I love Hulu.
In exchange for letting me watch high-quality, streamed episodes of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” for free, I’m required to sit through one short commercial (between 5 and 30 seconds) during every regular commercial-slot interval. There’s no way to skip through them.
I’m not annoyed by this at all. In fact, I’ll gladly watch these commercials just because I think Hulu’s service is great.
What’s awesome for the advertisers on Hulu is that if someone watches multiple episodes of a show, they’re going to see the same commercials over and over and be obligated to watch them. Frequency is an advertiser’s best friend. And the commercials are so brief that the viewer doesn’t have time to go make a sandwich or anything, so they’re going to see them.
In spite of Hulu making things better for both the viewer and the advertiser, they are still doing it all wrong. Why? Because Hulu is playing by the old rules.
Traditionally, ads on TV take the shotgun approach. Ad companies fire tons of marketing bullets at a big crowd without taking proper aim, and hope their message sticks with a few people. This is wildly inaccurate, hardly measurable, and a HUGE waste of money.
Hulu is only mildly improving this approach. The commercials they run are not competing with tons of other messages or being ignored in the clutter. So what’s the big deal? Hulu has screwed up because they treat the viewer like they’re watching the show on TV, instead of online. As a result, if you see an interesting ad by “Now what?” and you want to visit their site, you have to click out of the show you’re watching, open a new tab, then manually type in “nowwhat.com.” That’s too many unnecessary steps, which means the viewer is less likely to do it.
A simple partnership with Involver would fix this problem. Then user’s could click on the ad and go straight to the advertiser’s website, or do whatever the call-to-action is in the ad.
Another problem with treating Hulu like it’s using TV as its medium is that they’re ignoring the potential for permission marketing. Why not offer the member a chance to cut their commercials in half if they take a monthly survey? Find out their specific interests and then deliver more relevant ads to them in the future.
I know Hulu is young and still in the “we’ll take whatever advertising dollars we can get” phase, but they need to start taking advantage of the medium they’re on.