Advanced TV and the Opportunity Ahead

Brian Wallach Senior VP, Advanced TV Media Sales, FreeWheel

The phrase “Advanced TV” is everywhere these days – in the trades, on social media, and in industry-related conversations – and it’s commonplace to encounter a different definition of Advanced TV in each setting. Some think it’s as simple as an internet connected television. Others believe it’s a far off, future concept. And still more equate Advanced TV with “programmatic,” a label in itself so confusing that the IAB recently called to abolish the term. One thing we can all agree on is that the current definition of Advanced TV is vague at best.

It’s time to set the record straight.

FreeWheel has a very clear definition of what Advanced TV is and how it will impact the entire industry. We see Advanced TV as the coupling of three important elements – inventory, data, and automation – which, when applied together correctly, increase TV-buying intelligence while reducing the mundane, inefficient, and repetitive tasks associated with traditional TV buying.

Let’s take a closer look at each of these key elements. 


There are three main sources of inventory in the Advanced TV space:

  • Traditional linear programming: This is TV programming that includes commercial breaks – the programs most of us grew up with. This includes inventory from national cable networks, like HGTV, MTV or FOX, as well as local inventory on these same networks from your local cable company or satellite provider. This also includes inventory from local TV stations, like your local NBC affiliate, that have inventory they own across all programming (like when you are watching This is Us and you see an ad for a car dealership close by).
  • Set-top-box video-on-demand (STB VOD): Inventory created from some of the same programming that’s either stored physically on your cable box or in the cloud that enables you to watch it at a later time—not to be confused with content you record and watch on your DVR. These are programs you can access from your cable box and watch anytime you want (like when you go back and watch the latest three episodes of The Voice). This is a big draw of consumers coming back to the living room.
  • Over-the-top (OTT): On-demand inventory from an IP device coming to your big screen, living room television through devices including Apple TVs, Amazon Fire Sticks, Rokus, gaming consoles, or smart TVs.


The industry, as a whole, is swimming in data. There’s no shortage of information coming from a myriad of sources.

  • First party data: Data, of all types, that a service provider like a credit card or cable company gathers directly when consumers use that provider’s services. Purchase or viewing data are great examples of first party data.
  • Third party data: Data that is generated from an outside source, or platform, that is compiled by third-party companies, called data aggregators, and then used for things like ad targeting by other companies.


This is where Advanced TV really shines and everyone can realize the benefits of the technology. When you apply data sources to various inventory types, you can execute Addressable Television, Automated Audience Buying, and Machine-based Optimization – the three elements representative of the next evolution of television.

  • Addressable TV: Showing different advertisements to different homes, even down to the individual household level. For example, during the same commercial break in the same show, your home may get a car advertisement while your next-door-neighbor gets a credit card ad.
  • Automated Audience buying: Using data to inform campaigns, identifying programs that deliver a high concentration of desired audiences, and then using technology to access the appropriate inventory.
  • Machine-based Optimization: Allowing technology to continually find the audience and deliver the advertising message, based upon pre-determined criteria – flight, day/daypart mix, or other KPI’s – without the need for manual inputs. This enables the system to operate more efficiently and intelligently, inherently driving better campaign results.

All sides of the ecosystem will benefit from the rise of Advanced TV. Buyers and marketers are able to complement their national television buys with enhanced planning and targeting to reach the consumers they’re after, achieving efficient, incremental reach. Meanwhile, sellers of inventory at the MVPD and programmer level are able to offer efficient, targeted inventory to buyers and further fulfill their promise of providing the hyper-targeted viewers that ultimately buy cars from local dealerships, visit local restaurants, and shop at local stores.  Additionally, everyone’s jobs are made easier by removing the complications and inefficiencies of the existing manual processes.

You’ve probably heard a few others out there saying they offer Advanced TV. And you know what? Others can, albeit to varying degrees of success. But at FreeWheel, we pride ourselves being the leaders in this space. FreeWheel has a far bigger aggregation footprint, allowing for full, complete coverage of the U.S., ultimately allowing buyers to be more effective and hand-select the dayparts and inventory that best fit to achieve their goals. Not to mention the crucial element of speed; we offer next day reporting and self-serve reporting UIs to track campaigns in near real-time. Our cutting-edge technology enables campaign monitoring and optimization as fast as possible – vs. the one- to four-week timeline others are limited to offer. And finally, we pride ourselves on being open. We are eager to partner with all sides of the ecosystem: buyers, sellers, and agencies, to ensure that the potential of Advanced TV can be fully realized.

Our entire team is excited about the opportunities Advanced TV brings to the industry, and our position at the center of the New TV Economy affords us to play a significant role in driving this evolution forward. If you’re attending Cannes Lions this June, connect with me to further discuss what we can do together and request an invitation to attend my session, Advanced TV: A Primer on the Opportunity Ahead on Wednesday, June 21.