Disney expands adtech pact for streaming with Google, The Trade Desk

Ahead of the launch of a single app combining Disney+ and Hulu libraries, Disney has unified its streaming ad inventory by partnering with two of the largest media buy side platforms in the business.

Partnering with Google-owned Display & Video 360 and The Trade Desk is intended to make the streamer’s ad base accessible to a wider array of marketers. The intent is to simplify the supply chain, adding more transparency and reducing the number of intermediaries required in the process.

This should help advertisers better understand the value they’re getting from each impression but is also intended to cut costs and improve operational efficiencies.

"Disney's goal is to empower advertisers to transact with the freedom and flexibility that best suits their business needs," said Jamie Power, SVP of addressable sales at Disney Advertising, in a statement. "Owning our own technology stack allows us to build a direct path between our premium inventory and the leading media buying platforms in the industry, simplifying the way ads are bought and sold on Disney, while delivering greater effectiveness for our clients."

The deal does not yet include ESPN or live sports which are considered the next golden opportunity for programmatic sales. Programmatic adtech enables the trading of ad inventory in real-time (controlled by algorithms) for brands to reach key targets watching streamed content.

Disney launched the Disney Real-Time Ad Exchange (DRAX) in 2021 with a goal to automate more than half its ad sales business within five years. DRAX runs in the background across all Disney campaigns allowing Disney to sell inventory concurrently through biddable environments, including through direct-sold and programmatic-guaranteed deals.

By integrating with The Trade Desk and Google, Disney is allowing advertisers to directly access its addressable premium content “with better precision and transparency.”

The result is DRAX Direct, which Disney said would unlock more incremental demand by building a direct path with the buy side, “resulting in a seamless and more effective experience for brands.”

In 2021, Disney also rolled out Disney Select, audience segments that use Disney’s first-party data to enable more granular audience targeting.

Streaming on the rise but linear TV still in play

While streamed content to connected TVs is rising in value, the ability for advertisers to reach wide audiences on linear cable and satellite TV has not yet reached its sell-by date.

Calling the merger of linear and streaming ‘Convergent TV,’ Nielsen contends that media planners need to strike the right balance “of contextual, advanced targeting, and one-to-one advertising.”

In its latest report, the media measurement vendor said streaming usage (whether from digital-first or legacy TV companies) passed cable for the first time at the end of 2022 and is now the dominant form of TV viewing in the U.S, accounting for nearly 40% of total TV usage.

However, Americans also spend between four-and-a-half to five hours a day with TV (live, time-shifted and streaming).

“For advertisers and media agencies, this is a clear reminder that TV remains a central piece of the marketing mix,” its report said.

Nielsen points out that 60% of mid-sized brands expect to spend more on ads on CTV, but 35% anticipate they will spend more on linear as well.

“Advertisers want to understand how their TV buys are performing not as stand-alone investments but in the context of their cross-media campaigns.”

This chimes with another recent report this time from Insider Intelligence which predicts daily time spent by Americans with linear TV will be down 3.7% in 2024 from 2023 ( totaling two hours and 55 minutes) while time spent with digital video will increase 5.7% to three hours and 50 minutes over the same period.

“That means TV advertisers should be focusing on digital formats, but they shouldn’t abandon linear completely,” its researchers suggest. “Media planners should be paying attention to both digital and linear TV, but attention is obviously moving toward the former.”

A decade ago, CTV lacked a large supply of ad inventory, but now many of the large streaming services including Disney, Amazon and Netflix are growing their ad-supported user base.

“Many media planners still have a lot of questions about how to best implement advertising on streaming platforms,” advised Heather O’Shea, Chief Research Officer at marketing consultancy Alter Agents, in Advertising Week. “This medium lands somewhere in the middle between traditional TV, which has primarily been used as an awareness tool, and digital advertising which is heavily utilized as a direct response tool.”

“To effectively enter this arena, media planners need to take a balanced approach. Instead of just comparing it to TV, it’s important to understand its unique performance abilities and adjust plans accordingly,” wrote O’Shea.