Comcast's Advert-Tech Arm FreeWheel to buy beeswax

Comcast's ad tech division, FreeWheel, is acquiring Beeswax, a buy-side startup led by influential programmatic personality Ari Paparo.

The financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed and the transaction is expected to close in January 2021 pending regulatory approval. It comes at a time when mergers and acquisitions are on the rise in the ad tech sector after the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic caused business disruption.

Beeswax offers media buyers a programmatic “bidder-as-a-service” purchase model, where customers are charged a standardized service fee, as opposed to a percentage of each media purchase fee, the normal cost model in automated media trading.

FreeWheel said this model will complement its existing activities as both buy and sell-side players increasingly request flexible technology and business models, including media owners who want to use this technology to sell ad impressions on third-party websites.

FreeWheel also said the purchase is intended to further leverage the rapidly growing networked TV landscape and better serve marketers looking to optimize their automated media buying opportunities.

“FreeWheel and Beeswax can work together to improve the way television works. As the ecosystem becomes more complex, media sellers and buyers want similar features: great automation, simplicity, and the ability to manage data-driven campaigns across hundreds of endpoints, ”said Dave Clark, general manager of FreeWheel, in a statement.

Beeswax's Paparo added, "Now, together with Freewheel, we can deliver scalability across all programmatic channels, including advanced television advertising."

Terry Kawaja, CEO of the investment bank Luma Partners, advised Beeswax on the purchase and said to Adweek: “This is a lot because Ari is such an O.G. is. and has a world class tech team. He was the first to develop ad tech functionality but only SaaS pricing model – that was an innovation and it's great to see it end up in a home.

“It also shows Comcast and FreeWheel's commitment to space. They were quiet for a while [in the M&A area]. "

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