“On TV and videoA column that explores opportunities and challenges in advanced TV and video.
Mark Mackie took on the role of general manager at Freewheel at an industry-wide inflection point.
The advent of streaming and programmatic campaign activation has made TV inventory the home of alternative dolls. As listeners fragment, the TV industry must evolve beyond the traditional direct I / O model to support the thousands of buyers who have thousands of places to buy TV inventory, according to McKee.
To keep pace, publishers need new ways to combine their inventory and transactions – and they need the right technology to connect with buyers and take advantage of streaming growth.
“The antidote to fragmentation,” he says, is connecting the endpoints through fluidity between content, audiences and purchasing methods. And the cost of streaming goes hand-in-hand with addressability.
To make TV convergence a reality, McKee plans to strengthen Freehill’s role in the ecosystem as a player in cross-platform TV standardization and automation, while drawing a solid line between the company’s technology and media solutions.
Mackie talks to AdExchange.
AdExchanger: How has the company changed since you joined FreeWheel in 2018?
Mark MCKEE: In the last four years, we’ve evolved from a software company to a monetization solution platform. Our role has grown beyond ad serving and campaign stewardship – these are important and necessary, but they are point solutions.
As a platform, we need to work seamlessly with every technology and solution in the market, including working with various data and measurement providers in addition to SSPs and DSPs. This puts Freewheel in a position to support the evolution of the TV industry towards automation.
Will your leadership continue or will it pivot the freewheel business strategy?
Our focus as a company does not change much. FreeWheel has always been seen as a software company. But we want to clarify our role in the ecosystem for our customers and help change the perspective of what it means to be a platform company, which needs more than just one-off type solutions.
This is a significant change, but not a departure from what we are already doing.
Kicker AudienceXpress Rebrand Tie in this transformation?
Freewheel Media is now AudienceExpress.
This is actually FreeWheel’s own division – there was confusion about our branding, so how we make sure it’s clear about the roles we play across the ecosystem is restructuring.
AudienceXpress uses FreeWheel’s software, but it’s more about media solutions than selling software. This is mostly a managed service. In some cases, we can programmatically, but this is a very different business model and market offer, which is why it is important to brand them separately.
How does Freewheel differentiate its CTV strategy from its linear addressable model?
Our Strata software links to integrated TV inventory to bring the same workflow mechanism into over-the-top video. It allows buyers to create a plan for growing reach based not only on linear CTV and all the inventory available to them in the digital environment.
In terms of addressability, we’re underpinning for publishers. Many of our premium publishers have invested in addressable scales much more than in the past due to splitting. We’ve anchored the core technology that combines multiple MVPDs and endpoints into one decision-making engine. And we’re doing this by collaborating with data providers like Canoe in addition to MVPD and programmers to help publishers aggressively consolidate their inventory.
Does Freewheel have to match the addressable linear with its CTV capabilities?
Yes – we need to be able to do both. Our clients are asking us to come together on both buying and selling.
The challenge is fragmentation and working multiple paths. We need to make progress in supporting CTV, but we also need to make progress in monetizing CTV and building the right partnership to be able to consider all the new endpoints that have arisen in addition to the traditional ones. Not to mention all the investments in our product and engineering teams to make this happen.
What is the biggest misconception of the current TV ecosystem?
Everything that works for display works for premium video.
Marketers who go to TV with digital media strategies are probably working out of fear because they see themselves as part of a race. [of the purchase funnel]. Digital displays generate billions of impressions every day, but TV has a much more limited amount of inventory and an audience that expects a more preserved experience. [with a light ad load].
Inventory deficits create different rules – it creates yield management strategies for TVs, very different from digital, so the biggest part of the parallel damage to the TV ecosystem is the idea that old tried and true methods will immediately apply to premium video only because they are different. Worked in the media sector.
This interview has been edited and summarized.