Disney Pushes the Megacontent Service Ad Envelope at CES 2024

By Tomorrow Will Be Televised Archives
Cover image for  article: Disney Pushes the Megacontent Service Ad Envelope at CES 2024

Just 10 days into 2024, Walt Disney opened this year's lineup of Upfront/NewFront events with its fourth annual Global Tech & Data Showcase, organized by the company's advertising sales unit. Instead of a presentation where speakers made their case in front of virtual backgrounds to audiences watching on computers, smartphones or tablets, Disney Global Advertising President Rita Ferro and colleagues did their pitching live for the first time at CES 2024 in Las Vegas, before a capacity audience inside the Chelsea Theatre at the Cosmopolitan hotel.

The Big Message: Innovative, cutting-edge technology from artificial intelligence to contextual ad placement will keep Disney way out in front of other players maximizing their advertising opportunities in megacontent and other services distributed to viewers through smart TV sets/devices and multichannel bundles. "This commitment means a better experience for consumers and better performance for you," Ferro continued during her opening remarks. "It means a united, global platform created specifically for streaming for any brand, at any size, in any market, to meet any goal."

Hosts: A group of Disney content and ad sales executives, including Joe Earley (Direct-To-Consumer Streaming President), Asad Ayaz (Chief Brand Officer) and Chara-Lynn Aguiar (Executive Vice President, Finance, Research and Strategy) joined Ferro on stage for specific presentation segments.

What Worked: Every segment was high on information and compatible video clips or graphics, short on fluff or technical jargon. Points were made in a clear, understandable fashion that forwarded the overall message, no matter the subject matter or speaker.

What Also Worked: A rare kickoff video or in-person statement from Disney Chief Executive Officer Bob Iger that left no doubt about the importance of all three megacontent services at his company -- Disney+, ESPN+ and Hulu -- to long-term success ahead. "Our platforms are smarter, simpler, more streamlined…. We're going to the next level, setting a new standard in advertising," he said.

What Didn't Work: Not offering details on how gaming elements will be introduced in Disney+'s ad-supported tier. In a number of interviews, including a LinkedIn fireside chat the week before CES 2024, Ferro maintained information on those elements and how advertisers could utilize them in future campaigns would be part of this presentation. No game on here.

Data Points: More than half of new Disney+ customers in the past few months opt for the limited advertising tier. For all of 2023, consumers consumed 35 billion hours of TV content via Disney+, ESPN+ and Hulu. Disney's social media platforms worldwide currently reach more than four billion followers. One-third of all sports viewership happens over some manner of ESPN. One example: 25 billion TikTok views last year. More than 4,200 brands and 1,000 agencies have executed campaigns through Disney's self-service Campaign Manager process.

News: Combination ad sales of Disney+ and Hulu content on Disney+ (under the Hulu on Disney+ banner) will begin March 24, followed by Disney+/Hulu ad tier combo sales soon after. By the end of the year, advertisers will be able to tap into a trio of new interactive/commerce initiatives. Disney Experience Composer will provide tools for companies to create and implement interactive messages viewers can explore using their voice or voice remote. The other two -- Gateway Shop and Shop The Stream -- gives consumers the ability to order products or services displayed in a message, or in the case of Shop The Stream what they see in a movie or TV series, through their smartphone or tablet as they watch. Advertisers will also have new tie-in opportunities with D23, the annual fan fair coming August 9-11 to Anaheim, California near Disneyland. For the first time, Disney+ will carry a number of D23 events live. Also in development: Disney Magic Words, a process that can connect the placement of specific commercials to individual scenes in a variety of content. Several advertisers will get the opportunity to test Disney Magic Words out with their 2024-25 Upfront commitments. Industrywide availability is planned for later this year, Ferro suggested.

Bonus Points: A colorful eye-catching display before the presentation, featuring swirling globes made up of squares, arrows, plus signs and circles.

Parting Words:

"We're leading the way to a new age of advertising. One that is more intuitive, streamlined, proven and more effective." - Rita Ferro, Disney Global Advertising President.

"We've managed to scale at an astonishing rate. That's why I look so tired." - Joe Earley, Disney Direct-To-Consumer Streaming President.

"We're going to make this the greatest big game experience in history." - Chara-Lynn Aguiar, Disney Executive Vice President, Finance, Research and Strategy, discussing ESPN's first-ever Super Bowl presentation in 2027.

"The future of advertising fuses storytelling, retail, machine learning and more, all from your TV." - Ajay Arora, Disney Senior Vice President, Commerce, Growth and Identity.

Photo Credit: Disney Advertising/Mike Baker and Jeff Bottari

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