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

Advancements in technology are putting pressures on the business, whether it is the pressing need for networks to form a data driven solution to sales, for publishers to maximize their digital content via programmatic or for agencies to create a unique proposition for their clients for cross platform campaigns.

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

Turner’s strategy was, according to Speciale, “to come together and hyper focus on advertising. We realized that there were challenges so we took time out to look under our hood to see what wasn't working and why.”  She realized that “we needed to go back to the fundamentals and do a better job of the consumer experience. 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. We wanted to make advertising great again,” she added.

But it was not only the outer world, consumer driven aspect of the business that needed attention. Speciale also noted that “We needed to build the right teams and become more client-facing. 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: 

      Ø  Make the right data count.
Audience Targeting – “There are all types of data that are now available that we didn't have ten years ago,” stated Speciale who added this caveat, “But having data is not the same as being data driven. You need the right data to understand your audience.” 

      Ø  Cut down on the ad clutter.
The Ad environment – 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 stated. “There is too much advertising and we need to go beyond the thirty second spot,” she added, “So we had to make a change. We launched limited ad load format which was not an easy feat. Needed better balance between content and advertising and it has begun to pay off with higher brand recall and engagement.”

      Ø  Get creative with all of the content
Content creation – “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 asserted. “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,” she concluded.

      Ø  Track the targeted audience across platforms
Content optimization - “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 she took TV and digital and linked them according to the same restraints. And she noted that these efforts have begun to show positive results. She revealed that, “We have seen increased ROI on a single schedule by over $4million. 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. Speciale concluded that, “Many other networks have followed with similar advancements. We all need to be behind this effort and encourage understanding across the Industry. We need to break down the walls and learn how to work together.”

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