Hulu debuts a new type of ad that will reward binge-watchers

Key Points
  • Hulu is launching its "binge ads" for viewers watching three or more episodes of the same series. 
  • Ads from brands like Kellogg's, Maker's Mark and Georgia-Pacific will have a binge-watching messages that will span several breaks, culminating in an offer from a brand or an ad-free episode. 
An example of a binge ad on Hulu from Maker's Mark.

Hulu said Thursday it's now rolling out a new type of advertising for binge viewers, which will seek to reward them for watching three or more episodes with an offer from a brand or a commercial-free episode.

The Disney-controlled streaming video service, which unveiled details of the new ad experience during its NewFront presentation back in May, said in a blog post Thursday it's launching the ad experience with agency partner Publicis Media, part of French holding company Publicis Groupe, and advertisers including Kellogg's, Maker's Mark and Georgia-Pacific.

The new binge ads come as advertisers are increasingly seeking ways to reach customers in a way that doesn't annoy them. Ads that tie into content or that show a story across commercial breaks have seen some success — take Procter & Gamble's widely applauded "It's a Tide Ad" spots during the 2018 Super Bowl, which continued through ad placements throughout the game.

Hulu will use data on viewers to predict when they're likely to begin binge-watching a show, which it defines as watching three or more episodes at a time. The platform will serve "contextually relevant messaging from our brand partners that acknowledges a binge watching session has begun."

For instance, an example ad for Cheez-It Snap'd snacks reads, "Another episode? Snack it to me!" and one from Sparkle says "The dishes can (probably) wait. More TV!"

Once a viewer reaches a third episode, an message will reveal that the next episode will be ad-free (this message could be "presented by Sparkle," for example) or will give the viewer a unique offer from a brand, like $1 off a bag of a certain variety of Cheez-Its.

Hulu started in 2007 as joint-venture among several major media companies, but is now majority-owned by Disney. In May, minority owner Comcast handed over its operational control to Disney, and signed a deal that would let it sell its 33% stake to Disney by 2024. 

Disclosure: Comcast owns NBCUniversal, the parent company of CNBC.

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