Disney beefs up ad sales technology

Walt Disney Co. announced a suite of new products and a plan to rapidly automate its ad sales business across linear and digital platforms.

After the pandemic canceled live sports and programming, many advertisers cut their long-term TV deals and shifted those dollars to more flexible programmatic channels. 

In an effort to take advantage of the shift, Disney has invested into new technologies that will make it easier to buy advertising in a more automated way across its linear and digital properties. 

The company revealed its advertising innovation plan, including new products and strategies around data and audience measurement, at its first-ever Disney Platform Technology Showcase on February 23. The showcase is part of Disney’s three-pronged upfront approach for marketers. 

Disney said it added 1,000 new advertisers over the past year through automated advertising and hopes to increase revenue from programmatic deals by 80% this year. Disney hopes that 50% of its total ad revenue will become programmatic across linear and digital by 2024. 

One such innovation is Disney Select, a new product that will help advertisers place ads based on buyer behavior, household characteristics and psychographics, across Disney’s entire portfolio, including Hulu. 

Disney also unveiled Disney Real-Time Ad Exchange, or DRAX, a programmatic buying system that allows advertisers to bid more easily for the audiences they wish to target across Disney’s entire portfolio. DRAX allows real-time programmatic bids to compete alongside direct-sold and programmatic-guaranteed sales.

“For the first time, clients can see all of our inventory and have the ability to manage reach and frequency across a much larger pool of inventory,” said Lisa Valentino, EVP of client and brand solutions at Disney, in an interview with Campaign US following the showcase. ”All of the things you want to get out of an automated programmatic environment, we believe DRAX now enables.”

Disney also integrated both its linear and digital portfolio into Nielsen’s Digital Ad Ratings for Connected TV, and partnered with TV analytics firm Samba to deliver cross-platform measurement.

“We want advertisers to be able to buy once, deliver everywhere and have common measurement for real-time optimizing campaign results with Disney,” said Jeremy Helfand, senior vice president, head of advertising platforms, Disney Media & entertainment distribution, in a statement.

Addressable advertising, a long held North Star for the TV industry, is increasingly becoming a reality as more networks invest in the capabilities to buy consistent audiences across their linear and digital properties. 

On Monday Roku acquired Nielsen’s Advanced Video Advertising group to expand dynamic ad insertion and ACR measurement capabilities across its footprint. NBCU, which has been investing in its One Platform product, recently added Charter Communications households to its addressable footprint. And WarnerMedia has been building out its addressable footprint and advanced TV capabilities under ad tech unit Xandr for the past few years.

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