OTT Players Poised to Win TV’s Future

OTT Players Poised to Win TV’s Future

5/22/2017 8:00 AM Eastern

As TV ad buying shifts to audience-based models, a new class of over-the-top TV distributors such as Sling TV, fubo TV, DirecTV Now, YouTube TV and Hulu are in a better position than their traditional pay TV counterparts, according to a top industry ad executive.

“With that audience-based buying model, we have to recognize that the consumer is in control, that they’re going to be choosing what sort of content they want and on what terms they want to consume those options,” Gabe Greenberg, CEO and cofounder of GABBCON (Global Audience Based Buying Conference and Consultancy) told Next TV just ahead of the company’s May 16 Audience-Based Buying Summit in Chicago.

Related: Breaking Point [subscription required]

“We are very much in an infancy stage, but they are absolutely moving in a way that they can put themselves in a pole position to control the future of television,” Greenberg said of the virtual MVPDs, several of which are attached to long-established cable and satellite-TV providers.

Sling TV just made a big move toward audience-based buying by making premium ad inventory available programmatically, using real-time bidding, through SpotX, a video ad-serving platform that also allows sponsors to target consumer segments such as “auto intenders,” who are in the market for a new car, or would-be vacationers.

Related: The Future of Television Is Now

Sling TV’s new system through SpotX also has hooks into several demand- side platforms, including Adobe, AOL, AppNexus, BrightRoll, DataXu, Google DBM, MediaMath, The Trade Desk, Turn, VideoAmp and Videology.

Greenberg said the changes occurring in the TV world are like those affecting the automotive market, where car makers are more eager to sell directly to consumers and are questioning the value of their dealer relationships.

Legacy MVPDs are in a position to participate in this shift, but Greenberg questions whether or not they are moving quickly enough to seize the opportunity. Exceptions to that, he said, include Dish Network (the company behind Sling TV) and Comcast, which could capitalize on this trend with its cloud-based X1 video platform.

But others could be fearful of disrupting their legacy businesses. “Their own legacy politics and internal hurdles are impeding their ability to grow and change,” Greenberg warned.

GABBCON: Making Sense of Advanced Advertising

GABBCON: Making Sense of Advanced Advertising

May 10, 2017

You need to know about advanced advertising. And if you’re familiar with it, you need to know more. This is the new battleground for advertisers and programmers and it is changing rapidly. What you may have learned about it even at the beginning of the year has evolved. This is the most rapidly shifting field since the introduction of social media.

In just the past couple of weeks, we’ve heard from the Upfronts and Newfronts about new methods of advertising that are honing in ever tighter on the audience. Hulu’s new live streaming product will make it possible for the networks to show you one ad and your neighbor a different ad – all, during a live program. That’s the biggest shift in video advertising since the advent of online video.

You need to know more about this.

In April, at NAB, I moderated a panel on programmatic and advanced advertising. I love panels where I learn from the very people I’m interviewing. At this panel, I learned more in half an hour than I had learned studying the new advertising methods since last year.

On Tuesday, May 16th, GABBCON is holding its “Audience Based Buying Summit” at the Mid America Club in Chicago. GABBCON stands for the “Global Audience Based Buying Conference & Consultancy,” and was started in 2015 by founder Gabe Greenberg, a media-buying veteran. Greenberg had a revelation after his own experiences at conferences.

Gabe Greenberg
GABBCON CEO Gabe Greenberg

“My experience was that, after speaking at pretty much every event around the globe, the content was either an afterthought or that the pay-for-play ratio was so high that the content wasn’t very good,” Greenberg told Found Remote.

Greenberg also observed that brand professionals felt bombarded by media representatives at some ad industry conferences. He thought he could improve on the model.

“(Chicago’s GABBCON conference) is a brand-oriented event,” said Greenberg. “It helps the brands speak informally in a safe environment and not be bombarded by agencies.” Which isn’t to say Greenberg is anti-agency. Agencies make up a substantial part of the audience. Greenberg says he just wants agencies and brands to use the “safe environment” at the event to learn from each other rather than spend their time aggressively pitching new business.

“We’re Switzerland,” Greenberg said about his company’s role as a neutral meeting ground.

Participants say that approach is part of the GABBCON appeal. State Farm Advertising Director Ed Gold is speaking at the conference about his company’s move into advanced advertising techniques.

“In my role, I don’t just oversee digital, TV out-of-home or direct mail, so to go to a single conference that spends all of its time on one issue would be difficult,” said Gold. “At GABBCON you really get a high caliber of people facing similar issues and offering different thoughts and perspectives, and that’s really helpful.

That’s exactly the kind of help Greenberg highlighted when he talked about what he wanted attendees to know about what they’ll get from GABBCON:

“First, we talk in depth about technical standards for audience buying. The industry isn’t moving forward as quickly as it would or should,” said Greenberg.

“Second, we provide amazing content and programming so it isn’t just a networking event,” Greenberg added. “You will absolutely learn something new, and in just one day.”

There is also a consulting aspect to GABBCON, the third prong of Greenberg’s value proposition. “We found that a lot of these companies want to learn what’s new and innovative and how they can apply it. They told us they needed help doing it. We built the consulting side of the business to apply what they hear at our conferences.”

Those interesting in attending GABBCON can find out more information by visiting the conference website.

GABBCON: Making Sense of Advanced Advertising

Agency, Media Execs Talk Data, OTT And The 2017 Upfronts

Agency, Media Execs Talk Data, OTT And The 2017 Upfronts

It doesn’t take a psychic to predict that the role of audience-based strategies and the data that drive those will be more in evidence than ever during this year’s fast-approaching television upfronts.

But what, specifically, do agency and media executives expect to happen in regard to so-called programmatic or advanced television deals this time around?

Though his remarks were focused on the agency of the future within the context of the industry’s outlook for the next several years, David Cohen, president, North America at Magna, made points that will certainly resound during upfronts time, in a keynote given at this week’s Gabbcon 2017 New York Audience-Based Buying Conference.

“There’s no doubt that audience-based buying is the way the business is going,” Cohen said in a keynote preview video. “For 60 years, we’ve been ruthlessly focused on context — ‘I need to be in a premiere or finale or this or that content.’ And while that’s still important, the world we live in today is far more data-rich, so understanding the right person in the right context is where the sweet spot is.”

Cohen also reiterated his belief, and Magna’s, that addressable is the future. “Where do we think that consumers’ eyeballs and attention spans are going? To OTT devices,” he said.

Which is why Magna last month announced a year-long  partnership with Roku — one of the few ad-supported OTT platforms, he said. The partnership will give Magna and its clients discounts for using the platform, and the ability to alpha and beta test ad products and formats and first-party data, among other things. Most important, it will provide special access to Roku’s user data and insights — data that will fuel Magna’s planning tools, Cohen stressed.

“One of the greatest challenges in the agency business is that from a strategy and planning perspective, the tools haven’t kept up with the speed with which consumers’ consumption habits are changing,” he said. “In budget allocation, for instance, OTT wasn’t a category 10 years ago, so we need to ingest some good data into our planning tools to allow us to allocate budgets accordingly — and the Roku relationship will allow us to do that.”

As Cohen pointed out, during last year’s upfronts, Magna shifted $250 million worth of client budgets out of linear television and into Google Preferred, which offers premium YouTube inventory. He also confirmed that Magna and its clients are very pleased with the results to date.

The new Roku deal appears to be another piece of Magna’s strategy to continue shifting formerly linear-pegged dollars into new platforms, and especially addressable media — and that seems bound to play a key role in this year’s upfronts, given its powerful client roster.

Data Will Drive 2017 Upfront PTV Discussions
Cohen’s keynote was followed by a panel devoted specifically to audience-based buying expectations for this year’s upfronts, moderated by Brendan Condon, president, AdMore and REVShare.

While neither agency nor media executives predicted a massive shift away from traditional TV buying practices, they did appear to agree that this year will see accelerated advancement in the ongoing transition.

And they certainly agreed that all things data are becoming central to media, agencies and clients alike. In fact, most of the panel discussion centered on the broader issues surrounding data and its uses in television and video platforms.

“We all know that [television advertising] is moving in the audience direction, and that data is the heart of that,” summed up Carl Fremont, global chief digital officer, MEC. “We talk about audience like it’s a new thing, but we’ve been practicing that for decades — in direct marketing, we have always reached audiences at scale using data.

What’s different today is the plethora of data available due to technology that’s allowing us to access it,” he added. “But it’s all about how you use that data and data intelligence. That’s where we’ve got to get smarter. And it’s not just for that single addressability or that one-time reach and saying we’ve done our job. It’s figuring out how we use the information to drive subsequent contacts with those audiences and using the content of the platforms as a mechanism to move somebody through a brand purchase decision. We’re moving toward using the infinite amount of data — first-, second- and third-party — and the intelligence we can get from it, to be both more precise and better at moving people through that purchase decision.”

“Data is paramount to everything that we do,” said Denise Colella, SVP, advanced advertising products and strategy, ad sales, NBCUniversal. “We have some of industry’s richest data resources, including Comcast set-top box data that provides us with a wealth of information about what people are watching and when. That allows us to help our advertisers reach people at the right time with the right content. We’re able to do that on various fronts — whether you’re trying to reach niche audiences or trying to work with a mass-reach program. So the data is advising everything we do on the front end to get to the right consumer. But we’re also looking at it on the back end so that we can make sure that we’re measuring it correctly and constantly optimizing the process.

“There’s new data all the time, and as TVs get smarter, and the feedback pattern gets richer, we’ll all be looking at what more we’re able to bring in,” Colello added. “What we’re seeing a lot more of in the past year is brands bringing their own data to the table. There’s been a huge increase in them saying, ‘I want you to help me to reach the people I know are my consumers.’”

“The data being brought to the table by clients has really materialized in the last year,” agreed Erica Schmidt, EVP, managing director, North America at Cadreon, IPG MediaBrands’ ad tech unit, adding: “Surprisingly, it’s come from CPGs, like the Hersheys of the world. These companies don’t really have a digital play, but they’re thinking very seriously about their data and their ownership of it. That’s being complemented by the financial services industry and other industries that you would anticipate would have bigger, richer data sets. But even they are really just getting their houses in order in this respect, and they’re looking for our guidance on how they can best leverage those assets.

“I think that the easiest translation point for that is the one-to-one — or one-to-household — addressability, in other words,” Schmidt said. “And device graphs are certainly helping us to get a much richer understanding of whether we’re really getting to the right households and on the right devices.

“We’ve used data sets in our advanced TV practice for a number of years,” she continued. “As [Magna’s Cohen noted in his keynote], we have app data sets that allow us to find content areas and consumption patterns that pop that wouldn’t normally pop. For instance, if we’re looking for harder-to-reach audiences or lighter TV viewers, we can use data sets to inform the way that we plan and purchase TV.”

However, Schmidt acknowledged, “I think we’re still in the very basic stages. It’s great to hear a lot of the traditional players now getting very serious about their data houses, but I think the standard currency is still age/gender if you’re in a CPG category. To go beyond that, we have to get the industry across the board to think differently not only about the planning but also the measurement of content, irrespective of channel.”

The progress in audience-based buying now isn’t necessarily about new data — rather, “I think we’ve gotten past the education point and people are more comfortable, so they’re saying ‘Let’s do a data match, let’s figure out a way to sync the data in an omnibus fashion to target the consumers who are truly consumers of this brand,” said Jason DeMarco, VP programmatic and audience solutions, A+E Networks. “I think we’ll also see a lot of partnerships evolve leading up to the upfront, where you have digital tech companies that have focused on smart TV viewership and have created device graphs that allow them to reach the same household across all devices. The goal, of course, is to tie those all back to TV viewership so as to bring real results back to the client.”

With six major cable networks, A&E couples various data licensing partnerships on the national footprint with its digital offerings and the addressability option, noted DeMarco. “We look at these as collaborative pieces,” he said. “Until addressability reaches the national TV landscape, we think it’s best to continue this approach, and use addressability with digital to extend the reach and continue to drive the message to the right people, whether it’s a targeted message or just reaching those viewers that aren’t viewing live linear but instead are consuming by OTT or Mogul or iPads and so forth.”

“We’ve always been selling people and audiences first,” stressed Hulu SVP, sales Peter Naylor, who noted that much of Hulu’s sales effort is educating buyers about this evolving platform, such as that 75% of viewing on the platform is on home TV screens. “When you sell data on top of our subscribers, everything becomes more interesting,” he noted. “[Magna’s Cohen] said that he wants to go beyond age and gender. And data allows us to do that. So since he’s willing to do it and we’re willing to do it, I don’t know why it shouldn’t be a bigger part of the [media buying] conversation.”


COMMENTARY: GABBCON Bows Automated Linear Broadcast Cross-Device Standards For Audience Buying

COMMENTARY: GABBCON Bows Automated Linear Broadcast Cross-Device Standards For Audience Buying

This week the  Global Audience Based Buying Conference (GABBCON) gathered for its New York Audience-Based Buying Summit. GABBCON bills itself as a group of organizations that aren’t “satisfied with the status quo” and who are or want to be active in audience-based buying. The group went public with version 1.0 of its Automated Linear Broadcast Cross Device Standard or (ABCDs). Well, at least the acronym is easy enough.

What is ABCD, and why is it important?

According to GABBCON, ABCD aims to arm the advertising and audience-based buying marketplace with a standard and recommended practice for buying of linear TV inventory and cross-device measurement. Essentially, it looks like the group wants to bring programmatic buying practices to linear TV, and that’s a good thing. It may take a while, but it’s a move in the right direction.

GABBCON created a working group with partners that include heavyweights like DataXu, Hulu, TiVo Research, TubeMogul, AudienceXpress, CBS, Fox, Omnicom Media Group. IPG, IPONWEB, SpotX, Canoe, AdMore, AOL, Clypd, Neustar and iSpotTV.

For its part, DataXu has already been working with satellite TV and internet provider Dish, and the telecom/TV giant Sky to develop standards for programmatic buying of linear broadcast TV.

“Bringing programmatic principles and best practices to broadcast [TV] is an enormous opportunity for the industry,” Sandro Catanzaro, co-founder and SVP of Analytics & Innovation at DataXu, said following Wednesday’s summit.

Many broadcast and cable giants with linear TV businesses simply aren’t prepared for programmatic TV. Internally, they’re not organized for it and backend systems aren’t yet integrated and aligned. For example, Jason Baron, SVP of direct marketing and programmatic ad sales at Turner, told me that from a programmatic TV standpoint, “we’re not really there yet,” though discussions are ongoing. Still, the company has put some of its VOD inventory through its FreeWheel premium video marketplace and it’s connecting to set-top boxes through an automated system.

This week, of course, Turner announced that its Incite platform for ad sales will align with the IBM Watson platform and Neustar’s MarketShare to obtain predictive analytics, a sign that it’s serious about putting real-time data and analytics at the core of its business practices. This represents a shift away from proxy metrics like “eyeballs” in favor of real-time actionable insights.

Meanwhile, it looks as if GABBCON is trying to bring broadcasters, cable networks, multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs), advertising agencies, multichannel DSPs, SSPs, data providers and other ad-tech platforms that integrate or plan to integrate with the TV ecosystem under one tent. And that’s a good first step.

As GABBCON CEO and co-founder Gabe Greenberg stated, “eliminating one-off technical integrations and aligning around a protocol and common set of definitions is critical if the industry is to successfully scale programmatic TV.”

Chris Pizzurro, head of sales & marketing at Canoe, stated that he looks forward to seeing how VOD fits within the audience buying ecosystem.

We’ll see what develops soon. And this season’s TV upfronts could be telling.

GABBCON’s ABCDs Of Linear TV Audience Buying is available here.


GABBCON Working Group Is Creating Audience Buying Standards For TV

GABBCON Working Group Is Creating Audience Buying Standards For TV

GABBCON (the Global Audience Based Buying Conference) launched last year, born out of a frustration with the lack of standards and shared vocabulary around audience buying for TV and video in particular, according to co-founder Gabe Greenberg, formerly of The Trade Desk and Delivery Agent. Greenberg, among others, felt the industry had moved at a glacial pace on the issue, and saw a need to address it.

GABBCON hosts conference events and meets regularly (as frequently as once a month via conference call, with sessions in between) to work on standards for audience buying. Its partners include heavyweights like DataXu, Hulu, TiVo Research, TubeMogul, AudienceXpress, CBS, Fox, Omnicom Media Group, IPG, IPONWEB, SpotX, Canoe, AdMore, AOL, Clypd, Neustar and iSpotTV.

Last week, the group held a one-day conference event in New York where speakers included  a mix of agency, publisher and ad-tech execs like Shenan Reed, president digital North America, MEC; Dan Reiss, executive vice president of content partnerships at Turner; Doug Fleming, head of advanced TV at Hulu; Dave Morris, chief revenue officer at CBS Interactive; and Matt Spiegel, SVP/GM, data & technology solutions at MedialLink.

Greenberg said that while the Interactive Advertising Bureau also has a working group on the topic, GABBCON is moving faster and with all stakeholders in the ecosystem: media buying agencies, ad-tech vendors, marketers, DSPs, SSPs , broadcast and cable networks, publishers and advertisers.

GABBCON last week came out with version 1.0 of its Automated Linear Broadcast Cross Device Standard or (ABCDs), which aims to arm the advertising and audience-based buying marketplace with a standard and recommended practice for buying of linear TV inventory and cross-device measurement. It took three months to come up with ABCDs.

The challenges in creating standards are steep. Each SSP has its own protocol, and there’s very little similarity from one to the next.  “We want to align as people did around the open RTB standard,” Greenberg told me.

One challenge is that TV can’t be activated in real time  — but you can streamline buying, planning and optimization.

GABBCON is focused on taking deliberative and iterative steps. “The TV industry may not be able to move at the pace of digital,” Greenberg noted.

What can be automated in TV? For starters, inventory, in terms of what’s available by schedule and day part. Also, show-level detail, audience data to better inform who’s watching or may be watching, certain types of content, media planning and buying and optimization can all be automated. That’s exciting, right? And for some, it’s scary too. Hence, the focus on iteration.

Greenberg took pains to say that GABBCON isn’t meant to be a closed group, but is open and collaborative. “The more input, the better. We want and ask for feedback.”

The group is looking at APIs that SSPs have adopted to understand which pieces should be incorporated into a final version of an API, which will likely be released at GABBCON’s next events, either in April (Chicago), or May (Rome).

“Audience-First” Approach Boosts Brand Marketing

“Audience-First” Approach Boosts Brand Marketing

I recently had the opportunity to attend both the ANA Brand Masters conference and the GABBCON Global Audience Based Buying conference.  Attending both events within a week of one another afforded me the opportunity to see how closely brand marketing and media are becoming aligned.

The glue of this alignment is two things:

  • Knowing the “what” and the “who” which essentially answers the questions “What purpose does my brand serve?” and “For whom is it designed and most meaningful?”
  • The availability and advances in data and how it is used to derive strategic insight and target more sophisticated audiences in media.

The ANA Takeaways

There were many panel discussions at the ANA conference regarding brand positioning and re-positioning, many of which were about brands understanding and refining their core brand proposition.  Presentations by Peter Boland, Senior Vice President of Brand & Advertising for Charles Schwab, and Alan Bethke, Senior Vice President of Marketing for Subaru, offered insights into how both brands are using considerable research and data analysis in order to rediscover their core brand proposition and more finely define and personify their aligned audiences.

Charles Schwab, according to Boland, is returning to its founder’s original proposition, which is to appeal to consumers who have a deep desire to take control of their personal finances and create their own secure future.  Subaru, according to Bethke, clearly defined and personified their audiences by focusing on their love of the Subaru brand. The result was that their most recent Christmas Sales Event ad campaign focused on Subaru’s newly crafted brand proposition without even showing a vehicle in their ads.  This is something that is unheard of in auto sales advertising. The successful results for both Charles Schwab and Subaru were assured by focusing on the emotional attachment that their core customers have for the brands. Both companies have re-positioned their brand message in a way that captures the emotional essence of their target consumer.

The GABBCON Takeaways

GABBCON is a relatively new conference that brings together media companies interested in creating more sophisticated audience-based targeting, advanced TV targeting and more strategic digital media targeting.  The recent New York conference focused on leveraging current and new data sets to help brands target to their most important and valuable audiences. The conference stressed that building intelligent and valuable audience targets matters more than the media platform, ad technologies and even the data itself.

Carl Fremont, Global Chief Digital Officer at MEC, and Peter Naylor, Senior Vice President of Sales at Hulu, both underscored the importance of an “audience-first approach” which involves building plans around audiences instead of “managing media platforms.”  Lou Paskalis, Senior Vice President, Enterprise Media Planning, Investment and Measurement Executive at the Bank of America, also stressed the importance the bank places on data analysis and insight to build stronger bonds with their consumers.


The message was the same in both conferences. Data and the strategic use of data to aid intelligent planning and media activation are paramount whether you are a brand that is defining and personifying your target consumers or a media owner and agency looking for ways to build valuable audiences for the brands you serve. To be clear, the alignment of brand marketing and media activation has always been vital. But brand insight and intelligence have been hard to activate in media.  From what I saw and heard at these two conferences, the future bodes well for a stronger alignment and “meeting of the minds” between brand marketing/ad messaging and future media delivery.

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The opinions and points of view expressed in this article are exclusively the views of the author and/or subject(s) and do not necessarily represent the views of, Inc. management or associated bloggers.


GABBCON Focuses on Audience-Based Buying Challenges

GABBCON Focuses on Audience-Based Buying Challenges

Last week GABBCON (Global Audience Based Buying Conference), a relatively new event now in its second year, offered visionary thinking about the progression of programmatic, audience-based targeting, cookies, blockchain technology, data and brand safety.  In his opening remarks Gabe Greenberg, CEO and co-founder of GABBCON, Inc., noted that “audience-based buying is at a turning point. We need to break down walled gardens and find new solutions to bring the industry together.” The ways to bring the industry together were outlined throughout the day.

It’s All About Data and How We Use It 

Data continues to be one of the hottest topics in media, but the focus of the data discussion is shifting. For some, data has become paramount, even over programming. “Audience is the product, not the shows,” said Peter Naylor, Senior Vice President Sales at Hulu. “We sell audiences first. Data allows us to go beyond age and demo.”

“Data is paramount to everything we do,” Denise Colella, Senior Vice President Advanced Advertising Products and Strategy Advertising Sales, NBCUniversal, explained. “We have access to all types of data including Comcast STB data that allows us to help our advertisers and reach niche audiences. Data advises everything for us and we need to be able to measure it properly.” But, she continued, “there is new data all the time. It is a living and breathing thing. We are seeing more brands bringing their own data to the table — their own first-party data.”

Understanding which data sets in combination are the most insightful is emerging as one of the key challenges and opportunities for marketers. Gary Reisman, CEO and Founder of LEAP Media Investments agrees. “While it’s true that data is powerful, we have almost too much data and are employing mostly tactical uses of that data,” he said. “The next generation of audience-based targeting will be focused on transforming the data sets we have into intelligence, leading to better informed strategic planning and audience creation.”

Guarantee Brand Safety 

There has to be a sense of comfort among advertisers that their ads are being showcased with the right audience and with contextual brand safety. Fraud takes on many forms and is an impediment to robust advertising growth. “Brand safety means different things to different people,” John Montgomery, Executive Vice President of Brand Safety at GroupM explained. “The risks that have emerged for some of our brands include fraud, privacy, viewability and ad blocking. We looked into data rights and data permissions, addressing one by one. We haven’t conquered the beast but we caged it. We have done what we can.” But more is expected. “Marketers have moved trust transparency up the digital chain,” he added. “It is the number one priority in the next year.”

Embrace Blockchain Technology

To those who may not be familiar with the term, blockchain is the public ledger of bitcoin by which payments are executed peer-to-peer. Since blockchain essentially tracks transactions in a highly secure manner, there are those in our industry who believe that its roll-out in audience-based buying will help in tracking the consumer path with a higher level of trust and efficacy. “The cost of trust is enormous,” Stacy Huggins, Co-Founder/CMO at MadHive noted. “So blockchain is gaining a lot of adoption. The protocol secures data and lowers the cost of trust.”

Jim Wilson, President at Premion, a Tegna Company, added that clients are asking for transparency — what networks were bought, who is seeing the ad. “We are trying to create standards,” he said.  “Blockchain creates transparency and consistency. It is efficient for publishers and advertisers.”

Put an End to Walled Gardens

Walled gardens, Montgomery noted, “are safer and there is less fraud.”  But walled gardens also create and perpetuate data delivery silos that make it more difficult to standardize and blend measurement across platforms and devices.  For Howard Shimmel, Chief Research Officer at Turner, audience measurement today still has many challenges. “We still measure in silos and walled gardens create this challenge,” he said. “We don’t understand what drives outcome. What is it about a given exposure that drives an outcome?”

Jonathan Steuer, Chief Research Officer at Omnicom Media Group, agreed.  “We need some standardization across the walled gardens,” he declared. “We need some building blocks of comparability — how to count a duration, what is a viewability standard.”

The answer, according to Shimmel is to “get everyone in a room together and decide on the platform we need to build. We need to get aligned to where the future will be.”

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The opinions and points of view expressed in this article are exclusively the views of the author and/or subject(s) and do not necessarily represent the views of, Inc. management or associated bloggers.\


Digital TV Players Eye Blockchain to Block Facebook, Google

Digital TV Players Eye Blockchain to Block Facebook, Google

Advertisers and publishers could get help from Bitcoin technology.

The idea of using blockchain to handle digital ad transactions is starting to seep into the conversation among advertisers, digital publishers and ad tech vendors. Blockchain is the technology behind Bitcoin; it supports the market for the digital currency, which is supposed to be open, secure and seamless to access.

A number of ad tech startups and established players are exploring how this blockchain technology could mesh with current ad tech infrastructure, helping with everything from fighting fraud to challenging the supremacy of Facebook and Google.

“There’s an opportunity here to shift the balance of power,” said Adam Helfgott, CEO of MadHive, a company developing blockchain tech for digital TV advertising.

The startup chose to focus on over-the-top television, where digital ad delivery systems are nascent and there might still be time to beat Facebook and Google to the space.

It helps to understand what blockchain is: Mr. Helfgott describes it simply as a shared Google doc, where all parties record transactions of data and ads between publishers, ad tech vendors and advertisers.

No changes can be made to entries in the ledger, and all new entries are documented. Also, no copies of the data are made, only the original gets passed along from point to point, making it easier to track where it goes and when it is changed.

The technology could be used by brand partners that want to swap data or to track everywhere an ad impression went along the supply chain, and where it ends up. The blockchain also could show in real time where an ad is, who saw it, and deliver fast reporting on a campaign.

If digital video companies combined the power of their viewer data in a blockchain pool they might better compete with Facebook and Google, which account for 99% of the growth in digital advertising, according to IAB numbers.

This year, the digital ad industry will attract $10 billion more than last year while TV ad revenue remains flat, according to eMarketer.

“Facebook is moving into the over-the-top media-buying space and obviously have unparalleled targeting,” said Stacy Huggins, MadHive’s chief marketing officer.

This week, MadHive was at the Gabbcon conference in New York to discuss the potential for blockchain. Nielsen and IBM were on stage, too.

Blockchain is being considered for use in many parts of ad tech, and is seen as a way to eliminate fraudulent traffic, measure campaigns more accurately and handle billions of impressions more efficiently.

The blockchain acts like a central repository for everyone’s data, and the partners can only activate that data through smart contracts and access it with secure keys.

“Publishers need to share data in a safe way,” Mr. Helfgott said. “They could build up targeting capabilities that are on par with Facebook and Google.”