Read our new manifesto

4 things you need to know about Disney’s digital ad sales plan

4 things you need to know about Disney’s digital ad sales plan

Automated advertising is expected to account for around half of Disney’s total ad revenue by 2024 as the entertainment giant pushes for an aggressive 80% increase in programmatic advertising for 2021.

To pull off this feat, the company has created the Disney Real-Time Ad Exchange (Drax) to remove friction for advertisers wishing to view and purchase streaming ads. We review Disney’s beefed-up ad sales offering and the likelihood of it meeting these targets.

Disney is getting ambitious about programmatic

  • Disney isn’t mucking about in its quest to pivot ad sales towards the programmatic end of the system, projecting a rapid 80% rise in automated revenue this year to account for as much as 50% of its addressable and linear revenue by 2024.

  • This will be sustained by an avalanche of new clients, with Disney Advertising Sales welcoming 1,000 net new clients over the past year alone – all of which have been active buyers via programmatic channels.

  • Mounting advertiser demand for data to inform audience targeting has also contributed to a 56% rise in the volume of campaigns reliant on consumer data, contributing a disproportionate 110% revenue growth over the period.

  • Cognizant of these emerging trends, the entertainment provider is now ready to pour fuel on the fire with Disney Real-Time Ad Exchange (Drax).

Enter Drax

  • No mere Bond-villain, Drax will deliver a “highly-advanced and data-informed audience-based ad server” that will sit at the heart of the Disney platform.

  • Accompanying publicity describes this as a unified ad platform that will enable advertisers to ’maximize yield on their advertising spend’.

  • Jeremy Helfand, senior vice-president and head of advertising platforms at Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution, commented: “As Disney embarks on a single unified ad platform across linear and digital that addresses this reality and market opportunity, we expect convergence to continue in three distinct areas: planning & forecasting, reporting & measurement and cross-channel optimization.

  • “We want advertisers to be able to buy once, deliver everywhere and have common measurement for real-time optimizing campaign results with Disney.“

It is taking lessons from Hulu

  • This flurry of activity is founded upon tests conducted with advertisers on the Hulu subscription video-on-demand service, acquired by Disney in 2019 and now part of Disney+.

  • These results informed the development of the self-service Drax platform to such an extent that Disney is also said to be considering porting over Hulu’s measurement tool for tracking viewers’ post-ad responses, as well as its viewership data into its first-party marketplace.

Disney’s approach will be data-led

  • Disney’s data platform can draw upon over 1,000 distinct audiences based on household characteristics, purchase intent and psychographics – all of which can be harnessed by brands to more accurately target ads.

  • With third-party cookies falling out of favor, Disney will become highly reliant on Drax to deliver the goods to efficiently leverage its wealth of first-party data. This will be achieved by drawing data and modeling capacity together under the Disney Select banner.

  • Through Disney Select, marketers will be able to target their marketing according to their performance indicators, categories and intended outcomes.

  • Disney has also taken steps to integrate its linear and digital portfolio into Nielsen Media Impact to allow clients to plan and test solutions with Nielsen Total Ad Ratings – a third-party measurement system for cross-platform and cross-portfolio reach.

  • A collaboration with Samba TV also opens the door for Disney Advertising Sales to combine media assets across a single cross-platform measurement platform.

  • Rita Ferro, president of Disney Advertising Sales, remarked: “Leaning into our impressive first-party data, automation that drives performance and the ability to measure campaigns to optimize media buys across screens, we are pushing innovation on multiple levels.”

  • Lisa Valentino, executive vice-president of client solutions and addressable enablement at Disney Advertising Sales, added: “The Disney Platform will be unrivaled in driving business impact across marketing objectives. “This new way of doing business will be optimizable in real-time through our programmatic offerings. The buys will be data-enabled with precision targeting and built on Disney’s audience graph that can be complimented with marketer’s own data.”