By Yuyu Chen
The online streaming service has introduced a new ad format called "custom integrated commercial," will add programmatic to its ad arsenal, and is investing heavily in content.
Hulu is looking to monetize its growing user base by developing new advertising innovations and adding additional exclusive streaming rights to its subscription service.
The online video service has approximately 9 million subscribers, up 50 percent from 2014, said Hulu chief executive (CEO) Mike Hopkins at the brand’s NewFront/Upfront presentation in New York City. Within the first three months of this year, total streams on the platform have increased by 77 percent and on average, each Hulu viewer is watching at least 30 percent more content.
In order to monetize its growing user base, Hulu has introduced a new ad offering called "custom integrated commercials," which are 30-second spots that aim to integrate brands' values with the values of Hulu, said Peter Naylor, the platform's senior vice president of advertising sales, during the NewFront/ Upfront.
Additionally, over the next few years, Hulu will roll out Programmatic Ad Buying, a new service that will enable brands to combine their first-party data with Hulu's data to better target their consumers.
"We are adding programmatic to our advertising arsenal," said Naylor. "Hulu programmatic means two things for us: media automation and data. So we are preparing to marry our data with yours to provide the most effective target solution for your brand."
The company also introduced Hulu Insights, a data-driven solution, to help brands measure Hulu viewers across all their connected devices.
Advertising innovations aside, Hulu also unveiled big investments in content at its NewFront/ Upfront. The streaming service has signed a multi-year deal with AMC Networks, which will start with exclusive streaming rights for Fear The Walking Dead, the upcoming companion series to The Walking Dead. Hulu has also acquired the exclusive subscription video on-demand rights to all episodes of the iconic comedy series Seinfeld.
The platform is also investing in original video content, including 11/22/63 produced by J.J. Abrams, Difficult People featuring Julie Klausner and Billy Eichner, as well as Casual and The Way.
These content advancements are likely to help Hulu attract more ad dollars, according to two marketing executives from agency Mindshare, who attended Hulu's NewFront/ Upfront.
"Hulu now has a competitive advantage because they are tapping into big television networks to bring star power. And stars bring audiences," says Joe Maceda, managing director of Invention Studio, Mindshare North America.
"Seinfeld, South Park, Empire, and AMC originals are content people want to watch. Obviously our clients will be looking to surround iconic shows like Seinfeld. But the question is if they would be interested in [Hulu] originals as well," Greg Manago, executive producer of Mindshare Content+ and Entertainment, adds.
From an advertiser's perspective, Mango thinks that shows like Seinfeld will give Hulu a competitive edge and bring more brands to the platform.
"I saw this morning that actors and creatives probably have more power today than they ever had before in Hollywood. Data and insights kind of drive that. But the question is why people choose to go to Hulu rather than Netflix and HBO? The answer is creative," he says. "They bought all the Seinfeld reruns this morning. I think our entire team may migrate to Hulu now just because of the show."