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Comcast Buys Video Ad Tech Firm FreeWheel To Integrate Ad Operations Across TV And The Web

Freewheel, bi, dng, may 2012FreeWheel was acquired by Comcast in a deal valued at $US375 million.

Comcast has officially purchased the video advertising technology firm FreeWheel, according to a post published today on FreeWheel’s company blog.

FreeWheel is one of the biggest platforms TV networks and online content producers use to serve ads inside Web video content, with clients including Fox, AOL, Viacom and Turner Sports.

It also allows cable providers to offer what is called “addressable advertising” — ads that target certain subscribers on an individual or household level the same way they do online. Presently, Comcast does not offer addressable advertising for live TV, but competitors like Cablevision and DirectTV do.

According to Variety, Comcast paid $US360 million in cash, with an additional $US15 million in potential payouts available based on performance targets.

The major takehome here is that the boundaries between what we think of as television and what we think of as online video are continuing to disintegrate. FreeWheel’s stated purpose as a company is to “unify television advertising wherever content is viewed.”

With the FreeWheel purchase, Comcast will be able to offer its advertising partners a one-stop shop to purchase ads for huge, defined audiences across multiple platforms. The purchase comes shortly after news that AOL-owned Adap.tv would facilitate ad buys covering both television and digital audiences.

It seems that across the industry, major companies are deciding that the future of video will be a seamless mixture of TV and Web consumption.

The other headline is Comcast’s fearlessness before the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission. Already, there were antitrust concerns about Comcast’s megadeal to acquire Time Warner Cable, and now the company has purchased a major ad-serving platform that some of its competitors not only use but have invested in. Comcast’s pay-TV rivals Dish Network and DirecTV are among the clients listed on FreeWheel’s website, with DirecTV investing in the company at the beginning of 2013.

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