Hulu is the only streaming giant that plays ad breaks throughout its TV shows and movies. It has various paid tiers that help mitigate how many ads you see, but it still feels outdated for those of us who use DV-Rs and also stream things on Netflix and Amazon. The fact that Hulu often replays the same ads during every ad break (or at least several times an episode) is also grating on the nerves.
So, Hulu is looking to evolve, and according to Variety it will do so by introducing “pause ads.” The company will be looking to test these out starting in the second fiscal quarter, where static ads will pop up when users pause the stream instead of throughout the programming. As detailed in the piece, “Hulu has reason to find commercials that its subscribers will embrace. Half of its top 100 selections are consumed via binge-watching, says Jeremy Helfand, vice president and head of advertising platforms for Hulu, which the company defines as three or more episodes played in a single session. To succeed, he says, commercials need ‘to be less interruptive and more relevant.'”
The format has been tweaked through user surveys, which led to the ads format ending up as short messages with small pictures that are over a translucent background so the TV show/movie and onscreen prompts can still be seen. Coca-Cola, Charmin, and Procter & Gamble are on board to sponsor these “pause ads” as Hulu determines whether or not viewers prefer them to traditional breaks. Further, there will be a five-second break between the acting of pausing and the ad starting, incase people are pausing in order to fast-forward, rewind, or adjust settings.
Ultimately advertisers will be looking to find ways for viewers to interact with the ads that could, of course, lead to purchases. But for now, Hulu will have to see how viewers respond to this new format (I for one welcome our new pause ad overlords).