HISTORY Channel’s “Roots”


A+E Networks’ HISTORY channel sought to drive audiences to tune in to the re-imagining of the hit television series “Roots,” while focusing on targeting a younger demographic. The original “Roots” aired in 1977 and was the second-most watched television finale in history, watched by over half of the US population. However, 2/3 of the current US population wasn’t born when the original series aired, and young viewers weren’t aware of the series. HISTORY set out to demonstrate the modern relevance of “Roots,” generate word-of-mouth buzz, and introduce a new, younger audience to the network.


Resolution Media designed a holistic strategy to deliver on A+E Networks’ three key challenges. Three social partners were recommended for the initiative — inclusive of Reddit — to drive awareness in both short- and long-form conversation settings. Compared to some of the other social platforms, where user content is centered on video, images or brief text posts, Reddit is known as a conversation-based platform where people engage in in-depth discussions relevant to the “Roots” series, including: news, history, pop culture and entertainment. From an audience demographic perspective, approximately 87% of Reddit’s audience is made up of users under 35-years-old, which made it an ideal social partner for driving word-of-mouth buzz amongst millennials.


Determined to maintain as much control over delivery and optimizations as possible for this unique campaign, Resolution recognized an opportunity in what was able to be controlled on the Reddit platform. Prior to this campaign, ads on Reddit were bought in bulk with Reddit. Resolution and Reddit partnered together to pilot and execute the first campaign on Reddit’s self-serve ad buying platform, previously used solely by Reddit to fulfill managed service buys. As is the case when launching a campaign on any new platform, the A+E Networks team was tasked with familiarizing itself with Reddit’s ad interface, working closely with the Reddit account team to iron out campaign setup questions and provide feedback on the platform along the way. This additional command over campaigns enabled Resolution to provide up-to-the-minute optimization recommendations to A+E Networks, along with direct access for making quick ad copy and targeting adjustments. The resulting impact for the “Roots” series was an additional 6.5MM impressions and 16% incremental clicks compared to managed service averages. 


The Reddit campaign for “Roots” delivered a 15% lower cost-per-thousand (CPM) impressions than the managed service fixed rate offered by the platform at the time of this initiative, proving the real-time optimizations made resulted in better results. The optimizations resulted in a 15% lower CPM and yielded an 18% cost savings for A+E Networks. Reddit drove up to a 58% lower CPM compared to the other social platforms included in the initiative. Piloting Reddit’s self-serve surpassed reach goals as well, accounting for 15% of overall impressions to the millennial target demographic — who may not have been familiar with the original “Roots” series — while accounting for only 8% of overall spend compared to other social platforms.