For consumers and marketers, the rise of streaming video is nothing short of a revolution. Now advertising as well as content can be tailored to specific consumers or niche genres. And not only can ads achieve the scale associated with TV -- they can be tailored to those same specific consumers.
And because internet-delivered video is a two-way street, the opportunity to engage with consumers has never been stronger.
The result has been an era of experimentation and iteration that is creating entirely new experiences for consumers and marketers.
Among ad-supported video platforms, Hulu is arguably the most important. With more than 25 million subscribers, the company is second only to Netflix in terms of scale on the TV glass.
“At the center of our strategy is what we call viewer-first advertising: The belief that by helping to deliver a better advertising experience to viewers, they will be more engaged with the content, and more receptive to brand messaging from advertisers,” Jeremy Helfand, Hulu’s vice president and head of advertising platforms, tells Video Insider.
The company has been at the forefront of pushing the video ad space forward since it launched more than a decade ago. It pioneered the “choose your ad” format, where a user can select what ad they want to see, and has iterated that product ever since.
It has launched T-commerce ad experiences, allowing users to buy movie tickets directly from an ad.
More recently, it has experimented with new formats such as the “pause” ad, where a sponsor message appears when a user pauses a show to respond to a text or get something from the kitchen.
Helfand says the pause ad format has received very positive feedback from the market since it was introduced earlier this year, adding that the company really wants to take advantage of viewer behaviors, or situational opportunities. “If done properly, that is a natural opportunity to introduce a brand message,” Helfand says.
Platforms like Hulu aren’t the only ones delivering and developing ad experiences for consumers. Companies such as Brightline also develop, build and deploy these experiences across OTT and connected TV platforms.
"The viewer experience is really our guide in terms of how we came to market, but we combined it with advertising at the core because we believe that if you get that ad experience right inside the TV viewing environment, it would be an incredible win-win across the board,” BrightLine CEO Jacqueline Corbelli tells Video Insider, adding that the company’s formats are “developed with the perspective of how to make ads more enjoyable, more engaging, more relevant through personalization.”
These advanced ad formats also allow for new ways to test and gauge viewability and consumer attention.
BrightLine chief experience officer Rob Aksman gives the example of one his company’s most popular formats -- a trivia application -- with a simple question appearing on-screen, encouraging the viewer to choose an answer.
“It is a very simple, quick, light interaction, but the important thing for advertisers is that it gives them an additional metric to measure the success of their campaign against, because they know now how many people were paying attention and responding to the spot, versus just getting a video completion rate,” Aksman says.
Going forward, the future of streaming video advertising may even expand beyond the glass as homes become more connected, with the living room sitting at the nexus of that connectivity.
“When you think about what is happening with voice and all the other stuff in the living room, it presents a tremendous opportunity to help advertisers engage wait their target audiences,” Helfand says,