Toby Byrne Joins A+E Networks’ Ad Sales

Rexa Vella

Toby Byrne Joins A+E Networks’ Ad Sales

Toby Byrne, who rose over two-decades to run advertising sales for Fox Broadcasting and Fox Sports, is getting back into the TV-ad game.

Byrne has been named executive vice president of national ad sales at A+E Networks, reporting to Peter Olsen, president of ad sales at the company, which is a joint venture of Hearst and Walt Disney Co. For the past six years, he was president of ZEFR, a technology company that helps advertisers target audiences on YouTube.

He will likely play a key role as A+E Networks, owner of the A+E, History and Lifetime cable networks, among others, gears up for the industry’s annual “upfront” market, when media companies try to sell the bulk of their commercial inventory ahead of their next programming cycle. A+E Networks will hold an a virtual event on March 6.

“I’m so pleased to bring to bear all the experiences I have at both ZEFR and Fox Broadcasting to A+E Networks,” said Byrne, in a statement. “Under Peter’s leadership, A+E Networks has always enjoyed the reputation as being the best, most data and ad tech-forward–and highest-level white glove client service–in the entire media landscape. I’m especially excited to work with Peter and contribute to the great efforts and results of he and the team.”

Byrne came to new prominence in the advertising industry in 2010, when he was named to succeed Jon Nesvig as ad-sales chief for Fox Broadcasting. Nesvig cut a legendary figure in the industry, serving as a kind of adult in the room as younger programmers worked to turn Rupert Murdoch’s late-1980’s vision of launching a fourth broadcast network to compete with ABC, NBC and CBS. In some ways, Byrne’s challenge was even more daunting than Nesvig’s: He has had to refashion an ad sales department in which executives were focused on selling, say, broadcast or cable inventory into one in which everyone was prepared to put together larger packages that included digital inventory. During Byrne’s tenure, Fox devised some eye-popping ad pacts, including one that embedded Pepsi products into a multi-episode plotline of the popular drama “Empire.”

A+E Networks also named four new vice presidents in ad sales. April Denn is formerly head of partnership solutions at Samsung Ads. Jeff Gocel is formerly senior streaming TV agency development manager with Amazon. Lindsey Quinn is formerly vice president of sales, beauty, fashion, health and weellness, at Firework. Rob Duke is formerly director if ad sales, A+E Networks.

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