President. CNN News Networks and Turner Digital Ad Sales,
Turner Broadcasting System
Turner has some of the highest rated networks in cable—in some cases beating and rivaling the broadcast networks. Yet the CPMs remain lower on cable. What does cable need to do to prove its worth to advertisers and get those rate cards closer to broadcast?
Depending upon the programming and time period, certain cable CPMs are already at parity with broadcast across sports, news and kids. We are starting to see some traction for cable’s original primetime entertainment programming for both nonfiction and fiction. Continued investment in quality content, like what Turner is doing across our own brands, will get us there.
CNN is undergoing a major transformation with the arrival of Jeff Zucker. What are your aspirations on the advertising/brand integration side? And how has Madison Avenue been reacting to CNN’s evolution?
The response from the industry has been very positive. The broadening of CNN’s programming will yield new clients from more categories. We’ve already seen traction there with Anthony Bourdain coming to the network, and attracting BMW and MillerCoors as launch sponsors for “Parts Unknown.”
Getting Conan was a huge win for TBS. Now that he’s been on the net for a while, how important has he been on the advertising front—and what work remains to fully monetize that show?
Conan has been a huge success not only on the network, but as a digital brand. We have created some of the most custom sponsorships in the marketplace today around his brand-including the Emmy Award-winning Conan sync app, which featured a long-time sponsorship by AT&T.
What’s the biggest challenge you face in monetizing the various Turner nets across platforms and devices?
How does social media affect the advertising game. Are advertisers adapting quickly enough to keep up with consumer habits? And how has social media entered the ad sales conversation so far?
Social media is just one aspect of the advertising pie, and is absolutely something marketers are interested in understanding more. As one of the first media companies to partner with Twitter through sales opportunities, we monetized the 2013 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament game highlights with sponsors AT&T and Coke Zero. Just like any other piece of the pie, social media needs to make sense for the brand’s intent.
Turner chose to hold its Upfronts during broadcast week. How can cable networks create more buzz around their Upfronts—and has the entire Upfront process started to outlive its usefulness? Or is it still the best way to buy and sell?
Connection with the advertising community is the ultimate success factor during the Upfronts. We look at every brand in our portfolio and evaluate what makes the most sense for communication during the Upfront. Not every brand should host an event within that major week in May. We have also developed road shows for some of our networks in the past-to get front and center with the clients in a smaller setting. While the Upfronts continue to be valuable as advertisers have the opportunity to see early creative and local in their media budgets to secure premium positioning for their brands, it needs to make sense for the network or digital brand’s goal.
What’s the number one trait that every sales exec needs to succeed?
Knowledge—not only about your own brand, but about the connection you are looking to create. Without it-you lack the power of the sell.