CNBC wants to target the ‘affluent and aspirational’ as it looks to build upon consultancy offering in 2016

Recently-appointed senior vice-president of international ad sales, Max Raven, tells The Drum how the media outlet intends to shake things up in the coming year

Media giant CNBC may be renowned for its well-heeled readers and viewers, but in 2016 it’s hoping to attract both the “affluent and aspirational” with an international brand refresh.

Investment in digital and social combined with a string of new partnerships and a plan to build upon its internal agency Studio C will be key. The network also wants to develop its coverage of the marketing and tech sector; the latter of which it described as “one of the most colourful areas of business".

Speaking exclusively The Drum, the brand’s newly-hired senior vice-president of international ad sales, Max Raven, said CNBC no longer wants to be a “sleeping giant” in the market.

Putting the company’s “growth mode” down to the fact that “business news has now become ‘the news’,” Raven said: “We often talk about having the most affluent audience in the world, and I think that’s what’s very attractive to a lot of our advertisers.”

The firm geared up the new strategy in November, announcing a partnership with F1 team Sauber and is set to kick off 2016 with a bang as a headline partner at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting (Davos-Klosters).

Super Bowl moment

Raven described the flagship event, which brings together executives, academics, politicians and religious leaders for a two-day conference, as a “Super Bowl moment” for CNBC.

“An enormous amount of our advertising revenue and partnership revenue with our clients comes around Davos,” he added.

The brand has already secured five partners for the occasion, having confirmed three by the summer, which Raven noted put the broadcaster in “a great position” to continue supporting coverage of the event.

As of yet it is unable to reveal who has signed up, but the network teased that it has inked deals with two large economic development clients, as well as “a global technology giant”.

Easy as ABC(DE)

Maintaining long-term partnerships such as the one with Davos are high on the agenda for CNBC, though Raven has recognised that one of the biggest opportunities in the ad sales arena for the firm will come through offering marketers a unique type of engagement with audiences on TV, online or in-person.

“We’re seeing a very large amount of our advertising partnerships are focused around events – three of our Davos partnerships are event-focused,” he said.

Raven has adopted an ‘ABCDE’ approach to highlight what the company has to offer to clients. Comprising audience, brand, content, data and events and experiences, he told The Drum that content (“editorial all the way through to native”) and events were most prominent in the media brand’s offering.

CNBC determines its audience pyschograpically, rather than demographically, something that Raven said has put them in good stead with marketers.

“I think some media owners are almost the ‘rights holders’ to a particular audience,” he observed. “Vice certainly is, and is certainly perceived to be for that youth audience.”

“We are the rights holder globally for the affluent and aspirational business leaders around the world.”

So how does the company reach this segment? Pointing to Vice’s Virtue Worldwide agency model as an example, Raven said that he was trying to build upon the firm’s creative arm, Studio C.

“Our creative strategists that sit within that consultancy are really important to us, they help us deliver connections to the audience, across that ABCBE model,” he commented.

Ramping up digital

In a bid to up the ante and take these connections even further, the media house is making a bigger commitment to digital in 2016 – including social.

Social media editor EMEA, Cristy Garratt, arrived from ITN in October to focus on the platform, and Raven claimed that CNBC will be investing in its digital team after experiments with live-blogging throughout the trading day were well received by readers.

Other publishers, such as Viacom and Mashable, have recently diversified their social output into platforms such as Snapchat and Instagram in a bid to court the attention of millennials, but Raven emphasised that his firm’s target group is “more a mindset than an age”.

Taking on tech

An editorial expansion is also in the pipeline in 2016 as the broadcaster aims to tackle misconceptions about its coverage.

“The other area that, commercially, we’ll start to see more and more benefits from next year is our coverage of what’s probably one of the most colourful areas of business, which is technology,” said Raven.

CNBC.com has dedicated tech hub dubbed Squawk Alley, and partnered with events such as the Web Summit in 2015. Raven said it will take this further in the next 12 months to give tech firms the opportunity to appeal to "an audience of investors".

Famed for stories about chief executives and chief financial officers, the publisher will also look to cover more developments about the marketing industry in time.

“There’s a lot of interesting stories around chief marketing officers,” explained Raven, “and there’s hundreds of billions of dollars spent on advertising around the world that’s powering that economy and powering the economy.”

“We see that as an area that’s going to be more interesting to talk about so watch out for an announcement about some interesting coverage in that area,” he added.

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