Saturday

The Future of History. An Interview with A+E Network’s Brian Joyce



Brian Joyce, SVP, National Ad Sales, A&E and History worked his way up to sales management from an assistant at CNN in the 1990s. His career path took him to A+E Networks in the early years of History, to SONY syndication and then back to A+E at a time when History was gaining in distribution and audience. Now his responsibilities include managing the sales teams of both A+E and History networks in a media ecosystem that contains linear, digital, cross platform, programmatic and addressable elements. 

Charlene Weisler: What does the History brand represent today?

Brian Joyce: History is a premium brand and advertisers love to attach to our high profile series and specials across all platforms.  We also know that brands still matter in today’s environment, maybe more than ever.   This year once again History ranked as the #1 entertainment brand measured by Yougov.
We believe that History is not just about looking back but understanding where we are today and where we might be headed. We aim to humanize the past, reflect on the present and illuminate the future. We deliver a premium content environment that not only entertains but leaves the viewer feeling smarter and more educated about a person or a subject. We have a couple of events coming up in 2017 - The Human Journey and The Valley that are two that will back up this brand position. The Human Journey looks at migration over the past 200 to 300 years. Why did people migrate? Well, it was primarily because of war and floods and finding riches. This topic is very relevant today just look at the past year and the refuges flooding into Europe.  The Valley explores the build out of the internet over the past 30 years, but also debates and predicts what the next 30 years will bring.  History not only entertains but leaves the viewer feeling smarter and more educated about a person or a subject

Charlene Weisler: Can you tell me about your branded and native content efforts?

Brian Joyce: People have struggled with a definition for programmatic and now we are struggling to best define branded and native content. In my mind at the end of the day, no matter what which term you use, its custom content created in partnership with our advertisers. We created an Enthusiast Block called “WILD HISTORY” that runs on the weekend from 11a-1p. We collaborated with YETI on a truly authentic, branded-content experience while giving our rabid, enthusiast fan-base the reduced commercial loads that they demand.  Instead of running standard commercials, the enthusiast block will offer limited ad interruption and weave in content from marketers. Some of the marketers' native content will be created by us, but much of it will be content that brands have already created to run on their own sites or on YouTube. This will give marketers another home for ancillary content and open it up to more eyeballs.

Charlene Weisler: What are your thoughts about data initiatives, programmatic, addressable advertising and targeting our audiences?

Brian Joyce: The industry is yearning for better data in two separate but connected phases. The first is better measurement – who is watching what, when and on which platform.  Both Nielsen and Rentrak/ComScore are promising better analytics in this area, but there’s still more work to be done. The second is, better targeting. Once we can capture the basics of all video viewing, the push will be to break down the audience characteristics and purchasing habits of these viewers. We launched our programmatic video offering back in 2012 on the digital side using a series of marketplaces and SSPs.   We recently built out a DMP and use data when selling direct and though our programmatic unit.  On the Linear side we rolled out our Ad Optimizer tool last year and are testing audience-based buying.    We optimize a schedule across all our networks, not just History, to reach a client’s strategic target.  All of these advanced audience targeting capabilities fall under our A+E Precision platform which delivers unparalleled audience solutions to our partners.

Charlene Weisler: Where do you see History in the future?

Brian Joyce: History is synonymous with Premium and I don’t see that changing. Moving forward I see us working with advertisers on more brand focused and themed packages such as Innovation and Leadership.  I’m excited to see how these packages will build out across all our platforms.  Scripted series like Vikings, Six and Knight Fall as well as our Premium Docs are proven platforms that deliver an upscale viewer.  There are areas where we have a stake in the ground – areas we own and will not give up such as telling the stories of our brave men and woman of the armed forces.  This December will be the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor and September is 15 years since the 9/11 attacks and we will deliver new stories about those historic events. I also see us expanding deeper into the Auto category with a themed Car Week in July 2017 to continue to tap into that enthusiast-type programming I spoke about earlier. More and more we are breaking the clock and delivering content in all sorts of lengths – some stories require 8 hours to tell and others a minute. We devote as much time as is needed to tell a compelling and engaging story that lives across all our platforms. Moving forward I see us working with advertisers on more brand focused and themed packages such as Innovation and Leadership.  I’m excited to see how these packages will build out across all our platforms.  History is not just about the facts. It is about the people and their stories.

This article first appeared in www.MediaBizBloggers.com


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