Advanced Ad 2018: At Hulu, 'Things Are Good'

Ad-sales chief Peter Naylor says live, on-demand mix is clicking
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"Things are good at Hulu," Peter Naylor, senior VP of advertising sales at the programmer, said Monday, citing an expanding base of subscribers watching the service longer than they did a year ago.

"We're going to the market with a growing audience," Naylor told B&C senior content producer Jon Lafayette in a keynote chat at the NewBay Advanced Advertising event in New York when asked about the service's prospects headed into the upfront auctions of commercial hours. Versus a year ago, he said, subscribers who get Hulu's ad-supported offerings are up 40% and their engagement with the service is up 49%, though he did not give out the specific numbers. “We’re having more people watching for more time than ever,” he said. The median viewer age is 31, he said, and Hulu's IP-based platform lends itself to targeting viewers by household or by separate profiles within the home.   

At last year's upfront presentation, Lafayette noted, Hulu introduced its Hulu with Live TV (virtual MVPD) offering with a mix of channels for $39.99 per month. Naylor said subscribers getting that service also get the subscription video-on-demand service for which Hulu charges $7.99 when sold separately, with ad support. Hulu has found that "over half of the consumption in the quote-unquote live product is actually on demand," he said. While events, sports, news and series occasions like the finale of The Bachelor are watched live, viewers are happy to watch scripted fare at unscheduled times. "What that tells me is the fugure of TV is a blend of live and on demand,” he said.

Hulu's 2018 upfront will take place at the recently branded Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden and will feature announcements of new shows and celebrity appearances and more of an emphasis on Hulu's advanced advertising capabilities.

He cited a recent promotion with Fandango that enabled Hulu customers watching a commercial for the Tomb Raider raider movie in theaters to buy a ticket via remote. Asked if it sold a lot of tickets, Naylor said "a lot might be a generous description," but said the effort was part of educating audiences to expect to be able to interact directly with advertising -- as marketers used to wish for using the classic example of buying the sweater Jennifer Aniston was wearing in Friends

Naylor also said The Handmaid's Tale, the breakthrough original drama that returns for a second season in late April, will have dedicated sponsors this time after picking up Emmy and Golden Globe awards for its first season. Hulu licenses most of its shows and can't sell ads directly against them, Naylor said, but can do so for its originals.

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