Comcast Partners With Innovid To Automate Digital And Linear Campaigns

Comcast Technology Solutions (CTS) has integrated TV ad server Innovid’s ad tech into its Ad Management Platform as part of an effort to unify linear and digital ad campaign management. 

The combination will help automate workflow processes, including creative ad management, performance analytics and optimization across screens and channels for both linear TV and online video.

CTS is a division of Comcast Cable that provides technology to advertisers, agencies and content providers. The division also has an integration with Innovid’s competitor Flashtalking. That partnership was struck earlier this month as part of a larger strategy to work more closely with third-party ad servers. Both Innovid and Flashtalking’s clients are now integrated with CTS. 

Why the need for multiple ad server integrations?

According to Richard Nunn, vice president and general manager of advertiser solutions at CTS, Flashtalking is strong for desktop and mobile with a growing focus on connected TV, whereas Innovid is all in on CTV. Taken together, CTS is able to cover a broader swathe of clients.

“We’ve got the two leading third-party ad servers now fully integrated,” he said.

This helps CTS gauge the real-time performance of digital ads compared to linear. The ad management platform helps provide a unified view, and the relationship with Innovid makes the workflow function more seamlessly, Nunn said.

“The advertiser can see that [a] linear ad is maybe performing better than a digital ad or vice versa, and start to get some performance going on,” he said. “And then you’re seeing the full picture.”

Innovid has worked with Comcast in the past, but the new partnership removes a number of “extremely” manual, siloed processes for advertisers, said Tal Chalozin, Innovid’s CTO and co-founder, such as downloading a video file from Comcast and uploading it to Innovid, which can make the delivery of ads to Hulu, YouTube and Snapchat very complicated.

“We always delivered video files on behalf of clients, they always managed the assets, but there wasn’t really a connection between them,” Chalozin said.

But as the CTV space booms and programmatic advertising grows, there has been an increased demand for automated processes and high-quality ads in streaming.

The integration with CTS also builds on Innovid’s recent collaboration with Comcast-owned NBCUniversal to bring OTT buying quality controls to Peacock and ensure a smooth user experience for its streamers.

But whereas Peacock is a destination for ads, Innovid’s work with CTS takes place at the “beginning of the supply chain” with creatives and brand managers, Chalozin said. 

But where does FreeWheel, the video ad company Comcast acquired in 2014, which is working with NBCU to traffic linear and digital inventory, fit in all this? 

The point of difference is that FreeWheel is focused on both the audience and the ad decision, Nunn said.

CTS is focused on what happens after the ad decision has been made and an ad has been served and on collecting information related to the media buy.

Bringing Innovid’s Bridge API technology into the fold should help simplify the creative management process for agencies, post-production shops and others that manage the distribution of ads, Chalozin said, thereby ensuring that high-quality ads are served across publishers and devices, including 4K CTV.

For example, a viewer with a Comcast set-top box watching an ad break would see a high-quality commercial that “never buffers and the volume doesn’t jitter,” Chalozin said, while in digital there might be a lower-resolution video with higher or lower volume. 

“TV is a very complicated product in order to get to very, very high quality,” he said. “When television comes to digital, people now expect the same quality that we got used to in [linear] television. When you watch an NFL game, the ad needs to be top notch.”

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