What Disney's media decision says about adland right now

The entertainment giant split the vast majority of its global media between Publicis and Omnicom.

On Monday, Disney awarded the bulk of its media to Publicis and Omnicom, putting an end to one of the biggest reviews in recent years. 

Publicis, which created a bespoke solution for Disney, led the pitch with recently acquired data marketing company Epsilon and media shop Zenith. The French holding company picked up new streaming service Disney+, as well as parks. 

Omnicom won on Disney’s media channels (including ABC, FOX, Nat Geo) and studios (including Marvel Studios, Lucasfilm, Pixar, Walt Disney Studios and Walt Disney Animation).

Some say more than half of Disney’s nearly $3 billion media spend is with channels and studios, but a big focus for the company going forward is its soon-to-launch streaming service. 

This week, Campaign US asked industry experts what this review and Disney’s decisions mean for the state of media today.

What does the Disney review outcome say about adland's current media landscape?

Graham Brown, director and co-founder, MediaSense 
It tells us that making a $3.95 billion bet on a data marketing company may actually pay off.

I have no idea whether Omnicom’s impressive Omni system was part of their pitch, or how much they invested in its development, but I think it’s reasonable to assume it was featured and that it cost a lot to develop.

In other words, access to quality data and the potential ability to access, activate and deploy at speed, in an integrated way is as vitally important, and potentially game winning capability.

However, Disney’s decision also shows that in other areas, clients are eschewing large-scale disruption and sticking with what they know where the cost of change is greater that the opportunity of change. I’m sure Omnicom did a great job but by staying with what they know in the massive US market, Disney are behaving much like other global companies, where COMvergence data shows that over 40 percent pitches (by $) in H1 2019 retained incumbents, versus around 20 percent in 2018.  

Nevertheless, the massive investments pouring into technology and data capabilities – Dentsu’s acquisition of Merkle and Ugam, IPG’s acquisition of Axiom, S4 Capital’s and You & Mr Jones’ acquisitions – all point to adland’s pivot to data driven marketing.

Joanne Davis, founder, Joanne Davis Consulting
Every client has a responsibility to ensure their spending is managed by the best and right resources. As a publicly traded company, Disney has a shareholder responsibility in addition to a marketing responsibility to explore options. Many large spenders of marketing want more than one firm handling their investments. This outcome is not surprising.

Daniel Jefferies, Founder, Jeffries Consulting
I think what this shows more than anything else is that, despite the millions invested by the groups in building out their solutions, there is not a single solution that works for this advertiser.  Brands want to be able to pick the best that is out there and, sometimes, that is not all available within a single group. The other main point that comes through in this decision is the desire to build on Publicis’ Data offering – increasingly, advertisers are recognizing that buying power is great but having the ability to understand and target their audience in a more effective manner is a game changer.

Nancy Hill, CEO, Media Sherpas
I am not surprised at the outcome that was announced. It is clear that the constantly changing media landscape continues to present advertisers with the challenge of investing their dollars in ways that will deliver results on a daily basis. I think it is difficult for any one entity to be able to do that in every market globally for an advertiser the size and scope of Disney.  The division of assignments seems to make sense along Disney's lines of business. 

Greg Paull, Principal, R3 Worldwide
Omnicom and Publicis are bound to face more scrutiny than ever from their clients - is Disney the right media recommendation for our business or for yours? On the flipside, Disney and their agencies also have the potential to offer "first ever" opportunities that other agency groups just won’t have the same access too.  All of our collective breaths are baited.

Olivier Gauthier, founder and CEO, COMvergence
Our global spend estimate for Disney is $1.675M+, of which $150M for Hulu that was not part of the pitch (hence remained at UM). Also, projected spend for Disney+ is not included in our estimate. The $1.525M billings left is now broken down as follows: $800M for OMD/OMG23 (of which $100M+ of incremental new billings); $700M for Zenith/Publicis Imagine (of which $550M of incremental new billings); $25M for Minshare (India). Hence a big win for both companies, but much higher new client billings for Zenith/Publicis.

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