If your market research indicates that people you’re targeting include Hulu viewers, then you might want to consider advertising on the popular video streaming service. Hulu advertising is a great way to promote your brand among people who are entertainment-focused and tech-savvy. In addition, millennials!
In this article, we’ll provide an overview of Hulu advertising and discuss the many different types of ads that you can run on Hulu.
Hulu Advertising: An Overview
When Hulu originated with commercials featuring Alec Baldwin telling us that it was a secret plot to take over the world, there probably weren’t too many digital marketers who thought: “Hey, I should advertise on that service!”
Times have changed.
Now, Hulu is considered a necessity to many Americans who love great entertainment. That’s not only because it provides on-demand TV for people who are too busy and whose schedules are too intense to watch a show only between 8 and 9 PM Eastern time, but also because it facilitates the increasingly popular habit of “binge watching.” That is, viewers can enjoy a whole season of a great TV show in one sitting.
Because Hulu attracts a lot of eyeballs, it also attracts advertisers. Some marketers think that Hulu is one of many great opportunities for building brand name awareness.
Hulu also “knows” important information about its viewership. That’s great news to any marketer who wants to target a specific demographic within the Hulu audience. Fortunately, Hulu allows advertisers to target “the right ad, to the right person, at the right time.”
Further, Hulu also offers its viewers choice-based ads. That means users can actually select the types of ads that they want to view. For example, somebody who’s interested in buying a new car might prefer a car ad instead of an ad about a hotel chain. If you opt to be in the choice-based ad circuit, your ad might be seen by fewer people, but it will also mean that the people who do see it will have an interest in what you’re selling.
The company also boasts of a “proprietary ad serving technology” that provides digital feedback about viewer habits and interests. As a result, Hulu promises to deliver ads that are “more relevant, more engaging, and ultimately more effective.”
Stats, Courtesy of Hulu
Hulu also offers stats about the effectiveness of ads run on its platform. Consider the source, and take this data with as much salt as you want.
- Thirty second video ads on Hulu generate a 61% increase in top-of-mind awareness and a 22% increase in purchase intent versus “linear TV” ads.
- Slates, or branded title cards that appear at the beginning of a show, are 106% better at building top-of-mind awareness than linear TV and 31% better at developing purchase intent.
- Video skins are also 106% better than linear TV at building top-of-mind awareness and 27% better at developing purchase intent.
- Hulu’s Branded Entertainment Selector (BES) allows users to choose between one long commercial at the beginning of the show or interruptions throughout the show. According to Hulu, BES is 189% better than linear TV at developing top-of-mind awareness.
- Hulu’s Ad Selector, a feature that allows viewers to choose their own ads, is 150% better than linear TV at developing unaided recall and 24% better at generating purchase intent.
The stats indicate that, if you’re planning on reaching an audience that loves television entertainment, you’re better off advertising on Hulu as opposed to taking out a traditional TV ad.
It’s been said that as long as there are codes, there will be codebreakers. You can also be sure that as long as there are ads, there will be ad blockers.
As the name implies, ad blockers are apps that prevent ads from being displayed. They’re known to be the source of nightmares for many digital marketers. The result may end up like something like this for viewers:
For starters, yes, ad blockers for Hulu exist. You can also be sure that there will be more sophisticated ad blockers for Hulu released in the future. That’s the nature of the industry.
Before you move forward with advertising on Hulu, develop a broad understanding of ad blockers and how they can impact your marketing efforts on the platform. Incorporate that information as part of your risk management strategy and decide how you should proceed.
If you’re looking for local advertising, don’t believe for a second that Hulu is going to leave you out in the cold. The company’s ad serving platform also supports local ads.
With local advertising, Hulu gives you a choice about how you specify the region. You can specify it by Nielsen DMA (a group of counties within an area where TV stations hold dominance of hours viewed), by state, or by zip code.
Local ads can also be interactive. That means viewers will engage with your marketing message online in a way that’s designed to build brand awareness. Be advised that interactive ads only work on desktops and laptops as of this writing, though.
The system is also set up to deliver local and national ads evenly. So, people you’re targeting for local advertisement will also see ads from national brands.
Finally, Hulu will guarantee category exclusivity within the local market.
Types of Ads on Hulu
Another great benefit of advertising on Hulu is that it offers different types of ad formats. That gives you the option to select the types of ads that match your budget and perform best for your target market.
Here are the ad formats that Hulu supports as of this writing.
The header isn’t a typo. You can actually run a commercial on Hulu that is exactly seven seconds long.
The seven-second option could be a great way to get started with Hulu advertising at an economical price. You can use the ad format to creatively and quickly build brand awareness to a Hulu audience.
One great way to use this ad format is to repurpose creative Vines that you’ve already used for marketing on social media. Vines are, at a maximum, six seconds in length. So, you can produce a video that includes the Vine plus a one-second splash that features your logo. You’ll have a new, seven-second ad suitable for Hulu.
15- or 30-Second Commercial
If you’re interested in a more “traditional” style of advertising to an audience that loves TV, you can always opt for the standard 30-second commercial. Hulu also gives you the option to run 15-second commercials as well.
As with the seven-second ad format, Hulu manages all the hosting, encoding, and streaming of the ad. It’s just up to you to produce the video.
Would you like to run an ad on Hulu but have limited assets and/or expertise when it comes to creating a quality ad? If so, then a Hulu Custom Video solution might be just what you’re looking for.
Using the custom video solution, you effectively hire Hulu to create the ad for you. According to Hulu, the ad will offer “the full spectrum of sight, sound, and motion.”
A Hulu Custom Video is a great way to get the ball rolling with video ads that require no production effort on your part.
With the Ad Selector, your ad is actually competing with other ads for eyeballs. Users are presented with two or three ad options that they want to view. They pick the one they like best.
The users select the ad based on a still picture that effectively acts as the thumbnail for the commercial. So, if you’re interested in getting people to watch your ad, get very creative with the thumbnail so that people are tempted to click on it. You can also offer a brief title for your ad within the thumbnail, so standard clickbait rules apply.
Branded Entertainment Selector (BES)
The BES option is similar to the Ad Selector, except that users are selecting one long ad at the beginning of the show instead of a variety of shorter ads throughout the show. It’s a great option if you’ve got a lengthy, but captivating commercial that you’d like to get in front of Hulu viewers.
Hulu doesn’t need much lead time on BES ads, either. In just 5-8 days, you can have your long ad up and running before your target market.
The downside here, though, is that BES ads are currently not available on mobile devices.
A Slate is a standard logo splash in still form that appears before the beginning of the show. You’ll need to run this type of ad with a standard video ad, though. The idea here is that Hulu is communicating a “This show is brought to you by…” message, which is why you also need a video ad.
The logo is shown for five to seven seconds. Hulu also provides the voiceover (with male or female options being available) so you don’t need to worry about running to Fiverr to find someone with a great voice who’s willing to say “Brought to you by…” into a microphone.
A Premium Slate is a seven-second video ad that appears before the show begins. So, instead of just seeing a static image with a logo on it, viewers will see a video production that will supplement your video ad.
As with standard Slates, Hulu will provide the “presented by” voiceover. You’ll also have the accompanying text thrown in for free as well.
The first of the video interactive options for Hulu advertisers is the Action Bar. That’s a standard banner-like ad that appears on the screen. The Hulu viewer clicks on the banner and the ad opens up. The ad itself might have further clickable options, such as showing a vehicle from different angles and different parts of the interior.
Action Bar ads are promoted by Hulu as a great way to promote one-time offers or brand incentives.
Keep in mind, though, that they are only available to desktop and laptop viewers.
You can think of Interactive Interstitials as Action Bar ads on steroids. They’re rich-media flash productions that run with or in place of a video commercial. If you’re looking for maximum engagement, these are the ads that you want to run.
With Interactive Insterstitials, you provide Hulu with what effectively amounts to an interactive website as your video ad. Your resources will include static images, videos, and links. Users will have the option to watch one or more of your videos as they click around your “website” within their Hulu experience. You can also send them to your own home page.
If you have absolutely no idea how to create your Interstitial Interactive experience, Hulu will provide you with a template that you can customize.
As with Action Bar ads, though, Interactive Interstitials only work on desktops and laptops.
If you’d like to build your social media following, Hulu offers an ad option called Social Connect.
With Social Connect, you can add a few clickable social media icons to the bottom of the screen. If the Hulu viewer clicks on the icon, he or she is taken to the relevant social media page.
This is yet another interactive option that only works on desktops and laptops.
Video With Ad Player Skin
If you’re looking to gain maximum exposure to a Hulu audience, consider the Video With Ad Player Skin. That’s an ad option that not only plays your ad in the video box, but also surrounds the video box with a graphic relevant to your brand. The ad is also interactive so viewers can click on a link to more fully engage with the ad.
As with the previous interactive ads, this one only works on desktops and laptops.
Companion ads are banner ads that appear alongside their video counterparts on Hulu. They give the user a clickable option if he or she wants to learn more about the brand being advertised.
Once again, it’s an interactive option so it’s only available on desktops and laptops.
Content Player Skin
If you want to build brand awareness with a still image that sits in the background of the video player while the viewer watches a great TV show, then consider the Content Player Skin.
Unlike the Ad Player Skin, the Content Player Skin stays in the background while the user’s content is being played. Effectively, that means your “commercial” will go on even when the program is streaming. It’s an excellent option for building top-of-mind awareness.
Once again, though, it’s only for desktops and laptops.
Interactive or Page Brand Placement
Thus far, we’ve mentioned ads that run when the viewer is streaming video. But what about when the user is browsing around on Hulu looking for something to watch? Fortunately, you can run ads that appear on Hulu’s genre or channel pages.
In this case, you’ll be running standard banner ads. However, when the user clicks the ad, Hulu can launch a video commercial that plays on the user’s screen.
Again, this type of ad is interactive so it’s only available for desktops and laptops.
Masthead Brand Placement
If you want to get your brand in front of wide swath of Hulu viewers, consider using the Masthead Brand Placement option. That puts your logo right on one of Hulu’s home pages. Viewers will see it alongside of advertisements for some popular TV shows that Hulu is recommending to its audience.
The good news is that this ad option works on all platforms.
Wrapping It Up
Hulu advertising can give you some great opportunities to build your brand. The video streaming company gives you a variety of options to reach your target audience in terms of when your ads run, the type of ads that appear, and who sees them. You can choose between banner ads, video ads, or some combination of the two. You can also run persistent background ads that stay in place while people are watching their favorite TV show. Finally, you can create interactive ads for increased engagement.
Evaluate the alternatives that Hulu offers and decide if it’s a marketing opportunity that you’d like to pursue.