Thursday, 31 December 2009


Disney’s mobile initiatives include SMS alerts and campaigns, games, sweepstakes programs and a video-enabled mobile Web site, both a WAP version as well as one optimized for the iPhone’s Safari browser and touchscreen capabilities.

 “We’re focused on extending to mobile platforms, and we work with all Disney-branded business units to mobilize their programs,” said Disney’s director of mobile strategy and marketing.  “We use the same ad filter for both platforms—our mobile site and iPhone app,” he said.

“The mobile site and the app support Disney films, television shows and video games, and are updated weekly with new videos, new sections [and] new games launching and both utilize news feeds from around the company with information and quizzes about popular movies and TV shows.”

According to Disney - ranks as the No. 1 entertainment site on the mobile Web.   Consumers can even text the keyword MOBILE to the short code DISNEY to get information about the company.

In addition to the free Disney iPhone application, the company also has an expanding line-up of paid applications currently available in the App Store, including Toy Story Mania, Disney Fairies Fly, The Nightmare Before Christmas and Breakspin.  Disney Interactive Studios also recently launched the latest addition to its slate of applications, The Muppets Animal Drummer for the iPhone and iPod touch.

a multichannel approach

Disney takes a multichannel approach to marketing its many properties and mobile continues to increase in its importance as a marketing channel for Disney. “We use a multitude of methods to get the word out,” Mr. Rhodes said. “Our strategy in regards to communication is to educate the Disney audience—people are already consuming our content on other platforms.“We’re running TV spots on the Disney Channel, radio commercials, mobile calls-to-action in print and outdoor advertising, we’re promoting it on the online version of our site and we’re running mobile advertising and on-device search advertising, both natural organic search and paid search,” he said.

Disney has found that ads promoting a specific TV show or movie are more successful than general Disney-branded ads.  “We’ve learned to be brand-specific—a Hannah Montana ad that is targeted generally does well, while a general Disney ad is not as effective,” Mr. Rhodes said.

Disney sells its own inventory across its various platforms, including television, radio, online and mobile.  Disney offers cobranded sponsorship opportunities and banner ads sold on a CPM basis. It offers both cross-channel buys and mobile-specific. About 40 percent of the campaigns it sells focus exclusively on the mobile channel.

Currently Disney has three advertising sponsorship deals running on its mobile site, that represent the three types of mobile campaigns it typically sells.  Jonas Brothers and Xbox 360 are running a cobranded sponsorship campaign featured across the Disney mobile site.  Banner ads redirect users to a micro-site that is also cobranded by the Jonas Brothers and Xbox. The site broadcasts a call-to-action for consumers to participate in a user-generated-content program letting kids submit video clips then view, share, and rate videos submitted by others.

There is even a text-to-win sweepstakes integrated into the campaign, asking consumers to text the keyword XBOX to a short code to enter for the chance to meet the Jonas Brothers in person and win an Xbox 360 video game system.

“We’ve seen the text-message sweepstakes work very well.  A previous campaign with the Jonas Brothers and Best Western saw almost half of the sweepstakes entries come from mobile.  An SMS call-to-action is a great way to get people participating in a campaign,” he said.

Mass merchandiser Target, for example, launched a straightforward banner ad buy across Disney’s mobile Web site and various applications to drive consumers in store to boost holiday sales.  AT&T ran a Haunted Holidays campaign leveraging Disney’s online and mobile platforms featuring “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” Charles Dickens’ “A Tale of Two Cities” and “A Christmas Carol,” “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves” and other Disney properties relevant to the “spooky Christmas” theme.

Mobile gaming
Contrary to conventional wisdom, Disney reports that its core demographic on mobile skews older than its TV and radio properties.  “At the core, the demographics are very similar, although from mobile standpoint it’s slightly older, whereas on the Disney Channel or Radio Disney you get younger kids,” Mr. Rhodes said. “On mobile we get tweens or teens—we perform best in that 11-15 range. We also perform well on mobile with moms and adults—men are more familiar with navigating to content on their phone,” he said. “Parents are sharing mobile content with their kids, making games the No. 1 section of our mobile site.

Disney has a series of mobile games it calls “interactive adventures,” basically digital, mobile versions of the “Choose Your Own Adventure” series of books.  Hannah Montana and the Jonas Brothers for example both have their own mobile games. Other top Disney mobile games include Fairy Friends, Cannons of the Deep (based on the ride and film “The Pirates of the Caribbean”), trivia games based on various Disney film releases and the Princess and the Frog Swamp.  All Disney mobile games have free, WAP-based, ad-supported, and available within the iPhone application store, which also has games with more robust functionality such as the Wizards of Waverly.

Mobile connects all channels
Disney continues to place a greater and greater emphasis on the mobile channel, both as a publisher and an advertiser.  “Mobile fits in really prominently in our overall strategy, and our focus has been on aligning our mobile properties with the online version of the site—the same videos available online are also available on mobile.”

“We’re using mobile to connect and enhance larger campaigns for films and TV shows, and we have pretty extensive mobile programs connected to our upcoming releases, including Tim Burton’s ‘Alice in Wonderland,’ ‘The Sorcerer’s Apprentice’ and ‘Toy Story 3,’” he said.   “Mobile is an important channel because we’re seeing a lot of adoption and traffic, not just our properties, but across the entire industry.”