Disney trademarks D-BEACON for entertainment, broadcasting, wireless services

Walt Disney Co. may be developing a multiplatform video measurement system called D-BEACON that could allow it to track video consumption through pay TV services, mobile devices and the Web, recent patent and trademark applications obtained by The Donohue Report indicate.

Disney filed three trademark applications for the brand D-BEACON on Sept. 25. In addition to reserving the right to use D-BEACON for entertainment, communications and wireless services, Disney said it wants to use D-BEACON for “beacons, sensors, communications devices, broadcasting devices and devices for wireless transmission.”

A recent patent application filed by Disney Enterprises describes how Disney may be able rely on beacons transmitted by televisions and mobile devices to track how viewers consume video programming, advertising and “short media content.”

The patent application, titled “Video Optimizer for Determining Relationships Between Events,” outlines how Disney could use data generated by the beacons to gauge the effectiveness of both programming and advertising, and the relationships between content and advertising viewed on multiple devices.

“The relationships can help determine if certain media drives audience to other media. Thus, the relationships may be used to determine an advertisement strategy or campaign, the efficiency or success of certain types of advertising, program scheduling, and desirable placement of media content,” Disney states in the patent application.

Disney says that the beacons would transmit information about the media that is viewed and the time of viewing to a server. “The server receiving the beaconing data may be data storage and processing server, a Web-based analytic server, such as Adobe Omniture,” Disney states in the patent application.

Tim Hanlon, CEO of investment advisory and strategic consulting firm The Vertere Group, said Disney appears developing a “relational ratings” system. Hanlon described the Disney invention as a “kissing cousin” to the telescopic showcase ads that TiVo developed a decade ago, where viewers watching a commercial from advertisers such as BMW could access a long-form ad by pressing the thumbs up button on their TiVo remotes.

Hanlon, an advanced advertising expert who worked previously for StarCom MediaVest Group, said StarCom developed a number of interactive Disney ads for the TiVo platform that allowed viewers to access long-form content.

Disney was also one of the first advertisers to run video-on-demand showcase ads. In 2007, it launched Disney Travel On Demand on cable systems owned by Cablevision and Time Warner Cable. Disney used the channel to market Disney Cruise Line and trips to Walt Disney World and Disney Land.

Disney, which owns ESPN, ABC, and several other cable and broadcast networks, has been one of the largest programmers to embrace distribution on new platforms. While CEO Bob Iger has told investors that Disney expects to generate significant growth in advertising through TV Everywhere Web sites and mobile applications such as WatchESPN, Iger has said that multiplatform measurement needs to be improved.

Hanlon said Disney’s invention could help the media giant monetize programming delivered to multiple screens. “This sounds like one way to evolve the business model so at least one or more of these consumption environments can actually be monetized,” he added.

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