Donna Speciale Reveals Turner's Strategy for the New Age of Television

By Charlene Weisler Media Insights Archives

Donna Speciale, President of Turner Ad Sales, launched the opening keynote at the Addressable Advertising Conference this week with an overview of Turner's approach to the data-driven, addressable new age of television and cross platform.  How does a large corporation such as Turner maximize not only all of its content across its networks but also harness the power of all of the devices where its content also resides?  And how can it be measured?  It is not a simple task.

Turner's strategy was "to come together and hyper-focus on advertising," Special said. "We realized that there were challenges so we took time out to look under our hood to see what wasn't working and why.

"We needed to go back to the fundamentals and do a better job of the consumer experience," she continued. "Our brand should be entertaining audiences across devices." Once having reviewed the consumer experience in its entirety as a company, they were then able to reimagine the advertising that accompanied their content. The goal was to "create compelling content that drives product off the shelf," Speciale added. "We wanted to make advertising great again!"

But it was not only the outer-world, consumer-driven aspect of the business that needed attention. "We needed to build the right teams and become more client-facing," Speciale said. "So we launched new data and content teams."

Turner's strategy was to focus on four major areas and began to break down the company silos that separated them.

Make the Right Data Count

"There are all types of data that are now available that we didn't have ten years ago," Speciale noted, adding as a caveat, "but having data is not the same as being data driven. You need the right data to understand your audience."

Cut Down on the Ad Clutter

For a seamless experience, the ad environment must be scalable across all media companies. "You can get the right ad but how much impact does it really have if the ad environment is not conducive?" Speciale asked. "There is too much advertising.  We need to go beyond the thirty second spot, so we had to make a change. We launched our limited ad-load format which was not an easy feat. We needed better balance between content and advertising and it has begun to pay off with higher brand recall and engagement."

Get Creative with All of the Content

"We already replaced five hours of ads with original content across the schedule, so now one ad can take up the entire commercial pod of the show," Speciale explained. "We can now take content and cut it up into snackable units across platforms. Our data allows us to inform for better campaigns and make a better experience for fans. Experience is everything. We are just scratching the surface as to how data can help us understand the environment."

Track the Targeted Audience Across Platforms

"Great content does not live in one place," Speciale noted. "It demands to be followed. So, we introduced an audience map which takes targeting a step further." To do this Turner took TV and digital and linked them according to the same restraints.  Speciale noted that these efforts have begun to show positive results. "We have seen increased ROI on a single schedule by over $4 million," she revealed. "Advertisers now feel comfortable. Scaling this product is top priority in the next four years."

But Turner cannot do it alone within its walled garden solution. Change has to come from the industry as a whole. "Many other networks have followed with similar advancements," Speciale noted.

"We all need to be behind this effort and encourage understanding across the Industry," she concluded. "We need to break down the walls and learn how to work together."

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