A+E Networks will use FreeWheel's Monetization Rights Management system to manage video ads running against its content consumed on Apple iOS mobile devices, the companies announced this morning. A+E will be able to deploy video ads on its own mobile properties as well as those of third-party syndication partners. FreeWheel gives A+E the ability to manage ad sales rights, forecast inventory, determine ad loads in specific commercial breaks, and monitor performance, among other things.
While mobile video advertising is still at an earlier stage than online video advertising, the enormous base of mobile devices is enticing both content providers and advertisers. While mobile has traditionally meant smartphones, what's changed since the introduction of the iPad is the importance of the tablet for video viewing.
The iPad is poised to become increasingly significant, as some analysts are suggesting Apple could ship 48 million units in 2012, powered by the introduction of the new iPad 3 in the coming months. TV networks such as ESPN, HBO, Showtime, CNN and others, along with pay-TV operators like Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cablevision and others have been aggressively rolling out iPad apps as part of their TV Everywhere strategies. All of this is going to fuel greater consumption of premium video programming on iPads, in turn requiring improved video ad management tools to monetize all that viewership.
Out of this, it seems there will be an increasing blurring of the lines between traditional TV ad management and online/mobile video ad management. Add in proliferating connected TVs with viewers consuming longer-form online-delivered programming on them. As a result, I expect significant opportunities ahead for companies that provide tools to content providers to cohesively manage video ads across all screens.