Turner's Donna Speciale Sets Her Sights on the Holy Grail: Business Outcomes

By WarnerMedia Archives
Cover image for  article: Turner's Donna Speciale Sets Her Sights on the Holy Grail: Business Outcomes

Through the last several years, one buzzy term has kept its buzz: Big Data.  And though every ad sales team worth its salt is touting just how much information they have about their audiences and clients' potential customers, Turner admittedly has quite a treasure trove of data at its fingertips, courtesy of new(-ish) owner AT&T.

Within this conglomerate now sits information from the company’s entities, including DirecTV, and perhaps most interesting, AT&T Mobility.  That’s insights from more than 170 million direct-to-consumer relationships.  To tap into this wealth of data, Turner ad sales chief Donna Speciale said in a recent interview, her teams are partnering with Xandr, AT&T's advertising and analytics unit.  The first fruits of this partnership are on display now at CES, where they have unveiled four key areas of enhancements to Turner’s ad capabilities: stronger relevant advertising on TV and digital, expanded branded storytelling to addressable TV and proven advertising impact through attribution, a hot topic for today’s CMO.

To better enhance the ad experience on TV, Xandr Audience Insights will now power Turner's own data-powered AudienceNOW platform.  This combination will offer clients faster results and more precision in their targeting.  Or, as Speciale put it, "We're supercharged with AT&T's data."

Recently, Turner delivered the first AudienceNow TV brand campaign with insights powered by Xandr for AT&T Mobility.  AT&T Mobility reached 30% more of its defined audience segments compared to a traditional TV buy, which has fueled the team with some powerful results to share.  Several categories have already signed up, with campaigns live early this year.

"Digital has a place in a marketing mix, of course," Speciale said.  "But it's been a challenge proving that TV is extremely effective, because there haven't been a lot of metrics on proof points.  We can put that on the table now."

That doesn’t mean digital doesn’t have value.  Marketers can now utilize Xandr Audience Insights when buying Turner’s digital properties, which have a combined reach of more than 135 million unique users a month.  The Turner-Xandr partnership was tested with eight campaigns across various industries -- automotive, finance, luxury -- on CNN Digital, and the results were positive enough to bring it out of beta.

The idea is to move toward a product that not only serves up relevant ads via TV and digital but includes that holiest of grails: attribution.  Being able to count people in seats, or foot traffic, or purchases, is the endgame.  "If we can really focus on clients' business outcomes and get away from the demo guarantee, that's a huge win," Speciale said.

The Turner team will also discuss expanding the reach of branded storytelling to addressable TV.  Marketers that partner with Turner through branded content can extend their campaigns across Xandr’s addressable TV advertising footprint, capturing more than 15 million homes.  L'Oréal Paris is already on board and will be using the capability for their annual sponsorship of TBS and TNT's airing of the 25th Annual SAG Awards.

CES is both the culmination of Speciale's latest road show that the team hosted with agencies and clients late last year, and the beginning of what she anticipates will be a pivotal couple of years.  "CES officially begins the season for us," she said.  "But it’s a continuation of our year-round dialogue on how to continue to evolve our partnerships."  Unlike the more intimate sessions Speciale and her team had been conducting with clients across the country during the fall, CES offers a bigger backdrop opportunity to take a more holistic and creative view of the industry, fueled by talk of innovation.

"Everyone's thinking of the future, whether it's tech or advertising," she said. "It gets people out of their comfort zone.  I don't think we do that often enough."

In addition to this cross-AT&T collaboration, Speciale has found post-merger life refreshing with how much more the various divisions of then-Time Warner, now-Warner Media, are working together.  "We're going to be doing some really interesting things through natural synergies," Speciale said.  "We've got incredible content between HBO and our Turner networks.”  Some of those interesting things have already been happening.  WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey recently announced a direct-to-consumer streaming service, set to launch in the fourth quarter of 2019.

"And this is what we've done in just six months," she added.  "Think of what we can do with a full year."

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