Peter Kafka

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Disney: Online Ads Have Been Softening for a While

Walt Disney CFO Tom Staggs tells PaidContent that the company’s digital revenues didn’t get to the $1 billion goal the Mouse House was hoping for. Revenue was $930 million, which is “slightly less than we might have hoped coming into the year,” he says.

Like most other big media companies, digital is much more important strategically than it is financially for Disney (DIS), so the shortfall didn’t have an impact on its earnings report yesterday. And Disney has much bigger problems to worry about, like the fact that people are much less willing to book trips to Orlando than they were earlier in year.

Still, it’s worth noting that Staggs blames the shortfall on Web advertising softness, and he makes an interesting point in passing–Disney started seeing a problem with Web ads earlier than most big media companies have publicly acknowledged so far. From Staci Kramer’s interview:

Asked about online advertising in that context, Staggs said: ‘Online advertising actually started to soften a little bit earlier than some of the other media outlets; not quite as early as local but not long thereafter. … It hasn’t necessarily softened as deeply but there’s the same sort of trend you’re seeing in other advertising areas.’ He attributes it to some advertisers questioning the efficacy of online advertising.”

Depending on whom you listen to, the local advertising market started falling off in late winter/early spring. So let’s say, for argument’s sake, that Disney noticed the softness in, say May or June. Again, the online ad market isn’t material to Disney’s business, so it wouldn’t be required to flag investors about that. But it would have been nice for the rest of us who follow the market.

While we’re at it, we’d love to know more about these advertisers who are “questioning the efficacy of online advertising.” Tom? Anyone?

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