Hulu lets its subscribers choose the show they want to see. Now the video-streaming service is increasingly letting users choose to respond to certain commercials right away.
A commercial from Sleep Number, the manufacturer of the bed with an adjustable mattress, that has run on Hulu for the past several weeks allows viewers to request a promotional offer from the advertiser be sent to the email that is associated with the subscriber’s Hulu account. Hulu and BrightLine, the interactive-advertising company that helped create the commercial, believe interactivity can be utilized to make commercials that allow a viewer to request coupons, schedule a test drive, schedule a tax appointment, sign up for a newsletter, start planning a vacation, or get various product offers.
As more consumers adopt streaming services,”you can imagine the adoption curve for people transacting and buying through digital mechanisms is only going to go up,”says Peter Naylor, senior vice president of advertising sales for Hulu, “We continue to train the audience that spots are going to be interactive.” According to Hulu research, interactive ad units a 50% increase in ad recall and a 45% increase in purchase intent.
Hulu is latching on to technology that has been in play in more traditional media for some time. Earlier this decade, for instance, Cablevision – now part of Altice – devoted bandwidth to cable channels that were essentially interactive pages sponsored by advertisers. Subscribers could use a remote control to input information that would spur a phone call from employees of Walt Disney Co. to help plan a trip to one of the entertainment company’s vacation parks. Or they could ask Royal Caribbean to send info about a rewards program. In 2010, Mattel ran interactive efforts on Cablevision, Dish and AT&T’s U-versethat let them stream videos about Barbie, play games and request information be sent to them.
Consumers who adopt video streaming do so in part because they can watch many of their TV favorites without having to suffer the interruption of a traditional commercial break. But they may not mind “place-shifting” for an interactive ad unit that allows them to seek out more information if they desire it, suggests Rob Aksman, a co-founder of BrightLine who is its chief experience officer.