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Disney joins Walmart, Amazon, Home Depot and others in testing shoppable TV with advertisements from Unilever.

Disney announced the launch of a beta program for its first shoppable ads. Consumers will be able to make purchases through the new Gateway Shop in Hulu while maintaining their viewing experience, according to Disney’s press release. 

The announcement offers a glimpse of what Disney plans to do with Hulu. It reached a deal in 2023 to acquire the stake previously owned by Comcast.

“With the most scale in streaming and the strongest audience signal through our foundational data and ad tech stack, Disney is uniquely enabled to power dynamic ad experiences that connect consumer interest and intent to the purchase — straight from the stream,” said Jamie Power, senior vice president of addressable sales at Disney Advertising.

Disney is No. 100 in the 2023 Digital Commerce 360 Top 1000, a ranking of North America’s leading retailers by online sales.

How will Disney shoppable TV work?

Viewers will see personalized advertisements for products that are sent to phones through push notifications or email, Disney says. Over the next few months, Disney will grow the interactive shopping features in streaming, it says. 


The beta test will initially be available exclusively on Hulu, which Disney now owns, with plans to add Disney+ in the future.

Disney named Unilever as one of the advertisers included in the initial beta test. The media company is searching for other retailers and consumer packaged goods companies to advertise, Ad Age reported.

Gateway Shop is an expansion of Gateway Go, launched on Hulu in 2020. The earlier feature gave viewers the option to get more information on an advertisement sent to their phone through push notifications, email, or a code. Since then, more than 200 advertisers across categories have signed on. 

“Our goal is to help audiences connect with the brands they love with the least amount of friction, without disrupting the content they’re streaming. Innovation is in Disney’s DNA, and in a cross-screen world, we believe shoppable experiences not only complement, but elevate, streaming,” Power said.


Why are retailers investing in shoppable TV?

Consumer behavior is changing, Disney says. Most viewers watch TV with a second screen in their hands or nearby. Most of those consumers will choose to interact with a video experience if given the choice, Disney says. The media giant cited a 2023 survey finding that 75% of TV viewers prefer an interactive TV ad over a standard commercial. 

“Gateway Shop is a prime example of the holistic approach we take to building viewer-first ad experiences and formats,” said Amy Lehman, senior vice president of advertising platforms. “Audience behaviors have changed, and advertising should reflect that and serve both viewers and marketers in new ways. Gateway Shop provides viewers with choice and control, in an engaging and non-disruptive format.”

Amazon (No. 1 in the Top 1000), Walmart (No. 2), and Home Depot (No. 4) are all experimenting with shoppable TV, too. Amazon tested shoppable ads during the first-ever Black Friday NFL game it streamed this year. Walmart inked a deal with NBCUniversal in November to place shoppable ads on the streaming platform Peacock. The ads gave consumers the chance to buy Walmart items featured in select Bravo shows. And Home Depot released a branded content series with Vizio in 2023.

57% of ad agency professionals believe shoppable video content is the next frontier of retail media, according to an April 2023 poll from Insider Intelligence.


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