Time Warner Cable Names Interactive TV Expert to Head Sales

Joan Gillman Replaces Larry Fischer, Who Leaves After 18 Years

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- If there was any doubt about how important cable operators believe interactive advertising will be, consider the latest from Time Warner Cable, where yesterday Joan Gillman was upped from VP-interactive TV and advanced advertising to president of media sales.
Joan Gillman has been named Time Warner Cable's president of media sales. She was previously VP-interactive TV and advanced advertising.
Joan Gillman has been named Time Warner Cable's president of media sales. She was previously VP-interactive TV and advanced advertising.

Different background
She replaces longtime Time Warner Cable veteran Larry Fischer, who is leaving the company. If Mr. Fischer was considered an advertising insider with his 18 years at the company, then his replacement is a relative new kid on the block with a background much heavier on interactive technology than traditional advertising.

Ms. Gillman has been with Time Warner Cable since January 2004 and before that worked for OpenTV and British Interactive Broadcasting, an iTV joint venture of BSkyB, British Telecom, Matsushita and HSBC.

When asked whether her appointment indicates a shift in priorities for Time Warner Cable toward more interactive advertising, Ms. Gillman laughed. "I'd like to think so," she said. Interactivity is "a real opportunity that we're going to take full advantage of." And while it's been much discussed since the late '90s, Ms. Gillman said now is really a "turning point" for Time Warner Cable's interactive ambitions and outlined what she believes is the timeline.

In the next six months, Time Warner will continue testing what it calls "active advertising" in upstate New York. With active advertising, viewers can request information, vote on a hot topic or click a button during a commercial to go to a video-on-demand showcase for more information. It will roll out those platforms into other markets weekly, said Ms. Gillman, the most recent being Milwaukee, where Time Warner launched an interactive campaign for General Motors Corp.

Standard production tools
Looking out into a 12- to 24-month timeline, Time Warner will work with other cable operators to create a set of industry standard production tools so that advertisers can create one campaign and run it across any number of markets covered by any number of cable companies. A real problem for advertisers right now is the varied systems and standards that cable operators use for VOD and interactivity -- an advertiser might have to create several different ad formats for a single campaign just so it can run across several cable operators.

"[Standards] make development of those ads by the agencies much easier," she said. "They can build it once in terms of framework and customize it based on individual market objectives."

The final piece of the puzzle will be adding addressable features that allow advertisers to target a smaller, niche audience. But that could take 12 to 36 months, she warns. Doing so is "extremely expensive and takes involvement on the part of our customer," she said. "Protecting our customer's privacy is very important."
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