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Future of TV Future of Media Clean Rooms

Disney invests in privacy-safe measurement with Horizon Media deal and new identity graph


By Kendra Barnett, Associate Editor

March 2, 2022 | 6 min read

Disney Advertising Sales on Wednesday announced that it plans to integrate new cross-channel measurement solutions into its clean room solution by way of a new partnership with Horizon Media and a proprietary identity graph. The changes reflect Disney Advertising’s larger vision of equipping advertisers with the tools to succeed in a privacy-centric, first-party-data-based future.

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Disney plans to amp up measurement capabilities in its clean room solution

Disney Advertising Sales today announced it has tapped Horizon Media to help expand the measurement capabilities of its data clean room. The company also said that it plans to invest more deeply in activation tools and is rolling out a proprietary, privacy-safe identity graph.

“We really wanted to think long and hard about what ... data matching and the future looks like, and how we could best enable that for maximum reach but also maximum accuracy,” Dana McGraw, vice-president of audience modeling and data science for The Walt Disney Company, tells The Drum. “And that’s really what led us to think about clean rooms in the way that we’re thinking about them today.”

Disney’s Clean Room platform, announced last October, is powered by Disney Select, the company’s inventory of over 1,000 first-party data segments designed to help marketers better reach desired audience groups based on a variety of factors, such as household characteristics and psychographics. Sanitized by technology companies Snowflake, Habu and InfoSum, the clean room is based on what McGraw calls three central “pillars”: insights, activation and measurement. Users gain access to planning- and engagement-related insights, activation tools – which may soon include new programmatic offerings – and ad measurement capabilities.

Meliorating measurement with Horizon Media

The company is rolling out measurement-focused updates to its clean room sooner than expected, thanks to promising initial client feedback (early clients included holding company Omnicom Group and used car retailer DriveTime) and a growing demand for improved cross-channel measurement – especially on connected television (CTV) and over-the-top (OTT) media. It will take on the challenge of measurement in a new partnership with Horizon Media, which, managing more than $9bn in client dollars, claims to be the largest privately-held media services agency in the world.

In the product’s new phase, Disney’s Clean Room users will gain access to new measurement capabilities that could help them evaluate the effectiveness of their advertising efforts and optimize their strategies and media buys. Working collaboratively with Horizon Media, Disney Advertising Sales expects to roll out a range of new measurement offerings spanning reach and frequency to outcomes.

“This is the next step to deliver more efficient and successful media campaigns across the Disney footprint,” said David Campanelli, executive vice-president and chief investment officer at Horizon Media, in a statement today. “As the industry continues to move toward outcome-based buys, it’s paramount to have accurate measurement solutions built with integrity.”

Privacy-safe first-party solutions

In addition to its partnership with Horizon Media, Disney Advertising Sales is also rolling out what it bills as a privacy-centric identity graph. The proprietary graph links various identifiers associated with individual users – but, with an eye toward data privacy, offers first-party data insights up to advertisers in an obfuscated manner that inhibits user-level tracking. Powered by Disney Select, the new Disney Audience Graph enables advertisers to easily match up their audience segments with appropriate users in the graph.

“[Our new Audience Graph] enables [us] to deliver insights ... crossing linear, streaming and traditional digital,” says McGraw. “We’re able to look at that with our Audience Graph and sort of deduplicate what that looks like and deliver insights around high-value audiences in [places] where, across our platforms and content, those audiences over-index for a brand.”

McGraw explains that, as the industry moves away from third-party data solutions and toward first-party approaches to targeting and measurement, access to privacy-centric, deduplicated audience data will prove invaluable to advertisers. Using an identity graph like Disney’s, advertisers can target specific audience segments with high precision while also gaining access to improved ad measurement – thanks to access to accurate, non-redundant audience data.

McGraw stresses that, as consumers and lawmakers increasingly demand data protection and privacy, trust remains a top priority at Disney. “Our guiding light for all things data is, ‘How do we most value the consumer data that we have been entrusted with?’ and ‘How do we think about what enhances the consumer experience?’ So anything we do for data is [focused on] how ... this makes this better for the consumer, [whether it be] a better ad experience or a better content experience.”

Next on the docket: advancing activation

The company sees its clean room changes as a natural extension of its objectives to bring actionable insights to advertisers in a straightforward, privacy-safe way. “Disney Advertising’s mission is simple: make it seamless for our clients to plan, transact and measure against the metrics pivotal to their business, through technology, automation and data,” said Lisa Valentino, executive vice-president of client solutions and addressable enablement at Disney Advertising, in a statement. “The expansion of Disney Advertising’s Clean Room allows marketers to transact on first-party data that delivers real results for businesses, and drives better ad experiences for consumers.”

While the changes announced today focus primarily on measurement, Disney says the next stage of its clean room evolution will focus on the third pillar: activation. The company hopes to enable advertisers to use its proprietary identity graph to make bids, generate audience insights and improve reach and frequency across channels. Disney Advertising is currently in talks with adtech heavyweight The Trade Desk regarding a potential collaboration to bring the company’s vision for improved activation to life through programmatic offerings.

Today’s announcement was made ahead the company’s second annual Disney Platform Tech Showcase on Thursday, March 3.

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