Mar 1, 2022 - Economy

Exclusive: Disney inks deal with Samba TV as measurement partner

Photo Illustration by Avishek Das/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Disney on Tuesday will announce a new deal with Samba TV, a digital measurement company, to provide alternative data to Disney advertisers looking to better understand how their content is viewed in real-time via streaming.

Why it matters: Samba is the first third-party vendor that Disney has officially named as a partner, as it looks to broaden the types of measurement solutions it offers its advertisers in the digital world.

Disney has been testing new measurement solutions with nearly 100 vendors — including iSpot.tv, LiveRamp, VideoAmp, Viant and Moat — for years.

  • It's also been working with traditional measurement providers, like Comscore and Nielsen, on new products through trials with large ad agencies, like Omnicom Media Group and Publicis Groupe.
  • More vendor partnerships will debut in the coming months, said Lisa Valentino, executive vice president of Disney sales, who manages client solutions and addressable enablement.

Details: The new deal is being announced ahead of Disney's second annual Tech & Data Showcase event on March 3, which highlights the company's new ad tech innovations.

  • Instead of hosting one big "upfront" event, or a presentation given annually to advertisers that showcases fall TV programming, Disney has pivoted toward hosting a series of mini-events in the spring that highlight innovation in different areas, like sports and storytelling. It will still host a culminating presentation on May 17th.

In partnering with Samba, Disney will be able to provide its advertising partners access to Samba's "True Reach and Frequency tool," which shows the number of people that watched a piece of content, even on different devices.

  • That type of data, called a "de-duplicated" reach, has historically been difficult for advertisers to measure with streaming that happens across many devices.
  • Samba tracks viewership via proprietary technology that's embedded directly into smart TVs, said Ashwin Navin, co-founder and CEO of Samba TV. That's different from other measurement providers that gather streaming data from set-top boxes.
  • Customers opt into Samba's measurement tech through their smart TVs, which gives Samba full ownership of their data.
  • The 14-year-old measurement company today has its technology installed in 46 million devices and partners with 24 different smart TV manufacturers, per Navin.

Be smart: Around 40% of Disney's TV advertising supply is now streaming, Valentino said. "That’s going to tip in the coming year."

  • As such, the company has chosen to focus on vendors that can provide real-time streaming data across linear TV and streaming.
  • Most of Disney's streaming inventory comes from free ad-supported streaming via Hulu, and some from ESPN+. The vast majority of Hulu's 40 million+ on-demand subscribers are on the ad-supported plan.

The big picture: The pandemic-driven shift to streaming forced TV companies to find new measurement alternatives faster than expected.

  • NBCUniversal made a splash when it announced iSpot.tv as its first alternate partner for measurement ahead of the Olympics and the Super Bowl.
  • ViacomCBS announced a new partnership with VideoAmp last year.
  • WarnerMedia is in the early stages of looking for its own set of alternative measurement partners and is testing with iSpot.tv, Comscore and VideoAmp.

What to watch: While some media companies are looking to map out vendors and standards that could be adopted industry-wide, Disney says it just wants to build out a suite of measurement solutions that work for its specific clients' needs.

  • "Disney is not in the business of scoring players," Valentino said.

Go deeper: TV networks overhaul measurement system amid streaming surge

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