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Hulu's Hopkins, GroupM's Gotlieb Sound Optimistic Notes

Kicking off the second day of the Paley Center's "Deals & Dealmaking" conference, Mike Hopkins, CEO of Hulu, and Irwin Gotlieb, chairman of ad giant GroupM, registered cautious optimism about the arrival of true multiplatform measurement and monetization tools.

"Every time the business gets more complex, our scope of work grows," Gotlieb said. Thanks to technology, "I can find consumers at census level. I can de-duplicate. And I can do all that with much more precision than I could in the past."

Hopkins emphasized the importance of advertising for Hulu, which he estimated accounts for about 50% of the company's total revenue. He said all programmers' ability to monetize multiplatform viewing, especially in his ad-supported SVOD neighborhood, is improving markedly.

"It's getting closer and closer to an indifference point," he said. Adjusting ad strategies and being less rigid about 30-second spots and 5-to-7-minute pods is also key. "Consumers are voting" by skipping ads and customizing their experience. "But when you have a lighter ad load, people watch more, so volume increases."

Addressability has also become more viable. "And we have talked about that as the Holy Grail for 35 years," Hopkins said. Through the dialogue between brands and consumers made possible by mobile devices, Hulu has introduced new wrinkles like shorter ads. One recent spot for Tic-Tac mints lasted just five seconds "and was very effective," he said.

Hulu's new ad-free tier, introduced over the summer, has been a niche option bypassed by "the vast majority of subscribers," as the company expected, Hopkins said.