FreeWheel And Operative Launch Initiative To Bridge The Buying Gap Between Digital And Addressable TV

FreeWheel and Operative said Monday that they have partnered on an initiative called “Premium at Scale,” which lets advertisers buy digital and addressable TV inventory in one place. NBCU is the first media brand to sign on.

Traditionally, ad sales on linear TV and digital have been very separate processes with very different measurements. Since the former is based on ratings and the other is focused on impressions, it can complicate the buying process.

“Now, there’s a need for [these processes] to converge,” Operative CEO Lorne Brown explained, “because NBCU—or really any media company—has to go from a fragmented world to what’s next: an outcomes-first world that is data-driven.”

Both Brown and FreeWheel Publishers GM James Rooke see their partnership as a “handshake,” referring to the different parts of the buying process each company handles. Operative focuses on pre-sales execution, while FreeWheel deals with the post-sales ad decisioning. With this new “converged platform,” clients can manage digital and TV inventory as a “single pool,” Rooke said.

Michael Bologna, president and cofounder of TV media buying startup one2one media, said buying across addressable TV and digital isn’t simple and takes enormous planning.

“The data set must be uniform, and most importantly, the measurement must be precise in order to provide unduplicated reach, frequency and conversion analysis,” Bologna told AdExchanger. “From a single system perspective, many of the MVPDs offer a digital extension within their portfolio, but the trick is stitching everything together.”

With Facebook and Google eating up so much of the world’s digital ad spend, Premium at Scale wants to allow media brands to compete. Brown says that, in a fragmented environment, partnerships like this are the way forward.

“For TV to become a true platform, TV as a whole has to operate like a platform,” he said.

NBCU and FreeWheel are both owned by Comcast. The companies say additional brands will be announced “in the coming weeks.”

Other vendors with digital buying platforms, like Google, Adobe’s TubeMogul, DataXu and The Trade Desk, have enabled the ability to purchase addressable TV inventory. However, it’s not clear whether they also can handle converged buying.

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