First launched in 2007, Hulu is a subscription-based video-on-demand streaming service that is now owned by both The Walt Disney Company and Comcast. It began life as a way to stream recent episodes of television series from certain major networks but has since expanded to include both movies and original content that can’t be found anywhere else.
One of the things that originally made Hulu notable was that, unlike competing services like Netflix, it displayed commercials alongside the content people were consuming. A Hulu commercial list 2021 can be used to showcase relevant content to users typically and ideally before and during their favorite programming. From the perspective of a marketer, this means that your Hulu advertising campaign can potentially run on a wide range of different devices – from gaming consoles to built-in apps on smart televisions to streaming boxes, like the Apple TV and more. Hulu advertising specs dictate that all ads must be in high definition and have at least stereo sound. The Hulu Ad Manager also has additional requirements for Hulu commercial 2021, like the fact that ad durations can only be between 15 and 30 seconds and must be in the 16:9 aspect ratio.
All told, a Hulu advertising strategy is a perfect opportunity for marketers to take their message to an audience that is as engaged as it is large. According to one recent study, as of the third quarter of commercials on Hulu 2021, Hulu has hit an impressive 42.8 million subscribers around the world.
As stated, Hulu ad products have several clear requirements that marketers must follow to be approved by the platform. In terms of video technical specifications, these include things like:
- They must have a bit depth of 8 or 16 bits.
- Ads require a Hulu bitrate to be at a minimum of 15,000 kb/s, which is the equivalent of 15 Mb/s.
- They must use chroma sub-sampling of 4:2:0 or 4:2:2.
- The preferred codec ID is ProRes HQ, although H.264 is accepted.
- The color space is YUV.
- The preferred resolution is 1920 x 1080 for Hulu High Definition, although 1280 x 720 is accepted for Hulu Standard Definition.
- Accepted file extensions include either .mov or .mp4.
- The maximum file size can be 3 GB.
- Acceptable formats include QuickTime, MOV or MPEG-4.
- Acceptable frame rates include 23.98, 25 or 29.97 frames per second.
As expected, Hulu audio settings are equally specific. Requirements here include:
- A bit depth of 16 or 24 bits for all two-channel audio tracks.
- A minimum nitrate of 192 kb/s.
- At least two channel Estero audio.
- The audio must match the duration of the video.
- Acceptable Hulu sound quality file extensions include PCM and AAC.
- A minimum sampling rate of 48 kHz.
With regards to third-party tags and programmatic content, there are several additional requirements. These include ones like:
- A 1920 x 1080 resolution, but 1280 x 720 is also accepted. Of course, the aspect ratio must still be 16:9 regardless.
- For any 4:3 aspect ratio content, the resolution needs to be 1440 x 1080.
- Letterboxing – meaning when black bars are placed above or on the sides of the ad – on native 1.78:1 or 1.33:1 is not acceptable.
- Ads are preferred to have a constant bitrate of between 15 to 60 Mbps.
- Having said that, a variable bitrate of 20 to 60 Mbps will also be accepted.
- Ads must support Main Profile at Main Level, also commonly referred to as MP@ML.
- They must be filmed in the 4:2:2 color space.
With regards to programmatic advertising, in particular, it’s important to note that Hulu does accept standard tags and supports VAST – but only from Hulu approved vendors. Some of these programmatic partners include but are certainly not limited to ones like The Trade Desk, Roku OneView, Adobe, Sizmek, AppNexus, Tremor, and MediaMath, among others.
Hulu does support VPAID in VAST tags for vendors that have been previously approved. Understand, however, that a vendor can be approved for VAST but not approved for VPAID in VAST. It will depend largely on whichever vendor you’re talking about. As of 2021, Hulu does not accept wrappers on VASTs.
Once the ads have been uploaded, Hulu will manage a significant part of the process in terms of hosting. This includes encoding, hosting and streaming of all creative assets. Just a few of the metrics available through the platform include impressions, clicks, completion rate and CTR.
Unfortunately, because video commercials are not “directly clickable” on most devices that people will be using to view them on, CTA buttons that appear as clickable and that include phrases like “Click Here” or “Buy Now” are not allowed. URLs, hashtags and QR codes are also not accepted as of 2021.
Finally, any Hulu ad products an advertiser might choose to upload needs to be submitted without any leaders. Examples of these include slates and countdowns. Hulu will also not accept stitched ads at this time. Therefore, it’s not possible to take two 15 second ads and join them together as one larger 30 second ad.
Hulu ad specs differ in several interesting ways from YouTube ads and Roku ad specifications in particular. This is true in terms of YouTube ad specs, the Roku ad framework and more.
Required YouTube specs include, but are not limited to ones like:
- YouTube ad formats include shippable ads that the viewer can skip after five seconds.
- Supported platforms include not only desktop computers but also mobile devices, television sets and gaming consoles.
- Non-skippable ads must be watched before associated content can be viewed. These can be 15 or 20 seconds in length, depending on regional standards.
- Overlay ads – meaning the types of ads that overlay an image or text that appear on only the lower 20% of the video content – are only supported on desktop devices.
- These must be 468 by 60 pixels or 728 by 90 pixels in size.
Roku ad specs are similarly specific:
- Ads need to be available in both standard definition and high definition formats that are appropriate for displaying on large television screens. Resolutions of less than
- 720 x 480 pixels, or with frame rates of less than 30 frames per second, are not allowed on the platform.
- Roku apps can not run the same ad more than one time during a single break from the content that someone is viewing.
- Ads cannot repeat more than two times per hour, per user.
- Ads cannot repeat more than five times in the same day on a per user basis.
- Ads that display during a television show or movie that someone is watching are not allowed to do so until at least seven minutes of the aforementioned content have
- been viewed. From that point on, they can appear no more frequently than at seven minute intervals.
So while both the Roku specs and YouTube ad specs do give advertisers a lot of options in terms of where and how their audience sees their content, it’s clear that Hulu commercials are beneficial in several ways. Not only do they give advertisers more control over the format and placement of their commercials, but the structure is one that closely mimics that of traditional television. In other words, an experience that people are already used to.
In the end, Hulu advertising has allowed the platform to evolve into one of the major players in the Connected TV advertising world as of 2021. Gone are the days when audiences would all gather in front of their televisions and watch the same thing at the same time. Today, an audience’s attention is fractured – but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
They have very specific requirements as to what shape a Hulu marketing plan can take, but they’re also shaping the Connected TV video quality requirements significantly. These days, people expect a certain quality experience from the content they view. They’re leaving cable and over-the-air television in droves in favor of something that allows them to watch whatever they want, whenever they want it, absolutely no exceptions.
It’s not that they’re against advertising – most definitely far from it. It’s just that they want the same quality experience that they’ve come to expect from their streaming services. Marketers who understand that will undoubtedly have the Hulu advertising revenue to match. Therefore, it’s critical to follow these video specs for all advertisers – both for those who are currently working with the CTV landscape and for those who are looking to get into Connected TV in the not-too-distant future.