Gabbing with GABBCON: Upfronts, Measurement Progress & Programmatic

Gabbing with GABBCON: Upfronts, Measurement Progress & Programmatic

With GABBCON’s (The Global Audience Based Buying Conference & Consultancy) NY-based Buying Summit taking place last week, we spoke with 20-year media sales and marketing vet Gabe Greenberg about the state of advertising. As CEO and co-founder of GABCCON, Greenberg is well versed in audience-based buying and has been working to bring standards and best practices to the brands, agencies and others involved in the process.

With the upfronts coming, what sort of trends do you think we might see?

Last year was the year of automated or data driven television using audience data, meaning it was the first year in which nearly every upfront had that theme as part of the conversation. I believe this year will be the first where we pivot a little bit from audience or index buying to more programmatic discussions that involve a true level of automation. Until recently, most of that execution has been manual, and we’re finally getting to some reasonable scale with fully automated planning and buying of television inventory. You’ve even had Turner out in the market talking about the fact they’re recognizing there’s potentially a higher yield in programmatic TV, and as a result their rethinking their pricing structure for the way they’ve historically sold television.

Overall, has the tone of the upfronts changed much in the past few years?

I haven’t seen any material shifts. The bigger networks are still doing what I like to coin ‘the celebrity petting zoo’ and their big parties to highlight and show off their new schedule and content. I think that’s a necessary evil with the way content is presented. I think brands and agencies get a fair amount from those experiences. What I have seen is more of a national roadshow. Television is the best it’s been in years, and there’s more original content than there’s ever been. Because of that, folks in the industry have to spend a bit more time educating brands and agencies. So instead of one big show and a few smaller regional presentations, there are far more detailed presentations at nearly every agency. That’s always happened, but there’s certainly more of that happening than in the past. As we solve some of the measurement issues, we may pivot back to the really, really big upfronts and a few regional presentations and not have to do as much guerilla selling that the networks are doing now.

Is there any progress in measuring all screens?

It is sort of a perennial issue, and no, I don’t think the bigger players in the market are close to a solution that the market feels is reasonable. We are working as a coalition with a number of brands, broadcasters, VSPs, SSPs, agencies to come up with a solution for the market, but I think a viable solution is still a ways off. I don’t know that the players who have historically been responsible for that measurement and rating will remain responsible for it.

Do virtual MSOs like Sling or the upcoming Hulu service move the needle? Do those players actually help in the process or is it just the fact they exist?

Both. Having them be active in finding or creating the solution is critical. From what we’re seeing, they are willing and actively working to try and solve it.

You formed GABBCON less than two years ago. What sort of victories have you had?

When we first kicked off the business, several people looked at us and said the market doesn’t need another conference business or consultancy. I said ‘you’re right, except there are very many good ones.’ We’ve done over 12 events now, and every one of them has been sold out. We have a population at our events of 60-70% brand and agency, which is unheard of unless you’re a ANA or AAAA event. We’re getting regular kudos from big brands and agencies, C-suite and executive leaders, telling us that we’ve created something that’s different and they feel they can attend and learn something new as opposed to it just being a networking event. On the consulting side, we’ve helped a number of broadcasters and brands and agencies as well as ad tech companies make an impact in their programmatic strategy.

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