AT&T Takes Verizon Ad Fight to Turner Networks

For Two Days, Runs a 'Netblock' on Across CNN.com, TBS.com, NBA.com

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- There's at least one winner in the bruising ad battle between AT&T and Verizon: Turner Networks.

CNN was among the sites running AT&T's campaign.
CNN was among the sites running AT&T's campaign.
Time Warner's cable division sold two day-long "netblocks" across all of its websites (except Cartoon Network) to AT&T for a mid six-figure sum as part of AT&T's effort to blunt attacks from Verizon, the second-largest advertiser in the U.S.

The first buy, placed by WPP's Mediaedge:cia, ran last week; the second comes Dec. 22. It's the first time Turner Networks has pulled off a sale across all of its disparate web properties as part of a strategy to sell them all as a package and to compete for marketing dollars once the sole domain of big portals.

The buy is part of AT&T's attempt to combat Verizon's "Map for that" campaign, which takes shots at AT&T's 3G network, overburdened by data demands of millions of data-hungry iPhones.

Sites running AT&T's campaign include CNN, TBS.com, TNT.tv, NBA.com, Nascar.com, SmokingGun.com and AdultSwim.com.

Two years ago, Turner's online division rejected selling through ad networks, pulled its ad inventory from exchanges and embarked on a plan to standardize all its sites on the same ad-serving platform.

The idea was to attempt to sell the entire network at premium rates, which at 65 million monthly unique visitors, according to ComScore, is the 11th largest group of properties on the web.

"We looked across our entertainment, news and sports sites and thought, 'What if we put together a product that allows an advertiser to take over all the sites simultaneously?'" said Turner Senior VP Walker Jacobs.

Mr. Jacobs said 50% of Turner's visitors come through the various sites' home pages, increasing the likelihood they'll see the bigger push-down ad units. And they know where they're going; only 10% arrive through search.

The deal is a drop in the bucket for AT&T, the nation's third-largest advertiser, which spent $3.1 billion on advertising last year, according to Ad Age Datacenter. AT&T's spending doesn't include the marketing Apple does as the exclusive carrier for the iPhone. AT&T declined to comment.

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