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Got 30 seconds? Fox experiments with shorter, interactive ads on Hulu

hulu will offer interactive ads on fox shows mindy project
As the streaming landscape continues to get more crowded — and more cutthroat — Hulu is looking to shake things up when it comes to its ad format.

After launching a new, more expensive subscription service that cuts ads all together, the primarily ad-supported service will now offer viewers the option of shorter, interactive ads. Fox (whose parent company 21st Century Fox is a co-owner of Hulu) has rolled out the first such option for a 30-second interactive ad experience for its programming, as opposed to the usual practice of showing interspersed ads totaling about two and a half minutes each.

Fox’s ad tech sector TrueX explained that the new engagement ads are more effective than traditional digital ads because they “guarantee the full attention of the viewer.” Wall Street Journal notes that Hulu has experimented with other ad formats in the past, including one that let viewers order a pizza or see a 360-degree view of a car’s interior.

“The whole purpose is to get out [of] this heavy ad-loading environment, where consumers are ad blocking and consumers are ad avoiding,” explained TrueX founder Joe Marchese to WSJ. “We need to start fixing the interruptive ad model.”

The ads will initially be placed only on desktops and smartphones where it’s easy for users to click, but the goal is to eventually roll them out to Hulu-compatible set-top boxes. Only Fox shows will use the ad technology at first, but Hulu said it will give other media companies the option as well.

TrueX Vice President of Research Jamie Auslander exhibited the ad technology at an advertising event in May according to Adweek. In the demo, online viewers of Fox’s The Mindy Project were given the choice to watch an interactive video for 30 seconds instead of five 30-second commercials throughout the show. This particular interactive ad, for Microsoft, showed a page with three of the company’s tablets that viewers could customize and then click through to buy from Microsoft’s website.

“Like Hulu, TrueX has been a pioneer of interactive advertising formats,” said Hulu CEO Mike Hopkins in a statement. “We are pleased to partner with TrueX to bring choice based advertising to viewers watching Fox Networks Group Content.”

Food and beverage company Mondelez International, which owns Swedish Fish, Halls and Ritz, is the first marketer to sign on to run these new interactive ads.

Chris Leo Palermino
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Chris Leo Palermino is a music, tech, business, and culture journalist based between New York and Boston. He also contributes…
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