Upfront Notebook: Marchese Dons Broadcast Suit and Tie

New Fox ad head bashes digital metrics and announces innovative approaches

Freshly minted Fox Networks Group ad revenue head Joe Marchese dove into the defense of broadcast TV advertising, while pushing innovations that could make it even more effective.

Wearing a tie on stage at the Beacon Theatre during Fox’s upfront presentation, which by itself put his credibility in the digital world at risk, Marchese, three days into his new job, took on the task of debunking metrics that seem to argue that digital giants Facebook and Google have reach that rival traditional TV.

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Given the issues troubling big marketers about digital advertising recently, including fraud, viewability and finding ads next to objectionable content, Marchese likened the part of the ad business to the sub-prime securities market that led to the financial crisis.

"Look, subprime activity in the market was dragging us all down. We hear stories every day about fraud, measurement errors and growing ad failures. But this will actually be good news for some of you because if you know the story of The Big Short there are those that saw what was happening, they used data, innovative approaches and common sense to beat the market,” he said. “And that’s exactly what we will be doing with the brands that partner with us. We’ll value what matters. Use industry-leading approaches to data and innovation and a little common sense to make your brands heroes. And at the end of the day make sure that every dollar you trust us with beats the market on every platform. It’s the least we could do to show our gratitude for the part you play in making sure our stories reach more people.”

Marchese said digital and broadcast have been measured using different yardsticks.

“Even as the definition of impressions drifts further and further from anything resembling attention, consider this. We as an industry have done studies to demonstrate that having the sound on is a more effective way to deliver your commercials. Seriously. Let me repeat that,” he says, continuing his address for a while soundlessly for comedic effect. Then, with sound on again, he concluded “…and that is the secret to the future of advertising.”

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Marchese also took on the claim that Facebook has a Super Bowl on mobile every day.

Marchese took issue with the definition of impression that digital ad sellers employ. Instead, Marchese suggested looking at total ad minutes.

And instead of the Super Bowl—which Fox isn’t selling this year—he looked at any night in primetime. And from 8 to 10 p.m. on any given Tuesday, Fox had five times the ad minutes of Facebook and YouTube combined.

“There’s another saying in sports that’s important here, that you don’t run up the score. So what I’m not going to do is even ask if those ad minutes are full-screen, sound-on, with great, safe content like ours is because it would be petty for me to do that,” Marchese said.

Turning the tables, Marchese said that on any given Tuesday Fox primetime delivers seven Facebooks.

Marchese said that Fox’s investment in the best storytelling gives it permission to ask viewers to pay attention to advertisers’ messages. And he noted that “the most data-obsessed companies in the world are actually the fastest-growing investors in broadcast.”

He added that he’d only been talking about linear viewing, but 31% of Fox’s stories are watched in digital or on-demand environments.

“Even the linear feeds are increasingly being delivered digitally,” he said. “As this trend continues, it will allow phenomenal opportunity for everyone because in on-demand environments, literally any time is primetime… We have the highest quality environments, we have the permission to ask people for their attention, and we have it at broadcast scale. And more and more we have the tools of digital to capitalize on it.”

Marchese began rolling out some of those new tools immediately.

Fox will be using Moat’s Video Quality Score not only across digital but will bring it to linear measurement as well.

“We want to give you a unified view across all media of true investment efficiency,” Marchese said. “And more importantly how that correlates with your brands’ goals and specific campaign goals.”

For any campaign that uses Moat measurement across all distribution, Fox will guarantee Fox’s Moat Video Quality Score. “You won’t need to show us results from other platforms, we already know how we stack up,” he said.

“Once we focus on the metrics that matter, we can build ad formats that deliver what matters. That’s what our advanced ad products group has been doing. From sequenced creative to cross-platform optimization, viewer opt-in engagement and single sponsor VOD streams, the common goal is an improved viewer experience with out-sized returns for you,” he said.

The engagement ads created by true[x], the company Marchese started and sold to 21st Century Fox, let viewers opt into an immersive brand experience in return for a viewing experience with fewer interruptions.

Advertisers get three to five times more value with that ad format, Marchese said.

“Today we’re announcing that we will no longer sell standard commercials in any FX on demand,” he said. “Talk about making brand heroes. And we haven’t stopped at just FX. We’re bringing this type of viewer friendly ad unit to all Fox Networks Group on demand experiences.”