Disney+ and Hulu CTV ad inventory will be available via Google and The Trade Desk

The news: In a major shift, Disney will begin selling connected TV ad inventory through Google and The Trade Desk’s programmatic, demand-side platforms, the company announced this week.

  • The move will see Disney’s real-time ad exchange, called DRAX, become linked to Google and The Trade Desk platforms, allowing Disney to open up inventory on Disney+ and Hulu to a wide variety of advertisers.
  • A Disney representative said the partnership would help the company move closer to its goal of making 50% of its ad inventory available through addressable and automatic channels and would simplify the process of buying ads on Disney platforms.

Disney isn’t alone: NBCUniversal also announced that it would work with The Trade Desk to make ad inventory for the Olympics and Paralympics available programmatically.

What’s driving the change: It’s unusual to see Disney, a company that is historically precious about its brand identity and the quality of its advertisements, take a step toward broad openness. But major digital advertising shifts are forcing Disney to change.

  • The big one is the end of third-party cookies on Google Chrome, which is set to occur this year. The change has the digital ad industry floundering and is forcing companies like Disney to form direct relationships with advertising exchanges.
  • Both Google and The Trade Desk are working to create post-cookie solutions: Google has rolled out the Privacy Sandbox, while The Trade Desk is launching Unified ID 2.0 (which Disney has already signed onto). Disney already has working relationships with both companies (The Trade Desk is Disney’s partner for Disney+ ads), allowing it to hedge its bets and test both post-cookie solutions.
  • The announcement also comes just ahead of the upfront advertising season, during which Disney will seek to secure advertising deals at a time when streamers are under more pressure than ever to increase advertising revenues.

Our take: The need for greater ad revenues and shifts in the digital landscape are forcing companies with historically conservative histories like Disney to change their approach.

  • Disney is large enough on its own to move the industry, but NBCUniversal’s signing on with The Trade Desk should be an indication that it’s not just one company looking to forge closer relationships with ad exchanges.

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