Turner Broadcasting executives announced Wednesday their intention to go all in on audience targeting -- encouraging media buyers to shift away from buying only based on Nielsen ratings, TV’s currency standard bearer.
Ahead of the company’s upfront presentation at Madison Square Garden, Turner president David Levy instead pitched the company’s audience-targeting capabilities, touting performance-based buys and targeting and how they can work to improve the traditional metrics.
“We are in a new era of media, and it's time to retire the Nielsen television metric. While it undoubtedly served its purpose, it no longer fully captures how to successfully measure an audience in today’s landscape,” Levy said.
“Audience targeting works, and is generating drastically greater results for our advertising and marketing partners. The time is now—this upfront—for advertisers to change how they think about the value of their marketing and invest in audience targeting.”
During the presentation, that theme continued. The company highlighted the performance of its shows in the TV ratings, yes, but also on social media, on VOD and streaming, and in live events. Turner encouraged advertisers and media buyers to sponsor the whole lot, not just a 30-second spot.
"Make no mistake -- TV matters, but when you only buy TV, you are missing value and opportunity," Turner ad sales chief Donna Speciale told the crowd. "Our industry spends a lot of time taking about the future, but talk isn’t action, and we are not changing fast enough.
"How we create, plan and buy media must reflect how people actually consume content today, and how you can get the best returns for your business," she added. "TV ratings are no longer our sole success metric, and they shouldn’t be yours either. We shouldn’t just value TV, but the whole ecosystem."
The company announced that its AudienceNow platform would expand to cross-platform buys, allowing marketers to use one solution to buy Turner’s programming on TV, mobile and digital devices.
The company also said that it would be cutting back its commercial loads across more channels and dayparts. TruTV first started offering limited commercials in 2015, and other Turner channels like Adult Swim and TNT have followed suit in certain instances. Soon, select CNN programming will move to a limited commercial format.
Alongside CNN’s brand studio Courageous and Turner Ignite Sports, the company said it would launch a new brand studio that would be in tune with the company’s entertainment properties, Turner Ignite Studios.
Turner's top programmer Kevin Reilly unveiled new slates of shows for TNT and TBS, while highlighting how their programming is expanding to live events and social media. Comedy bits from Tiffany Haddish, Tracy Morgan, Shaquille O'Neal, Samantha Bee and Conan O'Brien broke up the advertiser pitches.