Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Is Hulu Redefining What Constitutes an Impression?

Hulu announced today that they are changing the way they charge for impressions.

Instead of charging for the full view of a commercial—even if only five seconds are watched—they will now only charge only if all of the commercial is consumed by the viewer.

What Hulu is doing is vetting the importance of view duration. In a sense, they’re redefining the definition of an impression.

I congratulate Hulu for this while at the same time criticizing them for continuing with forced views. The only way for a viewer to skip a commercial on Hulu is to give up on the program they want to watch. Which is why the completion rate of commercials on Hulu is 96%.

So there’s really little risk in this new thing they are doing.

And, little upside.

A forced view doesn’t mean anyone paid any attention whatsoever to the commercial. Emails are checked. Bathrooms are visited. Everything but actually watching the commercial takes place. No new data is really shared with anyone.

But that could change if Hulu let the viewer control the interaction. Watching only as much of the commercial as interested him/her before fast-forwarding right through to the program.

This would be data that would be of use to the advertiser in regards to the engagement level of the commercial.

Data the advertiser would pay for.

So Hulu would collect two fees. A placement fee. And, a data fee.

What they’re doing now sounds good. But as long as Hulu sticks with forced views, all it really is is semantics.

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