Advertisers, remember this about Hulu viewers

There’s a piece in the Times about Hulu and some conflicting numbers. Nielsen, the same people who try to count the number of people watching television shows, also have a web metrics business. They estimated 9 million viewers a month; Comscore, a competing metric house, estimated 42 million. For an advertising-based business, that much variance in the numbers makes it really hard to sell ad campaigns.

Boring business talk, I know, but I brought it up to say this: I don’t watch broadcast or cable television. I rent or buy DVDs, download video from torrent sites, buy from iTunes, or—most commonly these days—watch it online. I actually watch a ton of television, but most of it has been stripped of commercials entirely.

But every day I watch The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, as well as 30 Rock and occasionally The Office. Every single day, usually over lunch. And during those shows I see two or three commercials.

What advertisers should remember is this: Whether your commercial will play 9 million times a month or 42, for a large percentage of users, Hulu is the only opportunity you’ll have to reach us with a commercial at all.

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11 Responses to Advertisers, remember this about Hulu viewers

  1. MonkeyHawk says:

    I frequently have the TV on, sort of white noise in the background. Sometimes news or sports (there’s a ball game going on right now), sometimes breaking news, and I have a personal goal to go 24 hours in a row with nothing bur Law & Order (including spin-offs) shows playing.

    I usually catch the original airing of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert but routinely watch then on the intertubes the next day for nuances lost when the kitty jumped on my lap out of the ether the night before.

    I watched last night’s “SouthLAnd” episode this morning even though I pretty much got the gist of it was it was playing on the network last night.

    And I said all that to say this:

    The first two Hulu commercials were Julia Louis-Dreyfus pitching Healthy Choice frozen meals. They were short; played of her character; were funny… AND I remember the name of the product!

    I thought it might be an episode with all Julia Louis-Dreyfus commercials. Alas, no. Some other advertisers filled the Hulu breaks.

    I’m not the target audience for Health Choice frozen foods (they sound too, y’know, “healthy”) but I remember the name and remember the product and its alleged benefits.

  2. Dean says:

    Let me add to your remark that Hulu has learned a lot from other sites about how to /not/ do the commercials, and has therefore done a bang up job with its ads. I don’t have to watch the same thing too many times, I occasionally have a choice, and most importantly the volume isn’t louder when an ad comes on. The volume is in fact softer than the video I’m watching which gets my attention more. I find myself watching the ads on Hulu more often than I would if they were on TV, and actually enjoying them or caring about them more.

    Hulu does a lot of things right. If only I could get it to work in Front Row properly.

  3. Professor Pedro says:

    Here’s the thing, just like you know exactly how many pageviews BBG has, Hulu knows exactly how many viewers they have.

    Right now Hulu has a really easy time selling space to advertisers. They’re currently the darling of the digital ad space.

    Also, Comscore is usually wrong.

    I know these things because I both buy Hulu and use Comscore.

  4. SimeonW says:

    I am recently separated, and so while I still pay for DirecTV, here in my place of exile, all of my entertainment, communication, work, and love comes from my laptop. I watch some DVDs, but mostly I get my content from torrents, some direct download/streaming sites, network sites (ABC, mostly because you can’t see Lost on Hulu), Netflix, and Hulu.

    So, like Joel said, Hulu is where I see commercials (and ABC, but they do it wrong). Furthermore, if a show I like is available on, I watch it on Hulu. I would rather watch ad supported content from them, than most alternatives. I just want to watch most things one time. If it is worthy of keeping, I will buy the DVD.

  5. michael.belcher says:

    #2 I agree. There shouldn’t be that much of a debate about how many people are viewing any video at any given time.

  6. krylon says:

    That huge variance probably makes it easy to sell your tracking services, though. ONE of those numbers has to be closer to the truth. Whichever company has that number has a leg up in the market for their services. Granted, as mentioned above, I’m not sure their services are worth anything.

    Haven’t metrics been bunk for years anyway? I remember fudging chart numbers when I worked in college radio years ago and realizing that even if it had been my job to report “spins” I would essentially still be making them up.

  7. Eliot says:

    The wildly varying metrics don’t make it hard to sell an ad campaign… Hulu uses the real numbers from their internal tracking and not some silly 3rd party.

  8. Agies says:

    Hulu gets it right because they do a couple of things:

    1. Asside from the short “Hulu is brought to you by” spot they get you right into your content.

    2. They insert the ads where they would be on a broadcast instead of wherever they feel like it. (My wife tells me that when she was in Hong Kong they would cut to commercials mid-dialog)

    3. The ads are short enough to keep me in my seat but long enough to inform me about the product.

  9. caipirina says:

    Until i see a big BBG post about HULU having dropped their f-ing localisation restrictions (can;t be watched from your location) … Hulu is dead to me …

    Interestingly .. the daily show comes with no restriction … and often, the spots where the commercials should go, are empty …

  10. We canceled cable a month or two ago and get our tv/movie fix from Hulu, network websites (like Fox.com) or Netflix. We were tired of paying exorbitant prices for shows we don’t watch and a crazy amount of commercials. The tipping point was when yet another one of our favorite shows was canceled without any attempt at a conclusion/closure. I don’t mind a few commercials, especially if their targeted to my actual interests, but it’s getting ridiculous. There are what, 12,000 to 38,000 Nielsen Box Homes? And something like 118 million TV viewing homes? Yeah, I’d take Hulu’s stats over Nielsen’s any day. The internet is the future of pretty much every media and networks need to wake up to that fact.

  11. Not a Doktor says:

    The thing about Youtube that drives me nuts is I can see that little yellow bar one eight of the way into the video, but I’m powerless to do anything but wait for it to pass, close it, then rewind. It’s made watching Keyboard Cat videos difficult. Also *F* to the record companies to disabling embedding of music videos. I just want to email my sister the newest irritating pop-song that will auto play to get caught in her head.

    If I could I would use Hulu to Flo-Rida–Roll.

    Hey remember like last year when it came out “late” and people said that it’d never take off?

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