Unlike the NBC upfront, which touted TV’s edge over digital, Turner Broadcasting took a different approach at its upfront Wednesday by emphasizing the “omnichannel experience.”
“We reach 125 million viewers now across linear, OTT and mobile devices every month,” said Kevin Reilly, president of TBS and TNT, and chief creative officer for Turner Entertainment. “We’re going beyond a linear network of shows to build a brand that creates and capitalizes on fandom everywhere.”
Turner’s president of ad sales, Donna Speciale, claimed the network has “true omnichannel capabilities that leverage our social handles and mass distribution … [with the] marriage of content and data that’s critical today.”
Turner trotted out talent like Conan O’Brien and “Parts Unknown” host Anthony Bourdain to support Speciale’s point.
O’Brien once thought of himself as a “cranky luddite [who was] tossed into the Internet,” but now, Reilly noted that Conan’s fan hub Team Coco has clocked 3.4 billion video views across digital and social channels.
And Bourdain asked advertisers to take advantage of his show's expansion off-platform to reach fans “with an appetite for adventure and a mobile device.”
Turner also said it could drive business results and reach more Millennials (or, what TBS's "Full Frontal" host Samantha Bee referred to as the demo driving "robust amplified return" for advertisers) through its AudienceNow targeting platform.
And Speciale heralded the network’s early emphasis on reducing its commercial loads in primetime, first with TruTV and then TNT.
“We’re seeing 30% higher brand awareness and 4X increased sales versus our traditional ad pods,” she said. “But, we understand you’re sick of paying more for less, so we can create content tailor-made for every environment with premium, measured audiences in every channel.”
Turner’s intent is to create a “virtuous circle” between digital, TV and offline, such as integrations with its e-sports league and Turner Sports properties.
“When I arrived at Turner, I wanted to lean into where we’re going, which is omnichannel, and really put a business structure around it,” Reilly told AdExchanger.
Yet despite the network’s effort to evolve the traditional TV ad-buying process with branded storytelling – and to replace commercial pods with less, or more engaging, ad units – it’s up against a few challenges.
One factor is advertiser willingness to adopt new ad experiences or to test drive new data-driven audience tools, such as Turner’s initiative with Fox and Viacom – OpenAP.
And the other? Comprehensive audience measurement.
“We still have [this reality where] there won’t be another ‘Walking Dead’ on our channel or any channel until they fix the measurement system – period,” Reilly added.