Disney Inks Major Advertising Deal With The Trade Desk


Disney has reached an agreement with The Trade Desk that allows brands to target automated ads across Disney properties using data matched on the back end from Disney and The Trade Desk.

Why it matters: This is one of the largest media-business efforts yet to craft a new ad-targeting system as third-party tracking fades away, and it’s likely to trigger a series of similar partnerships between major media companies and other big ad tech firms.

  • Rita Ferro, Disney’s president of advertising sales for its media and entertainment distribution arm, said the company would be talking to other distribution partners about similar deals moving forward.
  • Automation allows Disney to sell more ads at scale. Partnerships like the one brokered with the Trade Desk will make it easier for advertisers to buy automated ads without sacrificing the ability to target them narrowly.

Details: The deal integrates data from Disney’s Clean Room, a privacy-conscious repository of first-party data, or data Disney gathers directly from its users with their consent and matches it with personalized data that‘s been created through an industry framework called the Unified ID 2.0, which The Trade Desk has championed.

  • The deprecation of third-party tracking cookies has forced advertising companies to devise alternative ways to target ads using either first-party data sets like Disney’s or alternate data identity solutions like Unified ID 2.0.

Between the lines: The deal will help Disney achieve its goal of shifting more than 50% of all of its advertising sales to automated buying.

  • Disney said last year its goal is to sell more than half of its ads in an automated fashion in the next four years. Last year, over 40% of the ad inventory Disney sold during its upfront advertising sales event was automated.
  • The company has yet to reveal how much ad inventory it sold during its upfront presentation this year — rival NBCU recently said it sold more than $1 billion — but Ferro implied it would be a “nice announcement.”

The big picture: The deal comes as the streaming advertising landscape grows more competitive.

  • Disney has long led the industry in digital television advertising, but no more big streamers, including Netflix, are looking to integrate digital advertising into their streaming solutions.
  • Asked about Netflix’s foray into advertising, Ferro said, “I love our hand right now”: ”We’re in a perfect place with the investments we’ve made” and “in the partnerships, we have in place to make sure that we’re delivering for our partners.”
  • For now, automated advertising is still a small portion of the overall television advertising that’s sold in the US, but it’s expected to grow significantly as more TV companies and advertisers invest in automated technology.

Bottom line: “I think there’s a lot of folks kind of sitting there waiting for some of this stuff to play out in the identity [personalized data targeting] landscape. But we’re not waiting,” said Tim Sims, chief revenue officer at The Trade Desk.