Addressable TV Advertising’s Greatest Challenge is Commercial, Not Technical

Successes in the US and UK for addressable TV advertising have demonstrated its value to advertisers says Thomas Bremond, GM, international at FreeWheel. But as the European addressable ecosystem develops, it must learn from mistakes made in the US and UK, but not just replicate the same models. In this Q&A Bremond explains why he believes Europe must take a ‘test and learn’ approach to addressable, and why addressable TV advertising’s greatest challenge may be commercial, not technical.

As a Cologne-veteran, what was the DMEXCO zeitgeist this year?
It was evident at DMEXCO that addressable TV and connected TV are the industry’s new darlings. Broadcasters and Operators are seeking trusted partners to help them tackle the technical constraints on the path to widespread addressable TV adoption. As an industry, we need more than ever to collaborate with them and understand the challenges they face, so we can offer them the ideal product in response.

Successes in the US and UK are already illustrating the value of addressable for both the advertiser and the publisher, and have, unsurprisingly, inspired the rest of Europe. Still, the reality on the ground is that addressable TV in Continental Europe is still at the project phase. We are actively working so that the remaining obstacles are removed to allow addressable TV to finally ramp-up in the whole of Europe.

From your standpoint, will 2019 be a revolutionary year for addressable TV in Europe?
In the UK, we already have a thriving addressable TV ecosystem – with Channel 4 and Sky leading the way. They have been trailblazers in bringing together the best of linear with the best of digital and have demonstrated that enabling these capacities at scale in a European market is possible.
Continental Europe is next in line – but everyone knows it will be a tough nut to crack. In terms of market structure, the UK is closer to the US than it is to the rest of Europe. The solution will not be to replicate existing addressable TV models, but to invent new models able to provide scale at a continent-level while fulfilling local specificities.

TV is reinventing itself – and aiming to bring new advertising budgets to the table, while reconnecting with advertisers that have lowered their investments in recent years. Historically, regional TV ad sales-houses are common in the US but not as relevant in Europe. Now European TV channels will need to consider the opportunities of working with small and medium-sized businesses.

Addressable TV in Europe needs to open its offering to these brands and provide them with solutions adapted to their needs: easy-to-use platforms, with low “entry tickets” and geo-targeting opportunities. I believe local and smaller advertisers will play a huge part in the success of addressable TV.


Our main goal as an industry should be to make TV buying as frictionless as possible.

What is the main challenge?
Velocity is key. Based on a history of strong public policies, local TV channels have been developing products in-house for decades now. These products are often designed to tackle highly specific tasks and national particularities. However, they are often not in line with market standards and difficult for third-party vendors to integrate with. Collaboration is key, and broadcasters will need to work closely with each other and their technology providers so they can integrate existing regional knowledge with technology that translates to a wider audience.

Any transformation in Europe will not take place overnight. But the US and UK examples are giving us a great precedent to avoid pitfalls and act fast. At FreeWheel, we operate addressable and advanced TV in the UK and the US, and we are connecting the dots between those who are already in the addressable game and those who’d love to join. We are happy to connect European broadcasters with their cross-Channel and cross-Atlantic counterparts. Sharing our experiences will be a key factor in the growth of addressable TV across Continental Europe.

What should broadcasters and operators focus on in 2019?
Building an addressable TV ecosystem requires a test-and-learn approach. The first step for everyone willing to enter this space is to trial a single addressable impression in a test environment. The wider challenges – legal issues, scalability of the solution, data management and targeting, programmatic-specific issues – will come later. Once the initial trial is successful, broadcasters will be able to build a sensible roadmap to tackle all the remaining technical complexities.

However, the main challenge might not be technical but commercial. The rise of addressable TV will change the way agencies and advertisers operate in the same way programmatic did. The TV industry as a whole should educate brands about how addressable TV is bringing the best of both worlds – TV and digital – and how it will be beneficial for their business.

Publishers are uniting to bring digital capacities to the largest screen in the house – that is a thrilling moment for the industry. Now, let’s capitalise on this and broadcast the news to all marketers that TV is entering a new paradigm.

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