Disney Strikes Ad-Tech Pact With The Trade Desk As Streaming Ads Gain Traction

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Walt Disney’s ad-sales unit struck a pact with The Trade Desk that will give the company behind Hulu and Disney+ more ability to sell new kinds of commercials toward which Madison Avenue is increasingly gravitating.

Disney is known best for its flagship content franchises that range from Marvel and Star Wars to Mickey and Minnie Mouse. But it’s not as well recognized for its abilities to sell ads in real time based on targeting algorithms aimed at specific groups of consumers, even though the company has been ramping up its efforts in that area for some time. The Trade Desk, however, has quickly developed an expertise in such tactics.

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Under a new pact unveiled Tuesday, Disney will use The Trade Desk technology to boost data activation aimed at making ads reach precise audiences. The agreement surfaces just as Disney is gearing up to unveil an ad-supported version of Disney+, the popular streaming service that offers a number of top-quality series and movies against which many top marketers would like to align. A Trade Desk spokesman said the agreement was “specific to Disney’s current ad-supported properties.”

Disney said its ad-sales operation, led by Rita Ferro, would implement “this expanded capability with advertisers over the next several months, while setting the stage to support interoperability across all demand partners and platforms.”

Disney will contribute its own first-party data about its audiences and also make use of a similar information from The Trade Desk which is contained under the Unified ID 2.0 framework. The hope is that media buyers and advertisers will be able to find more inventory across Disney’s portfolio upon which they can bid.

“We have spent years investing in our data and technology strategy to create innovative solutions for advertisers to engage their audiences with greater precision and accuracy in a privacy-focused way,” said Ferro , president of Disney Advertising Sales, in a prepared statement. “This first-to-market capability sets the stage to empower access to the Disney portfolio, validated by powerful audience insights, in a way that’s automated and accessible.”

Disney has for some time said it believes more of its ad sales will come through so-called “addressable” inventory, or ads that can be earmarked for specific consumer segments.  “The growth of our relationship with The Trade Desk is a milestone in addressability and automated buying at scale, and the latest step as we use technology to enable advertisers to buy once to deliver everywhere across Disney,” said Aaron LaBerge, president and chief technology officer, Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution, in a statement.

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