Time Warner Cable’s Good Partner Policy Pays Off

By Mavis Scanlon

When it comes to stepping out with affiliate marketing campaigns, programmers have a clear favorite dance partner. By a wide margin, they selected Time Warner Cable as their most responsive affiliate in CableWORLD’s survey of operator-programmer relations.

“Time Warner Cable is a stellar partner in that they really understand the benefits of promoting not only their own products, they understand that programming is a key component,” says Lauren Monks, national director of MSO marketing for Discovery Networks.

Travel Channel’s “My Hometown”

The Travel Channel typically will rely on small, local affiliate campaigns. However, for its one big national affiliate campaign last year, “My Hometown,” it turned to Time Warner Cable. The campaign took about a year to put together, giving Travel and its parent Discovery plenty of lead time to brainstorm ways to draw on various Time Warner Cable departments, from ad sales to public affairs to marketing. Travel wanted to boost its brand awareness. Each of Time Warner Cable’s 31 divisions wanted to highlight their commitment to educational initiatives while reaching out to their Hispanic audiences. The operator also wanted to highlight its high-speed Internet service through a consumer contest that was part of the campaign.

Featuring an educational curriculum designed to teach students more about their hometown, the campaign reached more than 5,000 teachers, says Danielle Mercurio, director, integrated marketing and promotion, for Discovery Networks’ affiliate sales and marketing department. Of those, more than 20% participated. That’s “outstanding for a program such as this,” Mercurio says.

In any direct response marketing campaign, response rates of 2% to 4% are considered quite good. “We see [the high response rate] as a huge coup in terms of success,” Monks says.

Time Warner Cable’s approach to its affiliate marketing campaigns depends on whether the network is premium or basic. Campaigns with HBO, Showtime and Starz typically focus on growing subscribers, a big objective for both operators and programmers. When working with HBO and Showtime, Time Warner Cable highlights its on-demand platform as a way to differentiate itself from satellite competition.

Basic networks, on the other hand, most often want to drive tune-in, while cable operators want to drive subscriber and new-product growth.

“Our approach is one of respect and one of acknowledging the fact that both our partners and our customers have choices these days,” says Brian Kelly, SVP, marketing, at Time Warner Cable. “If we expect to do business with either of them, we need to approach it from the standpoint of mutual respect and a focus on aligning our objectives.”

MTV and a Pop Star

A recent campaign from MTV and Time Warner Cable featuring the singer Vanessa Carlton met the objectives of both the basic net and the cable operator, Kelly says. Cross-channel spots provided by the operator promoted MTV and helped drive awareness of its brand as an advertising vehicle. MTV, meanwhile, helped line up Carlton (who is a Time Warner Cable customer in New York City) for the campaign, which was designed to appeal to young consumers. All the cross-channel spots and still photos were shot at MTV’s studio by the network’s crew. Although no hard data was available, Kelly says the promotion helped with one of Time Warner Cable’s primary goals: selling product bundles.

[Copyright 2005 Access Intelligence, LLC. All rights reserved.]

COPYRIGHT 2005 Access Intelligence, LLC.

COPYRIGHT 2005 Gale Group

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