9 things we learned from Disney’s ad chief on eve of Disney+ ads tier launch

9 things we learned from Disney’s ad chief on eve of Disney+ ads tier launch

Over 100 advertisers and all the major holding companies have bought ads on Disney+ as the streaming service prepared to launch a cheaper tier with advertising in the US tomorrow.

Rita Ferro, Disney’s global president of advertising, told today’s Future of TV Advertising Global conference in London that by next summer, advertisers will have access to a single team to buy ads across all its streaming services.

She also revealed a slew of details about the work Disney has undertaken to build the advertising sales team, the ad server, and how it will use first-party data with advertiser data to offer targeted solutions.

Here are nine things we learned from Ferro’s conversation with Justin Lebbon, director of Mediatel Events.

Disney Advertising has brought together multiple sales teams and multiple data sets to create one media buy for one audience

Disney Advertising has pulled together eight separate sales teams into a single unified team, Ferro revealed. “They were eight teams, talking to the same marketers and the same holding companies.”

“We were very deliberate to make sure that we set up a category of agency teams that service particular businesses, with the customer base that we’re looking for the expertise that we’re looking for, and frankly, the solutions and measurement capabilities they were looking for. The retail industry is not the same as the pharmaceutical industry, for example, and our holding companies really we wanted to make sure that we had teams that were working with them.”

Within the next six months, a single sales team will handle all streaming ad buys

The plan, she explained, is to enable advertisers and media agencies to buy ads which service audiences across all Disney streaming platforms, whether that’s Disney+, ESPN+, Hulu, or its other streaming properties. This will happen by May 2023, in time for the company’s next upfronts presentation to advertisers and media buyers.

“Regardless of what it is, you have one team that works with your business, and allows you to really execute that, whether it’s through linear or all the touchpoints all the way through our streaming platforms or digital platforms, or ‘TV everywhere’ apps or even on our social feeds.”

All major agency holding companies have bought ads on Disney+ ahead of launch

“We have so many teams who have been working tirelessly for the last nine months but really the last four weeks have been really a sprint to get everything ready.” Ferro said. We tested and we’re good to go. We have 100 launch partners with multiple brands.

“Across the platform as we launch in the US [tomorrow], with many pieces of creative, every major holding company is part of our launch. All of our major brand partners who have worked with us for many years are part of our launch.”

A decade of learnings from Hulu are feeding into today’s Disney+ advertising decisions…

When asked by Lebbon what will separate Disney+ from the pack in what is an increasingly crowded marketplace of streaming services, Ferro insisted Disney’s years of experience selling ads on Hulu will give it the edge in terms of expertise and longstanding client relationships.

“We’ve been in this advertising video-on-demand (AVOD) marketplace for years through Hulu — right over a decade we have experience selling advertising streaming products and services. So we know what the behaviour is, we understand the technology required to execute on that, we understand the scale necessary to drive targeting and real connections of fans and brands with customers, and the opportunity of what that means ultimately for an advertiser.”

…and powering a new back-end Disney X ad server

“The whole learnings over the last decade or so have really powered our new Disney X server, which is the back-end platform where all of our streaming platforms are on. It will allow us to sell audiences across our entire portfolio as we go forward at launch.”

Disney+ is touting brand safety as a competitive advantage

“You come to Disney and brands want to be part of our portfolio of brands because they are brand safe environments,” Ferro said.

“No questioning where their brand is going to run in terms of content, and whether it is questionable or inappropriate. We have excelled in terms of content creation of the technology that we’ve developed.”

Disney’s 250 million US audience IDs are being profiled by a Disney ID Graph

“We’ve built a unified ID graph to make sure that we can leverage our first-party data and allow advertisers to really target the audiences they want to reach at scale, and make sure that we have the measurement to be able to really validate all of their business outcomes that they’re looking to measure against.”

Ferro explained how the Disney ID graph works: it’s a first-party audience graph that enables comparisons for planning, buying and measurement. The company built it in-house, and is reliant on a single identifier made up of 250 million connected TV and mobile IDs in the US, as well as 100 million households.

“We built 2,000 segments within the Disney ID that our customer segments… [it] allows us to collaborate and do data matching with our partners across our first party graph in a very privacy-compliant way.”

Disney is working with ‘over 100’ measurement vendors but will likely end up with ‘two or three’

Ferro stressed how important audience measurement was to advertisers and confirmed, as reported by The Media Leader earlier this year, that it is working with BARB in the UK ahead of the ad tier’s expected launch in this market next year.

While BARB is a joint industry currency that is jointly funded by UK broadcasters, Ferro said Disney is working with “over 100” vendors internationally “to see what that’s going to look like in the future”.

“We think around measurement, it’s not gonna be one solution. It will probably be two or three solutions to be able to service the whole marketplace. But we’re really working with everything from Nielsen ONE to other vendors in the marketplace right now, to really test what are the capabilities and where are the biggest opportunities to really drive what the future of that looks like.”

Ads on Disney+ could be next in UK, a ‘very high priority’ market

While Disney+ is launching a cheaper tier in the US tomorrow with advertising, it has not confirmed precisely when this will roll out to other markets.

Could the UK be next? Ferro would not confirm, but hinted it would be among the next, if not the next, market.

“I would imagine the market you’re sitting in is going to be a very high priority for us,” she said.

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