Amy Baker has been Executive Vice President of Client Strategy and Insights at A+E Networks for about a year now. The title was created as a reflection of A+E Networks’ internal reorg to have a team focused more on identifying true client needs and creating insights-based solutions together. She described how this approach informed their new sales positioning for the HISTORY brand in this recent interview.
E.B. Moss: You must have to really understand the inside and outside environment in order to share those proverbial insights.
Amy Baker (pictured below): Exactly. We work very closely with all our research teams, ad sales research, programming and the insights team. We're thirsty for information and we're uncovering it every single day and speaking to as many clients as possible and understanding where the matches are.
Moss: HISTORY Stories recently reported on why it took 17 years to catch the Unabomber and posted it in the same week the news emerged that we had caught a new homegrown would-be bomber. That seems representative of the nature of history repeating itself, and the objective perspective you’re able to share.
Baker: That's exactly right. Our brand ID is “HISTORY made every day.” Everything that's going on today connects; we connect where we’ve been to where we are and that gives us perspective on where we are headed. That's really our motto. I think that we really have an important place right now more than ever for consumers to come to a safe place where there's not going to be any agenda. They're going to come and learn and be entertained at the same time.
Moss: How does the current media and political climate reflect on HISTORY?
Baker: Today, it's like as a consumer, you don't know where to turn or what to believe in anymore. The belief in two institutions -- the government and the media -- is at an all-time low. That impacts us all. News is so opinionated. Where HISTORY falls into this climate is in the middle. We don't have an agenda at all. Our passion lies in just sharing facts, and documenting those facts, and hopefully giving perspective to viewers that provides them information on the past that gives context to what we're seeing unfold today.
Moss: How has HISTORY changed in recent times and what do you envision the future holds?
Baker: HISTORY wants to truly understand what people need and what they're saying to shape our own content. We have a really impressive insights team at our company - we call it A+E Intelligence, and they're working with academia, anthropologists, sociologists and economists to really understand the mindset of culture today. We've identified about 31 different cultural trends that we are focusing on. Out of this HISTORY has made a big commitment, over the next five years, to premium documentary storytelling, launching HISTORY 100 as our umbrella franchise.
Moss: Are there any particular ones that stand out?
Baker: Yes. Due to the cultural climate of today, marketers and publishers are discovering that their brand’s honesty is their ultimate currency. This is the trend we call “the currency of truth.” Marketers need to earn their consumers’ trust by telling narratives within trustworthy environments. Consumers demand this.
Moss: So, consumers as well as marketers are looking for trustworthy environments?
Baker: Absolutely. We've identified a pretty big group of the U.S. population -- 108 million people! -- who are in search of truth. We call them truth seekers. They crave information; they want to know the who, the what, the why and the where on a variety of subjects.
Moss: How do you cater for the wants and needs of these “truth seekers”?
Baker: They're stimulated by learning. They want to be tuned into the world around them. They are a very hyper-engaged segment. They want to know and understand the truth for social currency reasons. That's gaining information that they can use when they're with family or co-workers. They want to learn, understand and gain information without the distraction of someone’s else’s preconceived notions.
Moss: How do you package that up when making promises to advertisers, and how do you present these opportunities?
Baker: We're sharing a lot of research that proves the HISTORY environment is a really safe, trusted place for their brand. It’s showing that 67% of our viewers say that they can't find our content anywhere else. Sixty-six percent agree that HISTORY tells compelling stories, and 65% also say that HISTORY makes them feel smart. Plus, per your earlier point, a high percentage, 68%, say that HISTORY shows why past and current events are important now. And here’s a great point for marketers: 92% of men who watch our network say that they trust us, but even more important is that 76% of those men say they trust the ads on the network. That ties right back to that halo effect the HISTORY brand provides our partners.
Moss: You're working to create a sense of the HISTORY environment -- the halo effect and the benefits that come with association -- as basically the whole positioning statement?
Baker: Exactly. Marketers are keenly aware of the importance of trust and truth to consumers across the country. This is who we are and who we’ve always been. If there's even been a time to go out and scream it from the rooftops, it's now.
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