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Chris Kager President Turner Advertising Group

He’s Found A New ‘Click’

He’s already run national sales organizations in broadcast TV (MGM/NBC Media Sales Group) and network cable (Bravo, MuchMusic and WE: Women’s Entertainment). So it made sense that Chris Kager’s next move would land him in interactive advertising. As the New York-based president of Turner Media’s Turner Advertising Group (no relation to Turner Broadcasting System), Kager has a new toolbox that includes interactive ad technologyrunning across close to 11 million homes reached by Dish Network’s interactive TV service. Fresh off a deal with Dodge for a new interactive ad campaign, Kager spoke with us about the new world of TV ads that go “click.”

Q. What product categories do you see benefiting from campaigns that let viewers invoke information or otherwise interact?

A.A lot of our work was focused initially on the automotive category, which is a great category for this type of execution. But one of the things we’re all in agreement on is broadening the categories. As an example, this category can apply to anything from packaged goods to $200,000 automobiles. With packaged goods, we have the ability to do recipes, to do couponing, to do polling. The key word in our industry now is engagement of the consumer. When you have an engaged consumer, that consumer is making your advertising dollars work really hard.

Q. Can you give us a specific example of a sort of unexpected advertiser?

A. A company called DR Power. They sell large pieces of equipment that retail for thousands of dollars. Basically they’re used to cut lawns and serve outdoor activities. They retail for over $3,000 a pop. They’re expensive. We’re in the midst of a campaign for them right now, and last week they received over 1,200 RFIs, or requests for information. So you’d think, here’s power equipment, how are they going to use the platform? Yet they’ve never seen responses like this before.

Q. How is your interactive offering different from what cable companies are providing?

A. Number one, we’re a national footprint. Which is very hard for the cable operators to duplicate. We’re also a media company with the largest interactive platform. So when you combine the two, it really makes a powerful statement. We have the ability to insert on 106 cable networks. We can provide demographic reach to any advertiser in any daypart for any demographic.

Q. How do you assign rates or value to the interactive element?

A. Obviously you start with a core package. We’ll take adults 25-54. There we’d look at, in all probability, the news clusters: CNN, CNBC, Fox News, and sprinkle in some general entertainment networks like TBS, USA, TNT. And if they have a larger male skew, we’d look at some of our sports networks as well. So that’s the initial presentation. After that, because our platform is so unique…we place a premium on the interactive execution. So there is a premium attached, and advertisers don’t mind paying a premium, particularly when they know their advertising is working. We have all sorts of means of verification.

Q. From a selling standpoint, who are your decision makers?

A. Because we are a different kind of platform than just buying a Web page or a 30-second spot, and because this is so unique and new, you pull in the planning department from the agency. You pull in the creative side from the agency. And the new technology side that quite frankly a lot of times doesn’t reside at the agency because it’s become a boutique business with specific skill sets and expertise. So there are a lot of conversations that go on. I wish there was a way that we could speed that up. I think as the industry matures you’ll see a combination of traditional media with new technology media under one roof. I can see that trend beginning to happen.

Q. In addition to interactive, you’re selling 106 networks. What sorts of packaging ideas can you put together?

A. We’re talking now with Procter & Gamble about doing a roadblock…on 106 cable networks for all of the P&G clients at one time. If it’s Gillette [a P&G brand], they’d use our sports networks. If it were P&G consumer goods, for women 18-49, they’d use Lifetime and WE and Oxygen. They’d be the only advertiser within a specific time frame on 106 cable networks.

Q. You’ve worked in both the traditional TV network and syndication fronts. What’s interesting about this new enhanced TV business?

A. There are so many opportunities when you get into this platform and people begin to see it and understand and feel and touch it. You can take them, and the consumer, wherever you want them to travel. That’s the beauty of this. I’ve done a couple of things in my career. But this is by far the most fascinating platform I’ve ever been exposed to.