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How CNN Monetizes Breaking News

Whenever there is big breaking news, be it an inauguration or a cruise ship adrift, CNN’s ratings spike. AdWeek‘s Sam Thielman talks to CNN’s ad sales chief Greg D’Alba about what it takes to monetize those news stories.

Obviously news events that happen on a schedule, like an election or royal wedding, are the easiest sells.

“Some of the news events that occur are tough because of how graphic they can be and how life-changing they become,” D’Alba said. After all, you can’t exactly pitch Nokia on a spot about the death of Muammar Gaddafi, even though cellphones were directly involved. But D’Alba said that CNN doesn’t just sell on royal weddings and elections. “We have a good track record,” he said. “That makes it easier for our guys to represent the brand and the product in the marketplace.”


A spot buy meant to take advantage of the big deliveries for a breaking news story like the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster in Japan won’t necessarily be as comfortable a fit as a :30 that airs during a space shuttle launch or ticker-tape parade, but CNN will still sell it at a premium.

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