Activate with Data-Driven Precision

Activate with

Data-driven Precision

VP, Audience Modeling & Data Science

A truly optimized marketing campaign is thoroughly rooted in data. It’s what drives a deep understanding of a desired target audience, dictates the channels and ad products used to reach that audience, and influences how brands develop relevant and engaging creative. Simply put – insightful and actionable data is table stakes in the ever-changing advertising landscape.

Through our bold investments in data and measurement capabilities, we’re helping clients meet and exceed their advertising KPls. And we’re doing this by creating effective addressability for advertisers across the portfolio.

The marketplace has certainly taken note of our advancements. We’ve seen demand for our capabilities grow significantly, with the number of campaigns using data in any form to reach audiences increasing 56% year over year. In the last few months alone, we’ve seen hundreds of campaigns leverage our Disney first-party data – a critical step as we prepare for a cookie-less future. In a world without third-party cookies, our proprietary Disney Ad Sales Audience Graph is even more essential as an underpinning of all of our offerings.

The DAS Audience Graph is designed to map relevant and available IDs across the Disney Platform for a particular household and connect attributes and engagement across our endpoints. We’ve taken the next step to leverage our Audience Graph to pull all of our first-party data and advanced modeling capabilities under one umbrella with Disney Select:

With Disney Select, marketers can choose their desired audiences from our extensive library of first-party segments – each of which are built with integrity, developed for maximum scale, and designed to meet client needs like buyer behavior, household characteristics, and psychographics. And our clients who have already leveraged this solution are seeing fantastic results.

This is just the beginning. Our Disney Ad Sales Data Science team continues to adapt and consult with marketers to thoughtfully use data to achieve their outcomes. As the onboarding of data becomes more complex in an evolving data ecosystem, we’ve developed flexible strategies designed to meet client objectives and prepare for the future of our business.

We are investing in strategies tied to our own unique schemas and Audience Graph to facilitate access to insights and audience exploration – with the end goal of maximizing efficacy and impact for advertisers. We’re equipping our clients with actionable data that allows them to increase the effectiveness of their digital media strategy – giving them access to 1,000+ turnkey segments and unlocking the ability to target across Disney’s world class IP.

Simply put, when Disney’s proprietary Audience Graph and advanced modeling capabilities are combined – advertising magic is made.

Rooted in Legacy. Focused on Tomorrow.

Rooted in Legacy.
Focused on Tomorrow.

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Expanding Addressability Across Platforms 

The idea of true addressability spanning across an ever-expanding traditional digital portfolio is a large undertaking for publishers, yielding heavy benefits to advertisers and brands. In the case of The Walt Disney Company, this has meant growing segmentation and targeting across the traditional owned and operated digital offerings of ABC, ABC News, ESPN Networks, Freeform, FX Networks and National Geographic Networks, and extending all available segmentation to the newly integrated Disney Hulu XP, the first unified video ad product for marketers spanning the entire Disney platform now inclusive of Hulu.

Expanding addressability in this way, must seamlessly balance reach objectives with the precision necessary to accurately address the appropriate target audience. In our case, this includes giving brands access to our many valuable Disney segments that are based on our own first party descriptive, behavioral and psychographic data. It also means allowing brands to leverage their own data to target the highest value audiences as defined by that brand.  To enhance existing models, enable new models, and expand reach of accurately addressable inventory, it is also worthwhile to consider how to work with third-party data and signals that each category or brand finds most meaningful and best aligned to its desired campaign outcomes.

With the exponential growth in both Connected TV viewership and ad spend over recent years, simply enabling addressability for traditional digital campaigns is not enough.  Offering addressability across Connected TV and traditional digital in a transparent and fluid way is a necessity for advertisers who seek unduplicated reach, at scale, and with specific target audiences. Understanding a user in a platform-agnostic way is critical to driving business outcomes. At The Walt Disney Company inclusive of Hulu, because of our direct relationship with consumers, we have the type and scope of valued first party data that can help enable brands to achieve precision and reach, while harmoniously ensuring holistic, cross portfolio engagement.

In a world of robust digital-to-digital connections that provide a bridge between traditional digital sources and Connected TV, it is now feasible to pursue cross-platform sequential advertising. When complete, this capability will enable brands to serve a series of specific creative messages in a prescribed order to specific target audiences at scale and across platforms. With the advent of sequential messaging across various addressable points of engagement, brands will no longer be limited to basic frequency capping within a publisher’s inventory. Instead, they can engage in “frequency shaping,” managing audience, ad messaging, and frequency to more clearly communicate with consumers, navigating them more easily through a decision or purchase funnel. In time, the goal is to look beyond even CTV to include addressable linear reach and exposure. This will enable ultimate efficiency and outcome optimization for advertisers engaging with publishers that have the reach and sophistication to partner in a holistic way.

To learn more about our Advanced Solutions offerings please click here. 

The Role of Data and Modeling in a World of Digital and Linear Convergence

This whitepaper first appeared on ANA’s Forward, May 23

Finding the Right Audience the Right Way

Data derived from digital media, in particular the consumer-controllable mobile advertising ID used as a central identifier, provides the ability to bridge the gap between platforms while still maintaining the integrity of individual data sets and the user’s anonymity.

The use of a publisher’s first-party data, particularly that of a publisher with robust consumer touchpoints and good notice and choice mechanisms, is the most reliable way to deliver advertising to a desired audience. While marketers can supplement with third- and second-party data, basing a targeting effort on the first-party data of the publisher that’s actually serving the ad is likely the best way to get optimal results. For instance, using the publisher’s first-party data as the foundation for defining an audience can help eliminate any drop-off between sources.

Still, the need for well-developed and tested machine learning models to expand the audience and reach new consumers should not be overlooked. Focusing too closely on only the immediate conversion piece of the marketing funnel may, in the long run, have a negative impact on audience expansion by oversaturating the same audience pool and limiting overall brand exposure.

Demonstrating Model Behavior

Given the breadth of linear television, modeling and segmenting at the broadest level, followed by even more targeted messaging through OTT and digital platforms, allows for a healthy marketing ecosystem. Taking advantage of the breadth of linear and the precision of digital media develops an ecosystem of the very best data and predictive models possible.

While an advertiser may know of a particular consumer or group of consumers predisposed to making a purchase within a specific category in the imminent future, there are likely many other high-value consumers with similar psychographic and behavioral profiles to those who have already been identified by the advertiser, of whom the advertiser is unaware. Using machine learning lookalike models to accomplish the dual tasks of reaching a broad audience and focusing on high-value audiences is essential, even for those with the widest reach.

There are vastly different perspectives and approaches to predictive modeling, as well as to where predictive modeling fits with regard to person-to-person marketing. Even when using lookalike models, thinking specifically about digital apps and OTT, the outcome is still very much person-to-person. The differentiation lies not in whether predictive models still yield one-to-one outcomes, but in whether the basis of the models is explicit user-provided interests, or implicit interests derived from permissioned firstparty data, or consented-to survey data matched to first-party data sets.

The benefits of using predictive models are rooted in extension-of-reach and the idea of conversion beyond the known pool, but this approach, capable of using anonymized identifiers, can also help shield consumers’ privacy. In that way, predictive models can become even more valuable.

The consumers’ experience, their privacy, their data’s security, and their trust have to be the top objectives when using data. In fact, these need to be the priorities for not only the brand and its marketers, but also data scientists, analysts, and anyone who comes into contact with consumer data. The focus of a data-science practice that uses anonymized data enriched with profiles relying on a significant amount of modeling, becomes what should be done on behalf of the consumer versus what can be done.

Turning it On, Turning it Up

When applying the same approach taken with digital and OTT to linear television, marketers should be focused on understanding the indexing of particular segments against specific shows, dayparts, and networks. Mapping a digital segment built through a machine learning model or derived from behavioral data that’s been tied to specific content against linear viewership data, for example, can yield an index of how people who intend on purchasing an automobile manifest in the audience of a particular show.

The ability to build an overarching graph across platforms and subsequently plan and optimize inventory accordingly can lead to more accurate targeting and deeper insights than marketing plans based on siloed thinking and guesswork. Ultimately, when used correctly, the path to robust sequential advertising begins to develop such that a true funnel approach, from reach to targeted creative to outcome messaging, becomes more accessible and more efficient through the bottom of the funnel.

Channeling the New Way Forward

As the line between media platforms blurs even further, and as consumers increasingly focus on the quality of the content far more than on the medium in which they consume it, the need to understand relevance, sequence, and interests grows progressively more important.

Permissioned first-party data, and associated predictive and vetted models can be used to deliver high-quality, trustworthy, contextually relevant advertising. Marketers who build pertinent attribution models and ensure meaningful, data-centered, cross-platform executions will not only improve their marketing efficacy, they’ll create a better consumer experience as well.


Dana McGraw is the VP of audience modeling and data science at the Walt Disney Company, a partner in the ANA Thought Leadership Program. For additional partnership opportunities with our performance solutions, please click here.