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Hulu to debut new ad formats in 2020 focused on letting users make choices, transact with advertisers

Hulu is preparing to roll out new forms of advertising this year — one which will allow viewers to have more say in the ads that plays, and another that lets the viewer engage with the brand in question, either by getting information sent directly to their mobile phone or by using QR codes. In later months, Hulu is also considering digital product insertion to enhance the ad opportunities within its own original programming.

The new ad formats are the latest to join an already innovative lineup of ad experiences for Hulu, where the company hasn’t been hesitant about trying out new ideas to make ads more user-friendly. For example, Hulu last year introduced pause ads that pop up only when viewers take a break from streaming. And last month, it rolled out new ‘binge watch ads‘ that allow brands to sponsor ad-free episodes when Hulu detects that a viewer is binge-watching their way through a series.

The goal with these ad experiences is to find a way to make advertising less disruptive to the viewer. In 2020, Hulu is also focused on making its ads more engaging.

In the case of the forthcoming choice-based ads — a sort of ‘choose-your-own-adventure’ for advertising — viewers will be able to select which ads from a brand they want to see. For example, users could choose to see ads about ski vacations from a travel company’s ad, or they could watch an ad about beach getaways. They could even pick which option they wanted with their remote.

In addition, Hulu is planning to roll out new transactional ads to help viewers engage with brands of interest. While 80% of viewing today takes place on the TV screen, most people don’t want to transact on the big screen — they’d rather use a computer or a mobile device. In this case, if the viewer wants more information from the advertiser, Hulu will be able to push that to their phone. This could be done by using the mobile phone number or email attached to a Hulu user’s account (given permission, of course), or viewers could hold up their phone to scan a QR code on the ad itself to take more immediate action.

The information the advertiser shares could include a link that takes the viewer right to a website — like a retailer’s shopping site, for example.

“This goes back to that viewer-first advertising promise: less disruptive, more engaging, and more functional. And it will really allow us to improve both the viewer experience and the advertiser’s ROI,” says Jeremy Helfand, VP and Head of Advertising Platforms at Hulu, in a conversation last week at CES.

The new ad formats will round four main themes Hulu is developing for its advertising experiences — situational, which is based on user behavior, as with pause and binge ads; choice-based, which allows the viewer to make a selection; transactional, where the viewer engages with the brand; and integrated storytelling, which is focused on integration sponsorships to blend the brand and content into a more seamless experience.

While Hulu has already dipped its toes into integrated storytelling with several ad experiences, the company is now thinking about the next steps for these ads, Helfand notes.

“We do think that there is a future where we’re able to fuse brands into the content, post-production,” he says. That is, Hulu could digitally insert product placements into its own programming.

“We’re excited about what’s coming up with cooking content on Hulu Kitchen. Theoretically, we could take a KitchenAid mixer and put it on the table even though it’s not there,” he adds, referring to Hulu’s plans for new original food series, including shows from Chrissy Teigen, David Chang, and Eater.

The technology to do this sort of digital ad insertion exists, but Hulu doesn’t know if it plans to develop its own in-house or acquire or partner with a company that already works in this space.

“You have to be able to read the metadata underneath the content as well as visually scan the content,” Helfand explains. “We’ve got a lot of content recognition work that’s already going on inside of Hulu which we use for lots of different reasons, not just for advertising. But there’s also a number of third parties — there’s a whole ad technology industry that’s emerging about being about to do things like that — and we’re looking at partners, as well,” he says.

One area that’s not being prioritized are the ad-supported downloads Hulu once promised. Instead of working out how to deliver offline viewing with ads included, Hulu is thinking about other models — like sponsored downloads, perhaps. But its focus for the near-term is on these newer forms of advertising, not on ad-supported downloads.

“We’re always thinking about the viewer experience and how do we deliver the very best viewer experience. And that obsession with the viewer extends to advertising. Consumers have a choice…They have a choice whether they want an ad-free experience or they want an ad-supported experience. And if they choose an ad-supported search experience, we want to make sure that that experience is just as good as an ad-free one,” says Helfand.

Source: TechCrunch
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Pandora launches interactive voice ads

Pandora has begun to test a new type of advertising format that allows listeners to respond to the ad by speaking aloud. In the new ads, listeners are prompted to say “yes” after the ad asks a question and a tone plays. The ads will then offer more information about the product or brand in question.

Debut advertisers testing the new format include Doritos, Ashley HomeStores, Unilever, Wendy’s, Turner Broadcasting, Comcast and Nestlé.

The ads begin by explaining what they are and how they’ll work. They then play a short and simple message followed by a question to which listeners are supposed to respond.

For example, the Wendy’s ad asks listeners if they’re hungry, and if they say “yes” the ad continues by offering a recommendation about what to eat. The DiGiorno’s pizza ad asks listeners to say “yes” to hear the punchline of a pizza-themed joke. The Ashley HomeStores ad engages listeners by offering tips on getting a better night’s sleep. And so on.

The new format capitalizes on Pandora’s underlying voice technology, which also powers the app’s smart voice assistant, Voice Mode, launched earlier this year. While Voice Mode lets Pandora users control their music hands-free, the voice ads aim to get users to engage with the advertiser’s content hands-free, as opposed to tapping on the screen or visiting a link to get more information.

The company believes these types of ads will be more meaningful as they force listeners to pay attention. For the brand advertisers, voice ads offer a way to more directly measure how many people an ad reached — something that’s not possible with traditional audio ads, which by their nature aren’t clickable.

Pandora announced its plans to test interactive voice ads back in April of this year, initially with San Francisco-based adtech company, Instreamatic. At the time, it said it would launch the new format into beta testing by Q4, as it now has.

The ad format arrives at a time when consumers have become more comfortable talking to digital voice assistants, like Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant. There’s also an increased expectation that services we interact with will support voice commands — like when we’re speaking to Fire TV or Apple TV to find something to watch or asking Pandora or Spotify to play our favorite music.

But consumers’ appetite for interactive voice advertisements is still largely untested. Even Amazon limited voice ads on its Alexa platform for fear of alienating users who would find them disruptive to the core experience. Spotify also ran a limited test of voice ads this year.

In Pandora’s case, users don’t have to play along. The company says if the user doesn’t respond within a couple of seconds or if they say no, the music resumes playback.

Pandora says the ads will begin running today for a small subset of listeners using its app.

Source: TechCrunch
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IoT and Advertising With a Dash of Creativity

A person looking at advertisements on buildings
Illustration: © IoT For All

A teenager named Dorothy recently became viral on Twitter when she started tweeting with unusual devices, including her gaming console and smart fridge, after her mom confiscated her phone. Dorothy won thousands of likes and retweets and also started a hashtag #FreeDorothy soon after she tweeted.

The episode gives us a glimpse of the future where it wouldn’t be weird for us to talk to our devices. What was once just a fad and a buzzword has become a reality today; our world is slowly turning into a sci-fi movie that we’ve always fantasized about. The availability of high-speed internet has made it possible for every device to be connected to the internet. From cellphones to washing machines and even to your simple toaster, household items have the ability to become “smart.” Imagine your clock sending a notification to your coffee maker to start brewing coffee as soon as you are up. Around 64 billion devices will be connected to the internet by 2025.

IoT Advertising

The world of smart devices is not only changing every aspect of our lives, it also spells good news for businesses that are leveraging them to reduce their costs and to improve efficiency. General Electric has developed a software called Predix that uses data from smart machines, combines it with traditional data and then predicts maintenance needs. Rolls Royce has also equipped its engines with intelligent sensors. The data from these sensors is combined with traffic control operations to ensure smoother flight operations.

IoT is also changing marketers’ approaches to businesses as it has equipped them with unprecedented amounts of data that can be utilized to reach their target audience in a more personalized and effective manner

Social Media Companies Investment in IoT

Tech giants are well aware of the potential of IoT in changing the dynamics of social media; hence, they have jumped into the race of investing in IoT. Ahead of the pack is Facebook, which is working on its own virtual assistant to rival the likes of Alexa and Apple’s Siri. The social media giant will likely use this assistant with its Portal video chat smart speakers, Oculus headsets or any other future projects.

Similarly, Life360, a family messaging app is putting its bet on IoT. The messaging app has already partnered with the Duchossois Group to integrate the app into smart home products. The app is also working with auto companies such as BMW and Ford.

Tenscent, the parent company of the famous  social messaging app WeChat, is also showing interest in this arena. The company recently announced its open-source platform for developers to work on IoT projects, which will allow the company to perfect its solutions. TenscentOS Tiny, as the operating system is named, is lighter and easier to use. Tenscent hopes that it will encourage developers to work on projects related to smart cities, vehicles and wearables.

Connecting People With Things

Social media companies were born with the aim of connecting people with people. However, it seems their mission has now changed to connecting people with things. The more devices that are connected to the internet, the more opportunities marketers have to take their brand to their consumers.

Coca Cola has found a very creative hack with smart fridges. The soda giant is testing a new interactive fridge that has social media, facial recognition and augmented reality to share marketing offers and content to specific consumers. Coca Cola can use information from the facial recognition software to push out specific offers based on consumers’ demographics and moods.

Walgreens is also testing “smart” displays. It is developing a new technology with sensors, cameras and digital screens. These refrigerators and doors will act as digital in-store billboards that will display customized ads to whomever approaches them based on different factors such as age. Around 15 brands, including Nestle and Conagra, have already signed up.

Diaego took IoT advertising to the next level when it connected 100,000 bottles to the internet to send personalized messages to fathers. People who gifted whiskey to their fathers were able to personalize their messages. The results were tremendous, as Diaego saw a 72% jump in sales on Father’s Day.

Tide partnered with Amazon to very creatively increase its sales. It connected Amazon Dash buttons to the Amazon app. So, whenever you are running low on detergent, you can press it and Tide will turn up on your doorstep in a few days.

Marketers Are Catching Up

We ditched TV to escape those annoying commercials, but marketers found new ways to get eyeballs. They crept in social media and started bombarding us with ads on every video we watched. Now, they have sneaked into our homes as well.

However, we do have to give them credit for creativity. With this level of personalization, these ads don’t seem intrusive. They make sure you only see what you are interested in. Perhaps we are headed to a time when we will be more welcoming towards advertisements instead of running away from them.

Written by Tina Anderson
Source: IoT For All
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