NEW YORK Hulu is drawing nearer to its goal of getting a big chunk of broadcast TV dollars thanks to an upfront commitment from MediaVest.
The Publicis Groupe agency is committing several million dollars of ad spending to Hulu over the next year as part of an upfront deal targeted to demographic clusters. The agreement includes at least six MediaVest clients, with potentially more to join.
That it was crafted on audience demos aligns Hulu's ad sales more closely with how broadcast deals are cut. Hulu determines demographics for its content based on a combination of data from Nielsen, comScore and its own user registration lists.
"It allows us to view online video more closely with how we view television," said Amanda Richman, managing director of digital at MediaVest. The deal represents a "significant" increase in spending on Hulu, she added, noting the money is being diverted from both broadcast TV spending and online budgets. Richman declined to give an exact amount of the commitment.
MediaVest will also research ad effectiveness on Hulu for placements within demographic categories.
For Hulu, the deal represents an important step in building its ad business to match its buzz factor. Since its public debut in March 2008, the site has steadily built its audience. According to comScore, Hulu is now the No. 2 video site, serving 393 million streams in August, more than triple a year earlier. The video hub has the largest cache of high-quality content online, with TV programming from NBC Universal, News Corp. and some Disney properties. CBS remains a holdout, with CBS Interactive head Quincy Smith recently saying Hulu is driving down the TV ratings for some programs.
Hulu is known for taking a hard line on ad rates, pushing for CPMs of $30 or more, significantly higher than TV prices. Screen Digest estimated in the spring Hulu only filled 60 percent of its inventory. It forecast Hulu's 2009 revenue at $120 million.
Richman said MediaVest has not struck a similar partnership with YouTube, although the company has wide-ranging partnership deals with its parent company, Google. YouTube has struck some deals for premium content, but it has far less than Hulu.
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