Disney's TV ROI Case Study

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Disney's TV ROI Case Study


Apr 18, 2017 by Mark Maier

MediaPost reports that Disney recently completed a comprehensive ROI study that yielded some in-depth insights...

"Disney/ABC Television Group wanted to know more about the ROI of TV advertising. But it realized that people no longer watch TV only on sets in their living room. They also view it on smartphones, tablets, DVR, VOD, apps and OTT.

So Disney commissioned a report, viewing TV as  “long-form video entertainment as a whole, regardless of the device it was watched on,” said Cindy Davis, executive vice president of Disney/ABC Television Group.  

The objective? To examine so-called multi-platform TV, using trend and transaction data to attribute the long-term impact.

The study, conducted by Accenture, studied advertising from 20 Disney clients, totaling $12 billion in media spend per year, over a three-year period. The results were unveiled at the Cross-Platform Media Measurement & Data Summit in February.

First, Disney and Accenture examined what they called the “halo effect” — the interaction between channels. That mostly meant looking at the “interplay between TV ads and paid search,” said Craig Macdonald, managing director, communications and media verticals at Accenture, in an interview.

The research found that the channels look better when combined than they do alone. But the sales effect can move from one to the other, and it’s imperative for a brand to understand the exact contribution of each.

The firms determined, for example, that “search is overcounted and TV undercounted when you do the actual ROI,” Macdonald said.

In particular, “the average ROI for all digital channels was 18% lower when looked at on a marginal basis, but multi-platform TV was 10% higher when adjusted for the halo effect,” Macdonald said during the conference. “We were surprised at the magnitude.”

When examined by itself, paid search fell by 21% in terms of the incremental ROI it delivers for advertisers, display by 18%, short-form video by 7% and all digital ROI by 18%, Macdonald reported.

What’s more, multi-platform TV was found to drive incremental sales far beyond what is measured in the short-term, he added. The total impact is equal to 2.3x short-term sales.

“People may see a Fiat ad on TV, then Google it,” Macdonald explained. “They wouldn’t have looked for it on Google if they hadn’t seen the TV ad.”

The companies could see “the directly attributed ROI in the current year,” Macdonald said. “But we teased out the residual effect. The ad has permanence: A lot of ROI is transferred into subsequent years — 1.3 times the impact that lasts for 12 to 36 months after the original placement.”

Disney and Accenture also tested this hypothesis: They found that “if we were to move 2% of the money out of multi-platform into other forms of digital, the impact would be a short-term bump for six months — 0.11% — then you’d see degradation.”

This led them to conclude that digital has reached the saturation point. “The inventory is unlimited, but the impact on its ability to drive sales is saturated,” Macdonald said. “The only reliable way to get paid search to perform more robustly is through a mix of multi-platform TV and paid search.”

Is the research valid? Yes, according to Macdonald. “We looked at the attributed effect, not on a strictly post-impression basis, and we didn’t double count,” Macdonald said. “We wanted to know, ‘What’s the incremental value of each dollar spent?’”

Davis, speaking at the CIMM event, noted, that Disney wanted to “advance our ability to demonstrate the business impact of investments clients make with us.” Also, it hoped to have a holistic view across channels.

She added that “while much good work had been done with syndicated data, we wanted to advance with as much real data as could get our hands on.”

One takeaway? As suggested, the channels should be combined under the umbrella of multi-platform TV.

What else was found? That “the sales impact of long-form digital video impressions is 3x - 5x that of other Digital impressions,” according to a PowerPoint of the findings. And it showed that the “effective cost of long-form digital video impressions in our sample are 2x - 3x the cost of other digital impressions.”


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