Some of the most interesting ads from Hulu may be the ones that aren’t on the streaming service.
The Walt Disney-owned video-streaming hub is launching a new commercial format aimed at prodding viewers to move to a smartphone or tablet screen and interact with the advertiser, whether that exchange means redeeming a coupon, examining a personalized offer or getting additional information about a product or service.
“For our brand partners, the power of this ad experience lies in its ability to give viewers a simple way to engage with brands and take action on their mobile device,” says Laura Nelson, senior vice president of cross portfolio solutions at Disney Advertising Sales, in a prepared statement. “Ultimately, this helps advertisers get closer to their conversion goals with streaming TV.” Hulu has dubbed the concept “GatewayGo,” and says SmileDirectClub, TheRealReal and Sweetgreen – three advertisers that rely more heavily on direct-to-consumer pitches than they do on video ads that promote consumer recall – are among the partners for the new ad experience.
Hulu launches the format as more media companies are experimenting with interactive ads, or commercials that ask the people who see them to take a follow-up action. On Amazon’s Fire hub, interactive commercials from Progressive Insurance, among others, have allowed subscribers to sample a themed collection of movies. NBCUniversal has in recent months been burnishing a “shoppable” video experience that lets viewers scan an on-screen code that takes them to a site via their device where a transaction can take place.
In recent years, Madison Avenue has come to crave evidence of a more direct link between the millions of dollars they spend in ads and the revenue those commercials are supposed to spur. Indeed, many media companies have begun to offer ad deals that are still based on some measure of the audience that sees the ads, but also on the desired actions consumers are supposed to take subsequently. These pacts might also include guarantees on foot traffic in car dealerships, visits to a specific web site, or tickets sold to a movie.
Citing surveys, Hulu said six of ten streaming viewers “would likely consider purchasing from the brand after redeeming an offer, among other things,” and noted that viewers who interact with an on-screen prompt can elect to have an offer sent to their mobile phone. “This experience builds the foundation for more bottom of the funnel ad experiences that will enable action, and ultimately, transaction, from viewers,” says Jeremy Helfand, who oversees advertising platforms for Disney’s interactive technology business, in a statement.
The new product is one of the first from Hulu after it has been made more a part of Walt Disney, which took control of the property in May of 2019. In exchange for gaining control, Disney agreed to trigger a sale or purchase of Comcast’s one-third stake in the venture by January of 2024. Hulu’s ad sales were once supervised by an executive at the site itself, but have been made a part of Disney’s overall outreach to potential sponsors.
Disney previously announced that it will release an advertising product it calls Disney Hulu XP, which will give advertisers a chance to place their commercials across both Hulu and Disney’s TV networks – the first time the company has made possible buying both products under a single plan.