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Amazon and Google Make Peace, Freewheel and A+E Make Ease

1. Amazon and Google Make Peace

Amazon and Google signed their own version of a peace treaty this week, with Amazon rolling out an official YouTube app on Amazon’s Fire Stick connected TV device. In return, Google agreed to roll out Amazon Prime apps for Chromecast and Android TV.

Why It Matters

The childish battles between three of the four GAFA companies—Apple, Amazon and Google allowed Roku to become the Little Engine That Could by portraying itself to both the industry and to consumers as the “Switzerland of Connected Devices.”

It was the only one to have all the major services—Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and YouTube available at the same time, and that, plus some good design, an easy to use interface, good reviews and a low price tag, allowed Roku to become a market leader against all odds.

It’s a great illustration of how random pettiness can have long-term affects. Apple kept Amazon’s Prime app off Apple TV for years, likely further reducing the number of buyers for its already overpriced device. Google and Roku had similar beefs going on, and so Roku just slid into the space in between. Having a good product helped, but so did their rival’s seemingly childish missteps.

What You Need To Do About It

If you’re Google, Amazon and Apple, you’ve got a lot of catching up to do and it’s likely too late.

Consumers know Roku now, their interface is also in over 25% of all smart TVs sold in the US, and people associate “Roku” with streaming device. At best, you can use your superior marketing fire power (pun intended) to keep apace.

If you’re Roku, remember that “Tivo” once was synonymous with “DVR”. And then it wasn’t. So keep innovating and remain aware of how lethal your competitors can be.

If you’re an advertiser or a TV network, remember that they’re all just walled gardens and they’re looking to make as much money off of you as possible, so caveat emptor.

2.  Freewheel and A+E Make Ease

One of the many things we learned while researching and writing our TV[R]EV Special Report on Ad-Supported OTT (which, shameless plug, you can buy right here) is how confusing the entire processing of buying ads via OTT can be for agency buyers.

So we applaud Freewheel and A+E for attempting to create what they’re describing as a “pilot ad decisioning engine.”

The plan would allow Freewheel to manage A+E’s direct sold inventory along with the inventory that’s sold via supply- and demand-side exchanges (SSPs and DSPs) on a programmatic basis.

Why It Matters

There are three main ways to buy OTT advertising these days: directly from the platform, as a programmatic buy via SSPs and DSPs, or from one of the walled gardens (Amazon and Roku.)

That gets confusing AF for buyers and brands, as different companies are managing different pieces of their budgets, often using different metrics and different KPIs.

Combining the non-walled garden parts allows Freewheel to see the entire pool of potential ad buyers and then make calls based on price as well as factors like category separation (Ford and Toyota ads aren’t running back to back) frequency capping (Ford and Toyota ads aren’t running back to back on every single ad break) and relevance (Ford and Toyota ads aren’t running back to back on shows watched primarily by BMW buyers.)

It’s far from the solution to all the confusion in the OTT ad market,  but it’s a hella good start.

What You Need To Do About It

If you’re Freewheel and A+E, keep on doing what you’re doing, and may the Force be with you.

If you’re a rival OTT network/platform, you might want to talk to Freewheel or Xandr about creating a similar system for your ad buys.

If you’re an ad agency, you should definitely check out what they’ve got going on. Even if it’s not right for your clients, it’s always worth seeing what’s on the cutting edge.

A Happy Easter and חג פסח שמח to all our readers who celebrate!