Deeper Dive—Comcast’s new Ad Platform GM details plans for future of ad delivery

Comcast Technology Solutions just hired programmatic ad guy and OneRhythm veteran Richard Nunn to serve as vice president and general manager of Ad Platform. (Comcast)
Richard Nunn

Comcast took a hit this week when Disney ditched Freewheel and aligned its online ad efforts with Google. But across the Comcast corporation, other advanced ad efforts are heating up.

Comcast Technology Solutions just hired programmatic ad guy and RhythmOne veteran Richard Nunn to serve as vice president and general manager of Ad Platform. Ad Platform is CTS’s product focused on ad delivery and ad production services. The service uses audience segmentation and optimization to put relevant ads in front of viewers via dynamic ad insertion.

Nunn said Ad Platform is also about providing a unified platform to make it easier for advertisers to deploy both linear and nonlinear ad formats. He said it’s about allowing the user to distribute their own assets in close to real-time while offering the reach and scale provided by Comcast and its partners.

“That’s the evolution of where we’re taking the business in a world that’s fragmented but also converging,” Nunn said.

Nunn said that next year CTS and Ad Platform will be looking at expanding availability of their technology into international markets including Europe and Asia. He said that since CTS already has operations up and running in London and Paris along with Spain and Italy.

“In terms of infrastructure and geographical presence we’re kind of there, but the Ad Platform isn’t yet,” Nunn said. He added that CTS will decide whether to build out Ad Platform organically in international markets or seek out global partners who are working on similar technologies.

FierceVideo got a chance to catch up with Nunn and discuss the immediate priorities for CTS and Ad Platform as well as how the platform plans to stand out amid competitors also working on DAI and addressable.

The following has been edited for length and clarity.

FierceVideo: What are the priorities for Ad Platform moving into 2019?

Richard Nunn: We’ve got an interesting product called Adstor which is active in the market. What it does is when you have a broadcast-based asset like 30-second TV spot that goes to the linear world, that same asset can be placed into the Adstor once the media plan is all agreed upon it will automatically in real-time transcode, reformat and then send that out to broadcasters. We’ve had some great success with two or three major broadcasters that can’t be named now, and we’re looking to roll that product out.

There’s definitely an opportunity for us to push it to further broadcasters and look at bridging where that particular product sits within the bigger, broad programmatic sector supporting DSPs [demand-side platforms], buy-side platforms and also advertisers direct. Because interestingly I think the challenge with agencies is that buy-side agencies are still fairly siloed. Our unified dashboard effectively bridges that silo delivering both on the Adstor side and the TV/linear side all in one place.

FierceVideo: Lots of companies now are working on programmatic, DAI, addressable and other forms of advanced advertising. How does Comcast stand out in that market?

Nunn: There are two answers to that question. One, within Comcast we have our own substantial properties like NBC. We’ve built technology solutions to deliver ads across our own properties and we do that for NBC, Spotlight and other properties within Comcast. Before my time, we started to roll that out into the market and commercialize it.

To your earlier point around the programmatic ecosystem and where it’s starting to move into addressable and advanced TV, that’s another area where Freewheel plays. There are certainly opportunities where we’ll be working more horizontally within Comcast. But where the Ad Platform sits within CTS and what we’re doing with the scale that is driving speed, efficiency, analytics and data back to the buy and sell side is working well. We think we’re in quite an exciting space but certainly there’s more to do.