Hulu Rolls Out Self-Service Ad Tool to Woo Smaller Businesses

Closed beta will let marketers with modest budgets onto the platform

Interested advertisers will be vetted (along with their creative) through the same review process in place for Hulu's Advanced TV. Sources: Getty Images, Hulu
Headshot of Kelsey Sutton

Key insight:

Hulu is making its advertising platform more accessible to businesses with smaller marketing budgets.

The streamer, which is courting more advertisers as it’s further integrated into parent company Disney, is opening up a closed beta test of a self-service ad manager to small and medium-sized businesses, it said today. It’s the first self-service tool from Hulu and will give marketers the ability to start campaigns on the streamer with a minimum spend of $500.

Those marketers will be able to plan, manage and track their campaigns on the platform on their own.

“We’ve long enjoyed collaborating with many of the top 200 brands in the U.S., but we also want to accommodate smaller businesses with more modest budgets, many of whom are new to streaming TV,” Hulu director of self-service platform sales Faye Trapani wrote in a blog post announcing the beta. “With Hulu Ad Manager, we’re breaking down those barriers with a solution designed to democratize ad buying in premium television content.


With the beta, Hulu will slowly open up its ecosystem to more marketers, which the company says will also help diversify the kinds of creative that ad-supported viewers see. Interested advertisers can RSVP for a closed beta; their companies and their ads will be vetted through the review processes already in place via Hulu’s Advanced TV product.

The ad manager arrives in a marketing environment that has been rocked by the ongoing economic crisis brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic, and it also comes as many businesses look with increasing interest toward ad-supported streaming television. Peacock, NBCUniversal’s big bet on ad-supported streaming, debuted today, emphasizing its free and paid ad-supported tiers to consumers while working with 10 launch sponsors to roll out 85 pieces of creative.

Hulu has been “very careful” about opening up its platform too quickly, former ad sales chief Peter Naylor told Adweek last year (he left for Snap in April), and has resisted moves from other streamers to make ad inventory available on open programmatic exchanges. The expansion may help the streamer capitalize on the varying needs of smaller businesses that are still interested in spending on Hulu.

“We understand that small and medium-sized businesses are faced with mounting challenges,” Trapani wrote. “It’s critical for these businesses to have a way to get in front of their customers and communities.”

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