Turner Overhauls Ad Outreach, Names Speciale President, TV and Digital Sales

CNN ad-sales chief Greg D'Alba, a Turner veteran, to depart

David Levy Turner Broadcasting

Time Warner’s Turner unit is radically changing the structure of its ad-sales staff, resulting in the elevation of one of its top sales executives and the departure of another from the company.

Donna Speciale, a Madison Avenue veteran who once advised Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola and Kraft Foods how and where to allocate their advertising dollars, will become president of Turner’s ad sales, supervising both TV and digital ad sales for the company’s entertainment, news, kids and young-adult properties. Speciale, who joined Turner in 2012 from Publicis Groupe ad-buying firm MediaVest, previously supervised just ad sales for TBS, TNT, TruTV, Adult Swim and Cartoon Network.

Now she will add such Turner outlets as, CNN and CNN.com and Funny or Die to her portfolio.

As part of the restructuring, Greg D’Alba, a 27-year veteran of Turner who has supervised ad sales for CNN and the company’s digital properties, is leaving the company according to a memo sent to staffers Tuesday by David Levy, president of Turner. Ad sales for Turner’s sports media and the digital property Bleacher Report will remain separate, with two executives responsible for digital ads associated with sports content now reporting to Jon Diament, exec veep of Turner Sports ad sales.

The move comes just weeks before the “upfront” market, that annual session when U.S. TV networks try to sell the bulk of their ad inventory for the coming programming season. With consumers watching more of their favorite programming across different types of devices, including mobile phones and tablets, advertisers want to do broader deals, rather than buying TV commercials and digital ads separately.

“Obviously, the changes we are announcing today come at an important time in our business,” Levy said in the memo, which was reviewed by Variety. “Through discussions with our clients, we know they’re looking to accelerate the process of integrating their media plans and have a single point of focus that will further streamline the buying process across all screens and opportunities.”

D’Alba joined Turner in 1986 as an account executive, rising through the ranks steadily. He was named head of CNN ad sales in 2003, then named President of CNN Ad Sales and Turner Digital in 2012 when Speciale joined the company.

Other media companies have been reworking their ad-sales organization in recent months as video content begins to travel from TV screen to new venues that were never imagined back when TV was the dominant source of ad-supported video entertainment.

In December, Viacom said a single ad-sales team would deal with advertisers for all TV programming and digital assets associated with CMT, Comedy Central, MTV, Logo, Spike TV, TV Land and VH1. NBCUniversal in October reorganized its ad-sales staff around consumer behaviors, such as watching mass-audience entertainment, live programming like sports or news, or specific kinds of lifestyle content.

The New York Post earlier reported D’Alba’s depature from Turner.