Joe Marchese talks about the attention economy, Hulu’s ad-free offering, reduced ad loads and rising Super Bowl ad prices


Human attention is the world’s most valuable resource, and that has far-reaching implications for how advertisers determine the price of people’s time and attention, according to Joe Marchese, president of Advanced Advertising Products at Fox Networks Group. On a recent episode of “Marketing Decoded,” a podcast hosted by Linda Boff, VP and Chief Marketing Officer of GE, Joe explained that point and talked about the mission of true[X], which 21st Century Fox acquired in early 2015; the right way to think about media buying; the two best things to happen to advertising in the past year; and more.

Here are some of Joe’s key quotes from the podcast:

On what true[X] set out to do: “True[X] set out with the intent to reinvent advertising from being a frequency-based mechanism, where we’re just going to show you an ad as many times as possible and really hope you remember it; to [a mechanism where] we only need to show you the ad once and knew you’d remember it.”

On attention as a commodity: “Attention should be the commodity that we trade. I am a huge believer that the most valuable natural resource on planet Earth is human attention. It’s kind of the original bitcoin. There’s only so much of it made every day, and we’re all professional miners and givers of it.”

On the right questions to ask when buying media: “What makes me believe that someone will look at this? What makes me believe someone will take the time to pay attention? Am I giving something back to them? That is what media buying is supposed to be – I will pay to subsidize your viewing of your other content.”

On the two best things to happen to advertising in the past year: “Over the past year, maybe the two best things to happen to advertising are Hulu ad-free and ad blockers, because they showed marketers that the price of people’s time and attention is no longer determined by the most they’re willing to pay; the price of people’s time and attention is determined by whether or not the person will pay to opt out of advertising.”

On reducing ad loads: “You wish you could say that that’s purely out of altruistic [intentions], but honestly, consumers are doing it anyway. It’s one of those things where you can’t undo it – you can’t un-ring that bell. And consumers have decided that we’d rather not watch this way. [Ideally] we’d make it non-interruptive. Ideally we don’t just reduce the load but we make it so that advertising doesn’t have to be as interruptive to programming and storytelling. That’ll just continue, but what we need to do is say, ‘One ad will now have to do the work of 10’ – and it can.”

On why Super Bowl ad prices continue to rise: “One of the reasons why Super Bowl ad prices continue to go up is because there truly is scarcity of attention, and there’s even more scarcity of anticipatory attention – something someone’s waiting for. They’re not being interrupted by the ad; they’re waiting for it.”