Display & Programmatic Advertising

FreeWheel Unveils New Suite of Live Product Capabilities

FreeWheel also releases report on trends, best practices, and programmatic opportunities for advertisers across the growing array of live events moving to streaming platforms.

FreeWheel, a global technology platform for the television advertising industry, today announced the launch of an enhanced product suite for programmatic transactions on live steaming events—including the Olympic [& Paralympic] Games Paris 2024. In addition, FreeWheel released a new report entitled, “It’s Only Live Once: How TV Advertisers Can Capture Audiences in the Moment…and How Streaming Is Changing the Game,” adding additional support for marketers interested in advertising and exploring programmatic opportunities in the live streaming environment.

As the report asserts, live events continue to offer advertisers large, simultaneous audiences; highly-engaged viewing environments; and positive brand associations, yet as live events begin to move onto streaming platforms, challenges also present themselves. Ad technologies must deliver an advertiser’s message into a dynamic environment with millions of simultaneous views, with little room for failure or errors. ​Hence, the roll out of FreeWheel’s new capabilities that solve some of the key challenges of transacting programmatically within live events.

“Streaming opened the path for publishers to transact programmatically within their highly valuable live inventory. But most programmers, understandably, took a walk, jog, run approach. Now, with advanced ad technologies, proven business models, and unprecedented scale of streaming audiences, we’re at a new stage in the programmatic evolution,” said Mark McKee, General Manager, FreeWheel. “There are still different approaches for different events, but publishers interested in opening their premier inventory to automated trading, can do so with confidence. As they say, it’s only live once, which is what makes these events so special for advertisers.”

New Capabilities for Live Event Advertising

FreeWheel has a history of ad serving at scale into live events, including tentpole events like the Super Bowl and FIFA World Cup; major sports leagues including MLB, NCAA, NFL, NHL and Premier League; and an array of regional sports networks. As more major events move to streaming, sometimes as the sole distribution platform, publishers can serve a more customized ad experience to viewers, and that ability increases with the use of real-time programmatic capabilities. At the same time, however, the magnitude and complexity of digital ad serving escalates, due to concurrent viewing spikes, making pacing and latency control even more critical.

To meet these new demands, FreeWheel is introducing now and over the next few months a suite of new capabilities to ensure smooth delivery of ads even during the largest streaming events. These include the ability to:

  • Expedite programmatic activation via creative pre-approvals and transcoding to minimize latency,
  • Expand advertiser diversity by increasing inventory opportunities for more advertisers,
  • Anticipate real time surges in live viewership to properly scale server capacity, and
  • Adjust campaign pacing to account for high viewership to maintain seamless ad experience.

These new capabilities offer several benefits to advertisers and publishers alike, including:

  • Increased reliability and confidence that ads will run as planned,
  • Enhanced fill rates and monetization for publishers,
  • Greater access for new advertisers who leverage programmatic as a primary buying strategy, and
  • More personalized ad experience for viewers with fewer repetitive ads.

“As our industry shifts to an always on marketplace, we have been able to bring in advertisers of all sizes to our content across our entire ecosystem through programmatic, especially to the highly coveted sports and live events programming we air,” said Mark Marshall, Chairman, Global Advertising & Partnerships, NBCUniversal. “This allows for a greater diversity of marketers to access our premiere content, while also enhancing targeting and engagement with the right audiences. We are excited for the continued marriage of premiere programming and advanced ad technologies, as its impact will be unsurpassed.”

Why is Live TV Special?

According to FreeWheel’s new report, the appetite for live programming continues to grow. Whether tuning in to tentpole events like the Super Bowl, which broke viewership records this year, or in-season games, U.S. households watch 23 hours of live sports per month.

There are three broad drivers of its appeal:

  • It is current—the top reason viewers watch live programming is that it happens in real-time,
  • It is engaging – live events garner 22% longer tune-in than all other programs,
  • It is communal—live events are 17% more likely to be viewed by multiple people together, and 54% of sports viewers say they often watch live sports with others.

Click here to view the full report It’s Only Live Once: How TV Advertisers Can Capture Audiences in the Moment…and How Streaming Is Changing the Game.

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