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Tech: A Disney-Fox deal is not just about Netflix – it also has major ad sales ramifications

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A Disney-Fox deal also has major ad sales ramifications. The combined entity will include a broader array of TV networks and could spark more data-driven ads.

  • While Disney seems to want Fox primarily for its content assets as part of its budding war with Netflix, don't forget about ad sales.
  • The combined media entity will immediately boast of a broader array of TV networks to sell to marketers, allowing it to command more clout in the market and deliver elaborate cross-network packages.
  • Fox's ad team could also help nudge Disney ahead in data-driven ad sales, where it's fallen behind, say ad buyers.

Investors, commentators and stakeholders alike are watching closely as Disney closes in on a deal to acquire a collection of valuable assets from 21st Century Fox — a deal that alters the existing media landscape as we know it.

It helps Disney battle accelerated cord-cutting, gives it an even bigger repository of content than it already has and helps prepare it to take on Silicon Valley giants including Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple.

But less examined thus far is the fact that the merger will make Disney all the more attractive in the eyes of media buyers purchasing ads on behalf of marketers.

Disney will not only be snapping up Fox’s film and television studio, but also cable channels including National Geographic and FX worth $8.7 billion. That represents a massive boost to Disney’s TV advertising portfolio, whose cable channel assets have been so far limited to Freeform and the very niche (and mostly ad free) Disney Channel.

"From a cable point of view, Fox brings in rich assets in the form of FX and National Geographic, an area in which Disney has so far been limited," one TV ad buyer told Business Insider. "It sounds like a very synergistic compilation of companies and broadens its appeal to marketers."

Jason Maltby, president and co-executive director of national broadcast at Mindshare agreed, saying that with Fox, Disney has a much broader range of networks to sell to giant advertisers. "From a marketplace standpoint, fundamentally what this does is that it allows Disney to become a bigger player in the cable arena," he said.

The combined entity would also be able to provide advertisers more opportunities to purchase custom, complex ad packages "across the spectrum" that include a mix of TV and digital ads, said Jim Fosina, founder and CEO of Fosina Marketing Group. "

It also helps that the Disney-ABC TV Group reorganized earlier this year, laying the precedent for what comes ahead. The restructuring put ad sales for its entire portfolio, which includes ABC, Disney Channel, Freeform and Radio Disney, under sales chief Rita Ferro. Buyers expect Fox’s assets to be incorporated under Ferro as well.

"A consolidated Disney where they go to one place for all their needs is far more attractive to marketers," added a TV ad buyer. "A broader portfolio and reduced competition also allows Disney to attempt to garner a higher premium."

In other words, Disney can promise one-stop shopping and will be one of the few big TV ad players left standing.

Ad buyers have been pushing for such streamlining for years, said Steven Piluso, head of media and integration at Media Storm. He recalled having to go through numerous different sales reps and silos within 21st Century Fox and News Corp, with it being common "to talk to eight to nine different reps to get a deal done." Consolidation is welcome, he said.

A combined arsenal of Walt Disney-Fox assets might also enable marketers to chalk out larger scale ad programs that potentially tap into Disney and Fox's intellectual property and, and its data.

For example, recently the Nissan Rogue was promoted in conjunction with "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" across Disney’s networks, stations and shows like "Jimmy Kimmel Live" — even ESPN. Campaigns like that could become bigger, and more commonplace.

"They have more leverage in the marketplace, more insight into how budgets are allocated and ultimately, a tighter grip on the future," said Mindshare’s Maltby.

That grip could be strengthened by more data. As a growing number of advertisers have pushed the TV industry to embrace elements of digital advertising – in terms of audience targeting using data and software – Disney has been seen as lagging on that front.

Meanwhile Fox – along Turner and Viacom recently formed a consortium to launch OpenAP – through which advertisers can mix and match data sets to be used for ad targeting on multiple TV networks.

The deal could bring Disney into that fold.

"Until this point, Disney could not have played in behavioral marketing," said Maltby. "This really gives them the opportunity to play in that space and go beyond targeting based on gender and age and do it based on purchase behavior."

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