CNNIC SVP Cathy Ibal interview with We Are Com

CNNIC SVP Cathy Ibal interview with We Are Com

'Brands must deepen the knowledge of their audiences'

August 25th, 2020


SVP Cathy Ibal spoke to French media publication We Are Com about the evolution of the media landscape and the importance of data for brands. You can read the interview here (French) or read the English translation below. 

Brands need to deepen their knowledge of their audiences

Cathy Ibal is Senior Vice President EMEA of CNN International Commercial. A CNN pure product, she is responsible for TV and digital campaigns within the group. This work is made possible by a very cross-functional organisation between Abu Dhabi, London, Dubai and Paris. We wanted to find out which commercial team is behind this pioneering media, with its well-crafted information, and which woman is in charge of all this talented department. A behind-the-scenes investigation of CNN’s commercial unit, signed by We Are Com.

Hello Cathy! Welcome to We Are Com. The media landscape has been turned upside down for 20 years. What is your vision of the media?

Between the arrival of streaming platforms, the erosion of TV audiences, the development of social networks, the media landscape has been totally transformed. Of course, technology has accelerated this upheaval. But what has changed above all is our media consumption, our uses. In short, globalization has accelerated, at the service of better connectivity, a more service-oriented approach, leading to new practices and major cultural changes. And it's not over with the arrival of 5G in France. At CNN, we have had to adapt and respond to these changes by offering continuous information, all day long. Moreover, another media has imposed itself as an extension of ourselves: mobile (and not only among young people)! Today, we are almost nothing without it. No company can ignore the power of this new media in its communication. I am sure that the next 20 years will be just as exciting.

How has the relationship between the advertising sales department and the advertisers evolved? Are there any continental disparities?

When I was a planner, we used to spend half an hour planning TV spots on excel to build our campaigns. Little by little, TV sponsoring developed and digital took over. Today it gives a real boost to advertisers' campaigns. Indeed, 60% of our media consumption is done on mobile! As a result, the campaigns have become more sophisticated by now integrating branded content, editorial content, audience targeting tools, etc. As proof, 70% of our partnerships are based on a fully integrated system (TV + digital). And this meets new expectations from advertisers. We are also very active with our in-house production studio, which handles more than 60% of the campaign production. With us, the production of a campaign is never done in silos: the teams work hand in hand, mobilising the data insight, editorial, communication and digital departments.Also, campaigns are not built in the same way depending on the country! Even if we address our communications to a BtoB, affluent audience, the issues and cultures are indeed very different. For example, in the Middle East, the sales teams is more focused on sectors such as tourism or aeronautics; in Switzerland, advertisers are mainly players in the luxury goods, logistics or finance sectors. Each conversation is very different and we take into account the aspirations of local audiences. Thus, advertisers come to us to deepen their understanding of their consumers' needs. Data is now at the centre of all concerns.

What's your relationship to distributors? Are you moving towards more autonomy? (app, website...)

Our WarnerMedia group allows us to be accessible to 475 million households worldwide across all platforms, thanks to numerous partner carriers. We also invest strategically in proprietary channels such as our website and application. This allows us to bring our brands to life based on current events. We adopt this approach that relies primarily on conventional television, our proprietary channels, without forgetting a presence on third party platforms, whether video or social, to ensure a quality information service for everyone.

Today, CNN is celebrating its 40th anniversary and is one of the most influential channels worldwide. What are your challenges?

For 40 years, CNN has been informing the world based on facts, thanks to recognized experts such as Richard Quest, Wolf Blitzer and many others. They have given us the opportunity to witness great moments, such as Harry and Meghan's Wedding, the victory of the French team in the World Cup, the Arab Spring... As the world's leading news media, we fight against fake news by providing quality information, triple-checked and impartial. This responsibility is part of CNN's fundamentals and we attach great importance to our reputation. I have great admiration for the work of journalists: they have no right to make mistakes! There is today a crisis of trust in the media, due in particular to the multiplication of news sources. At the same time, new and complementary media are emerging and we see this in a positive light (provided, of course, that the news is verified).

How are the best campaigns built? What would be your advice for advertisers?

Competition on the internet is more important than ever. If brands don't produce quality content, their campaigns simply won't be seen by their targets. I am convinced that data analysis is crucial to reach the right audiences. The presence of brands during events is a great way to communicate spontaneously. But if a brand wants to strengthen its branding, a long-term partnership is the right solution, because it is a collaboration that is done over time and potentially over several geographical areas. In my opinion, the brands that will do well in the future are those that will increase the knowledge of their audiences and above all build a relationship of proximity and authenticity with their consumers. 

You are committed to inclusion and are one of AdAge magazine's Women to Watch Europe: can you tell us more?

I lead a team of 25 people, consisting of 18 different nationalities. This melting pot allows me to discover a wide variety of cultures. It is a great enrichment both personally and professionally and this diversity contributes to the team's success. In my professional life, I have a more prominent role with young women: I try to coach them so that they trust themselves more. At CNN, I've experienced a fairly rapid evolution and I myself try to promote talents and encourage them to grow progressively.

3 things to know about Cathy

1.Cathy is the mother of 2 children and tells us: every day is sport!
2.Her passion? Reading
3.She does not remember the titles of the books and sometimes buys a book she has already read.