Doug Knopper, co-founder and co-CEO of FreeWheel, discussed the investment and the company's product line.
AdExchanger.com: What were you looking for in terms of a strategic investor in this round of funding and please discuss why The Walt Disney Company affiliation is the right fit for FreeWheel?
DK: We designed the company and its products to help the largest media companies in the world make more money from their video content – so, companies like Steamboat Ventures, an affiliate of The Walt Disney Company, and Turner Broadcasting System are a logical fit – as both investors and either directly or indirectly, as clients. We have a shared vision: to ensure that premium video content continues to be both consumed and monetized.
How is "real-time" becoming an important feature in or attribute of FreeWheel's business?
This is a great question, and a big reason why companies like Turner and ESPN chose FreeWheel – their need to monetize live events in addition to on-demand content. Managing sales rights, predicting inventory availability, and ad decisioning is complex for on-demand content – for live events, it’s even harder. Many ad delivery systems can deliver ads evenly over time; our system has the intelligence to manage ad commitments across a live event, serving more heavily when the event is going on, and tapering off when the event is over. Again – for a company like ESPN, this is invaluable.
Any plans on taking FreeWheel's monetization technology for online video ad serving to other digital channels such as mobile or display? Digital marketing channels ideally shouldn't operate in a silo, no?
We're already serving ads into mobile, display, connected televisions, and the web. Our technology was built from the beginning to go across platforms and devices; wherever the video goes, so goes our monetization technology. Content isn’t just mobile – it’s portable – and for our clients, our ability to monetize that content is portable as well.
In regards to demand-side platforms, are publishers "outgunned" and is a sell-side platform necessary? Do you see FreeWheel providing this type of solution?
We are not, nor do we intend to be in the media selling business. Often companies in our space choose to blend a technology offering with a media selling offering – this has never been part of our strategy, nor will it be. Many of our clients see this as a conflict of interest, and we do as well. In regards to publishers being outgunned, we’re helping the largest media companies monetize their premium video content. We don’t see that going up for grabs on an exchange anytime soon.
By John Ebbert