Jill King | Crain's

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Jill King

Background:  

Jill King oversees all consumer marketing efforts for Cartoon Network, Adult Swim and Boomerang and their mobile and digital presence. In her previous position, King was responsible for the creation of promotional marketing programs. She joined Turner Broadcasting System Inc., which is the parent company of Cartoon Network, Adult Swim and Boomerang, in 2000. Before that, King worked in marketing roles at Coca-Cola and System One, a staffing firm. King serves as a mentor within Turner Broadcasting’s Turner Women Today and Animation, Young Adults and Kids Media Circle Mentoring programs.

The Mistake:

When I started with Cartoon Network, we didn’t have a lot of experience engaging with kids on digital platforms. We were building the concept from scratch. This idea of meeting kids on the internet was new at the time.

We definitely made mistakes along the way. We came up with some aspects of the product that were less popular than others.

I worked closely with our creative team. They created Cartoon Orbit, this online safe space for kids to interact with each other. This was pre-social media days. Kids had their own pages and they could collect character icons and explore other kids’ pages.

I remember back in the day working really closely with our ad sales team. Because this type of product hadn’t existed before, I really had to take a step back and educate the team on this product. I had to work closely with my internal stakeholders and the industry to get them to dream of different ways of reaching kids.

Even today, kids are really setting the trends, so we’re putting ourselves in a position of learning from this generation. So we’re not only giving them what they want but trying to stay a few steps ahead. It’s just this constant state of invention.

Get comfortable with what you don’t know. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes.

The Lesson:

Something that has served me well in my career is being OK with what you don’t know and inventing your own path. That’s what we’re doing now, too. We’re in constant invention mode vs. other demographics, whose consumption habits don’t change. Kids are creating new ways of interacting, so we’re often learning from them.

Reinventing yourself for the future is critical. Don’t follow a traditional path. Follow your own path. Be relentless about your approach to change and curiosity. I think about how important curiosity is and how that’s played a role in the decisions that we make here.

Another lesson that I learned there is you need to listen to your audience. You can’t apply the best practices of TV to the digital space.

Get comfortable with what you don’t know. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes.

Right now, we have to be OK with what we don’t know. The industry hasn’t caught up to kids’ watching habits. The measurement isn’t there yet. We know kids are on all these different platforms, but there isn’t a global measurement system. We have to tell our ad sales partners that there isn’t this globally recognized measurement, but we know kids are there. Trust us, and we can develop key performance indicators and forge into this world together.

Kids are really everybody’s future consumer. They’re such an awesome group to work with. Don’t underestimate kids.

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