Turner’s Jeff Grant on How Fans Respond to Fewer Ads Per Pod
Grant during his 21 years at Turner has had opportunities to oversee research for a collection of networks — starting at CNN and gradually adding oversight for each of Turner’s emerging consumer brands — Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, truTV and Boomerang — which he describes as “brands we have that specifically focus on either the Millennial generation, or what we call the Plurals generation.” Plurals are also known as Gen Z’ers. Grant believes that “‘Gen Z’ means nothing,” and Plurals is the appropriate — one, he adds, “that is also used by such companies Insight Research and Magid Research.”
In late 2015, one of those Plurals networks, truTV, announced a large-scale effort to drastically cut advertising by half during traditional primetime hours, starting in fourth quarter 2016. It was all part of a larger company effort to “re-imagine television” and deliver an optimal experience for fans.
With a year of execution under their belt, Grant and the larger research division now have the ability to share with advertisers what it all means for them. Their research focused on the impact of a lower ad load on truTV and how less clutter improved the viewing experience for fans of programming, delivering increased ad attention, retention and enjoyment. What also stood out about the research was a deeper dive into purchase intent. “We found that when we provided fans more of what they want — more content and fewer ads — truTV delivered what was good for both the viewer and our advertising partners,” he explained.
He shared more on the study and its impact in our recent conversation.
Charlene Weisler: Tell me about your recent study.
Jeff Grant: The basic reason behind the study is that we are trying to serve our fans, especially the younger generations — Plurals and Millennials — the most optimal experience in media. Our brands are very much about the user experience, keeping the fans happy — and that extends not only to the content but also to the advertising formats. So, Chris Linn, who heads up truTV, took a chance and cut the ad load in half, and gave [us] enough time and content to evaluate if it would make for better results. What we saw in the variety of categories that we tested was that there was greater attentiveness and greater ad recall, especially the day after, and higher purchase intent compared to previous studies. And viewers rated the program more engaging and better paced than the same episode with a full commercial load.
Weisler: Does that mean the same number of minutes per hour and just shorter pods?
Grant: No. It is half the number of ads you would see in the normal time in primetime. The ad load has essentially been cut in half. That also meant our production teams would need to ramp up the amount of content per hour as part of our original series. So, it also ends up a win for the viewer who gets more story.
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