On Wednesday, Comcast Technology Solutions (CTS), a division of Comcast Cable, rolled out a self-serve platform that automates the complex process of connecting a media plan to the creative workflow and also unifies linear and digital ad management.
The CTS ad suite ingests an advertiser’s media buy – which could include hundreds or even thousands of line instructions – and all of the associated creative assets, including ad versions. The media buy is automatically matched with the proper assets and the ads get sent off where they need to go across TV, radio and digital video platforms. There’s also cross-channel reporting available once the ads are delivered.
Ads are only delivered if the system sees that the proper talent rights are in place, and a partnership with a global video distribution platform called Peach enables international ad delivery with global clients in more than 100 markets.
Nineteen media agencies have been using the platform for some time on behalf of Comcast as an advertiser. Two additional agencies are now beta testing the solution for other clients.
The unified ad platform is integrated into the FreeWheel ad server, part of a separate Comcast division called the Advanced Advertising Group, as well as Mediaocean and other “key buying platforms,” said Richard Nunn, VP and GM at Comcast Technology Solutions.
TV and video ad management and delivery aren’t necessarily broken, Nunn said, but the process is far from smooth. “There’s just a lot of manual hand-cranking, a lot of inefficiency involved in that,” he said.
And manual processes introduce the possibility of expensive human error. An ad has to go from the creative agency to the media agency, which has a media plan in a spreadsheet, then someone else layers in traffic instructions – and the whole shebang gets sent to an ad server. Then the workflow guys like CTS come in.
“If campaigns go out to the wrong place, which happens, that’s a big issue when you’re dealing with billions of dollars in media spend – get something wrong and there could be millions of dollars in mistakes or make goods or just plain inefficiency,” Nunn said. “We’re trying to unify these constituent parts that are in silos.”
CTS knows firsthand how disorganized ad management can be. Comcast isn’t just a broadcaster, it’s an advertiser in its own right with one of the largest national media budgets out there.
“These are industry issues we’ve solved for ourselves, and now we’re taking it out to the market,” Nunn said.
But does the market want it? Nunn noted that CTS technology is already integrated with every one of the nearly 20,000 broadcasters in the United States, and that the Comcast connection isn’t a conflict of interest.
“We build products to solve the problems we face, then we take them agnostically to the market to address similar issues that others are experiencing,” he said. “We have a flexible platform so if there are scalable point solutions that can enhance our platform, we want to be able to integrate those too.”