Google and The Walt Disney Company have today announced the embarking on a new “global strategic” partnership. Specifically, the announcement confirms all of Disney’s properties are now moving to Google’s Ad Manager which will from now on act as the “core ad technology platform” for Disney. In other words, Google’s ad platform is now Disney’s ad platform.
While the two companies have now confirmed the deal, the specifics of the arrangement have not been provided and as such no details of the deal were announced including its value or how it will work at an operational level. Instead, the announcement simply details this is deal applies universally to Disney’s assets, and implies how this is likely to last a few years. The universal point is of particular importance as this means it not only includes Disney-owned channels, such as Disney, ABC and ESPN, but also the likes of Marvel, Pixar and Star Wars. Which on their own are highly lucrative businesses for Disney, advertisers, and now Google.
Background: Google made this announcement in the context of it being an ‘expansion’ as that’s what has technically happened considering Google and Disney already had a deal of some degree in place. With the difference being the deal is now all-encompassing and more far-reaching than before. As this also means that it’s not just designed to cater to ad serving on one particular platform, but all platforms imaginable. It is this point that is likely to appeal greatly to Disney (and to advertisers) as it means control over ads served via Disney content will be applicable across devices and platforms which makes it much easier to deploy high value ad campaigns to all intended audiences at the same time, instead of having to try and curate campaigns on a platform-specific basis. A point which was not lost in the announcement with Google confirming this applies equally to all related channels, as well as content that’s live streamed or offered direct-to-consumer.
Interestingly, the direct-to-consumer aspect is also worth noting as Disney, for a long time, has been expected to launch its own streaming service. This in itself is expected to be a big deal for the same reasons this ad agreement is, as Disney will be making available on-demand access to its popular and lucrative entities in one centralized location that consumers can tune in to for a small price compared to having the cost bundled in with a more expensive plan. Even more so when considering Disney, will at the same time, be reducing the availability to that same content through other -- and by then, competing -- outlets. For example, Disney-owned content that is currently available via Netflix, won’t be available in 2019, and this is the same year when the new service, currently referred to as Disney+ is expected to launch. So with the confirmation Google is now in charge of the ad-related aspects of the Disney ecosystem, this is likely to become an even more platform-agnostic and lucrative business once that streaming service gets up and running.
Impact: It’s a little early to say how this will impact the market, but it will. The Disney platform is a busy and lucrative one and having a more cohesive advertising strategy in place will make for a more seamless approach that accounts for a variety of different platforms and devices for advertisers. What’s most telling about this deal is that it likely represents how serious Disney is now getting about streaming in general. As this is a deal which will impact every way in which Disney-related content is consumed, and that's in itself fairly indicative of the streaming market as that’s likely to be the part of the advertising cycle Disney had less arrangements with prior to this deal. Arguably, the increased importance of streaming to Disney, and finding a way in which that side of the business fits in with its existing methods of delivery may actually be what prompted Disney to go all-in with Google in the first place. Furthermore, this more worldly view of Disney on what now constitutes as a ‘TV device’ also adds further support to the suggestion the company’s upcoming Disney+ is getting nearer its release stage (no firm indication on when the service will launch has been provided by Disney beyond 'next year'), and will arrive as a properly planned and market-ready entity. One that locks content down to one particular service, possibly with varying-priced access tiers (even more important now if one of those tiers is ad-supported), and one that's been padded out at all levels, from content to advertising.
Of course, there’s also the impact this will have for Google as this is likely to be a very high-value deal for the company as it will bring in a decent amount of additional revenue to what is an already lucrative ad business. Which in turn, also means that it might have the opposite effect on Comcast. Considering it was Comcast, who previously shared the Disney-related ad money with Google’s Ad Manager. Although there's unlikely to be any love lost between Disney and Comcast as this follows on from a very high profile bidding war between the two during the summer over FOX assets.
On a last point, this also might be a sign of what’s to come in the future as Disney is unlikely to be the only high-profile entity that's currently looking at ways in which it can consolidate its contents and take greater advantage of the streaming market, and this likely means it's only one of the companies Google is hoping will want an equally consolidated approach to ads - that can be better and more universally served to all customers in the same way. As like most news that emerges from the land of streaming - creators, providers, and advertisers, are all no longer just looking to account for the big screen in your living room, but also the little one in your pocket, and every other screen in between the two, and Google has already made it abundantly clear it sees great value in the new TV world and is here to help.