Hulu CEO Talks Advertising and the Hulu Formula

    April 22, 2009
    Chris Crum

Jason Kilar, CEO of Hulu delivered a keynote speech at ad:tech San Francisco. In the speech he discussed the state of advertising and of course his site Hulu, which has taken the online video world by storm.

Coverage of the ad:tech San Francisco conference continues at WebProNews Videos. Stay with WebProNews for more notes and videos from the event this week.

On Advertising

Jason KilarHe said that so many advertising experiences are just awful. "We’re under-performing as an industry," he said.

He mentioned magazine subscriber cards, and that maybe one or two of them can be effective, but not twenty. He also mentioned billboards, and that they’ve lost effectiveness since there are so many and consumers have to absorb them in such a short amount of time.

Talking about advertising services, he said many of them tend to be an afterthought. Companies have great ideas, and then they realize they have to make money and throw some ads together, and this isn’t going to cut it with consumers, he added. "Over time, all services are held accountable." But this is a good thing.

Kilar then said that the good news is that there are glimmers of excellence out there and proceeded to show examples of magazines with "good" ads that people don’t realize are ads.

On Hulu

Talking about Hulu, Kilar says that early on, they had audacious aspirations to build the world’s most effective video advertising service. They wanted to make a service that users, content owners, and advertisers unabashedly love, and they didn’t want to compromise.

One of the most important steps Hulu took was when they first started, they didn’t get computers first. Instead, they invested in white board wallpaper and wrote on the wall what they wanted to be.

They realized they needed to obsess over BOTH users (reasonable ad load, put users in control, be relevant, design matters) and advertisers (brand recall, message recall, favorability, purchase intent).

"Users love the fact that they can control the ad experience," Kilar says of Hulu. With some ads, Hulu lets the user participate in the ad experience by letting them vote if they like the ad or not.

Hulu Ads

The key takeaway from Kilar’s keynote is this: "Build something that YOU would unabashedly love as a user and an advertiser."

Abby Johnson contributed to this report.