“As a company with technology that powers linear TV ad versioning, Visible World complements [Comcast’s] FreeWheel division, which powers digital video advertising for large companies,” said Morgan. “There is no question that all of the major TV players – from network groups to distribution platforms like Comcast – will gain competitive advantage over time by having their own complete TV/digital video ad technologies.”
Since acquiring video ad server FreeWheel in March 2014, Comcast has built a platform services group to manage advanced advertising initiatives for its own portfolio (NBCUniversal on the national side, Comcast SpotLight for local) as well as technologies for the greater ecosystem.
Comcast’s advanced ad development may be broken down into four parts: linear TV, linear-addressable TV (which provides data-enabled targeting at the household level), set-top box/video on demand and digital, which includes TV Everywhere apps, mobile and browser-based advertising.
Comcast is evaluating ways it can augment insights from set-top box data to power advertising in video on demand and, in turn, improve sequencing of messages across online video, mobile and TV Everywhere apps.
That strategy continues to be a point of contention for Comcast, which has ignited regulatory concerns whether its set-top box data creates an unfair advantage for its networks’ cross-platform sales efforts.
Programmers expressed similar complaints, claiming Comcast asks for digital content licensing rights alongside linear negotiations at equal or higher rates than other video distributors. Comcast’s $45 billion merger with Time Warner Cable crumbled in April, citing regulatory disapproval.
Visible World founder and CEO Seth Haberman noted in a blog post that Visible World would remain an independent entity, similar to Comcast’s acquisition of FreeWheel, upon the transaction’s closure.