Gladys Santiago

Hulu Survey for Charity

Posted in Advertising, Marketing, Media by Gladys Santiago on May 26, 2010

Hulu Survey

Hulu is going pay.  It was inevitable.  Hulu is also seeking to customize viewers’ ad experience by allowing them to vote on whether certain pre-rolls appeal to them.  If you use Hulu as much as I do, you’ve probably seen this (Look at the upper right-hand corner).  I recently encountered a survey where Hulu offers participants the opportunity to select a charity that will be featured in Hulu videos 250 times.  Basically Hulu is getting FREE consumer feedback and showing its “appreciation” by letting users select the ads other users will watch all under the guise of charity.

I hope I’m not coming off as a curmudgeon because Hulu actually features a great deal of ads for charity, which is fabulous for raising awareness (glance through my Flickr set for examples).

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Hulu’s Superbowl AdZone

Posted in Uncategorized by Gladys Santiago on February 7, 2010

Hulu - Superbowl

The above image was part of a pre-roll ad that aired several hours before Superbowl XLIV.  In celebration of the game, Hulu launched a special section called AdZone which will feature Superbowl commercials after they air during the broadcast.  Hulu visitors will be allowed to vote on their favorite ad.  We all know that the ads are part of the Superbowl’s appeal and people expect them to be grandiose and entertaining.  The game is continuously the most-watched telecast of the year and is pretty much immune to time-shifting and audience segmentation, issues that are haunting broadcast networks.  The Hulu spot and the whole AdZone concept makes me wonder what kind of viewing behavior is Hulu encouraging?

Live blogging, Tweeting and chatting about shows as they air is becoming part of the viewing experience.  For an event that is synonymous to HD, big screen TVs, it seems Hulu is reminding visitors to go online for a more involved, informed and personalized feeling.  While Hulu is primarily a streaming video service and, the AdZone section does have some social network-like offerings, such as a message board.  The site provides a space for reflection and discussion where viewers can feel actively involved in a cultural event.

Visualizing Brand Mentions Using Hulu’s Captions Search

Posted in Advertising, Branding, Product Placements, Television by Gladys Santiago on January 17, 2010

Jamba Juice - 30 Rock - Klaus and Greta

The smoothie franchise, Jamba Juice was mentioned several times during the “Black Light Attack!” episode of 30 Rock.  As Jenna and James Franco work out the details of making their faux relationship believable, Franco mentions having a product placement deal with Jamba Juice.  It’s unclear if Jamba Juice actually paid to be mentioned in 30 Rock, but the show is notorious for blatantly calling out its sponsors in clever, tongue-in-cheek ways.  Regardless, the Jamba Juice mentions would probably register with many viewers and be monitored by services that track product placements.  Auditory brand integration are designed to resonate with viewers like their visual counterparts.      

Typically, brand mentions have only been coded and tracked in terms of mention counts and who uttered the brand name.  There’s nothing inherently visual about tracking brand mentions compared to on-screen integrations that can be timed for their visual duration and image-captured to analyze how much space a brand name or logo occupies within a scene.  One of the goals of my product placement Flickr set is to annotate where branding is featured during product placement occurrences.  In my set, the size of the Flickr annotations directly corresponds to the size of the branding displayed.  

Ever since Hulu introduced Captions Search, I’ve been trying to figure out how to utilize the feature to express brand mentions visually.  I’m fond of the “Heat Map” display, which is capable of outlining how far into a program a brand is mentioned.  A quick glance at the above Heat Map for Jamba Juice shows that the company was mentioned within the first five minutes of the episode and then again during the second segment.  If Jamba Juice sponsored the show, they would probably want their brand name to be scattered throughout all four segments of the show to ensure audience recall and engagement.  Heat Map can easily assist a media planner or product placement broker in ensuring that a brand mention is reinforced by subsequent mentions.  

Captions Search results are displayed as textual dialogue, which is makes creating a visualization or infographic difficult.  As Captions Search evolves from its beta form into a more dynamic feature, perhaps Hulu will be able to offer results that reads like a script and details character lines in a clearer manner.  According to my prior research on product placements, which characters interact with or mention a brand affects how audiences respond to integrations.  I noted above which characters mentioned Jamba Juice and even noted that brand was mentioned during a joke.  

If Captions Search were capable of conducting some sort of semantic analysis, highlighting areas of irony or humor would be very beneficial since people are more likely to remember a brand mentioned during a line of dialogue that made them laugh.  Perhaps tones in dialogue can be color-coded with humorous lines highlighted in yellow and serious, dramatic exchanges displayed in blue.  I’m an incredibly visual person and am a lover of words so I’m really anxious to begin organizing and analyzing Captions Search’s data on a graphic level.  I’m open to any tips on how to go about it or to program/application suggestions that might be helpful.

Diminishing Returns: When Product Placements Compete with Hulu’s Banner Ads

Posted in Advertising, Product Placements, Television by Gladys Santiago on January 17, 2010

Toyota vs. Chevrolet - Hulu

The above image features a scene from ABC’s Modern Family where Mitchell returns home with his adopted daughter, Lily.  Although, Modern Family, much like many other scripted ABC programs, relies heavily on product displacement, the Toyota logo on the back of Mitchell’s car lingers for a few seconds while a Chevy Malibu banner ad is displayed on screen. I don’t remember if a 30-second spot for Chevrolet ran as I watched the episode, but based on my Hulu experience, I’m pretty sure one did. I tend to watch shows in “fullscreen mode,” but naturally minimize my screen to the normal web view for a number of reasons. I would be interested in knowing what percentage of Hulu users watch shows in fullscreen or toggle between various views.

Regardless of my curiosity, I find it interesting that two competing car companies would appear simultaneously on the same screen. I’m not sure if the Toyota occurrence was a paid-for placement, but regardless, the logo is visible and probably decreases brand recall and awareness of the Chevy Malibu ad. Typically, during TV ad purchases, advertisers and networks go through great lengths to ensure that ads do not air during programs that feature heavy integrations of a rival brand. For example, you’re never going to see a commercial for Pepsi during Fox’s Coca-Cola-inundated American Idol. Including ads for competing companies within the same, program, commercial pod, scene or frame cannibalizes viewer attention and blurs brand messages.

While Hulu is primarily a video content hub, the company should begin encoding its content with information that might prove useful to advertisers. Annotating or tagging segments/scenes that contain brand names or logos can help determine which “program moments” deliver better ad performance. Pairing a Chevy Malibu banner ad with a scene that features a Toyota vehicle used by principle characters is just a bad idea. To me, Hulu is rich in data. I absolutely love the Captions Search feature and know that the data it generates will likely make Hulu more appealing to advertisers. I see the annotating/pinpointing of product integrations working on a backend level and possibly even being provided by the content owners themselves (ABC, NBC, Fox…). If a brand is integrated into a television show, it makes sense for that same brand to be integrated into a viewer’s Hulu experience as they enjoy their content.

Hulu’s Captions Search has the Potential to Change Online Video Consumption

Posted in Media, Television by Gladys Santiago on December 26, 2009

Hulu recently introduced Captions Search, which, as implied, allows viewers to search for their favorite lines of any show that features closed-captioning. This latest addition to the streaming video site is a complete game-changer as it allows users to easily find very specific content and share it with others. As search results are pull up, a Heat Map is also displayed that visually distinguishes where the desired content is located and which parts of the video are most popular.

While Captions Search is still a work in progress, I envision the Heat Map developing into a sort of Google Trends feature that not only lists what shows are viewed most, but also what specific content struck a chord with viewers. Heat Map is not only a snapshot of what people are watching, it’s an insight into what they are engaged with. They are recalling certain words, lines or scenes and actively seeking to return to that content. The creation of Captions Search is proof that viewers are becoming more involved with programs. Hulu is encouraging analytical viewing and curiosity.

Captions Search may not be able to precisely answer why people find certain content memorable, but I think it provides the opportunity for social scientists and cultural researchers to make connections and create stories. Captions Search has only been available for a few days and already the discussion board lists a topic on utilizing the feature as a research tool for school reports. It’s only a matter of time before it evolves into a tool for advertisers to monitor campaigns or for brands to manage their reputation and public relations efforts. From what I can determine, Hulu’s Captions Search operates a lot like Critical Mention search platform, but it’s geared to the average viewer and emphasizes content spreadability.

Image via: Hulu

Can Hulu’s In-Stream Ads Become Entertainment Content?

Posted in Advertising, Branding, Media, Television by Gladys Santiago on December 19, 2009

Flip Video - Hulu Ad

Ads are obviously used to increase brand awareness and likability, so as media habits change, adverting approaches need to evolve as well. Compared to television, watching videos online is significantly more active. People actively seek online video content as opposed to aimlessly flicking through channels. I’ve recently noticed a proliferation of Hulu ads that appeal to the more active, and possibly impatient, type of viewership emerging.

The Hulu ad package has gone from predictable overlays, slates and pre-rolls to experiences where viewers chose which ads play or watch “branded commercial-free” content (click here for video example). Last year, Hulu unveiled what I refer to as their “choices” feature, which provides the option of watching one long-form video or several shorter ones. Hulu describes it as a “win/win experience for both the advertiser and the user” (via: Hulu Case Study). This approach has evolved to Hulu offering viewers ad selection options, which of course provide for a more meaningful and memorable experience.

In a medium where people can search for, create and tune-out content so easily, it seems only natural for them decide what marketing messages they would like to receive. Unlike YouTube, which recently introduced an ad-skipping option to its site, even Hulu’s commercial fast-forwarding feature is brand-sponsored (click here for video example). What Hulu particularly succeeds at, is making its ads seem non-invasive. I’ll go as far to say that it’s creating opportunities for ads to be a form of entertainment. YouTube product manager, Phil Farhi states, “Advertisers like in-stream ads because they look and feel like TV ads,” however to truly reach and engage audiences pre-rolls/in-stream ads must mimic how people use the web (via: Adweek). Case in point: Lowe’s Christmas ads inviting users to tour its websites.

The Lowe’s ads combines terms like “mouse around” and “explore” with interactive displays that invite heavy click-through activity. Viewers are even invited to build their own online Christmas tree, which would obviously distract them from the program they’re watching. Farhi believes people are “less conditioned” to ad interruptions online, but I believe since the Internet consists of perpetual interruptions, advertisers just need to put audiences in the driver’s seat and make those interruptions entertaining.

Hulu in-stream ads aren’t going the way of the 30-second TV spot, they’re going the way of the app. By this I mean they have the potential to develop into fun ways to waste/occupy time. I recently saw a Hulu ad for Toyota that featured a trivia game before my program began. I played out of curiosity and boredom, but was overall impressed by the lack of the hard sell.  And with Hulu inevitably transitioning into both an ad-supported and subscription service, the advertising as entertainment approach seems even more appealing and less likely to draw resentment.