Disney Online last week announced a hybrid advertising-commerce deal with BarnesandNoble.com that could well be a blueprint for the entertainment giant's future online. The company will shift its sales strategy from a one-dimensional advertising buying model-where a company is paying cash for banner placement-to a multi-tiered approach, where, for example, an online travel, music or credit card company is integrated into Disney's site.
"We are certainly focusing to handle more of these integrated strategic alliances," said Chuck Davis, senior vice president of Disney Online.
Also, though no cohesive sales program has been announced, sources said Disney Online would offer more synergy between ESPN Internet Ventures and ABCNews.com. Though these online ventures are operated out of the Disney empire, each controls its own sales and marketing programs; no packages have been created for advertisers.
The Barnes & Noble deal allows the company to be the exclusive bookseller of Disney books on Disney.com, with the creation of a Disney book boutique both on the Disney site and on Barnes & Noble's site. Disney will have its own button on the Barnes & Noble home page and both sites are extensively linked. Offline, Disney gets the added value of retail promotion in Barnes & Noble brick-and-mortar stores.
BarnesandNoble.com paid an advertising fee to Disney; both companies share in transaction revenue.
That arrangement is an extension of BarnesandNoble.com's Affiliate Network, where the book retailer creates co-branded marketing and bookselling initiatives for companies such as CondeNet, SportsZone and Time Inc. New Media. The Disney Online deal is the first time BarnesandNoble.com has extended an online relationship to offline.
"So far we've seen cash-up-front deals for people paying for an audience," said Melissa Bane, senior analyst at the Boston-based Yankee Group. "The Disney-BarnesandNoble.com deal shows emerging ways companies are finding to do exchanges and take things to a different level."