How does Hulu do it? What Hulu taught me about advertising

A good deal of my TV viewing is done through Hulu. If you are not familiar with the service, Hulu is bascially a web-based television — allowing you to watch the latest episodes of a number of popular TV programs through your computer. To boot, they have quite an archive of old favorites too; I enjoy the Alfred Hitchcock hour.

What intrigues me about Hulu is how many commercials I see when I watch a TV show online through the web. More appropriately, I should say that I am intrigued by how many fewer commercials Hulu has to show to pay for programming vs. conventional TV. On average, Hulu-hosted shows of 30 minutes have only 3-4 commercial breaks and they are all under 30 seconds each. On the high end, just 9% (2 minutes commercials for 22 minutes programming) of my viewing experience is spent watching commercials.

I suspect that Hulu has a firm grasp of what I am about to say next…. I watch nearly all of the commercials and in their entirety.

Why is this such a big deal?

Well, for one, I am a much better informed consumer in the eyes of the advertiser when watching TV through Hulu. If I were an advertiser and had to take my pick, Hulu would get the deal and for more money at that.

With convential TV, I know that I have 90 seconds, minimum, before I need to be back in front of the set. At commercial break, I rarely see the commercials because I am off doing something else. While a typical conventional TV broadcast spends nearly 27% of the time (8 minutes of every 30) showing TV commercials, I bet that the conversion rate for a typical TV commercial is pretty darn low. While I searched for conversion stats for both conventional and Hulu-based TV, I was not able to find anything comprehensive; I would love to see the numbers though, so if you have insight, please share!

In my experience,  Hulu is doing a much better job for their advertisers and conventional TV could learn a thing or two from them. Getting the consumer to absorb the ad and act is the name of the game. Hulu makes this happen by keeping it short. In turn, I am much less likely to leave during commercials. Also, because the commercials are so much less of an annoyance, I am less inclined to want to skip them.

Hulu, if you are listening, keep up the good work! I think we can all fall in love with fewer commercials and who doesn’t like watching their TV on their own schedule too?

P.S. to ABC: Your Linux computer users cannot watch your programming and having to install and use your clunky DRM viewer on Windows is both annoying and way too restrictive. Even on Windows, the experience is mediocre at best; streaming issues are par for the course and ruin the experience completely. Why not get with the program and license with Hulu instead? It may turn our brains to mush, but we will be so much happier in the end.

One Response to “How does Hulu do it? What Hulu taught me about advertising”

  1. […] weeks ago, I wrote about how much more effective Hulu is than conventional TV at getting me to watch commercials. PC World recently caught on too and wrote […]

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