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Disney streamlines access for advertisers, aiming to automate 75% of ad revenue

A Disney Mickey-shaped rainbow kite flies in the sky above three smaller cursor-shaped kites.

Illustration by Robyn Phelps / Shutterstock / The Current

Disney is streamlining its streaming advertising business.

The company announced on Wednesday the launch of DRAX Direct, an expansion of its Disney Real-Time Ad Exchange (DRAX), a programmatic ad platform it debuted in 2021. The expansion includes a custom integration between DRAX and The Trade Desk’s OpenPath, which creates a direct through line between the ad tech company and publishers. The DRAX expansion also includes Google’s Display & Video 360.

“We made a commitment to deliver 50% of our business in an automated and addressable way, and this expansion is another step in delivering more ways to access Disney’s premium inventory in the way that works best for our clients,” Jamie Power, SVP of addressable sales at Disney Advertising, tells The Current.

“This expansion is fundamentally about how we continue to unify inventory across Hulu and Disney+ for advertisers and our technology-enablement providers while creating a simpler, more direct path to activate against Disney’s portfolio through accelerated automation,” she adds.

The efforts seem to be exceeding expectations. Disney now has a goal to automate 75% of its advertising business by 2027, Power said during The Trade Desk’s Forward ’24 event last month.

The DRAX expansion also builds on the yearslong collaboration between Disney and The Trade Desk, following a 2022 partnership that enabled integration between Disney and Unified ID 2.0.

Earlier this year, The Trade Desk began rolling out OpenPath to connected TV (CTV) publishers, a major development in the initiative at a crucial moment for the streaming and advertising industries. The custom integration between OpenPath and DRAX aims to provide a more seamless experience for advertisers in a privacy-conscious environment that’s driven by data.

Advertisers are increasingly gravitating toward CTV, driven by addressability and effectiveness. A recent survey by The Trade Desk Intelligence and Advertiser Perceptions drives that case forward.

The report, which surveyed 150 ad professionals in the U.S., found that 63% of advertisers “are leading their 2024 upfront buys with CTV or equally weighing streaming and linear investments,” and 94% said that CTV “meets or exceeds expectations for effectiveness of their media mix modeling.” Verified user data was “at least somewhat important” to 96% of those surveyed, and 60% said they’re using first-party data to inform CTV buys.

For Disney, DRAX is about providing flexibility to advertisers to access Disney’s streaming inventory in a way that’s easy and automated, Power says.

“Our goal is to enable advertisers of all sizes and categories to reach their desired audiences in the most effective way for their business,” Power says. “The launch of DRAX Direct unlocks more incremental audience for Disney, and allows us to innovate faster to meet the needs of advertisers in a streaming environment while continuing to remain agile.”

The Current is owned and operated by The Trade Desk Inc.