Greg D'Alba, exec VP-COO of CNN sales, marketing and operations, recalls when he introduced CNN's Strategic Integration Group in 2005.
"The added value [for media buyers] used to be the integration," D'Alba said. "Now, the integration is the currency."
Indeed, integrated packages account for roughly 80% of b2b ad sales throughout CNN Networks, D'Alba said.
B2b advertisers such as Accenture, Cisco Systems and IBM Corp. regularly distribute ad dollars throughout the cable network's portfolio, which, in addition to CNN, includes CNN.com, CNN Airport Network, CNN International and HLN.
While there have been significant changes to its prime-time programming in the past several months, such as "Piers Morgan Tonight" replacing "Larry King Live," CNN has also introduced a bevy of new programs specifically targeting business executives.
These programs include "Road Warriors," a cross-platform feature offering viewers tips on how to expedite their business travels; "The Turnaround," which follows entrepreneurs as they revamp their small businesses (also running in corporate sibling Fortune); and "Start Small-Think Big," in which investors seek out small businesses for the next big idea.
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Recent world events have showcased CNN's capabilities to cover breaking news. "Whether it's Japan, Libya or Egypt, our coverage is very authentic because of the in-region coverage and how we're capable of telling a more complete story," D'Alba said. "At the same time, we have made program changes, like "Piers Morgan' leading into "Anderson Cooper,' which have had a positive effect in our prime time."
In the first quarter, viewership for CNN's prime-time programming (8 p.m. to 11 p.m. ET) rose to 770,000, from 669,000 in the year-earlier period, according to Nielsen Co.
"Other cable networks have created appointment viewing, but CNN's strength is when there's a "bulletin' in which the numbers will get a spike," said Brad Adgate, senior VP-research at Horizon Media.
CNN.com is also seeing growth. In the first quarter, the site attracted 74.5 million unique visitors, up 11% from the fourth quarter, according to comScore.
Terrance McDermott, media director at Slack & Co., said that by upgrading its Web infrastructure for video content in the past year, CNN.com has opened up more ad inventory for the b2b agency's clients.
"Previously, there was a wealth of written content, and now [CNN.com] is more of an online version of the cable network," he said. "It's a core component of any media plan we put together to reach business decision-makers."
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