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C4 steps up hunt for ‘new oil’

The UK’s Channel 4 (C4) has made three key appointments as it continues to drill for what CEO David Abraham has described as ‘the new oil’ – deeper audience data.

The broadcaster has appointed a head of viewer relationship management and head of data planning and analytics as part of a multi-million pound commitment to harvesting viewer data.

Abraham stated at the channel’s annual report launch that this would become a key strategy for C4 and he repeated that at a later Royal Television Society dinner where he made the ‘oil’ remark.

Sanjeevan Bala will fill the data planning and analytics role having previously worked for ClearCell and Dunnhumby helping to connect companies like Tesco, eBay and BSkyB with their customers’ needs.

He will be responsible for shaping the channel’s policies and practices for data capture, storage and use.

Steve Forde, previously the channel’s head of digital marketing, has been made head of viewer relationships. His new job will be to build relationships with viewers and drive loyalty around C4 programmes.

The channel aims to build relationships with viewers, offering them previews and extra online features in return for personal information that can be used to specifically target programming and advertising.

Sue Gray has been promoted to head of advertising research and development, where she is charged with keeping C4 at the forefront of longer term ad sales innovation.

A new head of audience research and insight will also follow after long-serving exec Claire Grimmond left the position earlier this week.

C4’s director of audience, technologies and insight Gill Whitehead said: “With further investment now green lit, Channel 4’s work on delivering our ambitions around viewer engagement can move to the next level.”

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