Hulu gave us “The Handmaid’s Tale” and then “Little Fires Everywhere”. Personally, I don’t need another reason to love the streaming platform. But if I had a small business, I would have just got one.
In July 2020, Hulu announced Hulu Ad Manager, a self-service advertising platform for smaller advertisers on a budget.
Previously, Hulu ads were only available to top brands with the funds to fund major campaigns. Now, small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) can reach the platform’s 92 million ad-supported viewers without spending thousands of dollars.
How exactly does the ad manager work? We’ll cover that and more below.
How to use Hulu’s advertising service
Hulu’s self-service solution is currently in beta.
To access the platform as a beta user, you will first need to submit an RSVP form with information about your company.
If accepted, setting up your ad is easy. Here are the steps.
1. Select the dates within which you would like to place your advertising campaign.
2. Build your audience.
In the Hulu Ad Manager you can target users by age, interest, gender, location and of course by show genre. When it comes to location, you can narrow it down by state, city, zip code, or a specific marketing area (DMA).
However, you cannot choose which shows you want your ads to appear on, only the genre. If you’re not sure what will best fit your brand, check out the current show selection to get an idea of what to expect.
3. Set your budget.
To run an ad on Hulu, you must have a minimum budget of $ 500 per campaign, which is well below the usual cost of ads on streaming platforms. For comparison, Amazon’s video ad self-service platform typically requires a minimum of $ 35,000.
4. Upload your video ad.
There are a few requirements your ad must meet in order to be approved:
The approval process usually takes up to three working days.
5. Make a payment.
Hulu does not currently accept commercial bank accounts or debit cards for payments. You need to use a credit card. If you pause or cancel your campaign, you only pay for the impressions delivered.
6. Track the performance of your ad.
Once your ad is running, you can track its performance in Hulu Ad Manager.
Note that there is no way to find out what times your ad aired and during what shows. However, it is expected that standard metrics like impressions and clicks will be found.
Hulu advertising opportunities
In addition to Hulu’s latest self-service option, the streaming service offers two other advertising options:
- Premium Programmatic – This is ideal for brands looking to leverage lookalike audiences, audience CRM matching, and behavioral segmentation in their campaign.
- Broad appeal action – This option allows you to integrate your brand with Hulus, create branded content collections and deliver advertisements in innovative formats.
Each option corresponds to your brand’s specific goals and can be designed to suit your budget.
For example, you can run brand lift studies, which are ads designed to measure consumer perception of your brand after a campaign.
Jillian Hope, Senior Marketing Manager, Brand Advertising at HubSpot, says she can help brand advertisers understand the impact of Hulu’s campaign presence on key brand KPIs.
Advantages and disadvantages of Hulu Ads
Pro: Hulu has extensive targeting capabilities.
Using any of the three advertising opportunities available on Hulu, you can use Hulu’s targeting features to reach your ideal viewers.
“”[You have] the ability to target audiences using Hulu’s first-party audience data, or target similar audiences using your own first-party data, “said Hope.
The level of targeting parameters depends on which option you are using. For example, if you use programmatic buying, you can use similar audiences to match the exact users you are looking for with viewers on Hulu.
In the current beta version of the self-service solution, however, you can only address users according to demographic characteristics and show genres.
Still, Hope adds that targeting is much more advanced on a platform like Hulu than traditional linear television.
Pros: You can experiment with innovative ad formats.
On Hulu, you’re only limited to video advertising if you use the self-service option. The platform offers over 15 ad products to reach viewers.
“”There are multiple ad formats available and there is a lot of innovation going on, “said Hope.” For example: [there’s the] new QR code integration that is more desirable for direct reply advertisers. “
It’s just about figuring out which ad product best fits your goals.
For example, there is cover story brand placement which allows you to seamlessly integrate your branding on the Hulu homepage.
Then there is the ad voter which puts power back in the hands of consumers by letting them choose which ad to watch.
These are just a few of the ad formats you can choose from. Each format offers the user a different experience. To see all of the ad formats available on Hulu, visit Hulu’s ad product page.
Con: You can only achieve so much on a limited budget.
One of the downsides to Hulu ads is that certain campaigns may require a larger budget than you may have available.
“Some of the premium ad placements, as well as brand lift studies, require minimum budgets to be statistically significant,” said Hope. “As a result, they are less accessible to smaller advertisers.”
In that case, Hulu may not be the best platform to run these types of campaigns. You may want to go for a different ad platform, like Facebook Ads, that lets you reach more people who are still your target audience for less money.
How Hulu ad samples can inform your next campaign
If you’re not ready to pull the trigger on a Hulu campaign, meanwhile, get inspired.
See how other brands – especially your competitors – use the platform to reach their target audience. This means looking at their creativity, reviewing case studies, and monitoring consumer sentiment through social media.
This competitive intelligence can help you develop a strategy during the brainstorming phase of your campaign.
Since the Hulu Ad Manager is still in beta, the platform will likely have more features once it fully launches. Meanwhile, SMBs can reach TV viewers at a fraction of the cost they used to cost.