Women’s March Madness ad revenue doubled this year, Disney VP says

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Disney is being sold because of ads for the Final Four and this year’s March Madness women’s basketball tournament on ESPN, according to Jacqueline Dobies, Disney Advertising’s senior vice president of finance and product management.

The competition has a total of 87 bidders, roughly split between new and returning brands. Google and Home Depot are among the new marketers. Seven new categories also joined, including bottled water and home insurance.

“The hardest part was trying to find space for everyone, which is a big challenge to have,” Dobies told Marketing Brew. “We’ve seen growth from existing groups, but we’ve also seen a lot of new groups entering this space.”

There are also several longtime ESPN partners participating in the tournament this year, Dobies said, including part-time assistants. Unileverwhich is part of Disney Advertising’s Level Up program, its framework was introduced last year to help spend more money on women’s sports. (Home Depot and Unilever are both advertising the men’s competition, which, as of last week, was. all but sold out.)

Reduce your roll

Revenue from the women’s race has doubled from last year, according to Dobies. Disney Advertising began attracting interest in May, he said, but his team didn’t immediately sell to any brand that came along.

Had they done so, “we would have sold out months ago,” he said.

Instead, Disney Advertising tried to find advertising space in all aspects of women’s sports, including long-time incumbents, new entrants, and brands focused on basketball advertising as a whole, Dobies said.

To capitalize on the interest in women’s college basketball, Disney Advertising is encouraging advertisers to spend on other women’s sports as well, Dobies said. While brands don’t need to increase buys beyond women’s sports, Dobies said, his team has been using more to encourage advertisers to spend their money on other sports such as women’s. volleyballsoftball, or soccer.

“We want to try and encourage that interest to try and support women’s sports across the board,” she said. “We want to use this opportunity to support the rest of the women’s sport that is not being seen in the same way right now.”

Current records

In an effort to promote sales to discredit Disney rather than March Madness itself, the team created two new segments for March Madness advertisers to target: fans of the men’s tournament and fans of the women’s tournament, VP of Programmatic Sales Matt Barnes said.

“He’s not just looking at the game, but he’s looking at the game, the game around the game, what’s going on at the teams, checking the stats,” he said. “How they interact with our entire history changes how we can reach them.”

Even though the sidebars are almost sold out, there is an opportunity for brands to reach female racing fans through other products that they can use, or buy systematically, that Disney has encouraged. Programmatic buying allows advertisers to launch against “lightning-in-a-bottle moments,” such as primetime or primetime viewing for streaming games across platforms, he said.

“This is not a copy-and-paste RFP world, where people are just buying the same product, the same mix, that they buy year after year,” Dobies said. “We have very few advertisers coming in and buying one platform, or one game, or one site in particular.”

This article first appeared in Marketing Brewbranch of Morning Brew.

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