Getting “Social” with Streaming TV

Generation Stream is always connected; a digitally native and socially-savvy audience. They are first movers, content curators, and in today’s world with endless on-demand shows to binge and hundreds of viral social media challenges (or dances) to learn, there is certainly no shortage of entertainment options available to them. For advertisers, figuring out the right platform and creative approach to reach this audience across diverse media types can be a daunting task.

Given the expense and time it takes to build new creative, advertisers often ask Hulu if their digital ad creative (that’s designed and intended for social media) can be repurposed on Hulu, and if these ads are just as effective on streaming TV. Some key questions advertisers often ask are: 

  • Do repurposed social ads have a negative/positive effect on the Hulu viewing experience or on the advertiser?”
  • “Are ads repurposed from a social environment just as effective as ads that were created for the TV/CTV environment?”

To answer these questions, Hulu partnered with MediaScience to run an in-home experiment using their StreamPulse™ solution, which evaluated if ads created specifically for social media platforms would be effective if repurposed for Hulu. In this study, participants watched content in a mock-Hulu environment on their home TV screen via their OTT streaming service. They were exposed to one of two types of creative ad formats from the same brand: 1) premium video ads, which are ads traditionally seen within the streaming TV space, or 2) video ads created for social media. This was then followed by a brief survey.

The study also explored the types of creative executions that brands traditionally leverage on social media. These are categorized as “social repurposed” and “social sourced” ads: 

Here’s a look at what we learned:

Overall, both premium video ads and social media ads on Hulu were effective, generating higher lifts across all tested metrics when compared to the non-exposed control group. Since streaming TV is at the intersection of television and digital media, it is not surprising that Hulu drives results for both television and social-style assets alike. 

With that said, the study did uncover performance differences when the creative formats were compared against one another – specifically within the upper funnel. 

The findings: TV creative ads are more effective from an awareness and memorability perspective, driving significantly higher lifts in Recall and Brand Recognition. Therefore, advertisers looking to build their brand identity should lean into this type of asset on Hulu.

Diving deeper into the two types of social executions tested – “social repurposed” and “social sourced” – the study also uncovered noteworthy performance differences across the lower funnel.

When evaluating lower funnel success, ads optimized for the social environment (“social repurposed”) are just as effective as premium video ads on Hulu. On the other hand, creatives that rely on influencers and user testimonials (“social sourced”) can adequately drive memory metrics, but they fail to make a significant impact on Purchase Intent. This proves that the quality of an ad’s creative can impact the effectiveness of a campaign. So when possible, brands looking to repurpose social assets on Hulu should lean away from testimonial or influencer type assets, and tap into more premium, high quality creatives.

Generally speaking, viewers feel that premium video ads are more entertaining, likely because of the production value and storytelling capabilities within the streaming TV space. 

Social ads, on the other hand, are considered more informative as they are designed to capture viewers’ attention quickly; this is essential when brands only have :5 -:7s to relay their message. These ads often feature branding (such as a logo or a tagline) immediately alongside/preceding a prominent call-to-action.

Premium video ads and social ads both prove to be successful in a streaming TV environment, but viewers do notice where ad formats typically appear. For example, viewers recognize that social ads tend to appear on smaller screens such as tablets and mobile devices, whereas premium ads are typically shown on bigger screens like a television or desktop. 

There is an opportunity to surprise viewers with social creative in an unexpected place, or target them with device-specific creative for a contextually relevant experience.

We see that all ad formats work in the Hulu environment, but why advertise on Hulu vs. social? 

To answer this question, Hulu partnered with Nielsen on a lab study that incorporated eye-tracking and survey data to understand how viewer engagement with the Hulu ad environment compares to social media sites. 

The results showed that ads on Hulu command 73% more attention than those on social media sites. In fact, the eye-tracking data proved that viewers are only looking at ads on social media sites for half of the ad time (51%) versus the majority of the ad (88%) on Hulu.

In addition to higher ad attention, Hulu provides a high-quality and brand-safe environment for advertisers. In a recent survey, viewers rated Hulu significantly higher than social media sites when it comes to safety, trustworthiness, and having more premium content. For advertisers that place a premium on brand safety, look no further than Hulu!

So, what did we learn?

1) While it’s hard to beat premium video ads, ads designed for social media still drive full-funnel impact on Hulu.

TIP: For brands looking to repurpose their social assets on streaming TV, lean into ads optimized for the social environment, as opposed to those that rely on influencers or consumer testimonials.  

2) Premium video ads tend to drive stronger memory and are viewed as more entertaining than social ads. 

TIP: For brands looking to build or improve their brand equity, leverage this type of creative format. For performance-driven marketers who traditionally run on social to drive sales, social ads running on Hulu are just as effective as premium video ads at driving purchase intent, and are also viewed as more informative.

TIP: Viewers recognize the typical placement of ad formats by device type, but there is an opportunity for brands to either surprise viewers by serving ads in an unexpected place or target viewers by device-specific creatives for a seamless viewing experience.

3) Ads on Hulu command more attention and are viewed as more engaging than those on social media sites.

TIP: If your brand values brand safety within a trusted environment, advertising on Hulu should be top of mind, as Hulu ranks higher than social media sites when focusing on brand safety and trustworthiness.

 


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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.

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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 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: 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

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.