YouTube Drafts FreeWheel to Serve Ads

YouTube (s GOOG) today announced it is conducting a trial with video ad startup FreeWheel through which publishers can serve their own ads directly into YouTube. The announcement is significant because YouTube rarely acknowledges tech partners, preferring to build things itself when it can.

What’s so special about FreeWheel? The company, founded by former execs at DoubleClick (which was acquired by Google), has built an analogous platform for managing advertising on syndicated web videos. The deal helps YouTube appeal to larger partners by giving them more control and flexibility with their ads.

NNN Obama Girl - FreeWheel Overlay + 300x250

Publishers who want to try the new system have to be part of YouTube’s program that allows them to sell their own ads on YouTube (there are about 50 such partners) as well as customers of FreeWheel (which include CBS, Warner Bros. and Next New Networks), at least until the trial expands. Those who qualify are able to use FreeWheel to serve ads on their content around the web, meaning they can use their specialized ad sales and operations to potentially make more money and tie together campaigns on the same content across multiple platforms and sites. (However the trial will only apply to videos the partners upload themselves; clips identified by YouTube’s content ID system as part of a partner’s library can only show ads served by YouTube.)

The image above shows an Obama Girl video on the Next New Networks Barely Political channel displaying a FreeWheel-powered ad for another Next New Network property, $99 Music Videos.

San Mateo, Calif.-based FreeWheel announced in April it had raised $12 million in Series C funding from Foundation Capital and Battery Ventures.