Comcast Powers Up FreeWheel By Acquiring French Video Startup StickyAds

TV Pub

Updated with comment from FreeWheel’s CEO.

Comcast has acquired, a French video ad tech startup focused on publishers. Re/code first reported the news Sunday night, and Comcast confirmed it Monday morning.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Business Insider claimed the deal was an all-cash transaction and worth “at least $100 million.”

StickyAds provides a range of video publisher tools, including solutions for managing floor pricing and insights, video private exchanges and multiscreen monetization and delivery.

“StickyAds brings faster speed to market on different variations of private marketplaces to mix direct sold and syndicated deals safely and efficiently,” Jon Heller, co-founder and CEO of FreeWheel, told AdExchanger. “A benefit for StickyAds is it can take advantage of all the work we’ve done to make the ad decision work regardless of the viewing environment across screens – it opens a lot of potential inventory for automated access.”

The deal underscores Comcast’s seriousness about owning the video ad supply chain.

StickyAds is only the latest of numerous major investments Comcast has made in the space in the past two years. It bought video ad-serving platform FreeWheel in 2014 and addressable TV platform Visible World a year later.

Re/code’s sources indicated StickyAds will be rolled up into its FreeWheel unit. StickyAds has 100 employees in eight global regions.

Comcast’s latest acquisition mirrors moves by Verizon and AOL to ramp up publisher ad tech, particularly in video. Sellers want to monetize video across screens as linear revenue fluctuates and broadcasters and publishers need more ways to maximize yield around new CPM-based pricing models.

StickyAds obviously has a head start with publishers in European markets; for instance, French publisher co-op La Place Media licenses its video platform in addition to SSP partner Rubicon Project. It has more than 90 server-to-server integrations to buy-side platforms and trading desks. 

With Google making its mark on TV and aggressively entering the race for publisher video dollars, it’s not surprising Comcast is bulking up on more exchange-based tech to support FreeWheel.

And although Facebook has pulled back its once-competitive ad server and SSP business, it also has a well-established private marketplace business with the likes of Hulu and A&E as customers.

FreeWheel’s joining arms with StickyAds could provide even more competition for video publishers who don’t necessarily want their monetization stack run by Google and Facebook.

“Our focus on a private exchange, server-side architecture is perfectly aligned with FreeWheel’s technology in addressing the specific needs of premium publishers,” said Hervé Brunet, CEO & co-Founder at, in a statement.


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