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IAB Content Studio Showcase: 5 Questions for Dan Reynolds of Disney Digital Network

IAB Content Studio Showcase: 5 Questions for Dan Reynolds of Disney Digital Network
IAB Content Studio Showcase: 5 Questions for Dan Reynolds of Disney Digital Network
IAB Content Studio Showcase: 5 Questions for Dan Reynolds of Disney Digital Network

A Q&A blog series featuring publisher content studios presenting at the IAB Content Studio Showcase on October 16: CBSi Studio 61, CNN Courageous Studios, 23 Stories x Condé Nast, Disney Co/Op, Hearst Magazines Digital Media, NBC Content Studio, News Corp. Storyful, Pandora for Brands, Refinery29, RYOT, The New York Times T-Brand Studio, and The Foundry @ Time Inc.

Publisher content studios have swelled in number in recent years because marketers have recognized publisher’s unique ability to craft marketing communications that allow for longer, deeper, and more narrative than traditional media advertising. Contemporary publisher content studios develop a range of branded content for marketers, designed for the publishers’ owned-and-operated sites, as well as for distribution across other digital and multimedia properties. Content can include a mix of traditional editorial, full-length video programming, short-form video, mobile apps, podcasts, and more. And the name of the game is storytelling vs. overt selling.

IAB Content Studio Showcase: 5 Questions for Dan Reynolds of Disney Digital Network
Dan Reynolds
Vice President
Disney Digital Network

We caught up with Dan Reynolds, Vice President, Disney Digital Network to provide some insights about their content studio offering in advance of the IAB Content Studio Showcase event titled “Brand New Ideas.”

Tell us about your content studio.
Disney Digital Network is the home for Disney’s stories on digital platforms and where we have the opportunity to extend and expand on The Walt Disney Company’s stories in new formats every day. Disney is known for its legendary, timeless stories, and our job is to make them connect to our audiences through short-form video or micro-content, Boomerangs, GIFs, and more. Our Co/Op content studio opens up these digital storytelling opportunities to advertisers and allows them to align their brands with Disney’s brands and stories, and to tap into the creative storytellers who work here—the same people who are creating Disney content every day.

Why are publisher content studios so hot right now?
First, because voice and storytelling matters more than ever. This is the differentiator in digital marketing that helps break through the clutter, that makes content “native,” and draws attention. Second, because of audience—no one knows their audience better than the content studios. Disney Digital Network’s Co/Op marries Disney’s stories, data, and insights about our audience, a network of digital influencers, and of course, Disney’s IP, to offer advertisers a meaningful way to connect with our shared audiences.

What are some of the key questions you consistently get from brands and agencies about your content studio offerings?
The one question we often hear is, “How do we align our brand alongside Disney’s iconic stories without being overshadowed?” We point out that Disney’s role in this equation is to build the emotional connection between the consumer and the story. Whether it’s a story about good vs. evil, friendship, sisterhood, or other universal themes, our stories mean a lot to people. Through Co/Op, we’re opening the door for advertisers to convey their messages through those stories and the emotional connections that we’ve already established, or to create new stories, together.

What makes for a great partnership for branded content success?
There are a few components to a great partnership. First, it’s data and insights that really help advertisers identify both the audience they want to reach and the interests and habits of that audience. Then, it’s the chemistry between the brand and the content studio’s voice—it has to fit in order to work well. A perfect example of this is our Disney “As Told By Emoji” series,  a web series that reimagines Disney, Pixar, Star Wars, and Marvel stories through the icons and apps that live on your phone. “As Told By Emoji” now has more than 170 million views across 17 episodes and three seasons, and it also serves as a fantastic vehicle for our advertising partners. “As Told By Lego” is an example of how we have extended the “As Told By” brand in a way that engages audiences through great storytelling, but also incorporates a product in a natural way, all captured through the lens of a child’s perspective and imagination.

Why is the IAB Content Studio Showcase event important?  What’s in it for the brand attendees?
We’re excited that the advertising community has embraced content studios and that the IAB is shining a spotlight on them. As Disney Digital Network continues to expand and grow, we’re also growing our in-house branded content service, Disney Co/Op, and expanding the number and types of partners we work with. We hope the attendees will walk away with an understanding of how they can integrate their brands with Disney and how together we can reach an incredibly engaged, passionate consumer base.


IAB’s Content Studio Showcase is a one-day event in New York City that is open to Brand and Retail marketers only.  Limited space is available for this free to attend event that will feature the capabilities of one dozen of some of the most prominent content studios in digital and multimedia publishing including: CBSi Studio 61, CNN Courageous Studios, 23 Stories x Condé Nast, Disney Co/Op, Hearst Magazines Digital Media, NBC Content Studio, News Corp. Storyful, Pandora for Brands, Refinery29, RYOT, The New York Times T-Brand Studio, and Time Inc. The Foundry.

Attendees will walk away with actionable insights about publisher studio partnerships, answering questions such as:

  • How does a brand get started with a publisher content studio partnership?
  • What are the key questions a brand should ask upfront to ensure a content studio program provides maximum value and meets their objectives?
  • What are some best practices to ensure success?
  • How is ROI evaluated?

Only 100 seats are available exclusively for qualified brand and retail marketers. Reserve your seat today

IAB Content Studio Showcase 2