If you want to understand why Disney isn't part of the U.S. joint industry committee jumpstarted by rival networks, you have to listen to Disney Advertising President Rita Ferro's remarks kicking off its upfront presentation in New York City Tuesday.
"We own our own tech and we own our own audience graph," Ferro boasted, emphasizing that it is "anchored in the industry’s only scaled audience graph for streaming with 250 million identifiers that represent 112 million households, across hundreds of thousands of audience attributes that paint the picture of your consumer."
While that kind of scale probably isn't unique to Disney's media assets -- NBCUniversal, for one, touts similar numbers -- it is the only pitch I've heard among its peers leaning into that exclusively.
While NBCU, Paramount Global, Warner Bros. Discovery, and Fox are hedging their bets by certifying multitudes of "alternative currencies," Disney's Ferro trumpeted the homegrown creativity and innovation of Disney's tech and data stack in a way that is far more all-in on digital transformation.
Interestingly, in the presentations I've seen this week, the only conventional currency numbers I heard touted, was when Fox boasted about its Tubi ad-supported streaming service breaking into Nielsen's streaming services rankings last month (with a 1% share of the streaming audience currently).
As a result, I found Disney's pitch much more single-purpose and less of a hedge than I've been hearing from its peers, because it focuses almost entirely on its most important assets: the programming that attracts its unique audience graph.
“This enables targeting with precision," Ferro told the ad crowd at New York City's Javitz Center Tuesday, adding, "Our graph is fully interoperable across the ecosystem that allows you planning, buying and measurement."
And she closed that point by emphasizing the real purpose of that kind of data-based audience targeting, noting, "We’ve simplified how we do business together, helping you deliver the next best action That’s the outcome that matters."
"Actions," "outcomes," "behaviors," "conversions," and other digital-grown KPIs are the lifeblood of digital media optimization, and according to Ferro, it is now the dominant one across all of Disney's world, too. Not proxies like ratings, impressions, audience estimates, demographics, or consumer segmentations schemas.
Disney's upfront 2023-24 advertising message is the purest digital audience graph play I've heard so far, and on a practical level, Ferro also boasted that it's changing the way the ad industry buys into it.
“Over one third of our advertising transactions today happen programmatically and close to half of these are using real-time ad decisioning," she disclosed, adding, "It’s about choice and control. We’ve put the power in your hands to place dollars in a way that works for you and your business.
"Whether you want to do it on direct, on-demand, programmatically or with guarantees," she concluded. That’s why we know every single upfront deal this year will have programmatic at its core.”
Over a third of all ad time and space buys are made programmatically but almost no upfront linear TV or CTV buys are made with computers making real time or any time buying decisions.