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Disney and The Trade Desk strike a landmark streaming ad deal

The news: Disney has cemented a landmark deal with adtech firm The Trade Desk to develop an ad platform that will allow advertisers to automate targeted ads across Disney’s many linear and digital video channels, heating up the already-intense ad-supported streaming race.

How it works: The deal lies at the intersection of several trends in digital advertising, addressing privacy concerns, targetability, and the growing streaming audience in one fell swoop.

  • The partnership will see Disney combine user data from Clean Room—its privacy-focused, first-party walled garden of data—with The Trade Desk’s Unified ID 2.0 initiative, a purported replacement for third-party cookies that’s already been adopted by Nielsen, LiveRamp, and Criteo.
  • The announcement comes ahead of the much-anticipated rollout of ads on Disney+, and seeks not only to equip the streaming service with a more robust ad platform than its competitors, but also to create a new standard for advertising identifiers as the industry scrambles to find a universal solution.

Disney’s edge: With a broad range of content and highly targetable ad platform, Disney can offer advertisers unique ways to reach specific customers without ever leaving its ecosystem.

  • The announcement puts Disney ahead of Netflix in the race to launch an ad-supported tier. The longtime streaming giant hurried to announce ads earlier this year to soften the blow of its first subscriber loss in a decade, and said it would seek out adtech partners rather than develop its own platform.
  • Disney’s move lands somewhere in the middle, splitting the burden of developing an ad platform between itself and The Trade Desk. Netflix’s short timetable—the company may launch ads as soon as Q4—and historical resistance to ads may limit its options for partnerships.

Looking forward: Disney’s deal will increase anticipation for the launch of Disney+ ads and could prompt other streaming services that already have ad-supported tiers to seek similar partnerships to match its targeting ability.