Live-streaming TV services, like Hulu with Live TV, Sling TV, and PlayStation Vue, now account for more than three-quarters of all plays and viewing hours in the U.S, according to a report that came out last fall. This January, Hulu got another wave of good news when its annual report for 2018 revealed that advertising revenue grew 45% from 2017 to reach nearly $1.5 billion, and the average time subscribers spent on Hulu increased 20%.
But the company is not resting on its laurels. Hulu continues to innovate in the TV advertising field, rolling out two unique new ad formats just a few months apart. The latest, called Hulu “pause” ads, are a new “non-intrusive, viewer-initiated” ad unit that plays when viewers pause the show they’re watching, according to the company’s press release. Hulu is currently testing the ad with Coca-Cola and Charmin, and expects to make it generally available for select content by next quarter.
In a follow up to last year’s interactive ads that allows Hulu viewers to buy movie tickets from the ad they are watching, the company debuted another interactive ad this month, one that lets you get offers via email. Hulu again partnered with BrightLine for the development of this ad new format, which envisions interactivity – similar to that available today in online display advertising – as the future of TV commercials. Some of the possible actions that could be incorporated in interactive TV ads include allowing viewers to request coupons, schedule test drives or other appointments, sign up for newsletters, start planning a vacation, or get various product offers. The idea seems to be catching on: Hulu claims that interactive ad units drive a 50% increase in ad recall and a 45% increase in purchase intent.
Traditional TV networks are not standing still, either. In November 2018, NBC launched a program that makes TV ads more accessible to D2C brands, who can be scared off by high entry prices. Besides offering full technical and creative support, the program will measure results based on business outcomes, rather than on Nielsen demographics, another big change for the industry.
Measuring the effectiveness of TV is a challenge that EDO, a startup co-founded by actor and entrepreneur Edward Norton, is also taking on. The company plans to leverage its data-analytics service that measures how effectively TV ads drive consumer purchasing behavior. EDO buys anonymous consumer data from search engines and other online data providers, licenses TV metadata from Kantar Media and Nielsen/Gracenote, and it collects and estimates TV viewing data using proprietary models. Its clients include ESPN, Turner, NBCUniversal, Warner Bros., Lionsgate and Paramount.