Tini Sevak Vice President, Audiences and Data, CNNIC
Tini Sevak Vice President, Audiences and Data, CNNIC

We treat audiences as people, not data: CNNIC’s Tini Sevak

On a recent visit to India, Tini Sevak spoke about the importance of creating relationships with audience, ensuring that CNN has the largest pool of audience and continue to grow that using technology

NEW DELHI : Tini Sevak is vice-president, audiences and data, at CNN International Commercial (CNNIC) and leads its international data strategy. Through a mix of audience insights, digital analytics and commercial data innovation, her team ensures that measurable and actionable data insights drive client campaigns as well as the commercial strategy of CNN International. On a recent visit to India, she spoke about the importance of creating relationships with audience, ensuring that CNN has the largest pool of audience and continue to grow that using technology.

Edited excerpts:

How important is audience and data in driving commercial strategy of CNN International?

Audiences and data are at the heart of our business, how do we put our audience first, how do we build that trust and make sure data informs everything we do from understanding our audience to our decision making to our evaluation, to our partnerships with our clients. It’s a testament to where CNN sees itself in the broader spectrum of things. In a world where there is a certain limitation of time, it becomes a valuable currency. So how do you deliver content that is going to engage with a highly affluent, respectable engaged audience by giving them relevant content where they want it and when they want it. So our commitment to putting audiences first is to ensure stories that they read from a journalism, editorial perspective is relevant and the content that is delivered to them is again with that premium high quality intent.

What is CNN's international data strategy and how does it help inform business intelligence?

Our secret sauce behind everything is to treat our audiences as people. In the past, audiences have been treated by numbers, general demographics, general categories such as mothers, CEOs, business decision makers, and so on. The shift that we are trying to do is how do we treat our audience as people and individuals and really use the breadth and scale of our audiences in understanding and really harness that level of data to understand our audience, what their behaviour is, their interests and to then look at how do we create enriched profiles of those audiences that are a 360 view of them and really deliver that by ensuring the editorial, content, commercial is then fixed for them. So that for us is the big piece.

What is the role of artificial intelligence (AI) and analytics in driving solutions?

Analytics in various forms sits at the heart of what we do. It’s about making sure that all our campaigns are accountable to driving the right key performance indicators (kpis) for our clients. That’s a simple hygiene factor for us - do we have the right measurements while driving outcomes in media metrics that just becomes foundational to us.

The shift in using AI and analytics is in how do we drive brand and business outcomes on behalf of our clients and partners and the more we go into the people area and business allows us to be predictive and drive ROI for our partners.

The other area where we are looking at AI is from the activation stand point. Using AI to identify signals for our programmatic strategy, how do we get the targeting of the right content, how do you understand that someone is on the go, so how do you deliver the right dymamic creative. We are testing that through.

But the next two years is when we will be really accelerating in terms of what we are doing with predictive analytics, and AI especially as we start building out that first party information with those consumers.

What can traditional media houses do to get digital right—any tips?

Any transformation and change is going to involve three layers. One is the tech layer that is relatively easier to fix though can be complicated, two, processes that change, and three, people and structure around your business that change. So the business needs to be structured with the right talent so you need all sides of the triangle to work. Lot of businesses do not have restructured organizations to match with the talent.

We restructured our business three years ago in anticipation, some people waited a bit too long. Because we started early on this journey we have a consistency of brand on and off platform or whether you are in India or Japan, the brand experience for the consumer looks and feels the same.

How do you differentiate and compete with other news brands like the BBC?

Well, we are global. We are the number one news network and that has not changed. We can reach more audiences than the likes of our competitors, where we are going as a company and business one of the fundamental questions is why stop at news, because we are more than just news so we continue to challenge ourselves, we continue to push the boundaries and push the innovation roadmap of where we are going.

We do have a family of brands in-house right from HBO to Cartoon Network, and that is exciting because we are able to look beyond news.

I think if we go back to the currency of time, the average consumer today spends 11 hours consuming media in some format across platforms. As a brand as Warner Media we have to make sure that how do we capitalise on that 11 hours and make sure that the consumer stays within Warner Media which is why news and partnerships with HBO and sports, with everything allows us to capitalise on that share of time. Our aim across the world is collectively how do we understand our audiences not just the CNN audience but look at the audiences together and say yes I am a CNN consumer but I also watch HBO and Game of Thrones, I’m into sports, I’m into travel so how do I capitalise the 11 hours people are spending in front of content.

Also, we are the largest news brand on social network and we are not protective of our brand. We go where the consumer goes so we have partnerships with Google, FB and other platforms where our brand of CNN journalism is seen. When you have 147 million followers on social network, it is pretty significant.

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