Joe Marchese: Re-inventing the advertising wheel
Joe Marchese, Fox’s new President of Ad Revenue, won the top job by trashing ad sale models, likening digital ads to “subprime mortgages”, and advocating ad blockers. He’s not your father’s ad salesman, and Fox is okay with that–for now.
Marchese’s mercurial rise to the summit of the broadcast ad sales world began just ten years ago when he founded true[X], a digital advertising company that preached art, storytelling and interactive commercials for an interactive media. It was also the pulpit from Marchese proclaimed that he sympathized with consumers who switched on the ad blocker function on their computers, because “no one wants to be interrupted ten times or see a :30 pre-roll to get to a one minute clip.” His brash agency, and opinions, caught the attention of Fox executives, and the media mega-company bought true[X] for $200 million dollars in 2014.
The sale didn’t blunt Marchese’s message. He became more brash, announcing at the code/media conference that “video ads are designed to leech human attention in ways that piss off viewers and misrepresent how much engagement is actually happening…”
Five years ago that kind of thinking would have been derided and/or ignored. But in the current fragmented market, it resonated with cable executives, including Fox Networks Group COO Randy Freer. When sales executive Toby Bryne left Fox after two decades, it sparked an internal competition to replace him, and though few advertising insiders gave him much of a chance, he was handed the position just before this spring’s up-fronts.
He has already made some integral changes in the Fox advertising matrix: he has, for example, pulled ads from FX on-demand content, and instituted a restructuring of ad load (the number of ads per hour) and break structure based on meta-data that the company is gathering.
The stakes are high, the market uncertain, and the future of broadcast advertising unknown, but Marchese, if nothing else, is confident that change is not only in the air, it’s good: “it’s crucial, as an industry, that we evolve our business model of advertising to better serve our brand and agency partners, our creative community, and most of all, our viewers and fans.”