Last week, the Global Audience-Based Buying Conference (GABBCON) took place in New York, with a focus on the future of TV. While the conversation topics varied between panels, the themes that jumped out throughout the day were the importance of people and the disconnect between where the industry is headed and the actions brands and agencies need to take to be ready for the change.

David Cohen, President, North America at Magna, gave the first keynote of the day and introduced both major themes. In speaking about how the industry should prepare for the future, Cohen pointed out “agility is the key to success,” and approaching new developments without the willingness to adapt to them won’t work. The biggest example of this is the buzz around the industry that TV is dying, which Cohen argues isn’t true. The way people consume TV is changing, which only appears as the death of the industry to those unwilling to adapt along with it. This leads into Cohen’s other major point – which resonated throughout the rest of the day: whoever has the best people wins. When everyone in the industry has the same opportunity to lead the change, only the companies with people willing to make that jump will come out ahead.

Later in the day was a panel on the future of the Upfronts and how this staple of traditional TV advertising will evolve as the industry grows. The general consensus of the panel was that Upfronts aren’t going away any time soon, but the idea that it’s the most important time of year for TV planning and buying decisions is changing.

Erica Schmidt, EVP & Managing Director, North America at Cadreon, reiterated the theme of adaptation saying that the industry needs further education on why advanced data sets like social data are important for the TV buying decision making process.

Denise Colella of NBCUniversal and Jason DeMarco of A+E Networks emphasized this point with the assertion that their respective networks recognize the importance of using social media to drive viewers to TV programs year-round, not just during the Upfronts when all eyes are on new programming.

The final keynote of the day was from Tom Goodwin, EVP & Head of Innovation at Zenith, who argued that what’s causing some people into falling into the “TV is dying” trap is that we don’t really know how to define TV anymore. The traditional definition of TV as 30 or 60 minute programming that happens on a television at a specific, pre-determined time has fallen by the wayside with the dawn of the internet. Failing to recognize this change is holding the industry back. Goodwin sees the future of TV as an abundance of content options with buyable audiences, contexts, and moments where dynamically created, personalized, and optimized ads can be inserted in real time.

With this vision of TV, he stressed the importance of starting with new possibilities when forming TV strategies – not focusing what was possible in the past as the building blocks for the future. Goodwin’s biggest point, once again hitting on the day’s theme of people, was “the greatest thing about working in marketing is that we’re all human beings.” We’re spending a lot of time thinking about defining this industry when we already very familiar with it is because we’re all consuming it.

While GABBCON is a conference focused on how technology is changing TV, the importance of the human factor was ingrained in every conversation throughout the day. It’s all about people – having the data to understand people’s behavior, creating targeting based on how real people act, and having the right people on your team to keep up with and stay ahead of the industry to enact change.

For some key takeaways on the other panels that took place during GABBCON, head over to our Facebook page to watch the Live video our VP of Product Marketing, Josh Dreller, recorded from the show floor.