03/02/22: Fresh Thinking at A+E Networks


Cynopsis Medias First Morning Read
Wednesday March 2, 2022

A+E Networks – Where Every Person Counts

"Every person counts" is A+E Networks’ rallying cry for 2022. But it's more than just a philosophy within the confines of the organization. It speaks to culture, content strategy and the business solutions it's trying to convey to advertisers.

"When we say 'every person counts,' we mean every person counts in the audiences we reach, in the creatives that we work with, and in the media companies, and marketers we do business with," says Peter Olsen, President, Ad Sales at A+E Networks. "Recognizing in this day and age the importance that every voice matters and how that plays out across our industry is something that's very important to A+E Networks and should be important to everybody in media and beyond. The more we respect every person as an individual – see them, value them, measure them – that really drives everything we're trying to get across."

To that end – and to adapt to changing consumption patterns – A+E Networks endeavors for all its advertising partnerships to be transacted on broader demo bases and to include a variety of advertiser solutions – from targeting and measurement to custom partnerships to original, multiplatform content – that are simplified, streamlined and work. It is expanding its audience by expanding diversity in its content, widening its demographics, and moving outside the traditional barriers of distribution.

Olsen offers his insights on why the company's new motto is a path that well serves its growing audience.

Motto: Every Person Counts

“At A+E Networks we believe that every person counts and that’s not just limited to our culture within our organization but extends to every corner of our business. We create, develop, and illuminate entertaining, purpose-driven content that is accessible and captivating to the most expansive audience possible. We implement targeting and measurement solutions that recognize every person that engages with our content. We support and promote the diversity of our creatives in front of and behind the camera. And we endeavor for all our advertising partnerships to be transacted on broader demo bases to reflect the consumption patterns of the audiences they represent. Marketers need to understand that every person that sees their messaging is a potential customer. We live in a world where every person should be given the opportunity to be seen, heard and most importantly, to count.”

Breaking Through Demographic Bias

“This discussion goes back about three years, where we started to see some trends in both census and consumer purchasing data that really supported both a demographic and socioeconomic change in the makeup of our country. In the mid-'60s, car companies wanted to target 18-49-year-olds as that was where the money was. It's where the most people were. It made complete sense to be the focus of all marketers at the time, but it’s so different now. The 55-plus audience consists of 95 million people. It represents 40% of annual consumers spending and demonstrates greater ad recall, and greater receptivity to switching brands than the generations behind them. We have a tremendous amount of research and insights that support the fact that this is an underappreciated and underserved group.

“I would say it this way: if you went out to a client and just said, ‘Hey, are you interested in targeting a group of a 100 million people that represent multi-trillions of dollars in value who are open to new, different brands?’ You’d think they'll all go, ‘Yeah, of course.’ But it’s not that easy and that’s because there is this negative bias towards older consumers, which has required a lot of conversations and convincing on our part. But just step back and go, why wouldn't you want to target a group that's this big, that spends that much money and is open to your messaging? That's the way we've been saying it: open your minds to how things are changing. There's a lot of focus on diversity when it comes to race, gender, and ethnicity. Well, we need to include age in that discussion. Inclusion isn’t truly inclusion if it comes with an expiration age. That's the key thing we keep saying.”

Winning with Great Storytelling

“When you think about the origins of television, from the classic big three broadcast networks to the growth of syndication and cable to the streaming world we are in now, where TV is literally everywhere, the constant has been great storytelling delivered by brands that know who they are and the audiences they reach. Our big three brands create compelling stories from documentaries rooted in The History Channel, Pop Culture & Biographies rooted in A&E and Movies rooted in Lifetime for their distinct and diverse fan bases. At a time when consumers seek content based on their interest and marketers align their strategies to this behavior, we follow suit. Each of our brands stand for something, but they still have a wide enough aperture to take on broad subject matter. What we’ve learned over time is, great stories are what win.

“Now, how those great stories play out across our portfolio is what excites me. Just take a look at our recent Janet Jackson documentary special. It ran on both A&E and Lifetime, and on both linear and digital platforms. It was a tremendous success, reaching over 25 million people. We saw that the content in this special would appeal to the fans of both A&E, who crave pop culture and biographical content, and the fans of Lifetime, who lean into stories for and about women. ‘Janet’ was an example of something that two of our networks were able to cross over on because it fit the DNA of each brand. I love that our portfolio is broad enough to deliver great stories, yet our brands are narrow enough that the audiences know what to expect each night of the week.”

Redefining Television

“We’ve overcomplicated the definition of television, so let’s level-set. Television is a system for transmitting visual images and sound. If we look at it that way, then it’s easily understood that TV is everywhere there’s a screen. The way people consume television is different than it was a few years ago. It’s persistently changing and evolving – what remains constant is that it’s still the best medium or ‘system’ to sell products and services. It's unparalleled in that respect. Our TV Everywhere strategy speaks to that. We ensure that our fans can engage with our television content – and our clients’ ads – on ANY viewing environment or platform they choose, with special attention paid to the ad-supported ones.

“In this ‘New Golden Age of TV,’ anyone can tell stories on any of these new platforms. We recognize that our portfolio can play a role across the entire ecosystem, from traditional cable, digital distribution, all the way down to TikTok, Snapchat and other social platforms. Our brands have earned the right to matter on across all these touchpoints because great brands and great stories cut through it all.”

Serving It Fresh: Weekend Originals

“The streaming revolution and the pandemic-driven lifestyle changes add up to dayparts that mean less. There's no daypart viewing when it comes to streaming content. A view is a view, no matter what time of day. Clearly what we've started to see with consumer behavior is, people are able to, willing to and open to consuming television at all times of day, whether it's on demand or live. We’ve decided to leverage these viewing habits. Why premiere everything against everyone else's premieres? So, the weekend original strategy is really saying, when everyone else is serving up leftovers, we're going to give them originals. We're going to give them fresh meals.

“A+E Networks has been in the home space for fifteen plus years. We leaned in with more original content since October and are seeing excellent results. The development slate in both home and food content – all housed under the umbrella of Home.Made. Nation – is very robust. And we determined there’s a real competitive opportunity to continue to premiere this content on Saturday mornings, when, research shows, people are more open to lifestyle content. We're creating more supply, and serving up originals, both for our ad partners and our viewers.”

Solutions That Work

“Television, with the right formula, has tremendous power to drive business outcomes. The formula is simple: audience discovery plus contextual relevance plus effective amplification of a marketer’s message equals guaranteed results. This has been the core belief that drives our ?Precision + Performance unit. As we listen to our clients, we are able to come back with partnerships that could be rooted in brand, genre, show or audience segment.

“Our award-winning partnerships team is best-in-class when it comes to amplifying our client’s message through our suite of custom and turnkey solutions. And through PerforMax, we are piecing together both linear and digital currency that is leading the way in cross platform, multimedia ROI solutions.

“In what has become a complicated marketplace, we offer simplified, streamlined solutions that work.”

4VU: Into the Future

“Out of the passion of our diverse employee base, we're going to launch a brand this fall called 4UV. It will be a brand developed by and For Unheard Voices. It will live across our portfolio and as a standalone FAST channel. 4UV’s goal is to help bridge the gap between mainstream and those unheard voices through stories rooted in diversity, equity, and inclusion, from race to physical handicaps to veterans and more. It focuses on elevating A+E’s impact on younger and more diverse audiences for generations to come. The vision of the internal creators is they believe – and this is very much a Gen Z group – that we can deliver purpose-driven content that provides a platform to those who don’t have one. From short to mid to long form content across linear, digital, social, and even podcasts. We see it as huge opportunity for partnerships with advertisers and distribution partners who are also looking to exceed their Corporate Social Responsibility goals.

“We live in a world where every person should be given the opportunity to be seen, heard and most importantly, to count. Because at A+E Networks, we truly believe that every person counts.”

Cynopsis Team

Lynn Leahey
Editorial Director
Kerry Smith
Division President
Access Intelligence

Roberta Caploe
VP/Group Publisher

Executive Director of Sales
Albert Nassour
Cynopsis Job Listings Sales
John Cox


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