Advertisers have eyed the Disney+ streaming hub as a place where they might tuck a promotional message alongside the binge-watch of a Marvel series, or, potentially “Phineas & Ferb.” Soon, however, Madison Avenue may have some other opportunities to consider.
Disney is mulling the launch of shopping and gaming experiences on the streaming outlet, with which advertisers could get involved, according to Rita Ferro, president of Disney Advertising Sales. “The world of advertising experiences on AVOD is an important place to be involved in,” Ferro tells Variety, hinting that a new presentation Disney has slated for Las Vegas on Jan. 10 would reveal “what the next level of ad innovations will be” from the company.
Disney gears up for the presentation, scheduled to be held during the annual CES conference, as the competition for streaming ad dollars is growing more intense. Amazon is expected to debut a new ad-supported tier to the bulk of its Prime Video subscribers in early 2024. On Thursday, the company unveiled a new three-year pact with Interpublic Group that calls for clients of its media-buying agencies to allocate some of their dollars to the new advertising platform. Netflix, meanwhile, plans to roll out a series of new offers that include use of QR codes or sponsorships tied to a specific title, a thematic moment or a live stream.
Disney launched an ad-supported version of Disney+ last year, and Ferro says its client base has expanded quickly, from 100 initial sponsors in the U.S. to more than 1,000 around the world. Since the start of 2023, Ferro says, Disney+ has seen a 35% increase in time spent on the service, with about 50% of new subscribers to Disney+ choosing the ad-supported version. On Nov. 1, Disney launched its ad-supported tier globally, providing new pricing options for consumers in 10 new markets, including in Canada, the U.K., France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Denmark, Norway and Sweden.
In the battle for streaming ad dollars, media companies will be pressed to demonstrate that they can deliver the viewer impressions big advertisers demand, and that subscribers are staying around for more than just a hopscotch among title selections. The debut this week of a new tile that allows Disney+ subscribers to watch Hulu shows and movies in one app is expected “to really drive engagement even further,” says Ferro.
The company has continued to roll out new opportunities for advertisers. At launch, commercials had to be the traditional 30 seconds in length, but advertisers can also run pitches that are 15 seconds long or even 90 seconds. Disney has begun to curate packages of content tied together by seasonal themes that advertisers can sponsor. A package connected to the winter holidays sold out with only one month in the market. Ferro says advertisers have expanded access to programmatic biddable inventory across 30 different demand-side platforms that give access to both national and local-market advertisers.
Many of these offerings may be new to Disney+, but some are already found on Hulu, which has systems in place that allow for ad purchases by smaller advertisers and interactive ad formats that offer users the chance to request a coupon or communication by email, or even choose among different versions of a commercial.