Disney’s Rita Ferro Aims To Triple Upfront Diversity Commitments

Rita Ferro Michael Kassan Disney Advertising Sales
Rita Ferro speaking with MIchael Kassan, head of MediaLink (Image credit: Disney Advertising Sales)

Rita Ferro, president of Disney Advertising Sales, said that she’s looking to triple the commitments its clients make to diversity, equity and inclusion in this year’s upfront. 

She also said that Disney will be announcing this week a number of measurement companies it is working with in addition to Nielsen.

Also: Disney Working With Samba TV, Comscore, Nielsen on Measurement

Speaking Monday (February 28) at the beginning of Disney’s Tech & Data Week, part of its lead up to the upfront, Ferro said that at last year's upfront, Disney took the position that every single deal it did had to have a commitment to DEI across its portfolio.

“It was a home run,” Ferro said. Disney’s clients showed, up making $100 million in commitments against DEI.

“This year I hope we’re going to triple that. We want to make sure that every advertiser who’s coming to the table is taking us up on all the investments we’re making in this space and be able to use our platform to really target and build upon their consumer base,” Ferro said.

Ferro said that Disney has created a Disney Culture Index to measure the outcomes of DEI investments so that advertisers can understand the value of their investments in that space.

In terms of the broader measurement issue, Ferro said that Disney was interested in making sure that the currencies advertisers want to use now continue to be valuable.

“That’s why we joined Nielsen One as part of their pilot to make sure  that unlike in previous iterations they are working with media partners–ourselves, Google and others–to inform actually what that currency will look like when it rolls out. So I’m excited about the work we’re doing there,” she said.

“But I’m also excited about some of the vendors that we’re going to announce at our tech and data showcase [on Thursday] because I think it’s going to be a multitude of options. It’s not going to be just one going forward,” Ferro said.

A number of media companies have talked about testing and possibly using data from other measurement companies–iSpot, Comscore, VideoAmp and others–as alternatives to Nielsen as the basis of the currencies used to buy and sell commercials

Nielsen has pointed to Disney as one media company backing Nielsen One, its new measurement system.

Ferro said measurement vendors said they want to be in business with Disney because Disney will be involved in setting the industry standard. 

“And so we’re very excited about that and obviously very open to working with as many vendors as we need to to get it right," she said. “But we definitely don’t want to rush it because what I don’t want to do is roll out something that becomes a different opportunity and not have the right measurement and people don’t want to participate.”

Eventually Disney would like to get to measuring outcomes of the ads it runs, Ferro said.

“I think we’re all working towards looking at what is the best mix of different measurement tools and potentially outcomes that we can sell against. I’m not sure we’re there yet as a marketplace but we’re definitely, if you think about what our teams are thinking about,” she said. 

“It’s really about making sure that you give value to every single impression and that every single impression counts and is aggregated as part of the delivery for the customer,” Ferro said. “You have to be able to be transparent with information on all sides to actually be able to move to that type of potential measurement.”   ■

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.