Hulu: Pitfall Of Serving Too Many Of The Same Commercials Repeatedly

Hulu: Pitfall Of Serving Too Many Of The Same Commercials Repeatedly

by , Staff Writer @lauriesullivan, August 19, 2022

It might be an understatement that frequency capping doesn’t work as well as it should — especially across the video and connected television (CTV) industries. I’ve heard it from more than one executive, and read it in results of several surveys during the past week.

Google earlier this week released an update as well as improvements to how frequency caps work. In the announcement, Charles Cebuhar, senior director, digital activation at OMG Center of Excellence, said managing frequency for Programmatic Guaranteed deals with more exchanges is critical to help further reduce waste associated with ad overexposure.

For Google, once a campaign reaches its goal for certain users — whether via open auction, Programmatic Guaranteed, or a combination of the two — Display & Video 360 will stop serving up the ads to these users, but continue to prioritize and deliver the agreed number of impressions from the guaranteed deals. 

A Whip Media report, Streaming Satisfaction Report August 2022, found that Hulu users complained they saw the same commercials too frequently compared with other services. The findings were part of a survey of nearly 2,500 users of its TV Time app in the United States that was fielded earlier this year.

The data is part of a larger study about customer satisfaction with subscription video services in the United States and their experiences with ad-based video-on-demand (AVOD) of major streaming services.

Among those who use the ad-supported Hulu subscription service, 41% said they are “kind of annoyed by the commercials and 26% said they were “very annoyed.” Paramount+ followed with 36% and 14%, Peacock with 35% and 16%, Paramount Discovery+ with 30% and 13%, and HBO Max with 27% and 11%, respectively.

Users of the services said Hulu’s ad loads are heavier than most in the industry. HBO Max was the only service that users reported feeling the number of commercials was less than expected. Their ad loads are very low at only 4 minutes per hour, and HBO originals on the ad-supported tier do not carry any commercials.

Some 73% of Hulu users said they see the same commercial repeatedly. Only 13% said they saw a variety of commercials, while 14% say they do not notice them and can’t say if they saw the same ad or not.

While Hulu users say they see the most of the same commercial repeatedly, the other services are not far behind. Discovery+ users, at 57%, said they see the same ad repeatedly, followed by Paramount+ users at 55% who say the same; Peacock, at 53%; and HBO Max, at 41%.

The data also shows the experience that viewers have with commercials can impact attitudes about overall satisfaction for the platforms. However, HBO Max’s ad-free service is only 4 points higher than Hulu on satisfaction, the closest margin of any two services. HBO Max’s ad-supported tier is 8 points higher than Hulu’s on that measure. Some 95% viewing on an ad-free service are satisfied, compared with 92% that see ads.

Among those who subscribe to Netflix, 43% said it is very unlikely they would switch to a lower-cost service that had commercials in the programming, even as the company attempts to create an ad-supported streaming service.

It may be an understatement that frequency capping doesn’t work as well as it should, especially across the video and CTV industries. I read this in results of several surveys during the past week.