A new type of ad is now here that's said to be designed to complement your streaming video lifestyle.
Today, Hulu officially introduced 'pause ads' to its streaming service. At present, the feature is in a testing stage although the company expects to properly launch pause ads in the second quarter of 2019.
As the name suggests, the premise here is fairly simple as each time a user pauses video content an ad will appear on the pause screen. For now, that ad will either be for Coca-Cola or Charmin as they are the only two beta ad partners currently signed up – or at least confirmed as partners. Hulu does expect that partner list to increase over time.
Ads are a divisive, but necessary thing and in the world of streaming in particular, there's been an emphasis on finding new ways to deliver the ad experience as viewers divert from traditional video and TV consumption routes. This is one of them and in today's announcement Hulu makes it clear it wants the pause ad experience to be as useful to the advertisers as possible, while also as non-intrusive to the user. The company says the latter was made particular clear by user testing prior to today's launch.
To strike a balance that satisfies both parties involved, these ads are not audio or video-based in the way most ads consumed through video are today. Instead, they are more akin to product placement that appears on the Hulu pause interface when content is paused. Albeit with a fair degree of prominence to help get the advertising message across – as shown below.
Once the user pauses the content, the ad is visible and remains visible during the pause duration and disappears once the user resumes playback.
At present, there's no indication these pause ads will replace traditional ads on Hulu with both likely to be in use going forward.
It remains unclear how widespread the new pause ads will be during the Hulu-viewing experience as the company has only so far confirmed they will be in use "for select content within the Hulu streaming library." It is also unclear if the use of pause ads will be included on all Hulu platforms and devices, or just some.
This is not the first time the idea of pause ads has surfaced as a report came through in December predicting the arrival of the feature in 2019. The same report also highly indicated Hulu would be one of the first companies to launch this style of advertising. Though, they won't be the only ones with the report also pointing to AT&T as another provider who will make use of the format this year.
Hulu currently offers access to its on-demand streaming service at two different price points. One of which is specifically designed to offer an ad-free viewing experience. Although it is presumed the new pause ads will only be visible on the ad-supported version, Hulu has yet to confirm this.
Hulu recently dropped the price of its ad-supported option down from $7.99 to $5.99 on a permanent basis and so the time of this launch might suggest this has been introduced as a way to help make up for the loss of revenue from ad-supported subscriber access.