Heading into CES 2016 in Las Vegas, Turner was just rolling out its Ignite insights-powered unit, designed to enhance the television advertising viewing experience. Turner Ignite returns to CES 2017 armed with case studies showing how branded content and standard ads paired in pods lifts campaign engagement.

Ignite evolved from the realization that the TV industry had “overstuffed the bird” with too many ads and that creative content had to work harder for marketers, Dan Riess, EVP of Content Partnerships, says in an interview with Beet.tv.

During this “test and learn” year for Ignite, Turner has already cut the number of ads in its programming, according to Riess.

“What we are learning is that the shorter the ad breaks, in general the better performance for advertisers that are in that ad break,” he says. “Makes total sense, less clutter. We’re seeing it as less is more.”

After the self-imposed commercial “diet” came the “workout,” as Riess explains it.

“The workout part is to make the creative work harder in those pods. Start taking what would be a traditional ad pod of four, six, eight sometimes spots and putting in custom branded content,” Riess says.

Normally, viewers would emerge from a program segment and encounter a pod with several commercial messages, none of them related to the other. In its tests, Ignite swapped out the traditional pod and substituted a two- to three-minute exclusive branded content piece from an advertiser, then returned viewers to the program.

At the next commercial break, viewers were shown a 30-second ad for the company whose branded content they had previously viewed. This is a formula that Turner has executed 30-40 times across its networks, according to Riess.

Biometric testing with 4,500 viewers revealed that “you have a huge bump in engagement when you put a story in front of someone for two minutes plus,” Riess says. That has a huge effect.”

As for the 30-second ad, it “starts to perform extremely well” following the branded content “because it’s been essentially set up by the content piece,” says Riess.

Ignite does audience targeting via both contextual means and “a huge array of data sets, being Nielsen, be it MRI. Pretty much any dataset that a marketer would want to use we actually have in house and are willing to target against,” he says.

This interview is part of our series “The Road to CES,” a lead-up series in advance of CES 2017. The series is presented by FreeWheel. Please find more videos from the series here.