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Disney Streaming's Elisa Charbonnel talks growth, skills, & uniting brand with performance marketing

Our conversation with Elisa Charbonnel is a part of our advertiser speaker series. Editorial interviews with leading marketers are made possible by our partner Partnerize.

Stream the discussion here.

At the start of her career, Elisa Charbonnel – now the director of Global Paid Media at Disney Streaming – was spending many of her nights and weekends at the office at Goldman Sachs. She’d initially planned on pursuing corporate law and had never pictured herself working at an investment bank.

“I felt pretty disconnected from the consumer base I was working with,” Charbonnel said, adding that she'd long been curious about the direct-to-consumer space. After researching her options, she took a job at an e-commerce company called Jet, which was acquired by Walmart in 2016. Her first role was to manage Jet's toys and games marketplace – a position that she credits for helping her learn how to drive growth for a business.

“I view it as my own version of an MBA degree, which I never ended up pursuing because I had that experience instead,” Charbonnel said. The lessons from Jet built on the analytical skills she gained at Goldman Sachs, she said.

When she first started at Disney, the idea of a direct-to-consumer strategy was still a relatively new one. Disney+ launched in the U.S. about three years ago.

Disney now has four streaming services: Hulu, Disney+, ESPN+ and Star+ that reach more than 235 million subscribers. Disney+ is also on the brink of launching ad-supported plans, representing another “major pivot” for the business and the marketing perspective.

“We’re continuing to offer consumers more choice, which I think is a good thing,” she said.

That transformation and growth has also led to an expansion of the Disney Streaming marketing team.

Many team members have agency backgrounds, while others have experience with more traditional, programmatic channels.

“We find that those folks who’ve supported a wide range of client bases and producers across subscriptions or other e-commerce or more traditional verticals have a really sophisticated skillset,” she said. “They’re able to apply those learnings and that experience to the subscription and streaming world.”

Disney Streaming also looks for employees with sharp analytical skills and the ability to make data-driven decisions as well as those with experience working with global products. Team members should be able to dig into numbers, interpret results and be sensitive to the different cultural priorities of various markets, Charbonnel said.

Historically, branding and performance were often siloed and not working in tandem, Charbonnel said. (Even the headquarters for those teams were on different coasts.) Though the two have different sets of KPIs, they are increasingly aligning their marketing strategies to strike the right balance of investment from both sides.

For example: the company has developed a new t-shirt sizing exercise to identify what t-shirts should be prioritized to maximize consumer awareness for the release of big titles like “The Mandalorian” or “Hocus Pocus 2.”

“We try not to compete with each other and that requires more coordination and to requires us consolidate our plan so we’re approaching partners and publishers as one Disney organization,” Charbonnel said.

The affiliate team is also working more closely with the display programmatic team to view the total spend in a more holistic way, she said. The teams have even coined a new term for the hybrid channel: “aff-play.”

As the industry continues to grow and evolve, it’s all the more important for team members to stay curious and prioritize out-of-the-box thinking, Charbonnel said. And her advice to marketers: Don’t forget to also market yourself and your skillsets.

“Pursue jobs that interest you and don’t feel that you’re boxed into the first industry that start your career in,” she said. “Had I done that, would not have made it here today."

Stream the full conversation here, courtesy of Partnerize.

Stream our past advertiser speaker series interviews below:

Jon Leiberman, VP of Content, Social & Influencer at Demandbase talks about how crucial content is for B2B Marketing.

Ian Yung, SVP of Growth at Tonal on what the role of a growth leader is and why it is important.

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