NBCU taps Comcast's FreeWheel to serve its digital, linear ad inventory

Comcast Center headquarters in Philadelphia. Image: Comcast
FreeWheel and NBCUniversal, both owned by Comcast, are combining ad decisioning tech for digital and linear TV ads.(Comcast)

Comcast-owned FreeWheel is combining its ad decisioning capabilities with NBCUniversal’s digital and traditional TV ad inventory.

The combination is the first stage of what the companies call a “unification initiative” focused on enabling NBCU to more effectively sell and execute inventory across multiple screens. NBCU is now using FreeWheel’s dynamic ad decisioning technology to for its linear TV schedules.

“Linear has been the missing piece in the one order, one report solution that marketers need. The results of the work on linear schedule optimization using our digital ad decisioning capabilities were extremely encouraging and an important first proof point of the value of connecting NBCU’s linear and digital systems,” said FreeWheel General Manager Dave Clark in a statement. “What we’re most excited about is the long-term implications for both publishers and advertisers, and what it means to the ultimate vision of a unified video strategy across all screens.”

FreeWheel and NBCU will roll out the capability across its channels throughout 2019. The two companies are also working toward enabling delivery based on additional criteria such as a particular data segment, or delivery of a specific KPI. FreeWheel said it will add additional partner clients throughout 2019 as it works on its unification efforts with NBCU.

The companies will focus on optimization in the next stage of the unification program, including adding the ability to optimize campaigns across linear and digital, optimize between direct sold and programmatic channels and enable household addressability.

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“When an advertiser places a schedule with us across any of our video properties, it needs to be easy to execute and seamless to measure consistently across platforms. The success of our recent work on optimized linear scheduling brings us one step closer to that goal,” said Krishan Bhatia, executive vice president of Business Operations and Strategy, Advertising at NBCUniversal, in a statement. “Every solution we create should make the advertising ecosystem more accessible to any advertiser. Buying on television should be as simple as turning on your television.”

As AdExchanger points out, though, this first step is a relatively small one. Right now, the focus is on FreeWheel being able to handle linear ad serving for NBCUniversal. After time, FreeWheel may begin spotting the best placements for ad units by using audience data and other information.