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Turner's Digital Execs Bet Their Content Will Draw Big Upfront Dollars

One of Turner's messages to marketers and their media
agencies at its Wednesday upfront presentation was that spending ad dollars
across the company's assorted digital platforms, which offer proven
entertainment and news content, will be a better bet than putting promotional
dollars into neophyte video-streamed content being offered by myriad social
networks and former search engines wanting to become programmers.

Greg D'Alba, president, CNN and Turner Digital Sales, and
Walker Jacobs, executive VP, Turner Digital Sales, spoke with MBPT prior to the
presentation about the media company's strategy, offering an overview of how
they plan to market digital in the upfront.

What is the main message you want advertisers to take with them
regarding Turner's digital offerings?
Greg D'Alba
: The notion that content is king exists, and we have moved
our content to where, when and how the consumer wants to watch it. There are so
many new video options coming into the marketplace, but premium content is the
best place for marketers to surround their ad messages. It's going to be the
best brand of video content that draws the most dollars. Some platforms selling
only digital video have touted their ability to offer specific audience
targeting and have said content is less important than reaching the target
audience. They will find out that content and trusted media brands are really
the most important. The best content is going to be the driver of digital sales
in this upfront. We are looking forward to having buyers compare our content to
these digital video-only companies.

Walker Jacobs:
There has been so much talk in the past month about the digital NewFront and
the emerging digital marketplace. We've watched it unfold and we haven't seen
any robust demand by marketers to buy any new digital video content from online
companies through a NewFront marketplace. But we have seen demand to buy
television across multiplatforms and multiscreens and that is what we offer. We
feel this is the way the market will buy video, through traditional TV
companies that are offering their quality content across all screens. I believe
the leadership in digital spending will come from traditional TV buyers who
will want to buy more across all screens in one buy and in doing so, will move
some TV dollars into digital.

How do you view this upfront in terms of potential digital ad spending?
D'Alba: We anticipate this upfront
will be strong and there will be significant growth in video ad spending
outside of traditional television. There is no doubt about it; our intention is
to grow our digital ad revenue substantially in this upfront. We have made the
infrastructure changes to make it easier to buy and easier for us to assist the
buyers. On top of our entertainment sales, the presidential election year will make
our digital sales even stronger on the news side.

How has the Turner's digital operation evolved?
: About five years ago, the Turner entertainment, news and sports
businesses each had a few digital people who worked with their ad sellers. But
we recognized the need to develop more scale when selling digital, so we
combined Turner Entertainment and Turner Sports to sell digital together. Then
we recently restructured again, adding CNN Digital to Turner Sports and
Entertainment Digital to create Turner Digital Sales.

D'Alba: We have
reorganized ourselves to make it easier for clients who work with us, and to be
able to respond to what they are asking us for. We have attached our digital
unit to the hip of our entertainment, news and sports divisions.

Jacobs: We are
being more collaborative with our clients about where they spend their money
and how they plan their campaigns.

D'Alba: When
Turner brought Donna Speciale in to head up sales of our entertainment
inventory, and put me in charge of news and digital, that specialization
brought our units closer together. We are not selling by screen but by content
opportunity and we are cooperating across all of our divisions.

What are some examples of the synergy across digital platforms?
: There's a, the Conan
show, TBS synergy. The Team Coco tablet app, presented by launch sponsor
AT&T, allows advertisers to connect with fans of Conan O'Brien's show on
TBS. The app provides synchronized content delivered in real-time, while Conan's hyper-connected fans watch the
show. Conan has about 7.7 million
followers across social media and we have opportunities that tap into that
audience. Each episode of Conan on
TBS features up to 25 different pieces of bonus content delivered through the
Team Coco app and synchronized with elements with the show.

Turner has also partnered with media agencies to test audience insight
data that can help their clients buy smarter, correct?
: Yes. We believe part of our mission is to help our marketing
partners come up with a media platform mix that helps them target their most
desired consumers. One of our products, VIA-which stands for Value, Insights
and Analytics-provides advertisers with granular insight into how consumers are
responding to their ads on our various platforms. That makes it easier and more
efficient for them to target their ad spending. We partnered with MediaVest and
its president of digital activation, Amanda Richmond, to beta test our research
system. We compiled research in the fourth quarter of 2011 based on campaigns
run by two MediaVest clients. It was able to show them who their best target
consumer was. We also have other innovation across the company like the Time
Warner Media Lab and the CO3 Series, which recently demonstrated audio content
recognition for clients.

How does VIA research give you an edge?
: The new online video content companies are touting their
offerings to advertisers by saying they can help them target audience by
demographics. But we feel it's more important to help our clients learn how
their advertising is being judged and reacted to by consumers rather than
spending time on just targeting audience demographics. At the end of the day,
we want to help our advertisers learn how consumers are responding to their
ads. That will help them create more effective ads.