Disney’s Sweeney talks platforms, upfront biz

Disney-ABC TV Group topper gives keynote at Massive ad confab

Disney TV topper Anne Sweeney delved into the puzzle of digital media and advertising Thursday at the Massive advertising summit presented by Variety and Stillwell Partners.

With upfront advertising sales in full swing at ABC and other Mouse House nets, Sweeney said the conversations with advertisers are increasingly focused on multi-screen opportunities.

“In addition to being a healthy market, there’s a true recognition (from advertisers) of the number of screens we provide,” Sweeney said during the keynote sesh at the daylong confab at the House of Blues in West Hollywood. “We’re taking a full-service approach to putting all of our platforms together to deliver greater return on investment for our advertisers.”

One area in which the “conversation is starting to happen,” she said, is regarding extending the industry’s standard metric from C3 ratings, commercial ratings that incorporate three days of DVR playback viewing, to C7, which would incorporate seven days. The major nets have quietly been pushing Madison Avenue to move to the longer time frame, in an effort to capture more viewing. For ABC, a light-bulb moment occurred last month when the network discovered that in a typical week, “Modern Family’s” audience grew by 4.3 million viewers in the 18-49 through DVR playback during the four days after the end of the C3 frame.

“We have to pay attention to consumer behavior,” Sweeney said. “How many of us have a lot of things stacked up on the DVR to watch in the summer? That’s why we have to take a hard look at C7, because there’s tremendous value in (it) … Some advertisers are ready to try it.”

Other challenges lie in where and how to deliver advertising. Disney/ABC has embraced the crossplatform approach with ad clients, increasing returns by expanding ad platforms across all media possible. The “Disney Everywhere” streaming app for computers, touch tablets and smartphones, announced January, is slated to drop next week via Comcast and adds another intriguing angle to the ad discussion. “We’re working with Nielsen very hard and very fast,” she said. “It’s important that we measure that viewing.”

With more advertising comes a need for more standards, and Disney earlier this week announced a plan to toughen its requirements for food advertising in programs aimed at kids. The decision is an extension of the healthy eating initiative launched in 2006 by Disney chief Bob Iger. Sweeney said the move could have some “short-term impact” on ad sales but emphasized that the Mouse made the decision because it is the right thing to do for families, in light of the rise in obesity rates, particularly among children.

Other highlights of the confab included a Q&A on the power of social media marketing between Paramount Digital Entertainment prexy Amy Powell and Matt Jacobson, Facebook’s head of market development, and a discourse from Bain Capital partner Matt Freeman on how private equity investors are influencing changes at media and advertising companies.