Turner’s New Ad Lab Advisory Board Tasked With Plotting the Future of TV Advertising

Buyers, academics and technologists meet Thursday

Between revamping TNT and TBS' programming slates and reducing ad loads on truTV and TNT by up to 50 percent in the coming months, Turner is making some of the most innovative moves in the television industry this year. But when it comes to determining the future of linear and digital advertising, the company admits it can use a little help.

"We obviously don't have all the answers, so we're getting a lot of really smart people in a room to help guide the development of what the next phrase of ad experience will be on television and in digital video and then do research to help quantify what it is we should do and what it is we shouldn't do in terms of bringing stuff to market," said Howard Shimmel, chief research officer at Turner. "We're better incorporating their thinking than thinking we have all the answers ourselves."

To that end, Turner has assembled a 28-member Turner Ad Lab Advisory Board comprised of buyers, professors and technologists to make recommendations about linear and digital video innovations in light of the changing TV landscape.

"We're going to let the committee guide the money we're investing in research," said Shimmel, who is one of the board members along with several other Turner colleagues.

Turner is currently using Ad Lab, which it formed in January, to run tests as it determines how to optimize its upcoming reduced ad loads on truTV and TNT. "But our feeling is that just tinkering with commercial load is not enough to really take advantage of the power of television and digital video on behalf of advertisers, but also to make advertising a more natural, seamless and enjoyable part of the TV experience," Shimmel said.

The board's first meeting, set for Thursday at New York's Time Warner Center, will include a presentation from board member Jerry Wind, a Wharton professor whose book, Beyond Advertising,  "paints such an interesting vision for the future" in which "my relationship with brands helps me navigate through the day," said Shimmel.

Duane Varan, CEO at MediaScience, will discuss ways to improve advertising over the next two years, while Dale Herigstad, who helped designed the futuristic screens for the film Minority Report, and Jeremy Legg, Turner's chief technology officer, "are going to talk about how technology can enable a different future," Shimmel said.

Each presentation will be followed by an open discussion among members of the entire board. Shimmel hopes those discussions will spark five or six research topics, which board members can tackle via subcommittees.

And Turner won't be keeping the results of the research generated by the Turner Ad Lab to itself.

"We plan to be open and transparent with this in the industry—whether it's presenting at ARF [The Advertising Research Foundation], presenting at Ad Club, presenting at the ANA—because if we're thinking about things that make the ecosystem better, it can't just be Turner alone. Others have to follow suit," Shmimel said. "We'll use all of the resources to get this out as broadly as possible."

"[When assembling the advisory board], we wanted people who were not rooted in yesterday but are really visionaries for the future," said Shimmel. The full board will be meet every four months, and Shimmel plans to rotate in new members in every two years.

Here is the full list of Turner Ad Lab Advisory Board members:

  • Robert Atencio, Global Insights and Analytics Executive
  • Dan Aversano, svp, ad innovation and programmatic solutions, Turner Ignite
  • Randall Beard, president, global innovation commercial practice, Nielsen
  • Mike Bloxham, svp, Frank N. Magid Associates
  • Mike Bologna, president, Modi Media
  • Lizzie Casey, senior director of consumer insights and media innovation research, Turner
  • Billy Farina, svp, Cox Communications
  • Jason Flick, CEO and co-founder You.i TV
  • Gayle Fuguitt, CEO, The Advertising Research Foundation (ARF)
  • Chris Geraci, president, national video investment, OMD
  • Dale Herigstad, advanced interaction consultant, UX, and creative visionary, Shodogg
  • Nathaniel Howe, founder and executive creative director, Nathaniel Howe Studios
  • Natasha Hritzuk, vp, client insights and content partnerships research, Turner
  • Steve Kantscheidt, CEO and founding partner, Three
  • Michael Kubin, evp, Invidi Technologies
  • Michael Law, evp, managing director of video investments, Amplifi US / Dentsu Aegis Network
  • Dr. Carl Marci, chief neuroscientist, Nielsen Consumer Neuroscience
  • Chad Maxwell, svp, audience and measurement solutions, Starcom
  • Craig McAnsh, CMO, Infrared Experience Marketing
  • Michael Piner, svp, investment, Magna Global
  • Dan Riess, evp, content partnerships, Turner Ignite
  • Sheri Roder, chief of Why, Horizon Media
  • Howard Shimmel, chief research officer, Turner
  • Michael Strober, evp, client strategy and ad innovation, Turner Ignite
  • Brian Sheehan, associate professor, Syracuse University (Newhouse)
  • Dr. Duane Varan, CEO, MediaScience
  • Zane Vella, CEO and founder, Watchwith Inc.
  • Jerry Wind, lauder professor, professor of marketing, The Wharton School (University of Pennsylvania); academic director, Wharton Future of Advertising Program