Hulu is moving into phase two of its advanced TV strategy almost two years after launching its private exchange.
But the market has changed since then, and Hulu has evolved its own ad technology stack in lockstep.
For starters, Facebook shuttered the LiveRail supply-side platform (SSP) and ad server last year, so Hulu migrated to Tremor’s video SSP.
Rather than entering a drawn-out RFP process, Hulu specifically looked for SSP providers that were building out specialized capabilities in over-the-top (OTT) TV.
“Because we run a lot of proprietary technology, our engineering teams were pretty familiar with them [Tremor], which is absolutely necessary for us to be successful,” explained Doug Fleming, head of advanced TV for Hulu. “We’re really looking for technology that enables us to do the things the way we want to do them.”
Hulu still uses Oracle’s data management platform, but has since expanded its third-party data access for agency partners such as Horizon Media and Dentsu Aegis – both of which use Hulu’s advanced TV system.
“The adoption of advanced TV is really about getting us live in over-the-top,” Fleming said. “For the first time, we’re able to provide clients the ability to buy on us across screens in an automated fashion. That was a significant driver as part of our discovery phase and really the differentiator for the second phase of our journey.”
Although Hulu grew up with digital DNA, more than 70% or more of Hulu viewing now happens in the living room through connected devices.
And because so much TV inventory is moving to a cookieless environment, Hulu wanted to support new data sets and allow advertisers the opportunity to leverage their own data.
So, in addition to Oracle BlueKai and Datalogix, Hulu also has added Acxiom and LiveRamp as a data partner.
“In the OTT environment there are no cookies, so we knew we had to augment our offering,” Fleming said. “We are about choice at Hulu, whether it’s your platform or plan, but also how you advertise with us. It’s why we did a deal with Acxiom to allow those advertisers with CRM data a platform to move that data to us.”
Although more and more Hulu viewers are tuning in through connected TV devices, Hulu must support a cross-platform video strategy since consumers are accessing its content from all channels, including desktop.
Regardless of the access point, Hulu wants to merge more data and automation into all channels where video consumption is happening.
Hulu’s programmatic strategy reflects that convergence.
Hulu doesn’t rely on a traditional waterfall. Instead, advanced TV inventory competes at the same priority level as a direct buy, and Hulu claims all inventory is premium long-form, charged only on 100% completion.
If a client wants to buy through a direct I/O or private marketplace, it can do both.
There is one caveat: To buy Hulu inventory, advertisers need to go through a Hulu sales rep or source to gain access to Hulu’s inventory.
However, if agency clients leverage their trading desk teams to activate against their plans, as long as the DSPs are approved and Hulu certified, agencies can execute the deal programmatically with their own tools.
“It’s not an either-or for us,” Fleming said. “As more of the marketplace shifts toward automation, we wanted to provide the tools so we can accept that buy. I’ve never been charged with growing our team to go chase trade desks. It’s always been about how do we automate process, integrate data and become more data-informed and data-driven.”