Hulu Finally Unveils Transactional Ad Format, GatewayGo, at NewFronts

Streamer emphasizes Disney ties in pitch to marketers

Hulu is emphasizing its ties to the bigger Disney portfolio in conversations with marketers. Hulu

Key insight:

Hulu has been teasing a transactional ad format for almost a year. Now, in time for this year’s NewFronts presentation, the new ad format is finally here.

GatewayGo will allow ad-supported viewers to send a special offer to their phones or emails, and will give advertisers a more direct way to try to convert those viewers into customers. The ad format, one of several Hulu has introduced in recent years, will let advertisers use second-screen tech like QR codes and push notifications to encourage immediate action, and comes as shoppable television ads and other conversion-centered formats are being pursued by streaming video platforms and television companies alike.

It’s one of several new offerings Hulu is pitching to marketers this week during the 2020 Digital Content NewFronts. And for the first time, Hulu is working hand-in-hand with parent company Disney to emphasize that marketers can start with Hulu to work across the entire Disney portfolio through its OnePlatform offering.

“Hulu is paving the way forward for consumers and brands with the power of Disney behind us,” Hulu president Kelly Campbell told marketers during the streamer’s NewFronts presentation today. “The Walt Disney Company has a long history of innovating, turning the unimaginable into reality, and nowhere is this spirit more evident than here at Hulu.”

The streamer, which last week merged Hulu and Disney’s advertising, technology and product operations teams into a unified ad-tech team, is emphasizing to marketers Disney Hulu XP, which can reach addressable audiences across the entire Disney and Hulu portfolio. That offering, first detailed at the Disney Upfront roadshow, will roll out in October.

Hulu’s in-house creative studio Greenhouse also emphasized its place as part of Disney’s creative studio CreativeWorks. And in addition to the new ad format, Hulu has integrated Nielsen Media Impact, an audience planning tool that will let marketers examine their ad spend across the entire Disney Advertising Sales platform.

Hulu’s nine-part presentation, delivered in one back-to-back session, tapped Hulu talent like Golden Globe winner and Adweek cover star Ramy Youssef, The Handmaid’s Tale star Elisabeth Moss and comedian Amy Schumer to remotely deliver research and information about upcoming shows and Hulu’s viewership. New programming was unsurprisingly a major focus, and since production shutdowns meant many of the series didn’t have trailers to share, stars offered their own promos and sneak previews from the comfort of their own homes.

A new season of The Handmaid’s Tale is coming to the streamer in 2021, as are four new original dramas, including the limited docuseries Dopesick, dramas The Mysterious Benedict Society and Nine Perfect Strangers, and the limited series The Dropout. Wu-Tang: An American Saga, is also coming back for a second season.

There are several comedies as well, including season renewals of the hit Hulu original animated series Solar Opposites and Crossing Swords. New comedies include the Schumer-led Love, Beth; Only Murders in the Building, starring Steve Martin and Martin Short; and Woke, a semi-animated series featuring Lamorne Morris. (Woke, centered on the life of Black cartoonist Keith Knight and his experiences with police brutality and racism, is “right on time,” Morris said.)

FX on Hulu, which debuted in March and has already been well received, also got a spotlight during Hulu’s presentation. On Hulu, FX has expanded its reach by 130%, the streamer said today; more than 50% of Hulu subscribers have engaged with FX on Hulu. New FX originals, including drama The Old Man starring Jeff Bridges, and the anthology weekly series American Horror Story, are soon coming to the streamer as part of the ongoing strategy of bulking up Hulu with FX’s award-winning programming.

The streamer, like the others that presented during today’s lineup of presentations, is emphasizing that streaming is a must-buy due to shifting consumer habits. The hope, from all of those presenters, is that they can lock in bigger chunks of marketers’ advertising budgets.

“Streaming is leading one of the most profound consumer behavior shifts in history. For advertisers, streaming TV is no longer a nice-to-have or a place to test and learn. It’s a must-have, and it will redefine advertising in the same way that search did 20 years ago,” Campbell said. “Hulu is proven in this space and was made for this very moment.”

Adweek is covering the NewFronts presentation by presentation this week. Follow along with all of our coverage here.

@kelseymsutton Kelsey Sutton is the streaming editor at Adweek, where she covers the business of streaming television.