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Turner Reorganizes Advertising Sales Staff

Turner Broadcasting has realigned its ad sales unit, highlighting new capabilities for clients and providing better access to its portfolio of networks.

“The goal is to deepen the connections with our advertisers and our clients,” said Turner ad sales president Donna Speciale.

That should result in Turner becoming a preferred partner with marketers, which will help shift ad dollars, she said. The added capabilities will also generate new revenues.

As part of the reorganization, Turner has created a new Client Strategy & Ad Innovation unit.

Headed by Michael Strober, who has been promoted to executive VP from senior VP, entertainment sales, the unit has two teams. One, Ad Innovation and Programmatic Solutions is aimed at developing new capabilities built around audience targeting and return-on-investment guarantees. The second, Client Strategy & Development, will focus on developing insight-led sales initiatives for clients. Strober reports to Speciale.

The sales executive VPs who represented network groups—TBS and TNT, Cartoon Network and Adult Swim, CNN—will also become the primary contact point for media agency groups and be responsible for selling the entire Turner portfolio. Those executives—Katrina Cukaj, Joe Hogan and Frank Sgrizzi will each head a portfolio of sales/client partnership teams and continue to report to Speciale.

Speciale says the new structure will mean that instead of three executive VPs representing different networks calling on a media buyer, there will be one who represents all Turner assets. “We are streamlining and simplifying the conversations for the agencies and clients,” she says. “That will lend itself for us to have much more robust business conversations to help drive the business.”

Previously, Turner had combined its linear and digital sales teams.

Dan Riess, executive VP of content partnerships, will focus on content and monetizing social and mobile initiatives for marketers. That group will work closely with the Client Strategy & Ad Innovation unit.

In the past year, Turner has launched a number of advertising initiatives. Those include AudienceNow, its audience selling approach designed to find the best schedule for reaching the brands target audience across networks and dayparts and Provable ROI, which guarantees success with select partners within the Turner Emerging Consumers group.

It also introduced Launch Pad, which combines premium branded content with real-time social analytics and promotion, as well as Courageous, a branded content studio working with CNN and HLN.

The changes are designed to reshape Turner’s relationship with marketers.

“Media companies have been known as vendors,” Speciale says. “This restructure and this behavioral change is focused on becoming a much more strategic resource for them and a business partner for us to help drive business results.”

Speciale says Turner will be staffing up to build these new capabilities.

“We’re going to be adding client category directors, who are going to be more focused on categories—financial, tech, automotive,” she said.

Speciale wouldn’t say what the net effect on staffing the changes would have.

“What we are doing is we’ve been adding different skill sets,” she said. “We’ve hired people from Buzzfeed. We’ve hired people from creative shops to be creative directors. It’s really more about the skill sets we’re looking to add to complement the leadership that Turner already has.”

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.