CNN Debuts 'People You Should Know'

Ad Sales Chief Greg D'Alba on Viewers as Programmers

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- After a banner year full of you being chosen as 2006's best artist (Spin), ad agency (Ad Age) and person (Time), it's about time someone started giving back to the consumer for all their hard work these last 12 months. Leave it to CNN, then, to be among the first cable networks in '07 to tailor to the viewers with new original programming via "People You Should Know," a new profile series on "Paula Zahn Now," premiering Jan. 16.
Greg D'Alba
Greg D'Alba

The show is designed to connect with viewers by shining a spotlight on notable figures in the realm of business, politics, health, technology and entertainment who are highly influential but whose efforts go largely unsung. (Though this week's entertainment pick, Angelina Jolie, doesn't seem to exactly qualify as someone who's been ignored by the media -- but she's being profiled for her charity work rather than her movie star work.) As sponsored by Cisco, the "People You Should Know" website further connects consumers with the show by giving them a forum to discuss suggestions for future people profiles.

Greg D'Alba, CNN's exec VP-chief operating officer, ad sales and marketing, spoke with MediaWorks recently about the role consumers are playing in news coverage and reaching viewers beyond the small screen.

MediaWorks: Why is now such a good time for "People You Should Know"?

Greg D'Alba: There's so much information out there today, whether we're covering the presidential funeral or all the other breaking events that happen in an hour, day, week or month. It's consumers who are really looking for not only what's happening in the world, using their media of choice or brand of choice, but they also want relevant information when they want it and where they want it as well. "People You Should Know" is a really great idea to continue to provide good news, positive news.

The coverage of these types of events and this type of person is just another way to connect relevant information to our consumer base that's really using the brand 24/7. What's becoming part of the norm and certainly not the exception is really performing content, whether it's our linear TV networks or certainly online, whether it be through broadband podcasts, CNN Pipeline, CNN Exchange, whatever it may be.

MediaWorks: How will Cisco play a part in connecting viewers with "People You Should Know"?

Mr. D'Alba: Environment is key, especially when you look at Cisco, which is a worldwide leader of internet networking software. So this is perfect. We talk about these people having a direct impact on every aspect of our lives. There's all this pertinent information that not only the consumer desires, but the advertiser and creative managers also have this positive association with news that's innovative. It just may not be from the most obvious sources. We could cover any event in the world with incredible depth and coverage, but we're also capable of bringing really good news. News that people need to know and people you should know and what we're capable of doing very well is packaging it and "platforming" it so it's not one dimensional; we're able to reach consumers wherever they may be.

MediaWorks: Time's selection of the consumer as its person of the year was kind of the last credence to the idea that the people have more power than the media now. How do you plan on addressing that at CNN?

Mr. D'Alba: Advertisers are really anxious to sign on to content that involves consumers directly -- day in, day out -- and news content is one of the best ways to achieve that connection. Our programming directly connects with those extensions based on technology developed over the last three years. If you have that viewer engaging and interacting with the content it's a great value to the advertiser.
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