Disney Ad Showcase Heralds Data, Programmatic Tech

DRAX The Walt Disney Co
DRAX--the Disney Real Time Ad Exchange--was introduced at Disney's Tech Showcase (Image credit: The Walt Disney Co)

Disney Ad Sales showed off the technology it has developed to help marketers and media buyers take better advantage of its sprawling assets, including Disney Select, a new data offering, DRAX providing a real-time programmatic bidding and GatewayGo, a transactional ad format.

At its Ad Tech Showcase last week, Disney Ad Sales president Rita Ferro said the company has been investing millions to “drive innovation, precision and impact.”

Ferro said Disney is “pushing innovation velocity with first-party data, automation to drive performance and precision, and the ability to measure campaigns and optimize them across screens,” she said.

Because of competition with digital giants Google and Facebook, TV companies have had to up their game beyond traditional 30-second commercials aimed at mass audiences. They have been ramping up their technology to offer advertising that is more targetable using data, more measurable and more accountable in terms of effectiveness. 

Disney’s tech showcase will be mirrored when NBCUniversal holds its One21 event on March 22.

Disney Ad Sales president Rita Ferro

Rita Ferro (Image credit: Disney)

One new element being offered by Disney Ads Sales is GatewayGo, which pair Hulu’s traditional ads with action-oriented interactive prompts and personalized offers. Using second-screen technologies including QR code viewers can get information or or make orders in a way that is less disruptive to the entertainment experience.

Disney said it’s seen high levels of engagement in beta tests of Gateway go and found that GatewayGo campaigns drive site visits two time higher for QR-code enabled campaigns and two to four times higher rates of opt-ins for more information compared to other third-party solutions.

“Partnering with Hulu on the new Gateway Go interactive ad product was paramount as SmileDirectClub continues to look at innovation across the advertising ecosystem. The product drove two times the click through rates versus the industry benchmarks for second-screen executions, said John Sheldon, CMO at SmileDirectClub “We look forward to continuing to partner with Disney and Hulu on new opportunities in the measurement and technology space.”

At the meeting Disney also unveiled Disney Select, which offers the company’s first party data to clients at a time when cookies will no longer be available to target ad campaigns.

That’s also important because “over the next five years, the majority of our supply will be addressable. All of our screens will be unified. And over half of our business will be automated,” said Lisa Valentino, executive VP of client solutions and addressable enablement at Disney.

“As a result, your media on the Disney platform will be optimizable in real time through our programmatic offerings, full data enabled with precision targeting built on the Disney audience graph and unrivaled in business impact across marketing objectives,” Valentino said.

Disney said its Audience Graph enables marketers from audience segments based on buyer behavior, household characteristics and psychographics and target consumers across available Disney ad inventory, including Hulu.

Last year Disney executed hundreds of campaigns using data. The number of campaigns was up 56%, representing a 110% increase in revenue growth.

One campaign for a consumer packaged goods brand uses segments related to purchase intent and those who view family as a priority. The company produced a 9.3% lift in message association--twice the category norm, said Dana McGraw, VP of audience modeling and data science at Disney.

Another campaign for a tech brand targeted in-market customers and saw a double digit lift in product understanding, McGraw said.

Disney is working on a “clean room” solution that will allow advertisers to combine Disney data with client data in a privacy-safe manner.

Measurement has been a key issue slowing the growth of cross-platform advertising and Disney said it was offering several options to clients.

Working with Nielsen, Disney is offering Digital Ad Ratings for Connected TV, which integrates the Disney linear and digital portfolio into Nielsen Media Impact to allow clients to plan holistically. Disney is also testing Nielsen’s Total Ad Ratings to measure reach across the platforms in its portfolio.

Disney collaborates with Samba TV on cross-portfolio attribution measurement to determine the full-funnel impact of ad campaigns. It also has an in-house measurement system that enables advertisers to connect ad exposure on Hulu to the outcomes that are important to their businesses.

Disney’s measurement efforts have increased revenue from data-savvy direct-to-consumer brands by 50%.

On the product roadmap is a proprietary Disney pixel to capture metrics such as website visits and page views resulting from ad campaigns.

Disney Ad Sales is also gearing up its programmatic and addressable game with several new products allowing automated planning and buying. The company said it expects its automated ad revenue to increase 80% this year and account for up to 50% of its addressable and linear revenue by 2024.

Last year, 1,000 marketers worked with Disney programmatically, expanding its client roster said Matt Barnes, senior director of programmatic sales at Disney. “We’re breaking record each month,” he added.

“While we continue to work with our clients directly, they tell use they want and need flexibility. We know the future of our business is rooted in automation,” Barnes said. “That’s why we are building out programmatic offering that provides automated decision-learning solutions for clients to gain access to our inventory seamlessly and effectively.”

In January the company launched Disney Hulu XP and it introduced the Disney Real-Time Ad Exchange--DRAX, named after the Guardians of the Galaxy characters--which provide header building. DRAX was built in-house, and creates parity among deal types--direct sold, programmatic guaranteed and real-time bidding--letting all advertisers scale campaigns.

Disney Select Disney Ad Sales

(Image credit: Disney Ad Sales)

Disney said DRAX will give advertisers using DSPs to see more premium inventory and make it easier to predict impressions and capitalize on traffic spikes, while giving buyers more time to bid and respond.

At the meeting, Tim Sims, chief revenue officer of the Trade Desk talked about Commitment Manager, which lets Trade Desk clients manage the cross-platform inventory they purchase in upfront deals.

“We are thrilled to partner with Disney as we work together to build out the technology backbone to support the accelerated shift to Connected TV,” Sims said.

DRAX follows up on both Disney Hulu XP, which unified Disney’s video inventory in a single storefront, and Hulu Ad Manager, a self-service product that lets small and mid-sized business access available commercials.

Hulu Ad Manager attracted 700 small businesses that executed 1,600 campaigns.

“We are seeing campaign renewal rates of over 50%, which is fantastic,” said Jeremy Helfand, senior VP of advertising platforms at Disney. “Our vision ultimately is an enterprise-wide, fully-automated and combined programmatic self service platform.”

The Technology Showcase is one of three presentations Disney plans to make during this upfront season. It will have a content development event on March 23 to show off programming in its pipeline and an upfront presentation in May featuring its portfolio of broadcast and cable networks, streaming services and digital assets.

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.