A+E Looks To Cross Platform On Apple Devices, Taps FreeWheel’s Ad Management

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February 9, 2012 – 10:02 am

aeWith people watching more and more video on a quarter of a billion Apple iOS devices currently in circulation, the iPad and the iPhone have become the main second TV screen. Cable network A+E is hoping to reach its audience on that device and since it doesn't want to lose any of the ad support that accompanies its programming on TV, it has tapped FreeWheel's monetization rights management system to make sure the ad loads mirror what runs on television.

Over the past few years, video sites have experimented with ad formats and ad loads. Will consumers accept the same amount of ads for online video as they do, grudgingly, with TV? While consumers will do what they can to avoid seeing commercials, if a viewer is committed to a show, they'll put up with it, even on their mobile device.

That's what A+E and FreeWheel are betting on at least.

"Video is video, whether it's on TV, a PC, a smartphone or a tablet," said  Frans Vermeulen, FreeWheel's VP of services. "The distinctions are blurring for consumers. And the wider adoption of TV Everywhere programs by networks makes it more crucial that the traditional model of ad pods is preserved."

Media buyers and planners, along with their marketer clients, are pretty certain about the exact way they want their ads to run. If a particular slot is chosen, if it's not replicated elsewhere, that inventory is naturally less valuable. But the question remains: do consumers consider TV and mobile devices differently. Marketers do, but if networks can offer a truly seamless experience for their advertising, eventually both those constituencies will come around and embrace a more traditional ad model for cross platform programming.

FreeWheel's proposition is that as viewers increasingly watch what they want, when they want, the traditional ad model can be made flexible enough and translated from TV to digital in a way that makes sense for both forms, yet at the same time, doesn't completely demolish the old way of running ads.

"The hard part is making a consistent set of ad products, break patterns," said Vermeulen when asked about the concerns that marketers and networks generally have about cross platform. "Maybe I want a different consumer ad experience on other platforms. The ability to control ad products beforte you serve an ad is the most important, first order of business."

Doug Knopper, co-CEO of FreeWheel

FreeWheel CEO Doug Knopper told TVExchanger that media companies are becoming much more comfortable with the distribution methods that portable devices present. For one thing, unlike the web, users tend not to switch around as much as they do with TV or the web. Therefore, the engagement proposition, and the increasing usage of mobile video is changing networks' and advertisers' approaches to cross platform.

"Last year, we saw record numbers of streaming video devices — everything from tablets and smartphones to game consoles and connected TVs — enter the market," Knopper said. "Content companies like ESPN, Turner Broadcasting System, Discovery Communications, FOX, and now A+E Networks that wish to capitalize on their growing over-the-top and TV Everywhere audiences have turned to FreeWheel's powerful MRM technology  to make that happen. For A+E Networks specifically, we will be making advertising decisions for all of the short- and long-form video content accessed on mobile devices via mobile browsers or applications."

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February 9, 2012 – 10:02 am

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