Warner Media focused on building advertising model

DALLAS–CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Thursday hosted a discussion with Warner Media CEO John Stankey that hit on everything from Cooper’s renumeration, the shifting sands of content delivery and consumption and how to build an advertising business.

The session started with a moment of levity. To fully appreciate this reference, do yourself a favor and search Twitter to learn about the Sock Society. “Why am I only the only one wearing AT&T socks?” Cooper asked Stankey, who replied, “Because only the high-priced talent gets the free stuff.” Big laugh.

This week AT&T stood up it’s new advertising and analytics unit dubbed Xander after company founder Alexander Graham Bell. The idea is to leverage AT&T’s direct-to-consumer distribution network, and all the consumer data that goes along with it, to put eyeballs on Warner Media properties like HBO, CNN, the Turner networks, etc…

“The reality in this world we’re all moving into,” Stankey said, “it’s a vertically integrated world. Software kind of warps every product and service people consume.” He said the creative process is still integral to content production but, “In order for customers to see it, it’s going to have to be wrapped with software. It’s brining that element from AT&T…to build that business model.”

Cooper asked Stankey about the role of Netflix as it relates to AT&T’s ambitions; he said he spends “a good amount of time figuring out what to watch.” Stankey noted he wasn’t “throwing shade” at Netflix, but said the winner in this world will have the “best collection of brands. What we’ll do differently, maybe it’s not the tonnage…but it’s really well-curated and well-established brands.”

To that comparison between Warner Media and Netflix, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson recently analogized that Netflix is like WalMart whereas Warner Media is like Tiffany’s.

“What Netflix has show is there is a better way to distribute content,” Stankey said. “In the direct-to-consumer space, it’s taking this incredible strength we already have, and the content we have in Time Warner, and starting to build the user experience. Direct-to-consumer brings the data element” that underlies a strong advertising model, he said.

In the wide-ranging discussion about the present and future of video content, Cooper asked Stankey to describe the role of journalists compared to “the content creators in Hollywood.” “Has anything changed in the first 100 days?” Stankey asked. “Only my socks,” Cooper said.




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