AT&T executive promises fewer ads on newly acquired Time Warner networks

AT&T executive promises fewer ads on newly acquired Time Warner networks
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By Lisa Richwine

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - AT&T Inc should be able to reduce the number of commercials on its newly acquired Time Warner networks by using wireless and TV customer data to target personalized advertisements, John Stankey, the longtime AT&T executive who will run the networks, said in an interview on Monday.

The wireless phone giant plans to start selling targeted ads for Turner networks such as TNT and CNN "in short order," said Stankey, chief executive of the new WarnerMedia. An industry-wide, automated marketplace, which would sell ads across other companies' channels, is "easily a year off,” he said.

"One of the big benefits we can bring to the market is lighter ad loads," Stankey said.

Some Turner networks already have cut the number of commercials. Comedy network TruTV, for example, has reduced ad time by roughly 50 percent.

AT&T "absolutely" should be able to further reduce ad inventory across Turner networks, Stankey said. The thinking is that advertisers will pay more for each ad if they know their message is reaching someone likely to be interested in it, such as getting a dog food commercial in front of a dog owner.

Stankey also said that AT&T Watch, a new online channel bundle, will be unveiled in coming days. It will include networks beyond the ones just acquired from Time Warner, he said.

(Reporting by Lisa Richwine; Editing by James Dalgleish)

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