GABBCON Focuses on Audience Based Buying Challenges and Opportunities

GABBCON, a relatively new conference now in its second year, held its conference in New York City last week. The event 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 but the focus of the data discussion is shifting. For some, data has become paramount, even over programming. According to Peter Naylor, SVP Sales at  hulu, “Audience is the product, not the shows. We sell audiences first. Data allows us to go beyond age and demo.”  Denise Colella, SVP Advanced Advertising Products and Strategy Advertising Sales, NBCUniversal, explained, “Data is paramount to everything we do. 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.  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. John Montgomery, EVP of Brand Safety at GroupM, explained, “Brand safety means different things to different people. 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. It is the number one priority in the next year,” he added.

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. Stacy Huggins, Co-Founder/CMO at Madhive, noted that, “the cost of trust is enormous. 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. 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. We don't understand what drives outcome. What is it about a given exposure that drives an outcome?” he asked.  Jonathan Steuer, Chief Research Officer at Omnicom Media Group, agreed, “We need some standardization across the walled gardens. We need some building blocks of comparability - how to count a duration, what is a viewability standard.” The answer, according to Shimmel is, “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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