Disney's media networks to develop ad, research lab

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The Media Networks division of The Walt Disney Company announced the development of an emerging media and advertising research lab in conjunction with Professor Duane Varan, a global authority on the future of television and advertising. Developed to better understand the emotional drivers of audience behavior and physiological reactions to advertising, this state-of-the-art research lab will utilize sound empirical research methods to test traditional and alternative models for advertising. The facility will conduct year-round tests using the most advanced research techniques – including biometric measurement tools — to evaluate engagement and emotional responses to advertising across media platforms.


The lab network plan is based on a hub-node design, where the central hub will program and execute tests at regional node facilities. The first node facility will be a 3000+ square foot lab to be built in Austin, Texas, which will test a variety of advertising executions like interactivity, split screens, brand integration, sponsorships, addressable advertising, broadband video and mobile devices. The facility will also feature a small theater, multiple viewing suites, as well as an adjacent observation lounge.

 “By coupling Disney Media Networks’ top-quality content with advanced new research practices, we have an important opportunity to further explore the connection that viewers of all ages have with our entertainment, news and sports programming,” said Anne Sweeney, president, Disney-ABC Television Group and co-chair, Disney Media Networks. “We look forward to working with Duane to learn more about the viewing experience across audiences and, in doing so, to heighten its value for the public, our advertising and distribution partners, and the industry as a whole.”

Professor Varan is the executive director of the Interactive Television Research Institute and holds the inaugural Chair in New Media at Murdoch University in Perth, Australia. He also oversees Beyond :30 – a collaborative industry research project focused on understanding the interactive viewer and exploring emerging models for TV advertising.