Disney ads chief: TikTok is now our ‘programming extension’

Disney ads chief: TikTok is now our ‘programming extension’
Disney Advertising president Rita Ferro at today's Leaders in Sport conference

Disney has “reorganised” to better work with social platforms because broadcasters now see them as an extension to their programming, the media giant’s global advertising chief Rita Ferro said today.

Having just announced a deal with TikTok to feature bespoke Disney content and further “experiences”, Ferro told a sports leadership conference in London that short-form content apps have become “platform[s] where we tell stories.”

Appearing in front of an audience of global sports industry professionals at the Leaders Week London’s Leaders in Sport conference today, Ferro said: “[Social] is a marketing platform, but not from a content creation perspective, a creative strategy perspective. We’ve really reorganised to make sure that is happening holistically, thinking about the audiences on those platforms.”

Ferro – who will speak at the Future of TV Advertising Global taking place at the 5th and 6th of December in Kings Place, London – cited ESPN’s SportsCenter on Snapchat as an example of the importance of “telling stories organic to those platforms for the audiences on those platforms.” She stressed that they were not using Snapchat to drive audiences back to ESPN, but rather “to give them the SportsCenter experience on Snapchat.”

‘Battle for attention’

Sitting alongside Ferro was Adam Kelly, president of the global sports and culture company IMG. He referred to the attention economy, and how, on average, an individual is consuming over 60 hours of content a week — or eight hours of content per day.

“This battle of attention happens between every form of media, every outlet, and every broadcast partner,” he said.

He went on to highlight the staggering numbers some platforms and streaming companies now have, with TikTok’s monthly billion users consuming on average 90 minutes of content a day, and Apple’s 2 billion active devices and one billion total subscribers.

He called these numbers “frightening” but said the real question we should be asking is, “where has this content consumption come from, or more importantly, what has it taken it from?”

Ferro only appeared to see the benefits of these mediums for their capacity for cross platform-storytelling and how they “allow us to capture sport in a very different way.” Kelly added that consumers will “vote very quickly with their eyeballs,” to determine the content that is suitable and most appropriate for them.

‘Brands no longer want to just have a commercial’

As well as cross-platform selling and the increasing benefits of social as a programming channel, Ferro also listed women’s sport and the “explosion of fandom around women’s sports” in the top three most impactful things for Disney over the past 12-24 months.

“Marketers are spending real meaningful dollars around it, and it is now business imperative and not just an important thing to do,” she said, adding that sport in general remains a powerful tool for advertisers because “people want to be around big moments, live moments, moments of culture and conversation.”

“Brands no longer want to just have a commercial,” she continued. “They want to be in the action, they want to be part of the storytelling on social, they want to have the talent talking about them, and they want to have the consumer talking about them.”

Kelly was equally as positive as to why sport remains such a powerful platform for brands. He said: “[Sport] has the power to engage with content and people which is almost second to none. It cuts through the saturation of other media. There will be a future when AI and generative content is produced almost infinitely. The scarcity of sport is the power that is going to cut through the appointment of view live, and also the power of short form content.”

Steve Scaffardi is managing director of Adwanted Events & Publishing, pubilsher of The Media Leader

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