventory on the Comcast Xfinity cable TV platform.

The deal is being done through The Trade Desk, a demand-side platform (DSP) and via FreeWheel, a supply-side platform (SSP).

FreeWheel is owned by cable TV company Comcast Corp. The parties did not disclose the automotive brand involved.

Until now, TV networks have sold VOD inventory sans targeted audience segments “or through direct sales approach selling audiences within inventory on our VOD imprint,” says Larry Allen, vice president-general manager of addressable TV enablement for Comcast Advertising, speaking with Television News Daily.



“What we are doing is bringing those two things together now,” says Allen. “So if a buyer wants to leverage their DSP to transact on the inventory, they can buy the inventory -- not only near high-quality video content -- but also with an audience target.”

Although Fox and other TV networks have already been selling addressable inventory in the VOD environment, the companies claim this is the first VOD deal of its kind to offer “guaranteed” audience targeting “through the programmatic pipes.”

Dan Callahan, senior vice president of data strategy and sales innovation for Fox, says the automotive brand -- which has been running the campaign since the first of the year -- wanted a specific number of TV households to be reached.

Comcast Corp.'s cable TV video business provides subscriber-level data to match against the target. The automotive brand also wanted to use The Trade Desk programmatic DSP platform.

”With the audience-qualification targeting, we were able to reserve it and guarantee it for them,” says Callahan. “We see the future state of programmatic behaving addressably and addressable behaving programmatically. For me, this makes my set-top-box VOD inventory accessible and transactional the same way as CTV inventory is.”

FreeWheel provides impression reporting from its ad server. “At the end of the campaign, we can provide ad exposure at the household level to an attribution vendor,” says Allen.

“They can then tie the exposures back to sales or some activation they are trying to drive, so the inventory owner can validate to their buyer -- the marketer -- that they have achieved or exceeded their goals.”

Allen says: “Our job from an infrastructure and technology standpoint is to make inventory operate in a similar fashion, whether it is streaming apps or set-top-box VOD or live, linear on our platform.”

He adds: “We want all inventory to be transacted to an audience dynamically so programmers can go to the buy side and represent inventory holistically to get to scale.”

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