CNNx Gets New Name, Signs Advertisers

Personalized News Platform Now Called CNNgo

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Lexus has struck a year-long ad deal with CNN Go, originally called CNNx.
Lexus has struck a year-long ad deal with CNN Go, originally called CNNx.

Time Warner's CNN plans a big push this month to promote its personalized news platform under the name CNNgo, which it began testing in April as CNNx and rolled out widely in June.

The service gives web users control over how they view the network's TV feed, letting them select segments from 24 hours of programming and access expanded content in real-time.

The new name is partly an effort to identify with Time Warner sibling HBO's highly successful HBO Go platform, according to K.C. Estenson, senior VP-general manager, CNN Digital. The name also better aligns with CNN's new tagline, "Go There," he said.

Since first testing CNNx this spring, the cable news giant has signed two initial sponsors, Lexus and Canon. Each has signed on to not only advertise on the platform, but help shape the advertising model for such a service. While advertising on the platform right now is relatively standard, with traditional digital ads and native content, the goal is to crack the code on better ways of advertising to an on-demand audience, according to Katrina Cukaj, exec VP-ad sales, CNN.

For Lexus, partnering with CNNgo is a way to customize the advertising experience across multiple platforms and reach viewers wherever they are watching, said Teri Hill, media manager, Lexus. The luxury auto maker has a year-long deal with CNNgo.

"We want to push boundaries when it comes to advertising and find innovative opportunities," she said.

But just as important is the access to research and data that CNNgo will provide, she said, noting the availability of consumer viewing information that applies to the auto industry.

Data and targeting is also a long-term goal for CNN, Mr. Estenson said. "Giving users control of broadcast opens up a new world when it comes to ad targeting," he said. "We know who is watching, what they are watching and for how long. We are going to know a lot about what people are consuming and what they want."

CNNgo is currently available to cable and satellite customers who sign in through their TV provider. The app is available on the iPad as well as CNN.com, but CNN is also planning to bring CNNgo to set-top boxes by next year.

The biggest goal in the short-term is to attract more users, Mr. Estenson said, declining to say how many people have used the service thus far.

To this end, CNN will debut a marketing campaign on Sept. 29 tied to new shows from Mike Rowe and Lisa Ling, promoting the service and offering viewers free access to the platform for a week. By disabling the authentication process, which Mr. Estenson said is still clumsy, the company hopes more people will test the service and then take action to authenticate.

CNN is experimenting with the digital platform as it's TV ratings struggle. The cable news network, under Worldwide President Jeff Zucker, has been trying to figure out how to revive lackluster viewership and keep people watching even during slow news cycles. Mr. Zucker has revamped CNN's lineup, incorporating more entertainment-type programming and documentaries. But its biggest strength remains moments of high interest in world or national events.

A busy news month in August helped CNN rank No. 2 in both total day and prime-time behind Fox News and ahead of MSNBC. In prime-time, total viewership jumped 39% to 629,000, and in the 25-to-54 demographic, the network's audience grew by 60% to 214,000.

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