Introducing Hulu Ad Manager: A Self-Service Advertising Solution for Streaming TV

As more customers “cut the cord” from traditional TV in favor of streaming services, how should businesses change up their advertising strategies to ensure they’re also reaching this new kind of audience? To answer this need, Hulu is proud to announce our new self-service ad solution, Hulu Ad Manager: a new way for businesses of all sizes to affordably launch, manage, and track their own streaming television ads, for a minimum spend of $500.

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This user-friendly tool makes it easy to include streaming ads in your overall marketing strategy. Simply create an account, submit your video ad and, once you’re approved, you will be ready to reach thousands of potential customers!

We sat down with our own, Matt Koontz, Director of Product Management, to help spell out the benefits of Hulu’s self-service advertising solution, how it works, and answer questions about how businesses can get the most out of this new service.

What led to the creation of Hulu’s self-service ad management solution?

Matt Koontz: At Hulu, we take a viewer-first approach to everything we build, including our ad products. Our research has shown us that running a variety of ads, rather than the same ones over and over again, produces a better overall viewer experience. By putting viewers first, we’ve seen viewers watch more content on Hulu and the more content they watch, the more engaged they are with ads, which directly leads to better business results for advertisers.

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While we enjoy collaborating with the top 200 brands in the US, we also want to accommodate smaller companies with more modest budgets. So, we built a simple ad buying toolset that lets us substantially lower the budget required to get started advertising on our platform. We’re really excited for this launch as it will contribute to an improved experience for our viewers—and translate into a new marketing channel that will help smaller brands grow their business.

What challenges will this platform solve for advertisers?

MK: We want to help businesses of all sizes reach their target audience, not just large companies. Many of today’s consumers are choosing to stream their entertainment—which has created a new avenue for businesses to reach their audience. By providing an easy way to engage with customers through their preferred media, we’re helping businesses close the gap.

However, traditional tv commercials are often cost-prohibitive and super complicated for smaller businesses. We took a page from the playbook of other large scale digital platforms in order to develop a self-service solution that opens up TV advertising to practically every brand at an affordable entry point. For example, our campaign minimum is $500, which is meaningfully less than many other premium streaming services and more approachable than traditional TV. This lowers the barrier to entry and presents a great opportunity for businesses to bring more customers their way.

Why should businesses advertise on streaming TV?

MK: Well, the simple reason to advertise on streaming TV is that it’s where many of a business’ prospects and customers are consuming content. eMarketer has predicted that over 25 percent of households in the U.S. will ditch their set-top boxes by 2023. We’ve experienced the growth first-hand at Hulu too. In just the past two years, ad-supported viewers on Hulu have doubled. And, they’re spending more of their time watching too. Year over year, we’re seeing an increase of 61% in time spent watching streaming content.

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Streaming is an endemic trend in the entertainment industry, and while we’re still in the early days of that transition, not including streaming ads as part of your broader marketing strategy means losing out on potential customer engagement. So, at the end of the day, if you aren’t currently adding streaming TV to your marketing mix, your business might be left behind as your competition takes advantage of the opportunity. Streaming TV advertising will eventually be a mainstay of every marketer’s investment plan, so the opportunity here is for smaller advertisers to get started and learn how to take advantage of the best storytelling medium out there.

For decades, TV has been a very strong channel for marketers to create general brand awareness. Seasoned marketers already familiar with traditional television opportunities will find that our platform is easy to use and offers up-to-date performance metrics available right in your campaign dashboard. For more digital-native marketing types, Hulu’s Ad Manager will feel approachable and similar to the tools they use on other platforms.

How will advertisers benefit from using this ad management platform?

MK: Hulu Ad Manager, our self-service solution, affords businesses an opportunity to reach their audiences with measurability and reporting that just isn’t available with traditional television ads. We’re bringing the power of digital to TV advertising.

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Hulu is dedicated to constantly learning more about who is watching our shows, customer viewing patterns, demographics, and granular audience segments (such as age, gender, and interests). Now brands will be able to use our in-depth knowledge and apply it to their own advertising strategy. By knowing more about who’s watching and exactly how many views their ads receive, advertisers can get in front of their ideal audience by having their ads matched with relevant show genres and movies as well as viewer preferences.

Why choose Hulu’s self-service ad management solution?

MK:

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How does the self-service solution work and how can you get started using it?

MK: This solution enables brands to purchase ad inventory on Hulu directly through the platform —hence “self-service.” By automating certain aspects of the process, we’re providing businesses of all sizes with an efficient platform that gives them the ability to create, launch, and track the performance of their ads.

Right now, we are in the beta testing stage to make sure we have all of the features and functionality advertisers will need to be successful. You’re invited to apply for this testing group by filling out this form on our website. We will be reviewing applications to ensure interested advertisers are a good fit with our Beta program structure, then invite folks to use the platform on a rolling basis.

Once on the platform, you can quickly set up a campaign – select the dates you’d like your ads to run, your target audience (who you want to see your ads), upload your own video ad for approval, submit your payment info, and you’re ready to go! Our product is designed to be very straightforward and easy-to-use.

It’s important to keep in mind that your ad’s video quality must meet Hulu’s tech specifications and ad policies. Remember that we’re a premium content destination that our viewers love and we expect our ads to reflect the standards of our community. This ends up working out well for advertisers and viewers as better ad creative also leads to better business results for marketers.

Any final thoughts to share?

MK: Hulu’s self-service advertising solution for streaming television provides an excellent opportunity for an underserved slice of the market to take charge of their own streaming service advertising. We look forward to finally getting it into the hands of businesses looking to expand their reach.


The use of Graphik is acceptable in cases where the Client cannot supply their own typeface.

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.

Stress mark should be marked with [capitals] to indicate the primary stressed syllable, as in: news・pa・per [NOOZ-pey-per] in・for・ma・tion [in-fer-MEY-shuhn]

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.

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.

Q: Why do you prefer PCM codec?

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

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Q&A With
Gadi Amit

Found 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. And that's what e-commerce marketplaces do very

Q&A With
Julie DeTragila

Head of Research, 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 changed 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.