How data is breeding Turner’s consumer-first strategy

By Noreyana Fernando

Columbia University

New York City, New York, USA


Us like them. Them like us.”

That was one of the quotes that Stephano Kim first heard when he started working at Turner two years ago. 

Today, Kim oversees a team of people at Turner who want to no longer be producing content, but experiences. They are spearheading what Kim calls a consumer-first model.

There used to be a them vs. us distinction between digital companies and big media companies, such as Facebook vs. Turner. In this day and age, more and more consumers care less about distinctions. They just want the in-between, Kim told attendees at at the Big Data Media Conferencea joint venture of World Newsmedia Network (WNMN) and INMA.

Stephano Kim explains how Turner went from a cable TV company to one with a much different mission.
Stephano Kim explains how Turner went from a cable TV company to one with a much different mission.

Big Media and Big Data can come together to deliver rich experiences, he said, bringing back the often tossed-around term of convergence. Consumers want a rich relevant experience that is curated and personalised for them. “And they are willing to give you pieces of data about them to make that happen,” he said.

Kim remembers going from Turner’s self-proclaimed title of World’s Best Cable TV Company to being a “global, consumer-centric, data-driven, content creation distribution company. That’s a mouthful,” he said.

The implication is of changing times. For Turner, it used to boil down to how to hyper-optimise the content delivery on linear screen. And they were great at that, he said.

Now, that is not the case. Today, they have to think about the definition of the term global. Does CNN mean the same thing in Hong Kong as it does in the UK? Consumer-centric meant thinking about how to start building a relationship with their end consumers, not just in an app but through livestream or through an email.

Data-driven begged the bigger question of how to fuse use of data into existing DNA of content creation. Taking it even further, they were strategising on how to create content for different screen sizes and models of iOS and Androids.

They concluded that great consumer brands (CNN, TBS, TNT, NBA) are not automatically equal to great direct-to-consumer business, Kim said.

“What really is our business?” he asked. “It goes back to understanding our consumer. Not just what they watch and where they are. But what they care about.”

So the media giant set out to build a Turner Data cloud. It ingested user information such as registered IDs, site and app behaviour data and viewership — and churned out data-based experiences, marketing, and ad-sales. Kim said this information guided many multi-billion dollar purchasing decisions.

Therefore, the conversation is moving away from media strategy to media marketing, he said. The question becomes how to physically align the advertisers’ interests, which Kim said are similar to the business interests of big media companies.

About Noreyana Fernando

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