Mark McKee speaking on stage.
Employee Spotlight

Mark McKee: Transforming the TV Advertising Landscape By Better Connecting Buyers and Sellers

Mark McKee is the general manager of FreeWheel, a technology platform that is transforming the TV advertising landscape by connecting buyers and sellers of premium video advertising. Appointed into this role in January 2022, Mark oversees all aspects of FreeWheel’s business, including sales, product, engineering, operations and support services across the U.S. and globally. This includes leading the company’s global business strategy and implementation, driving innovation in lockstep with clients’ evolving needs, and accelerating the growth of the company’s marketplace exchange between media buyers and sellers.

Prior to his current position, Mark served as FreeWheel’s U.S. chief revenue officer, in which he was responsible for sales revenue and execution across all U.S. lines of business, with a strategic focus on customer experience and account strategy to drive growth and exceed targets across software, media and marketplace revenue.

In this Q&A, Mark shares his thoughts on the evolving television advertising landscape, challenging and memorable career moments, and more.

Q: Tell us about your new role.

A: Since January, I’ve been leading FreeWheel, which is a Comcast-owned technology platform connecting buyers and sellers. Our terrific and incredibly knowledgeable and passionate team spans more than 1,600 colleagues globally.

FreeWheel is a platform that powers the premium video advertising market for sellers and buyers across the globe. We are focused on making premium video advertising easy to connect and transact, all while delivering the greatest impact for sellers and buyers

Q: Was this an easy transition for you, given your previous role as FreeWheel’s U.S. CRO?

A: Yes and no. I’ve had a number of roles at FreeWheel over the past four and a half years, so, fortunately, I knew the business and the people when I began my role as general manager. That background and expertise has allowed me to focus my attention on our teams, building our workplace culture, our clients and our way of working.

On the flip side, the television advertising landscape is constantly evolving and the pace of change is now faster than it’s been before. And so, no matter what role you hold at a company or how long you’ve been in an industry, my advice would be this: Stay on top of – and ahead of – the industry, where it’s headed and trends. Never be complacent.

Q: Speaking of trends, what are some of the most dynamic and defining industry trends and changes you’ve seen in the last six months?

A: There are many, but the ones that are top of mind for me are globalization, a move to audience and the growth of connected TV (CTV).

Globalization, in particular, is one trend that we and others in our industry are closely watching. And, the fact that it continues to be an increasingly competitive marketplace. It’s one thing if competitors stay in their swim lanes, but everyone is looking to expand. The media world is becoming even more global and there has been a lot of consolidation of industry players: Univision and Televisa (now TelevisaUnivision), Warner and Discovery (now Warner Bros. Disccovery), Paramount (formerly ViacomCBS’s) acquisition of Pluto. Globalization is one example of something that is both an opportunity and a challenge for the industry.

Q: Share a pivotal, challenging and/or particularly memorable career moment and why so?

A: At the end of 2019, I was transitioning into a new role as FreeWheel’s CRO and COVID-19 had just hit. I found myself faced with questions like, “What are you going to do?” And, “how are you going to navigate a team – and company – through this as CRO virtually?”

Instead of coming up with this grand plan, I utilized a back-to-basics approach and I think that’s an “ah ha” moment that marketers, agencies and people across the world arrived at in the midst of a pandemic. One key insight the pandemic has taught us is that, whether in our professional or personal lives, there is beauty, power and magic in simplicity. Focus on what you are good at and be grateful for what you have today. Sometimes, in life and in work, we can get too wrapped up in the details or things get too complex.

For us, the formula was simple. Focus on the three key ingredients that mattered: Retention of our people and clients, driving new business, and delivering for our clients.

Q: What’s one career tip you’ve found to be incredibly impactful throughout your professional life.

A: No matter what level you are in your career, hard work goes a long way and does get rewarded. The reason I say this is because I look back on my days working in new business at McCann Erickson, an IPG global creative agency. And, I remember how, working in the new business department, we would often pull all nighters. And, all of those late nights were worth it because on the day that we presented our big idea to the client, I got to be that one person, at a very junior level, that one person out of 10 people in the agency globally who got to meet with some of the most brilliant people – the CMOs of the biggest brands in the world – as they saw and reacted to our new idea and concept.

The other thing that I learned was the importance of surrounding yourself with people you trust and with whom you have great chemistry. This last element can make a big difference between winning and losing. You can tell a great story, but the chemistry of the people whom you are in battle with is a huge game changer and a major advantage. And, the clients on the other end know.

Q: A fun fact about yourself?

A: I coach three lacrosse teams.

I was a political science and theater major.

I don’t sing as much anymore these days, but in school, I had an a cappella career and once sang back-up for Barry Manilow.