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Broadcasting & Cable
Broadcasting & Cable
Jon Lafayette

Disney is Letting Advertisers Buy Disney Plus, Hulu Together (CES 2024)

Hulu on Disney Plus.

The Walt Disney Co., which is adding Hulu content to its Disney Plus streaming service, told advertisers that they will be able to buy commercials across both Hulu and Disney Plus in a single campaign.

Disney has also announced the launch of a new commerce platform, Gateway Shop.

Speaking at the Disney Tech and Data Showcase in Las Vegas, where media companies and agencies are beginning upfront conversations at CES, Disney Global Advertising president Rita Ferro urged advertisers to start their streaming strategy with Disney.

Also Read: More Coverage From CES 2024

Ferro said that 2023 was Disney’s year for investments in ad technology, including the global expansion of Hulu content into Disney Plus.

“We’re not slowing down,“ Ferro said. ”This commitment means a better experience for consumers and better performance for you.” 

Disney has built its one ad tech stack to monetize its streaming assets, including Hulu, Disney Plus and ESPN Plus.

“It was made for you to buy once and deliver everywhere,“ Ferro said. “We’re not renting or borrowing someone else’s technology. We own it.

Disney Global Advertising president Rita Ferro (Image credit: Disney)

“Unlike others who just recently decided to get into advertising as part of a new business strategy, Disney has been in it since the beginning,” she added in a pointed reference to Netflix, the company Disney’s streaming business is chasing.

Ferro noted that more than half of new subscribers to Disney Plus are choosing its ad-supported tier. Viewers of the ad tier are spending almost the same amount of time with content as those not seeing ads, she said.

She added that since Disney began testing the Disney Plus-Hulu combination last year, “bundle subscribers are loving having Hulu and Disney Plus.”

The combo will also be good for advertisers “simplifying and maximizing advertiser impact across two of the top streaming services in the world with the best originals, deep libraries and an unmatched commitment to consumers.” 

Joe Earley, who heads Disney’s direct-to-consumer business, said that since the beta launch of Hulu on Disney Plus, engagement with Hulu content in the Disney Plus app is “beating even our own expectations and continues to grow week-over-week.”

He said consumers are watching more hours and a wider variety of programming.

Hulu will officially be a part of the Disney Plus app in March, he said.

The foundation of Disney’s tech stack is the dedicated Disney Ad Server, said Ajay Arora, senior VP of streaming for Disney Streaming.

“A modern technology platform requires more than just state-of-the-art ad decisioning,” Arora said. “That’s why ours draws on data from a truly unique audience graph, with thousands of audience segments, allowing you to target and reach your consumers.

 “This stack has to be agile to work in any way you want to do business,” he added ”So we’ve made automation a key part of our offering, with self-service and programmatic opportunities as core features.”

Measurement is built directly into the platform as well.

“When you combine decisioning, data, automation and measurement, it gives you a massive competitive advantage in meeting your business needs,” Arora said.

Disney also announced its latest move into T-commerce with Gateway Shop.

“It lets the viewer go from interest to action to purchase without ever leaving the viewing environment, It’s streaming commerce without disruption,” Arora said.

Gateway Shop is in testing mode now, and Disney is seeing a boost of up to 5 times the engagement by using the Gateway capabilities.

Viewers will be able to “Shop the Stream,” and Disney will help marketers with the Disney Experience Composer, a set of tools to create immersive ad experiences.

Disney said that its spending on tech has generated results for advertisers.

“Across thousands of campaigns leveraging Lucid, Innovid and Affinity measurement solutions, Disney delivered across the board,” Dana McGraw, senior VP, audience modeling and data science, said. 

“At the top of the funnel, Disney surpassed industry norms for ad recall, brand consideration, purchase intent and brand favorability in every category,” McGraw said.

Disney’s lower funnel metrics also look good. She said data from Affinity Solutions shows that Disney delivered a spend rate lift 2 times greater than campaign norms, while measurement by Innovid demonstrated Disney overperforming in campaign response rate across categories like retail, financial services and pharma. 

Advertisers will be getting results from their campaign in real time through new dashboards. 

“With Innovid, we’re currently in beta on a customizable solution that gives advertisers the ability to immediately learn whether your creative is working,” McGraw said. 

“We optimize towards the ‘winner’ in real time, which increases the return on your investment with Disney,” she explained. “Currently, we can empower this solution for web/app attribution results. Disney and Innovid are also working together on incorporating other signals as part of this effort including purchase data.” 

Saying the Magic Words

No Disney presentation would be complete without a bit of magic, and Ferro introduced ad clients to Disney’s Magic Words, which taps into the moods and emotions its content generates.

“This new technology allows us to analyze scenes and visuals across the Disney library,“ Ferro said. “Think about every reference, every line of a dialogue, every emotion, the context of each scene … Through the power of this context — brands can capture a specific moment, mood or emotions and personalize your messaging around that emotion.”

For example, think of a scene with characters at the kitchen or restaurant talking about being hungry.

“Now imagine you’re a brand running across our portfolio … or wanting to connect with food culture,” Ferro said. “You will be able to run an ad buy that optimizes your creative to a contextual mood within these collections of scenes that deal with food or dinner conversation.”

Disney Magic Words will be available this upfront to beta partners and be expanded by the end of the year, she said.

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