Hulu Gives Users Gong Power With Ad Swap


ADOTAS – You know what would make Hulu’s new Ad Swap product perfect? A gong.

Because there’s something about Hulu’s latest consumer-facing video ad service that reminds me of NBC’s infamous amateur talent show. Say I’m trying to watch the latest episode of FX’s “Archer”, but before I can get to the so-wrong-it’s-right animated series, Hulu serves me one of those Geico ads with that frickin’ gecko. I really hate that Aussie-accented lizard. Lo and behold, on the top of the screen are three other ad choices from three different advertisers —


Now I’m watching a Bing commercial, marveling at the fact that Microsoft’s advertising campaigns tend to be of such higher quality than its products.

Ad Swap is quite a leap from Hulu’s Ad Selector tool, which let users choose between three different ads by the same brand before the pre-roll played. As a user, this often felt useless because I typically saw all three of those video ads during a session.

However, Ad Swap lets Hulu users truly customize their ad experience to preferably view ads most relevant to them as consumers. The Ad Swap alternatives are based on previously submitted user information (“Is this ad relevant to you?), and likely fresh data from Ad Swap choices and lookalike Hulu users as well.

Of course, if viewers are curmudgeonly as me, they may just give a thumbs up to the ads that least irritate them (or ones that are actually entertaining) rather than products or services they’re likely to purchase. That isn’t a bad thing considering the metrics angle — Ad Swap gives advertisers a better idea what creative is clicking with users, and more specifically the demographics when used in tandem with the data available on Hulu’s viewers. (We’re talking anonymous audience segments, not specific, identifiable users.)

And even if certain consumers aren’t currently in-market for the product, as we note all the time on Adotas, brand awareness is of high importance at the top of the funnel, where video normally shows up. When the consumer does find him/herself in-market, what brands will immediately come to mind? Chances are, the ones with the most enjoyable advertising.

To jump on the earlier example, I’m more likely to watch Progressive’s Flo commercials rather than anything in the Geico docket for two reasons: 1. Flo is charming; and 2. I find Geico’s marketing bombardment near-oppressive. Incidentally, Progressive provides the car insurance for my POS band van.


Advertisers who get gonged are not charged for the impression, but hopefully learn how often the ad was gonged and by what type of people in order to better tailor their creative and targeting efforts. (Stomp on that stupid lizard!)

Hulu’s introduction of Ad Swap is also an impressive signifier of the increasing role of video advertising and Hulu’s prominence in the space. A year ago, the chief complaint with Hulu was a lack of ad inventory — the same video ads played over and over during the sessions. Ad Swap suggests the on-demand video service has gotten past this issue, and now features an impressive variety and amount of brands reaching its viewers.



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