Disney isn’t waiting until May to start talking about the upfront.
The annual industry haggle over billions of dollars in TV ad time has moved beyond the living-room screen. NBCUniversal, Paramount Global, Fox Corp., Warner Bros. Discovery, Disney and their rivals are all in the midst of selling commercial inventory for screens that Philo Farnsworth, one of the inventors who helped develop the TV, never envisioned.
“It’s a 52-week conversation,” says Rita Ferro, president of Disney Advertising Sales. Disney will do some talking this week when it hosts advertisers during a Wednesday discussion about its advertising-technology capabilities –a nod to the demand marketers have for measurement of ad effectiveness as well as consumer data that helps them place commercials more precisely in front of specific audience types.
Ferro expects to give ad buyers and marketing executives more information about measurement, As more advertisers consider doing deals bolstered by non-traditional vendors, Disney expects advertisers to use “a portfolio of solutions, not just one currency,” she says. “Nielsen will be a part of that, as well as a few others.”
Ferro says Disney has not joined a recent “joint industry committee” that has coalesced around NBCU, Paramount, Fox, TelevisaUnivision and Warner Bros. Discovery that seeks to unify measurement standards because the company is concerned the effort isn’t going far enough with advertising attached to sports inventory to warrant deeper involvement. Disney already works with Open AP when it comes to linear TV inventory, says Ferro, and “we will continue to be part of working with them on that and exploring ways to do more together,” but given Disney’s commitment to sports content through ESPN, needs to see more interest relating to measurement of out of home and mobile viewers.
The company intends to broaden its offer to advertisers interested in an ad-supported version of Disney+, says Ferro, and expects to roll out new audience-targeting capabilities by the second fiscal quarter.
Disney may also offer some hints about its actual May upfront presentation. On May 16, the company will hold an event at North Javits Center in New York City to discuss Disney’s entertainment and sports portfolio, and Jimmy Kimmel, the late-night host whose annual monologue poking fun at the industry has become a highlight, is expected to take part. And he will appear in person if Disney can help it, says Ferro, after delivering remarks in 2022 remotely due to concerns about Covid. “Jimmy, I promise you, will not be sick this year,” Ferro says.