Staying Connected with Consumers in Today’s Climate

It’s no surprise that people are leveraging technology in new ways during the current state of physical distancing. They are working remotely, connecting with friends over virtual happy hours, streaming more video content across all devices, and replacing traditional brick-and-mortar shopping trips with online alternatives.

We’re all going through challenges as we adjust to this new normal. And just as people look to stay connected to their friends, family and colleagues, advertisers are searching to understand the best way to connect with their customers during this time.

In an effort to provide some clarity to these questions, Hulu connected with our current viewers to understand how their lives have been impacted by COVID-19 and how advertisers can best connect with them. Here’s a look at what we learned:

It’s No Surprise that TV and Movie Watching is Increasing

As part of adapting to a virtual-first world, 87% of Hulu viewers shared that they are watching more TV and movies. Viewers shared that watching content:

When it comes to content choices, Hulu viewers noted that they are finding comfort in watching comedies, movies, and kids content. In fact, some titles that have experienced big lifts include Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Rick and Morty, and Little Fires Everywhere among others. For more content insights, check out Streaming TV in the Age of Physical Distancing on our Hulu Insights page.

Consumers Are Craving Normalcy and Connection

Consumers are craving “outlets of normalcy” during this changing time. As people engage more with media, they seek a connection with brands and see continued advertising as a sign of normalcy. This came to light in a recent Ipsos study which focused on brand and audience messaging, as well as how advertisers can optimize communications in today’s climate. The results showed that consumers still want to hear from advertisers and they expect companies to continue communication.

Consumers Want to See How Companies are Managing the COVID-19 Situation

Hulu viewers resoundingly (99%) value companies that are jumping in to help with the COVID-19 crisis. Specifically, they appreciate when companies:

Whether donating money or services, producing personal protective equipment or donating supplies to a food bank, 99% of Hulu viewers feel that companies should use their resources to help with the current COVID-19 crisis. One viewer shared:

“I believe that the most important thing that companies should do right now is help in the effort to fight the virus. Whether that is making things for hospitals or helping every-day people cope.”

Regardless of how the brand is offering hospitable donations or actions, 91% of Hulu viewers agree that companies should inform people of what they are doing to combat the Coronavirus.

“Companies number one priority should be the well-being and stability of customers and employees. We are all affected by this.”

In addition, Hulu viewers shared that they appreciate when companies offer free shipping (75%) and discounts/promotional codes (69%) in their advertisements.

Industry Example: How Restaurants are Maintaining Connection & Shifting the Narrative

Focusing on the restaurant industry specifically, we’ve seen many brands shift their advertising narrative from encouraging customers to visit restaurants, to now promoting delivery or take-out, and ordering through the restaurant’s online services.

A recent study by EDO, Inc. provided ad effectiveness insights into how advertisers are pivoting advertising narratives during this time and how those shifts are impacting consumer engagement. This research showed that some restaurants have gone dark with advertisements post March 23, 2020 (COVID-19 benchmark), and have seen a dramatic decrease in their offline search engagement (i.e. uptick in search following an ad airing) than before the COVID-19 outbreak.

Meanwhile, several other quick service chain restaurants have redirected their advertising efforts and increased frequency post March 23, 2020. In turn, these restaurants have seen significant increases in offline search engagement.

The research also uncovered significant performance improvements in brands that are promoting offers and direct acknowledgment of lifestyle changes.

These examples show that maintaining an advertising presence, adjusting messaging and offering discounts leads to increased brand engagement.

What Best Practices Should Advertisers Leverage Right Now?

The COVID-19 crisis is affecting all businesses and categories differently. We acknowledge that all companies may not be able to follow these best practices at this time, but when possible, advertisers should:

  • Continue advertising to maintain a connection with their customers
  • Showcase to customers how brands are helping with the COVID-19 crisis
  • Consider adjusting creative messaging to give customers discounted offers

Note: This does not necessarily mean that brands need to build new ads from scratch. Tweaks can be small, like adding a new voice-over or updating an end card on existing creative.

Now more than ever, maintaining connection with your audience (or with consumers) is key. As we continue to navigate through this difficult time, it is encouraging to see so many people and companies coming together to support the greater good. It’s clear that we’re all in this together!


Andy_69_C3100_HEP_9x15_648x1080px
Andy-Goldberg
ANDY GOLDBERG
SVP, Global Brand Planning & Content
American Express
The first ad I remember:
Fruit Loops with Toucan Sam
My favorite TV show of all time:
Impossible to name just one but Friday Night Lights is on the all-time list.
I’m here to:
Connect with others on the potential of streaming … how things are changing so rapidly and how brands can be at the forefront of amazing content.

Q: What does native frame rate mean?

A: Native frame rate refers to the frame rate the source footage was shot. Whenever possible, we require all videos to be delivered in their native frame rate. This means that no frame rate conversion should be performed, which includes adding 3:2 pulldown for broadcast.

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On living room, mobile, and tablet devices, the color gradient overlay is dynamic and will change based on the cover story art. It is not something we can control on our end.

If the tagline/date messaging doesn’t fit within the 11 syllables max, it can be included as text.

On living room, mobile, and tablet devices, the color gradient overlay is dynamic and will change based on the cover story art. It is not something we can control on our end.

  • No symbols such as registered marks, copyrights, etc.
  • If symbols are required, they will be presented in standard text such as" Brand (TM)".

Q: When is letterboxing allowed and not allowed?

A: When the native aspect ratio is 1.78:1 or 1.33:1 throughout the entire program, there should not be any letterboxing (black bars on top and bottom), nor should there be any pillarboxing (black bars on either side). We should should see an active picture take up the full frame. If the aspect ratio is wider than 1.78:1, such as 2.35:1, matting on the top and bottom is permissible. Additionally, if there is a creative choice to add matting or if there is a mix of native aspect ratios, this is usually waived, but please reach out to your Hulu representative to confirm.

Q: Should the bitrate be constant if delivering ProRes codec?
A: No, since ProRes codec is built to be variable, this is waived.

Q: Can you accept bitrate higher than 30 Mbps?
A: Yes, we can accept bitrate beyond the recommended range for H.264 and ProRes. In the case of ProRes, bitrate will often exceed 30 Mbps due to its variable setting.

Q: Why do you ask for progressive?

A: The Hulu player, unlike traditional broadcast, does not play back interlace scan, so we require that all videos be delivered with their scan type set to progressive. If your video is natively interlaced, you must de-interlace it to progressive and you must employ a de-interlace filter that does not result in blending or ghosting artifacts. We recommend an auto-adaptive de-interlace if available.

Alex_48_C3100_HEP_9x15_648x1080px
Alex-Lopez
ALEX LOPEZ
Head of Global Brand Communications & Narrative
Nike
The first ad I remember:
Mike & Spike (Air Jordan)
My favorite TV show of all time:
Sports, The Simpsons, The Sopranos, or anything else that starts with “S”.
I’m here to:
Get inspired, build some knowledge, and have some laughs along the way.

Q: Why do you prefer PCM codec?

A: PCM codec is lossless audio quality, so whenever possible, please deliver PCM audio.

Play Video

Q&A With
Gadi Amit

Founder, New Deal Design

Gadi: The development of serendipity in recommendations is very important. An analogy I use is that of a restaurant. If you go to a good restaurant, you don’t always want to see what you’re looking for. You’re looking for surprises. It’s not the expected, it’s the unexpected. You trust in the restaurant’s atmosphere. You don’t know exactly what you’re getting, but you trust their creativity and that you’ll enjoy whatever they serve you.

Do you think it is possible for a streaming service to become that “restaurant” - a trusted source of serendipitous recommendations?

Gadi: I absolutely do. But it is difficult. It’s a long game. It requires them to build trustworthiness with audiences through genuine content recommendations over the years.

Q&A With
Gandi Amit

Found New Deal Design

Gandi: The development of serendipity in recommendations is very important. An analogy I use is that of a restaurant. If you go to a good restaurant, you don’t always want to see what you’re looking for. You’re looking for surprises. It’s not the expected, it’s the unexpected. You trust in the restaurant’s atmosphere. You don’t know exactly what you’re getting, but you trust their creativity and that you’ll enjoy whatever they serve you.

Do you think it is possible for a streaming service to become that “restaurant” -- a trusted source of serendipitous recommendations?

Gandi: I absolutely do. But it is difficult. It’s a long game. It requires them to build trustworthiness with audiences through genuine content recommendations over the years.

Q&A With
Jonathan Miranda

Emerging Strategy Principal, Salesforce

Another expectation among younger generations seems to be personalization. How are you seeing this play out in media?

Jonathan: If you go into the world of advertising and marketing, customized, personalized advertising is more important than ever before. There’s a realization that eight years of funny commercials that we’ve showed everybody probably for the fourth time, doesn’t work anymore. So there’s a lot of companies moving towards specialized advertising.

How does this type of personalization translate to personalizing content beyond advertising? Who’s going to predict what people will want to watch, and do it first?

Jonathan: It’s not about being the first to predict what people want to watch. It's different. It’s about getting viewers to browse. You want to show them the value of all of the money Hulu has spent and the great range of TV and film for them to choose from.

Q&A With
Julie DeTragila

Head of Research & Insights, Hulu

Julie: There are vast differences between the way under 35-year-olds watch TV and over 35-year-olds watch TV. I grew up in a world where there were maybe 10 channels, and my viewing changed as technology and options changed. Younger viewers started from a really different place. Everything has always been on-demand. Anything they ever wanted to see was available to them, and they therefore have different expectations for TV.

How so?

Julie: One of the things we found with Gen Z is that they really want to be immersed in something for a long time. They want to have content that they can live with for a while; it’s like this long, seamless storytelling. They’ll knock off a couple episodes a night and it will last a couple of months. And then they’ll re-watch it a million times over.

What other shifts have you seen happen-with Gen Z but also more broadly-with the rise of streaming?

Julie: For years, television had to deliver a specific rating. Shows had to appeal broadly or else they wouldn’t survive. And those days are long gone because, with streaming services, shows can reach hundreds of thousands of people or tens of thousands of people and still be considered successful. There’s more experimentation with the types of content; we’re not locked into an hour, a half hour, a comedy, etc. The industry can create really niche shows to appeal to niche audiences, but also simultaneously create big, broad experiences that are shared by millions.

Q&A With
Larissa May

Founder, #HalftheStory

Your work focuses a lot on Gen Zs who, for better or worse, are dubbed “digital natives.” How do you think a generation of digitally native audiences view digital content differently than older generations?

Larissa: I think for young people digital content is a way they’re able to explore their own identities through the story... They want to see themselves and their stories in the content that they’re engaging with.

Tell us a little more about this digital content as Gen Z’s form of self-reflection.

Larissa: Digital content is sort of like a currency. I find that young people want to watch things that their friends are watching so that they can have conversations about it. For example, with Euphoria, young people were just kind of in love with the characters. It was very timely and a bit provocative, and then there was a way that they could see themselves in these stories and connect with their friends about the topics and ideas in the show.

And then also they could almost embody these characters in their own life. I really do think that the TV shows that young people are buying into are actually influencing their culture and their trends and even their language that they’re using.

Q&A With
Richard Frankel​

Global Creative Director, Spotify

What does the future of personalization look like?

Richard: I think it’s all down to trust. We're going to see more opportunity on platforms like Hulu and Spotify where the user trusts us.

That’s really interesting. Another area we wanted to explore is podcasts, and their relationship to video. For example, the show Homecoming is an adaptation of a podcast; the podcast Office Ladies is a spin-off from a TV show. Why do you think the two formats work so well together?

Richard: Anything at all that drives conversation in pop culture, and TV does a lot of that, is worthy of consideration in a podcast environment. Any of these conversations can become multiple audio streams that evolve with experts, interviews, and all kinds of narrative threads that can flesh out characters, or narrative development, or whatever's happening in those shows.

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