Hulu Is Going to Display Static Ads When Viewers Hit Pause

The offering will launch in Q2 of this year

A 'pause ad unit' will appear on select content in Hulu's library for subscribers. Hulu

After a viewer pauses a program and leaves it for a period of time, Hulu will display an ad.

The new advertising experience, what the streaming service is calling a “pause ad unit,” will appear on select content in Hulu’s library for subscribers. Only subscribers to the cheaper, ad-supported content will see the ads. With this new way of advertising, Hulu aims to capitalize on the “unique, natural break” in how a viewer watches content, said Jeremy Helfand, vp, head of ad platforms at Hulu.

If a viewer pauses the content and doesn’t do anything else, like fast forward or skip to another show, an ad will appear and stay on the screen with the paused content until the viewer resumes play.

“This was a pivotal moment to put a stake in the ground,” Helfand told Adweek in a wide-ranging discussion on how Hulu is catering to an audience with changing viewing habits and partnering with brands that want to reach them.

The unit will launch in the second quarter of this year, Helfand said, with Coca Cola and Charmin as beta partners.

“This is a unique and unexpected ad experience that can deliver our “Enjoy the Go” messaging in a way that is non-disruptive and user-initiated, and we’re glad to be a part of this new innovation,” said Janette Yauch, Charmin Brand Director, in a statement.

In the process of developing the idea last year, Hulu realized the ads needed to be subtle, static (so as not to be confused with the content the viewer was watching) and relevant to the viewer.

It’s another way Hulu is offering innovative advertising to appease brands wanting to tell a more enriching story in their ads and audiences wanting a relevant, non-cumbersome viewing experience, Helfand said.

Hulu has consistently expanded its offerings. At its NewFronts presentation last year, the company announced it would introduce advertising in its live TV product. And it looks like that has paid off.

Hulu recently reported two new records for the streaming service: attracting 25 million total subscribers and growing ad revenue to almost $1.5 billion.

“Advertisers recognize that viewing habits have changed, but good advertising hasn’t,” Helfand said.

@SaraJerde Sara Jerde is publishing editor at Adweek, where she covers traditional and digital publishers’ business models. She also oversees political coverage ahead of the 2020 election.