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Turner Looks to Bring Real-Time Marketing to TV

Will Try to Sell 'Real Time Now' Ad Product in Upfronts

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'Falling Skies' on TNT
'Falling Skies' on TNT

After more than a year of hype about real-time marketing using social media, TV networks have decided they want in.

To that end, Turner Broadcasting is trying to make it easier to run real-time messaging on TV, traditionally a slower medium that requires lengthy planning and lead time to get a commercial on air.

The company will use its upfront talks to try to partner with an agency or a major marketer with multiple brands for "Real Time Now," which is meant to help marketers get spots on TBS and TNT that align with fresh pop culture trends, events like major storms, national holidays and breaking news. The resulting messaging will also run across Turner's digital and social channels, including Funny or Die.

Turner is promising a 24-to-48-hour turnaround for the ads.

"In social, brands' messages can get lost," said Frank Sgrizzi, exec VP-ad sales and marketing, Turner Entertainment. "We are using TV as the megaphone to work in conjunction with social media to get real-time messaging out to the biggest audience."

Turner has developed a "war room" that echoes brands' and agencies' approach to developing digital real-time marketing. While the turnaround time to come up with a clever tweet can be quick, however, creating an actual TV spot is much more time-consuming. So Turner's "war room" will include writers, producers, marketers, legal and public relations people. Mr. Sgrizzi said there's a large team in place.

Although Turner will work closely with the agency or marketer on each individual brand's goals as it develops the content, the resulting spots will have the voice and tone of TBS and TNT, and won't try to ape the brand's existing ad campaigns.

"We are taking the burden off the agency and advertiser since we have the production capabilities and distribution to put it all together quickly," Mr. Sgrizzi said.

For Turner, Real Time Now sends a message to its viewers that its networks are topical and relevant, Mr. Sgrizzi said. Turner isn't looking to compete directly with Twitter or other social media platforms, he added.

But giving marketers the opportunity to be a part of the social conversation on TV could represent a relatively untapped opportunity for networks.

Real Time Now is part of Turner's broader "Now Media" pitch to advertisers, arguing that the company can combine the speed of digital and social media with the reach of TV.

It also follows Turner's recent tactic of developing long-term alliances with agencies. In last year's upfront, the company struck a deal with Starcom that encouraged TNT and TBS showrunners to integrate Starcom clients. Turner has also aligned itself with Zenith and OMD for long-term research studies.

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