Disney and TikTok strike a major advertising and content deal that hints at new ad formats

The news: TikTok has inked a substantial partnership with Disney to create a “first-of-its-kind” hub for Disney content within the app. As part of Disney’s 100th anniversary, TikTok will create a Disney page that will run for four weeks featuring content from 48 Disney media properties including Pixar, ESPN, and Marvel.

  • Additionally, Disney has signed on as a partner for Pulse Premiere, a premium ad placement that TikTok launched in May.

Stamp of approval: The Disney partnership could help assuage one of the biggest concerns with advertising on TikTok—brand safety.

  • TikTok has been criticized for hosting harmful content on its app and lacking the moderation tools to properly deal with misinformation and other brand-unsafe videos that users create. Most recently, the company responded to EU demands outlining steps it’s taken to combat misinformation around content related to the Israel-Hamas conflict.
  • Ensuring brand safety was the core concept behind Pulse Premiere when it launched this spring. The ad format is an evolved version of TikTok Pulse, which guarantees ad placement along the app’s top 4% of trending content in 11 brand-friendly categories like pets, gaming, and sports.
  • Pulse Premiere takes things a step further, guaranteeing ad placement alongside content produced by a number of pre-approved brand partners like BuzzFeed and Conde Nast, ensuring that ads won’t be displayed alongside problematic content that rises to the top of the algorithm.

TikTok and ad formats: TikTok is a major destination for ad spend, expected to reign in $6.19 billion in US revenues this year, per our forecast. But part of the challenge for the company has been coming up with different ad tiers so it can charge a premium and generate greater revenues.

  • The vertical video format doesn’t lend itself well to ad diversity: The endless, scrolling feed on TikTok where users are likely to spend most of their time results in a relatively homogenous ad experience.
  • To that end, TikTok has launched a number of advertising features like interactive ads with polls and stickers, AR lenses to rival Snap, and AI chatbots. But Pulse Premiere is an attempt to launch a truly premium, brand-safe ad format that will attract heavy hitters.

Our take: That Disney, a company notoriously hawkish about its family-friendly brand identity, would sign on to Pulse Premiere will be seen as a stamp of approval for the format by other similarly protective brands.

  • The Disney hub also represents an interesting new strategy for TikTok of selling dedicated space in the app to specific brand activations. Disney is a major first partner to launch the new activation and will likely attract other brands for similar events.

First Published on Oct 17, 2023

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