How to Hulu

I had a stomach ache over the weekend. Normally when this happens, I take a big swig of Pepto-Bismol, lay on the sofa, and watch some TV. This time Hulu accompanied my chalky pink stomach-savior.

About two weeks ago, I downloaded Hulu Desktop from Hulu Labs. Now I can surf Hulu from my sofa using my Windows Media Player remote. I attached my lil’ laptop to my LCD TV and voila! I can watch the Hulu in all its glory from my sofa on the TV. With about 30 minutes of putzing around on my laptop, I successfully stopped using my cable TV service.

Since I have officially gotten sick of seeing Men’s Speed Stick and Sprint commercials on Hulu, I thought I would look into their advertising model to see how this whole thing works. So I contacted their sales department and here is the low-down on Hulu advertising. Maybe I can perk some reader’s interest and I won’t have to hear more about armpits!

As you probably guessed, this is a CPM model. You get your commercials tossed into a show and you get a sponsor link on the video page. The big issue with this is the CPM. I was told that CPMs range in the neighborhood of $25 to $40.

Besides the high cost, there is one other factor that I’m not super excited about with Hulu’s advertising program. You cannot just bid to be shown along side a certain show; you bid to be included in demographic chunks. Now, these are not demographics like we normally think of online where you bid to be in front of someone who falls into a specified range. These demographics are based upon the people who tend to watch certain shows.

So how does this play out? I was catching up on The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. Thanks to Microsoft adCenter Labs’ Audience Intelligence tool, these shows that are most actively watched by men between the ages of 18 and 34. To me, that is about the audience that the Speed Stick commercials were targeting. They bid on that demographic and because I was watching a show that seemed like a likely target for a male between the ages of 18 and 34, I was served up their ad.

Was it effective? Sure. I mean I’m blogging about armpits so something had to take hold.

Here’s the thing you have to remember though: These ads are not going to result in boatloads of direct traffic to a site. Online video, rich media ads and standard banners are not going to get you the return you see in search, but what they will get you is the intangible concept of lift, the idea of more brand awareness and more people actively looking for your brand.

If you partake in some mad Hulu-ing, don’t freak out about low click-throughs to your site. Instead, watch your stats programs more carefully. Look for increases in direct traffic and increases in branded searches from the engines. Compare these numbers to a timeframe without the added benefits of video ads, and see what kind of growth you have. It might just be the missing piece to your marketing puzzle!

Thanks miss_blackbutterfly for the awesome pic on Flickr!

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