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Helping SMBs Get “Social” with Streaming TV Ads

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Running a business includes managing a variety of marketing tactics, and one thing every business needs to do for continued growth is reach new customers and communicate with current clients. But, in today’s world with so many media channels to choose from, reaching your audience is not as it once was.

Today, 90% of 13 to 54 year olds watch TV through a streaming service. Many of these people belong to households that are choosing to live without traditional cable TV. They are part of a new generation: Generation Stream. These streamers have contributed to a 57% increase in streaming TV viewership year over year on Hulu alone and three out of every four of them primarily stream¹. If you are looking to reach your target audience at scale, streaming TV is an option to explore and Generation Stream is an audience not to be ignored.

But no matter the marketing channel you decide, it is critical to ensure you have a suitable—and effective—ad. At this point, the question shifts to whether you need to build an ad from the ground up for every platform you advertise on. This approach can quickly become cost-prohibitive—especially if you’re exploring and testing a variety of new advertising channels. Can ads created for social media be used in Streaming TV? Are they effective?

These are questions we hear a lot from advertisers, and we wanted to take a deeper dive to see what the data is telling us. Here are the specific questions we set out to answer in our study:

  • “Do repurposed social ads have a negative/positive effect on the Hulu viewing experience or on the advertiser?”
  • “Are ads repurposed from a social environment just as effective as ads that were created for the TV/CTV environment?”

TEASER ALERT: Not surprisingly, video ads uniquely crafted for the premium TV viewing experience are best, but the big “aha” here is that repurposing your social ads still drives meaningful gains, especially in driving people to consider buying your product. Read on for all the details!

Research Background

For this study, Hulu partnered with MediaScience to run an in-home experiment using their StreamPulse™ solution, which evaluated if ads created specifically for social media platforms would be effective if repurposed for Hulu. In this study, participants watched content in a mock-Hulu environment on their home TV screen via their streaming service. They were exposed to one of two types of ad formats from the same brand:

1) Premium video ads, which are ads traditionally seen within the streaming TV space
2) Video ads created for social media

This was then followed by a brief survey.

The study also explored the types of ad creatives that brands traditionally leverage on social media. These are categorized as “social repurposed” and “social sourced” ads:

Here’s a look at what we learned:

Overall, both premium video ads and social media ads on Hulu were effective, generating higher lifts across all tested metrics when compared to the non-exposed control group. Since streaming TV is at the intersection of television and digital media, it is not surprising that Hulu drives results for both television and social-style assets alike.

With that said, the study did uncover performance differences when comparing ad types against one another—specifically when businesses are trying to build awareness and generate leads.

The findings: TV creative ads are more effective from an awareness and memorability perspective, driving significantly higher lifts in Recall and Brand Recognition. Therefore, advertisers looking to build their brand identity should lean into this type of asset on Hulu.

Diving deeper into the two types of social executions tested—“social repurposed” and “social sourced”—the study also uncovered noteworthy performance differences when businesses are trying to drive conversions.

When we’re looking at the results at the buying end of the customer journey, the study revealed that ads optimized for the social environment (“social repurposed”) are just as effective as premium video ads on Hulu. If the cost of creating a premium video ad has stopped you from advertising on Streaming TV, this is great news! Now you can give this medium a try by repurposing a social media ad, because we’ve shown that it can be just as effective when your campaign objective is focused on directly driving a purchase .

However, the type of social media ad being repurposed matters, as we see in the Ad Effectiveness chart below. Those social ads that rely on influencers and user testimonials (“social sourced” ads) do make a positive impression, and viewers remember them (see the Aided Recall column), but across the other channels they are consistently less effective than social repurposed ads.

Whether you want viewers to remember and recognize your brand (brand recognition), think highly of your business (brand attitude), or buy (purchase intent), this research proves that the quality of your ad makes a difference. When possible, businesses should lean away from testimonial or influencer type ads, and focus more on premium, high-quality advertising.

Generally speaking, viewers feel that premium video ads are more entertaining, likely because of the production value and storytelling capabilities within the streaming TV space.

Social ads, on the other hand, are considered more informative as they are designed to capture viewers’ attention quickly; this is essential when brands only have :5 to :7s to relay their message These ads often feature branding (such as a logo or a tagline) immediately alongside or preceding a prominent call-to-action.

Premium video ads and social ads both prove to be successful in a streaming TV environment, but viewers do notice where ad formats typically appear. For example, viewers recognize that social ads tend to appear on smaller screens such as tablets and mobile devices, whereas premium ads are typically shown on bigger screens like a television or desktop.

This reveals an opportunity to surprise viewers with social-style ads in an unexpected place, or target them with device-specific ads for a contextually relevant experience.

We see that all ad formats work in the Hulu environment, but why advertise on Hulu versus social?

To answer this question, Hulu partnered with Nielsen on a lab study that incorporated eye-tracking and survey data to understand how viewer engagement with the Hulu ad-environment compares to social media sites.

The results showed that ads on Hulu command 73% more attention than those on social media sites. In fact, the eye-tracking data proved that viewers are only looking at ads on social media sites for half of the ad time (51%) versus the majority of the ad (88%) on Hulu. If the name of the game is making sure viewers have seen your branding and messaging, there is a much better chance of that happening on Streaming TV.

In addition to higher ad attention, Hulu provides a high-quality and brand-safe environment for advertisers. In a recent survey, viewers rated Hulu significantly higher than social media sites when it comes to safety, trustworthiness, and having more premium content. For businesses that place a premium on brand safety, look no further than Hulu!

Putting It All Into Practice

As businesses of all sizes consider advertising on streaming TV with a self-service solution, like Hulu Ad Manager, it is important to understand the takeaways the study revealed:

1) While it’s hard to beat premium video ads, ads designed for social media also increase awareness and purchase intent on Hulu.

Advertising takeaway: For brands looking to repurpose their social assets on streaming TV, lean into ads optimized for the social environment, as opposed to those that rely on influencers or consumer testimonials.

2) Premium video ads tend to drive stronger memory and are viewed as more entertaining than social ads.

Advertising takeaway: Make sure you know the purpose and goal of your campaign. Are you going for memorable and entertaining or informative? Having a clear understanding of the impact you want to have on your viewers can help you decide whether you should create a premium video ad specific to the Hulu viewer (better for making it memorable and entertaining) or if you can repurpose an ad from social media (which are seen as more informative).

TIP: For brands looking to build or improve their brand equity, leverage this type of creative format. For performance-driven marketers who traditionally run on social to drive sales, social ads running on Hulu are just as effective as premium video ads at driving purchase intent, and are also viewed as more informative.

TIP: Viewers recognize the typical placement of ad formats by device type, but there is an opportunity for brands to either surprise viewers by serving ads in an unexpected place or target viewers by device-specific creatives for a seamless viewing experience.

3) Ads on Hulu command more attention and are viewed as more engaging than those on social media sites.

Advertising takeaway: Ads on Hulu get watched! On Hulu, ads command 73% more attention than those on social media sites. These are big differences when you’re tracking the effectiveness of your advertising spend.

TIP: If your brand values brand safety within a trusted environment, advertising on Hulu should be top of mind, as Hulu ranks higher than social media sites when focusing on brand safety and trustworthiness.

Pulling all of these learnings together makes it simple for businesses of all sizes to decide when repurposing an ad is a good call versus when it would be best to create an ad specifically for the Hulu viewer.

Learn More About Hulu’s Self-Service Advertising Solution—And How to Create the Best Ad

When you’re ready to launch your ad, Hulu’s self-service ad solution makes it simple to get your campaign started. After making the decision to target Generation Stream, you may still be wondering if you want to create a new video ad from scratch or make use of a video you already have.

Don’t worry. We’ve got you.

Check out our Creative Hub—complete with tech specs, creative guidelines and a creative partner directory—and take the first step toward launching an effective ad through the self-service Hulu Ad Manager to increase awareness and drive sales for your business.


Source: Hulu MediaScience Social Ad Evaluation, 2020.

Source: Nielsen Competitive Ad Engagement Study, 2019.

Source: Hulu Ad Experience Study, 2020,Generation Stream - Culture Co-op, April 2020.

Source: Conviva State of Streaming Q4 2019.

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