Last year CNN International started using ad tech to give brands interests-based audience insights and deep campaign reporting. This initiative is overseen by Rob Bradley, CNN’s Global Director of Digital Advertising Revenue and Data who took charge last May. He looks at the optimisation of CNN International's audience, the international roll-out of the company's programmatic strategy and the implementation of more advanced data-led direct solutions.
On his recent business trip to India (which also happens to be his first) Bradley took time from his hectic schedule to enlighten us about programmatic strategy, CNN’s data-monitoring platform- AIM (Audience Insights Measurement) and how India plays an important role in its strategy and focus on native advertising.
Excerpts from the interview:
Can you tell us how India as a market is important to CNN?
In India we see mobile business as an opportunity. CNNMoney International edition was launched this year and has seen lot of interest from Indian brands which use global business information that’s relevant for India. We are seeing growth in the the use of both mobiles and business information in India.
We see India as an opportunity to come in and influence the market with our smart data driven solutions. It’s data driven kind of targeting and utilising the data management platform and gaining insights of who is consuming adverts. These are linked to creative solutions. We have an in-house creative agency called CNN Create, which works like any creative agency. It sells (what I call beyond advertising) videos, series and social campaigns, both on and off platform. So when we are meeting our clients in India we are offering them things they have never done before, whether it’s data targeting or video solutions or Snapchat or Facebook advertising.
What are CNN’s plans for India?
What we have for India is this brand called AIM or Audience Insights Measurement. It’s kind of next generation data strategy. It’s about understanding the people who are coming on the site, the industries they are from and their net worth. In India we can use this global platform and optimise them locally. So we have done data driven campaigns for Indian clients like Ministry of Commerce, Lufthansa and Kirloskar within this market with the help of CNN AIM.
Through CNN AIM and other tight targeting platforms there is much less wastage, and more accountability and insights. When you combine that with native advertising (branded and sponsored content), and do that in India, that’s really where I see the growth is.
What are CNN International offerings in the space of programmatic solutions as opposed to its rivals?
50% of digital spends in London are now going through programmatic. Standard advertisements will be traded programmatically for most publishers in the world within the next few years. This is why as a media owner we need to sell more than just advertisements. So what we do is native advertising i.e. branded content and sponsored content like social campaigns and videos because that’s where the growth is. Data is where we edge out. We are referring to private marketplace where we use programmatic to have one-on-one relation with advertisers. So we use technology to execute campaigns and deliver. We inject our data sets into this private marketplace to allow them to target specific groups through programmatic. That’s where we are standing out.
What are the estimated growth figures in digital revenue YOY?
It’s easily double digit and much beyond. Some of the largest investments are happening on digital. We have recently invested $20 million in editorial department across the globe, just in digital.
Tell us about your brand portfolio, what kind of product categories do you cater to?
The top three categories are travel, technology, finance and luxury. Globally the big advertisers are Rolex, Samsung and Cafay Pacific. Biggest advertisers from India are Ministry of Commerce, Lufthansa, Kirloskar, Accenture and TCS.
In your view, to what extent will the digital advertising get automated by next year?
All standard ads, banners will get automated in next three years in advanced markets. More and more standard advertisements will be delivered in data driven automated way. It’s 50% of our spends in the UK and US. We are seeing that growth in certain parts of APAC. India will catch up soon.
What kind of potential do you see in India when it comes to programmatic spends?
Our offering in India is very premium because the scale in India is growing. Currently the strategy here is native and sponsored branded content first. We do programmatic, but we could sell out all of our ads from a direct point of view.
Programmatic makes it more efficient. If you are using efficiency of automation to sell ads you need more time to be creative. Our strategy for India is to get creative, is to use what we are good at- creating great content.
Many of our Indian clients like Ministry of Commerce, Ministry of Tourism and TCS buy globally from us. They are looking at global campaigns, given our scale. We are reaching out to a global audience of 90 million on our website alone. What we can do is get global message out for India, on an individual platform, look at creative solutions that resonate globally. We do work locally. It’s also about working with big established or growing companies to deliver their message.
What’s the programmatic strategy for India and the estimated increase in programmatic spends?
Right now private marketplace is the core strategy where we will speak to big clients to set up one-on-one deals to help them reach their audience in India. Spends wise, it will double easily year-on-year.
How is mobile advertising important to CNN International? How are spends distributed across different platforms?
60% of our audience globally comes from mobile. That’s huge. India is 53%. The key thing is that we need to work with our clients and agencies to deliver message to where people are consuming. In India whenever we launch anything we optimise it on mobile. So mobile is top priority alongside video.
How are you getting your advertisers to spend on digital?
Now they want to. They don’t need pushing anymore. With digital you can be very efficient and targeted as well. The big-cutting edge brands which are working with us on data front, now want to make sure they are reaching the right audience and want to get insights like-- ‘who are they advertising to and who are interested in their brands. We take real insights to make real marketing decisions. So next time they run a campaign on our site, they will know more about who they are trying to reach.