Horizon’s Marianne Gambelli Discusses Television, Programmatic and Life After NBC

‘It’s not just the TV Upfront anymore’




Who Marianne Gambelli

New gig Evp, chief investment officer at Horizon Media

Old gig President of advertising sales at NBC

Age 54

How do you like being on the other side of the negotiating table?

It’s been great. I have national, local, out of home, print, direct response, video—there’s so much. And that’s allowed me to get involved with strategy and try to move all of these businesses forward. We’re trying to apply best practices from programmatic automation to some of the older businesses, like television.

Plenty of TV people say programmatic is never going to happen, but techies say it’s inevitable. What do you think?

Well, you have to define what you mean by “programmatic” first. You have to come up with some sort of automated platform to use all these new analytics, whether you’re using Acxiom data or Experian or whatever.

So it’s more about streamlining workflow than incorporating TV inventory into real-time bidding platforms?

It’s never going to be one-to-one on television the way it is with digital impressions; we just have to automate most of the process. We have to be able to use different streams of data, targeting buys more like digital does, but ultimately we’re still going to transact the way we do now. I also could see some big media company saying, “OK, you don’t have to come in and buy network by network. I’m going to allow you to buy a targeted audience.”

I thought most networks basically forced you to buy across multiple platforms. Is that what we’re talking about?

No, I mean you could buy, for example, people on the market for car insurance across all of their platforms, as opposed to buying, say, Discovery and Animal Planet. It wouldn’t have to go into a third-party digital platform.

So you’re seeing networks leverage analytics themselves, rather than intermediate their buying?


What makes programmatic data and exchanges useful for digital video and display buying?

There is a vast inventory of digital video and display inventory available across digital publishers. Programmatic exchanges and the data stored within digital platforms exchanges, trading desks, and demand-side platforms (DSPs) allow media teams to make planning decisions across the broad spectrum of digital options more cost-efficiently and in less time.

As the upfront buying season continues, what kind of sweeping changes are you seeing from previous years?

There’s so much good content out there now—it’s not just TV, it’s also video. YouTube is in our conversations, AOL, Yahoo—it’s not just “the TV upfront” anymore.

Those companies campaign pretty openly for TV dollars—are they going to get them?

They’re putting pretty compelling offerings out there—I can’t imagine that money won’t migrate from TV. It may not happen during this upfront, but it will happen as the content gets better.

For you personally, has this upfront season been different from the last one? Things were a little swifter last year, and this is the first year I’ve been involved in every presentation.

You mentioned Acxiom and Experian—they seem to be behind every data buy. Do you think we’ll start seeing more companies mine proprietary data, rather than purchasing it? It feels to me like the answer is yes—everybody seems to have data on something. And now there’s all kinds of modeling that can be done. —Sam Thielman

Photo: Alfred Maskeroni