A+E Enlists FreeWheel to Reconcile Programmatic and Direct-Sold Ad Buys

Publisher seeks unified platform as data-driven CPM prices reach parity with ads bought directly through networks
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A+E Networks has contracted with Comcast-owned advanced advertising unit FreeWheel to unify the decisioning engine behind its linear direct-buy and programmatic inventories.

Typically, when a viewer streams a show on an A+E channel like Lifetime or History, the “publisher” (A+E) has to balance programmatic bids with buys conducted directly through the individual cable networks.

But there are instances when a unified platform helps. For example, a programmatic buyer’s commercial might deliver more revenue than direct client ad, but it might make more sense for the publisher to deliver the direct-buy ad because it will fulfill audience guarantees tied to the direct-buy campaign.

Or, perhaps bringing in an ad procured from the programmatic “data-driven” side will solve a frequency issue with viewers seeing too many of the same ads.

According to Ad Exchanger, programmatic is being put on equal footing with direct-buy mainly because CPM prices—which had differed by 15-20%— have reached a level of parity.

“Holistic decisioning across sales channels helps buyers, sellers and the industry as a whole by reducing marketplace friction,” said Dave Clark, general manager of FreeWheel, in a joint announcement of the partnership. “Our pioneering work with A+E Networks focuses on uniting their various video sales channels to help them make the best choices for all advertisers, regardless of how the ads are purchased. This work parallels and enhances FreeWheel’s overarching efforts to offer holistic, cross-screen ad management across all video, from digital and OTT, to linear TV.”

“We are focused on two key priorities: creating and maintaining a viewer experience that leads to loyalty within our consumers, and delivering an optimal ad experience for our advertising clients and partners,” added Jason DeMarco, VP of programmatic and audience solutions at A+E Networks. “FreeWheel’s Unified Ad Management allows A+E Networks to maximize both of these efforts within our digital footprint by improving ad frequency and combining the benefits of programmatic buying with the assurances of compliance and standards of quality.”

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