Hulu Introduces Binge Ads for High-Volume Viewers: NewFronts '19

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After launching pause ads in January, Hulu is back with a new streaming ad innovation: binge ads. Hulu's subscribers love binging, the company said today at its 2019 newfront, and binge ads can recognize when a show is being binged and provide a tailored ad experience. For example, viewers might get to watch the next show ad-free or receive a personalized offer. This ad format will debut in beta in Q4, then expand to all advertisers sometime in 2020.

News 1Nearly 50% of its ad-supported hours are binged, Hulu says, and 40% of its subscribers binge more than one series in a month.

Hulu will also introduce a promotional program called Friends With Benefits, where browsers will see fake shows hidden among program listings. If they click on one, it will reveal a special offer for a product or service. In an example shown, clicking on a show about flowers revealed an offer for a free bouquet from a floral delivery service.

To ensure Hulu viewers have a positive experience with ads, the company announced it's capping all ad breaks to 90 seconds, and ensuring no ad is viewed by one subscriber more than twice an hour or four times a day.

Hulu also announced that it's pause ads, currently in testing with a select group of advertisers, will be open to all takers starting in August.

Hulu is known for having one of the more challenging user interfaces, which it acknowledged by announcing that changes are coming. This summer, subscribers will see more titles on the screen when browsing. The company says it only has 60 seconds to help people make a choice and wants to help them find something before they look elsewhere.

Subscribers will soon have the option to subscribe to Disney+ and ESPN+ as add-ons. Not a surprise since Disney is the majority owner of Hulu.

Hulu announced it now has 28 million total customers and 58 million ad-supported viewers. Their median age is 31, and 21 million viewers are cord-cutters or cord-nevers.

Other hightlights from the day's newfronts:

Vudu

Starting July 1, Vudu will offer campaign targeting using first-person data from parent company Walmart. Called the Audience Extension Network, it can reach over 50% of U.S. households with addressable ads, Vudu said at its newfront. The platform's reach will go beyond Vudu, running across a network of OTT and CTV platforms (Vudu will reveal exactly which platforms in the coming months). It will support direct and programmatic sales, as well as frequency capping. It will also also provide post-campaign sales performance data to verify effectiveness.

Vice

While most publishers presenting during NewFront Week tout their brand safety, Vice is railing against it. Overly-strict brand safety concerns have a censoring effect and are bad for diversity, the company said. It will no longer allow advertisers to blacklist the following 25 words and phrases in the name of brand safety: bisexual, gay, LGBTQ, transgender, HIV, lesbian, gender, queer, feminist, pregnant, interracial, Middle Eastern, Arab, Asian, Latina/o, Jewish, Muslim, Islamic, Christian, hijab, global warming, climate change, refugee, immigrant, overweight/fat.

"Bias should not be the collateral damage of our much-needed brand safety efforts," said Cavel Khan, senior vice president for client partnerships, at the Vice NewFront. "We invite you to join us in correcting our industry's brand safety system."

Photo: Christopher Abbott, Kyle Chandler, and George Clooney promote Catch-22 at the Hulu NewFront.

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