Hulu Has a Pause That Refreshes for Advertisers

At a time when TV networks are looking for new ways to deliver advertiser messages without annoying viewers, Hulu is rolling out a new idea: ads that appear after a subscriber presses the pause button on the remote control.

Coca-Cola and Procter & Gamble’s Charmin have signed up to beta test the pause ads. Hulu plans to introduce the new format in the second quarter for some shows from its streaming library.

The pause ads feature still messages--not video--and appear on screen over a portion of the frozen scene from the program a few seconds after the playback stops, to ensure the viewer isn’t trying to rewind or fast-forward.

The ads are being designed to fit contextually with the program that’s being watched and will use distinct colors to differentiate them from programming. In one example for Charmin, the ads seem to know the viewer might be heading to a bathroom break.

Related: Hulu Letting Subscribers Know About Price Changes

Subscribers to Hulu’s ad free service won’t be seeing these pause ads.

Jeremy Helfand, VP and head of advertising platforms at Hulu, called the new format “a non-intrusive, viewer-initiated ad experience that is both delighting to viewers and effective for brands.”

In a blog post, Helfand says Hulu had conducted extensive users testing. “Our pause ad research found that consumer generally preferred ads that were subtle and non-intrusive. These insights led us to take our current approach to pause ads, and the research so far has shown a positive response from viewers,” he said.

Hulu said it will make sure that viewers don’t see too many of these pause ads. They will be kept within Hulu’s overall commercial frequency cap of two per 50 minutes.

Earlier this month, Hulu announced that its ad revenues for 2018 had jumped 45% to $1.5 billion,

The company also said it would offer advertisers an in-house measurement tool that will measure the effectiveness of their streaming campaigns on Hulu.

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.