Hulu’s New Platform Targets SMBs with Massive Ad Credits

Localogy continues to expand its coverage of all things local into payments, human capital, augmented reality, and other new sectors that increasingly impact local. Yet we always have a soft spot for topics related to advertising and media. Thus we find Disney-owned Hulu’s new ad proposition for small and medium-sized businesses quite interesting.

Yesterday Hulu released its new Ad Manager — a self-service tool for SMBs to buy ads on the Hulu platform. Anyone who knows me is aware that I have been advocated that SMBs are ready for self-service ad platforms. This debate often got side-tracked into DIY (do it yourself) discussions. What we’ve always believed is that many SMBs – probably more each day – are ready to buy ad solutions on their own, but they will need support and help in the implementation and tracking of those programs. 

In this context, Hulu’s effort is very interesting to us. According to Disney’s most recent quarterly report, Hulu counts some 32 million subscribers in the U.S. We’ll assume about 90% of these subscribers opted for the ad-supported service. So that’s 30 million subscribers. 

That’s the audience Hulu is opening to the SMB market. According to Faye Trapani, Hulu’s Director of Self Service Platform Sales, the service is in beta and actively recruiting businesses. We looked up Faye’s experience. Her time at Facebook in partnerships and ecosystem management should serve her well at Hulu. 

Moving Beyond Brands

Hulu’s goal is to extend its ad platform well beyond the usual suspects of 200 or so national brands. The new SMB platform requires a minimum campaign spend of $500. We don’t know what the $500 would buy in terms of audience but we expect to find out in due time. Apparently the company is not relying on a sales team (at least at the moment or not publicly) to pursue SMBs, though they will be offered support. The screenshot below “suggests” an easy to use interface. We don’t yet know if that is actually the case. 

Hulu subscribers will not be subjected to inappropriate ad content due to an automated and human review process.

With election day just 110 days away, we would think that local and national campaigns will look seriously ad using the Hulu platform. It would make sense for local congressional races, in particular, to use the platform if its targeting capabilities are sufficiently precise. That said, while there’s plenty of money in political advertising, we’re not certain that is the market Hulu is trying to reach.

Finally, as part of the launch, the company is offering up to $100 million in advertising credits to SMBs. Notably, the Chinese social platform TikTok has released its own SMB DIY platform, also with abundant ad credits to prime the pump.

Hulu’s new platform and generous ad credits come at a time when businesses across the country are struggling with the opening and closing of communities based on the level of COVID-19 cases. We doubt congressional race XYZ would qualify for the ad credits but one never knows.

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