Collaboration in an Age of Change

Since she was named CEO of the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing last December, veteran executive Vicki Lins has sought to position the cable network- and operator-focused marketing trade association for the future, leading the industry’s collective marketing collaborations in a very competitive media environment. She spoke with Multichannel News programming editor R. Thomas Umstead about the vision for CTAM and the challenges the organization faces. An edited transcript follows.

MCN:How would you define the CTAM brand?

Vicki Lins: We’re in the midst of so much change and such rapid evolution in the industry that we think of CTAM as collaboration to advanced marketing. That’s not a new definition of the acronym as much as a way of making the organization fit into this new changing landscape.

We’re at the center of driving collaboration; we’re at the center of trying to bring collective lift to the industry through marketing, and that means that our role is evolving along with all the new challenges and opportunities that all of our members are facing.

MCN:There’s so much marketing noise out there both within the industry as well as from competitors on the digital side. How important is getting that marketing message out about all of cable’s offerings?

VL: It’s more important than ever and it’s really not just about a marketing message, but about the art and science of marketing. When you look at the fragmentation of the marketplace today and you look at how empowered consumers are today, and you look at the proliferation of content and opportunities, marketing has been elevated in importance and value across the board. CTAM, as the industry’s marketing organization, has also been elevated in importance, and we’re looking at the marketplace differently than we had historically. So the role and the impact that marketing can bring to the collective industry brand is really important now.

MCN:Are there any specific initiatives that you want CTAM to focus on in the immediate future?

VL: I don’t think the change is as noticeable in what are we doing differently as much as the way we’re applying it to the marketplace and across our membership. We’re starting with a very consumer-centric view. I’m the first marketer to run CTAM — that’s not a mistake. It’s a huge opportunity for the industry to put a marketing lens on what this organization is bringing to the table.

We’ve evolved from being an association for marketers into a marketing organization that will roll up our sleeves and market with and for our members. TV everywhere continues to be an important initiative for the industry, and we’re continuing to lead that with tremendous success, and we’re gaining some important traction at this point in time. We’re shifting the lens on that to be more consumer-centric at this point and start to develop the messaging and value proposition that will most resonate with consumers.

We’re also looking at brand attribution and how our members’ brands are being represented, and what that means both for consumer experiences as well as for the brand equity of our member organizations.

MCN:What is the biggest challenge facing CTAM?

VL: I don’t think our challenge is any different than anyone else’s: it’s change. There is so much change happening across the industry. I’ve been here just over six months now and I’ve lost count of how many board seats have changed out because of the consolidations and the acquisitions that are taking place and the movement that’s happening in the industry. With that comes tremendous opportunity, but everyone is trying to keep up with this fast-paced change that’s happening around us.

That’s just the internal view — the external view of what’s going on in the marketplace is even crazier. When you look at consumer expectations and consumer engagement, the value proposition that’s out there for various product offerings with consumers again provides challenges and opportunities, but we own them as much as everyone else owns them and we’re trying to be proactive and strategic in how we plan to leverage those opportunities most effectively for the collective whole.

CTAM at a Glance


Eighty companies and 4,000 individuals

Projects and initiatives:

TV Everywhere: Marketers and product experts working together to deliver best-in-class TVE experience and drive usage.

Cable Movers: Leverages the opportunity of a national brand position to make it easy for stressed movers to connect to their new service provider with one click or call.

Cable industry positioning: Defining a set of ownable themes that can be supported operationally and communicated, to positively shift con sumer perception of cable over the long-term.

Business services: Best practices, strategies and analytical insights creating a national cable presence and driving awareness within the vertical and enterprise small-to-midsized business (SMB) market segments.

CTAM Think: Annual half-day conference offering performance driven insights and relationship-building opportunities focused on consumer centric innovation.

TCA sessions: CTAM orchestrates cable-network presentations at the Television Critics Association summer and winter tours in Los Angeles to maximize coverage of cable’s expansive offerings in original content.

SOURCES: CTAM, Multichannel News research