Four Signs of Premium Video’s Strength from the FreeWheel VMR: Q1 2018

David Dworin VP, Advisory Services

The value of premium video has never been stronger. Big screen viewing, controlled ad loads, and the growth of live offerings create highly engaged audiences. However, it is a tumultuous time for the broader advertising industry. Brands are demanding transparency, control, and a high return on investment in a brand-safe environment. Big advertisers continue to vocalize their grievances with the walled gardens, citing lack of transparency into the content against which ads are placed and concerns that ads are viewed for no more than a few seconds. Meanwhile, the entire digital marketing ecosystem is working through the impact of Europe’s new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which requires stricter management of consumer data.

Yet despite these challenges–or perhaps, in part, because of them–premium video is well-positioned to thrive. The New TV Ecosystem allows advertisers to couple the scale of premium television with the targeting and measurement capabilities of digital, while tightly-controlled sales channels deliver a brand-safe environment.

On June 27, FreeWheel Advisory Services launched our quarterly Video Monetization Report with Q1 2018 insights driven from our census-level advertising data collected through the FreeWheel platform. What’s clear is the opportunity premium video represents despite digital advertising challenges in other segments of the industry.

The first quarter of 2018 provided evidence of premium video’s position of strength. Here are four insights that are key to the continued evolution of the New TV Ecosystem:


Live ad views grew over 65% in both the U.S. and EU powered by tentpole events like NCAA March Madness, Super Bowl LII and the Winter Olympics.


The big screen is at the center of the viewing experience with 50% and 38% of all ad views, in the U.S. and EU respectively, being delivered on over-the-top (OTT) and set-top box (STB) devices.


Syndicated viewing on IP-enabled platforms more than doubled in the U.S. as multichannel video programming distributor (MVPD) TV Everywhere offerings enabled viewers to watch what they want, where they want.


The ad experience remained engaging with 70% of mid-roll breaks containing four ads or fewer in the U.S., and completion rates of over 90% in both the U.S. and E.U.

This first report of 2018 shows this will prove to be an eventful year. The AT&T / Time Warner acquisition is approved, Nielsen announced it would partner to deliver new measurement capabilities in OTT and STB environments, and bullish TV executives look to demand higher CPMs coming out of the Upfronts. The ecosystem continues to focus on innovative live delivery for the FIFA World Cup, as well as ensuring GDPR compliance. It is a time of both opportunity and challenge for the advertising industry, but premium video is ready to deliver audiences at scale in a brand-safe manner.

Download the report for the full scope of our data-driven insights.