Disney Talks Technology and Data With Advertisers

Rita Ferro Disney Tech + Data Showcase
Rita Ferro (Image credit: Disney Ad Sales)

Disney Advertising Sales regaled advertisers with tales of the data and technology prowess that, along with the company’s content, creates effective campaigns as the annual upfront market approaches.

“Making significant advancements in all things data, measurement and programmatic remains our highest priority,“ Rita Ferro, president of Disney Advertising Sales, said during the virtual presentation. "Why? Because they all drive performance for you and growth for us. This is our third tech and data showcase, and we continue to move full steam ahead toward an audience-focused, fully automated future driven by data and technology.”

Ferro said that Disney has spent years building an Audience Graph covering 235 million users and 110 households. 

“We’re aggregating insights across all screens and all content types. What’s the result? Even more opportunity and potential for you: Better targeting. Better segmentation. Greater accuracy. More precise measurement,” she said. [Disney provided a transcript of the session.]

Also: Disney Engages EDO to Measure Impact of Streaming Ad Campaigns

The audience graph gives advertisers three times higher match rates and access to all of Disney’s audience signals and increased addressable supply, Disney said in its spiel. Disney Plus, the SVOD streaming service, is seamlessly incorporated into the graph, the company said. 

Ferro noted that last year Disney launched an ad-supported version of Disney Plus. The initial offering was somewhat limited, but the company plans to make all of the ad innovations it offers on its other platforms — including Hulu — on Disney Plus.

Many of those features will be enabled by a new ad server for the entire company.

“We wanted one ad server for the entire company,” Aaron LaBerge, Disney’s chief technology officer, said. “We wanted advertisers to be able to buy an audience once and deliver anywhere across all our endpoints and access points. This gives us control over how we deliver ads, how we insert ads, formats of ads we use, how we integrate with programmatic networks, which really just gives us the complete flexibility to reimagine how we want to sell in the future.”

He said every streaming platform at The Walt Disney Company is going to be using this new ad server without exceptions.

LaBerge also showed off a new virtual reality engine that can be used to render real time in-game graphics that augment the content experience. He said the technology is being used to create both content and integrated advertising messages.

Disney has also been pushing its programmatic capabilities.

“The programmatic future is here! And our investments in DRAX [the Disney Real Time Ad Exchange] are paying off, and advertisers are tapping into its power,“ said Lily Panchasarp, Disney’s national sales director, programmatic. “Disney’s programmatic offering continues to rapidly scale. We’ve seen massive adoption rates and nearly a 150% rise in biddable [sales]. This is double the growth we saw last year.” 

By 2024, Disney will be delivering 50% of its revenue through automation, she said.

“Advertisers are becoming more effective by bidding against high-value audiences — eliminating waste — while delivering maximum value,” Panchasarp said. “The next phase is all about interoperability. We want to be everywhere imaginable in the market. Why? Because it improves discovery of our inventory, and it increases the scalability of our offering.“ ■

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.