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A guide to advertising on Hulu

Showcase your brand message with Hulu's targeted advertising suite. Reel in customers with Hulu's renowned content library and next-generation advertising solutions.
A guide to advertising on Hulu
Photo by Tech Daily / Unsplash

With Hulu now available on nearly every platform and popular device, it's no wonder that the company has been attracting big-name advertisers and colossal marketing dollars. This guide will show you everything you need to know to make the most of your advertising dollars on Hulu.

What is Hulu?

Hulu is one of the big three streaming services in North America. It is available on Roku, Amazon Fire TV, gaming consoles, smart TVs, mobile devices, and more. There’s no need for an additional cable box or satellite dish—all you need is an internet connection to watch Hulu on your computer or through a streaming device.

Viewers can watch Hulu in two ways: the free version (with ads) and the paid subscription “Hulu With No Ads” plan. The free version has commercials that appear during breaks in episodes being streamed. Hulu has a huge number of subscribers using both versions of their service.

How effective is advertising on Hulu?

Hulu is the second-largest ad-supported video-on-demand service in the US, with over 25 million subscribers. Hulu makes money primarily through advertising, so they’ve had to get creative to keep users watching and attract new viewers.

First and foremost, this means that you will have more options for targeting your audience because Hulu has less stress about subscriptions than Netflix does about ads.

They also have a younger demographic—the average user is only 32 years old—so if your key market happens to be under 40, then advertising on Hulu is a great place to start. Plus, their combined reach of over 76% between television and online viewership puts them ahead of their competitors in sheer numbers.

How much does it cost to advertise on Hulu?

It's true, this kind of advertising isn't cheap. The cost of a campaign on Hulu depends on the type of ad you want to run (like an interactive overlay or a full-screen ad that takes over the whole screen) and how specific you want to target your viewers. Most of Hulu's ads are purchased via CPM, which means advertisers pay based on how many impressions their ad gets.

You can expect to spend between $10-$20 per thousand views for most types of ads on Hulu. This is comparable to cable TV rates and cheaper than many other digital video platforms.

For example, if you're planning a national awareness campaign lasting only one week, it would cost about $80K for 375M impressions.

How do ads work on Hulu?

The first thing to understand is that Hulu is the only streaming service with ads. This is because Hulu is licensed by TV networks, while Netflix and Amazon Video are not.

Hulu's ad-supported model allows you to watch as many shows and movies as you want, as many times as you want, at no cost! The way it works is that every time you watch something, you get a little bit of advertising before it. This means that Hulu will play an ad for one of its sponsors most of the time.

If you don't want to see ads on Hulu, you can pay $12.99 per month for the no-ad version of Hulu with limited commercials available. This allows you to see all the content on Hulu without any interruptions or distractions from ads.

An ad on Hulu works in a couple of ways.

First, every hour a commercial will play, and it can either be a regular ad that any company could buy or a Hulu original commercial. Hulu makes those commercials and they are designed to fit into the existing content the company provides. They are made by the same people who make their shows and are placed accordingly (if an episode is about fast food restaurants, there is an ad for one at the right time).

Second, when you're searching for something on Hulu you're given results that are paid ads. The ads themselves are frequently live-streams of things like cooking videos or trailers of movies. You also get results that aren't ads that you can choose to watch if you'd like.

Can I target specific viewers on Hulu?

  • Audience targeting

Hulu’s audience targeting allows you to reach your desired target segment by age, gender, location, and interests. Each of these dimensions will come up when creating your campaign. If you want to narrow down your audience, you can choose specific shows and channels to target. In addition, if there are any particular audiences that you’d like to exclude from seeing your ad, you can do so here as well.

  • Retargeting campaigns

You can also set up a retargeting campaign that targets viewers who have already watched one of your videos or visited a website in the past 30 days with personalized ads on Hulu. This is a great way to continue engaging consumers after they’ve interacted with content related to your brand or product.

  • Device targeting

Device targeting lets you choose which Hulu-supported device types (iPhone, iPad, Android, or desktop web) you’d like to run ads on. With this option, the ad runs only on the devices selected—so if mobile is important in reaching your desired audience or driving action (like app downloads), be sure it’s included as part of the mix!

  • Daypart targeting

Daypart targeting lets advertisers define what time of day their ads will run using standard dayparts: morning/daytime/early fringe/late fringe/primetime/late night/overnight.

What types of ads can I run on Hulu?

The most common type of ad on Hulu is what we call pre-rolls. These ads run before the video starts, typically 15 or 30 seconds. Because these ads aren’t interrupting the viewer mid-show, they’re usually not skippable, but often have an interactive element (like a button to “Learn More”).

If you have a longer video (1 minute or more), you can also use mid-rolls. Mid-roll ads play at various points during the video and are generally between 30 and 90 seconds long. Skipping depends on whether it’s close to the end of a given episode of content or if it’s less than 60 seconds into the show.

Lastly, there are post-rolls that play after the content has finished airing — these can be 15 or 30 seconds and are not skippable by default.

Does my ad need specific video requirements for Hulu advertising?

Does my ad need specific video requirements for Hulu advertising? Yes. Hulu has strict requirements about your videos' format, length, and size. We recommend using an expert to create these ads, so you're confident they'll meet the guidelines.

Here are the specifics:

  • Format: .mp4
  • Length: Under 30 seconds
  • Size: 300MB or less
  • Resolution: At least 720p (1280 x 720)

It's also important that your video have subtitles for this channel and a clickable URL link.

Is my campaign eligible for advertising on Hulu?

When you start to advertise on Hulu, it's good to know whether or not your campaign will be eligible. The types of ads that are not allowed include:

• Gambling content

• Tobacco products and smoking accessories

• Ads for political campaigns and candidates running for office

• Alcoholic beverages; beer, wine, liquor, hard cider, etc.

• The types of campaigns that are eligible for advertising on Hulu include:

• Drugs and pharmaceutical products (including over-the-counter drugs)

• Entertainment services such as movie theaters, theme parks, and concert venues

Can I target specific shows and channels with advertising on Hulu?

Hulu ad campaigns target audiences in two different ways:

  • Content-based targeting: Hulu allows you to target a specific show, channel, or content genre. This is particularly useful for brands that want to advertise on user-generated content such as music vids or fan channels.
  • Audience-based targeting: Hulu allows you to target audience segments by demographic and psychographic data, including age, gender, income level, and viewing history. This is most commonly used by advertisers who want to reach a more general audience. For example, the video below shows how an advertiser can combine audience-based targeting with content-based targeting to create a targeted reach campaign on Hulu.

Hulu's advertising options are hard to beat. Unlike some other platforms where your content may be drowned out by the company in question, Hulu's advertising matches the quality of their existing platform. They target viewers when they're at an optimal point of interest, and they aren't overbearing. This is a win-win situation for brands on both sides—viewers get quality content, and advertisers get exposure without being too intrusive.