Technology No Longer Issue In Audience-Based Buying: Q&A With GABBCON's Gabe Greenberg

Gabe Greenberg, CEO and co-founder of GABBCON (Global Audience-Based Buying Conference and Consultancy), has a varied background,working on both the client side (ADT Dealer and Microsoft) and the sales/marketing sides of the advertising marketplace (The Trade Desk, Delivery Agent, Autobytel, Bigfoot Interactive, Vibrant Media).

But a standard corporate job was not in the cards for Greenberg. “I have had an entrepreneurial spirit since I was quite young, I get it from my father/family,” he confessed. “I have always wanted to help shape the market and be part of something bigger, which led to Tina [Greenberg] and I starting GABBCON. We saw a gap in the market that we seized and we have not looked back.”

Charlene Weisler: What are the challenges to audience-based buying and selling? And how to overcome them?

Gabe Greenberg: Technology is no longer an issue. The politics within different sales organizations — and the potential for some of them to try to set up additional walled gardens due to unwarranted fears about the threat to price — is our biggest obstacle today.



Our warning to these companies is to be careful what you wish for. Don’t make the same mistakes digital did. We have an opportunity to really change the market with new channels like TV, audio and DOOH [digital out-of-home]– we need to be sure we do the right thing. I think we will, especially with Open AP and other endeavors that have popped up on the periphery.

Standardization is also quite important — and GABBCON, along with other groups, is trying to lead the charge here.  

Weisler: Where do you see audience-based buying and selling headed in the next three years? How much of the market will it command?

Greenberg: As ATSC and BlockChain take hold, video and TV will be a more dominant force in audience buying. NBC betting $1 billion this year on audience is just a tip of the iceberg.

I expect that as much as 25% of the TV/video market will be planned, bought and optimized on audience, using some level of sophisticated buying in the next three years. That is quite a significant number (it is larger than the entire programmatic pie today). New channels like audio and DOOH are also taking off and will accelerate the growth of audience-based buying (truly cross-device).

Weisler: Is linear TV dead?

Greenberg: Ha! No, nor will it be for some time (if ever). TV is the strongest it has ever been — and with ATSC 3.0, I expect that TV will begin to take dollars back away from digital.

Weisler: How will the IoT impact audience-based buying and selling, if at all?

Greenberg: I do not expect that it will have a negative impact  it will create new device IDs and targeting opportunities that can be quite exciting.

Weisler: Tell me about the Abbi awards. When did it first launch? Why was it created?

Greenberg: The ABBI awards (Audience-Based Buying Innovation Awards) launched last year for the first time. The second annual ABBIs are open for entries now. We created them because we did not see enough celebration of innovation in the market, in spite of all the word count about the topic.
The awards range from tech-platform innovation (demand-side and supply-side platforms of the year, plus data-management platforms) to agency and media/marketing leadership innovation to campaign and creative innovation.

We have some of the categories other awards might — cross-device campaign of the year, best use of data, etc. — but we are all about celebrating innovation and audience-based buying....The award itself is even quite innovative in its design.

Weisler: What is your recap of this year’s upfront? Who are the winners and the losers?

Greenberg: This year’s upfront has been a mixed year, but for the most part I think the winners are the content owners and producers.

8 comments about "Technology No Longer Issue In Audience-Based Buying: Q&A With GABBCON's Gabe Greenberg".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, July 27, 2017 at 11:37 a.m.

    Charlene, did NBC actually sell $1billion in this year's upfront based on what is being called "audience buying"? The answer seems to be absolutely not. In fact, even if such a goal had been attained, most of the deals would have been made for NBCU's cable channels not the broadcast network.

    Which raises another question. What excatly is "audience buying" as used in this report?. As far as I can determine, all that NBC and others---Viacom, Fox, etc.---are doing is using "big data" set usage ratings melded with product buyer or similar descriptions supplied by an advertiser, to caclulate a relative index for their shows; this is then applied against Nielsen viewer ratings to create a modified rating currency for what become single seller packages offered to the buyer. These machinations do not seem to involve comparisons with other sellers' wares and the big data set usage ratings, which are the basis for the indexing, are very favorable to the sellers as they make the audiences of many shows seem more attractive than they really are. Is this "audience buying"? Does this process, which, no doubt involves the seller trying to unload "bad" shows as well as "good" ones on the buyer in discounted packages, really a major targeting improvement? For many decades we have had the capability of using MRI or Simmons single source product buyer/user data for almost all nationally aired TV shows in this manner. What's so new and exciting about it?

  2. Charlene Weisler from Writer, Media Consultant:, July 27, 2017 at 2:16 p.m.

    Ed thanks for your well thought out comments.

    Your assertion that the application of data helps to sell less attractive shows is missing the point entirely on audience buying. The very concept of audience buying and the myriad of case studies that demonstrate its success demonstrate that "the show" is far less relevant when you reach the right home, viewer or user.

    Audience Buying applies to all video, not just linear TV - in fact we should begin thinking of video holistically anyway as more and more TV streams are now and will soon be delivered digitally. Audience buying involves the application and use of 1st, 2nd and 3rd party data to enhance the targeting, reach and optimization of campaigns.

    Brands and agencies are using 1st, 2nd and 3rd party data to better target and reach consumers on the traditional TV set, but also on all the new screens where they are consuming TV content (OTT, VOD, FEP, Digital, etc). Moreover, while linear TV has allowed for the use of MRI or Simmons data for some time, audience buying across all screens now supports wider data sets and as we become more digital and ATSC3.0 take hold, we will be able to do even more.

    As far as NBC goes, the use of data sales tripled in this year’s upfront based on what NBC is saying, more importantly this was their best upfront ever So while I cannot comment on whether they hit $1BN in data sales - they clearly made real strides.

    I cannot comment on whether they did or did not hit this goal of $1BN, but what I can tell you is that NBC has a tremendously successful upfront based on their own comments.

    The lines between digital and linear are blurring so when you while your points above are relevant to the traditional TV model, you seem to either miss or discount the point that TV as we know it has changed. The shift from TV to digital may be slowing, now that TV can apply some of the "digital" targeting and optimization tools, TV while begin to win back some of what it may have lost or it will at least slow the transition.

  3. Charlene Weisler from Writer, Media Consultant:, July 27, 2017 at 2:17 p.m.

    Ed, the response was from Gabe. His name was cut off the previous comment.

  4. Gabe Greenberg from Gabbcon, July 27, 2017 at 2:24 p.m.

    Sorry Ed - the system would not allow me to respond directly. Happy to help in anyway I can 

  5. Gabe Greenberg from Gabbcon replied, July 27, 2017 at 2:25 p.m.

    Hey Ed - see the comments from me (via Charlene below)

  6. David Wiesenfeld from Tru Optik, July 27, 2017 at 7:29 p.m.

    Ed's point is valid, and will become more salient to media buyers as advanced TV continues to take hold. What NBC and other networks are doing is allowing advertisers to buy shows based on characteristics beyond demos. That's an improvement for sure, but they're still selling shows, not audiences. So a car brand can now buy time on a show that is 5X more likely to watched by people in the market for a luxury car. But if only 2% of consumers are in the market for a luxury car, 90% of the buy is still wasted.

    OTT and some addressable platforms allow advertisers to buy audiences; e.g., just the 2% of consumers shopping for luxury cars. Over time, look for advanced TV to shakeout in favor of pure audience-based targeting vs. indexed program buys. Major advertisers and media agencies have made it clear they want TV inventory to transact on an audience basis, and they will continue to press for that. 

  7. Gabe Greenberg from Gabbcon replied, July 27, 2017 at 11:06 p.m.

    Hey Dave - do not disagree at all. You are 100% correct. The trend is moving towards a pure audience model and while it is not pure today, we will get closer and closer to a model where most video transacts on an audience basis. Thanks for weighing in! 

  8. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, July 28, 2017 at 7:27 a.m.

    Gabe, while I am sympathetic towards any true advancement in the way TV time is bought and sold, and setting aside my very important point about the validity of set usage as an indicator of viewing, it is unrealistic to assume that we are moving into a era where, in effect, all TV time buys are handled in this manner.

    As I keep pointing out, to have this happen you must break the corporate buying practice of the advertisers and get every brand ---large and small---to buy on its own. This would give the sellers a huge edge in the negotiations and be very harmful for many small brands as they would not get first---or second---crack at the goodies.Also, one has to recognize that the sellers are not going to allow the buyers to pick and choose exactly what shows they wish to be in, leaving time in many others unsold. So they will bundle their wares in discounted offers that charge less per targeted viewer than could be attained by cherry picking the shows and paying premium CPMs for doing so.

    Finally, it's not just a matter of finding targeted eyeballs at a low cost, or reducing "waste" audiences for many advertisers.For example, TV sports buys feature very high CPMs for male viewers yet are used by many male targeted advertisers even though there are many non-sports availbilities that reach the same men at far lower CPMs. Why buy sports? Its the environment, the merchandisablilty, the ego trip of being a sponsor of the NFL games, etc. and, by the way, we also reach a lot of men. The same thing applies to news ---for financial advertisers, luxury cars and many others who pay a CPM premium but relish the environment.

    Yes, I can see some advertisers buying time more scientifically ---mainly in scatter---and some sellers improving their situation in the same way, but not all of TV. That's a bridge too far.

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