Hulu Pacts with Facebook’s LiveRail to Sell Ads Based on User Data

Hulu’s ads are going “programmatic”: The Internet TV site is launching an invitation-only ad-buying marketplace powered by Facebook’s LiveRail, to let marketers target ads using data about who’s watching the video.

According to Hulu, the new programmatic system will result in more relevant ads — ideally, boosting the effectiveness of the spots. The capability will be available for Hulu’s inventory across desktop, mobile and connected-TV devices.

“The marketplace has shown that data is overwhelmingly the new currency,” said Peter Naylor, Hulu’s SVP of advertising, in announcing the initiative.

At the same time, Hulu has been mulling the prospect of launching a higher-priced ad-free version of the service. YouTube, for its part, also is cooking up a subscription service without any ads.

The Hulu programmatic ad system uses LiveRail’s Video Private Exchange (VPX) to broker deals directly with advertisers in an automated fashion, calculating the value of individual impressions on the fly, according to the companies. Facebook bought LiveRail last summer, reportedly paying more than $400 million for the firm. Hulu also is using Oracle’s Data Management Platform, which lets marketers customize campaigns with criteria about their desired target audience.

Hulu’s adoption of programmatic ad buying — already used by many major Internet publishers — drew words of support from IPG Mediabrands’ Universal McCann and Magna Global units.

“Hulu’s investment in the future of data-driven technology with its new programmatic solution reinforces the company’s continued commitment to the advertising community and its viewers,” said Vin Paolozzi, Magna’s SVP of marketplace development and investment.

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