After ‘Self-Analysis,’ CNN Pitches Advertisers On Its New Strategy For Retaining Viewers

By Alex Weprin 

In a wide-ranging item in today’s issue of Broadcasting & Cable (subscription required), Jon Lafayette writes about CNN’s pitch to the advertising community in the wake of a first quarter filled to the brim with breaking news.

In its presentations to media buyers, CNN stresses that while “the world has gotten more interesting,” the network itself has made changes to retain viewers when times are tranquil. As part of its comeback, CNN is also offering to provide significant advertisers additional data about their return on investment (ROI).

The additional data is courtesy of an “ROI Toolkit” which tracks audience information and interaction cross multiple platforms.

The other major part of the story is CNN’s strategy for keeping viewers engaged–and advertisers paying–even when breaking news dies down:

To allay advertiser concerns that CNN might suffer in a news lull, [CNN ad sales chief Greg] D’Alba points out that the upcoming calendar is filled with events sure to draw viewers and sponsors.

Like other networks, CNN is gearing up for the royal wedding, and has signed General Mills and Marriott as sponsors. Presidential debates are just around the corner; during this upfront, D’Alba will be selling five-quarter election sponsorships. Other special programming is also sponsorable, including the multicultural In America series of special reports and theme weeks on such topics as baby boomers and health.

Finally, CNN discusses how each of its time periods: morning, daytime and primetime, tackle the news of the day differently, with the mornings focused on keeping a quick pace, and daytime focusing on a wide range of news, with hourly updates on popular news items on politics, sports and entertainment. Then there is primetime, as explained by Ken Jautz:

In the evening, viewers have already caught up with the news online, via websites or social media like Twitter, he said. “Therefore you have to provide something additional and so we have much more, call it value added. We have much more opinion and context and debate and analysis in addition to facts.”