Fox’s True[X], FreeWheel Team Up To Help TV Companies Take On Big Tech Providers

TVTrue[X], the video ad platform Fox acquired last December, partnered Tuesday with Comcast’s TV ad-serving platform FreeWheel to bring more “engagement-based” video ads to broadcasters.

The deal will give True[X] greater sell-in among FreeWheel’s base of media and entertainment brands, which include NBCUniversal, Turner Broadcasting, Viacom, Sky, DirecTV and ABC.

True[X] creates interactive video ad formats that give audiences ad viewing options in exchange for content. Hulu, for instance, uses True[X]’s “selectable” video ad units, which give consumers the option to view a 30-second ad in exchange for commercial-free episodes.

“We wanted to enable the ability to deliver this new experience while maintaining the integrity of our customers’ larger business within one platform,” explained Amy Pisano, VP of enterprise solutions for FreeWheel.

As traditional TV viewers migrate online and to mobile, big broadcasters and networks want to monetize premium content and create infrastructure needed for digital and TV Everywhere experiences.

Despite large video libraries, some traditional or pay TV broadcasters sell rights to certain shows to Netflix and Amazon, which have better online user experiences and large subscriber bases.

“One of the sea changes you’ll see in TV with the investment in ad technology, in addition to more premium ad experiences, is more data and targeting through programmatic solutions and more means to secure backfill,” said David Levy, co-founder and COO for True[X]. “You’ll start to see much higher monetization per view.” 

Broadcasters and networks have one big advantage over pure-play tech providers, according to Levy: the ability to produce long-form, episodic content.

As consumers demand better ad experiences (and in some instances, block ads altogether), Levy claims video providers devoted to short-form video clips and user-generated content will have a harder time convincing a consumer to switch off an ad blocker or to engage with an ad in exchange for commercial-free content.

“In the TV world, the real competitiveness is between television and long-form content versus the massive, low-cost content providers like YouTube and Facebook,” he said. “We want to improve the experience so that watching on ABC and Fox is preferred to viewing our content on another platform. Also, a better monetization stack so you’re earning more revenue for each viewer you get.”

Partnerships with FreeWheel and Hulu have helped True[X] scale reach for its formats, but Fox’s investment has also ramped up resources internally at True[X] in terms of engineering and headcount, Levy said.

On the horizon are more interactive ad formats for connected TV and video on demand, which Levy called a wide-open opportunity. While CTV and VOD have (growing) addressable audiences, formats and targeting haven’t kept up.

Thus, True[X] has new products in the pipeline to fit full-screen, nonskippable ad environments like VOD, “which are arguably annoying to consumers,” Levy said, “but one of the best options for advertisers.”

 

 

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