If there’s one thing consistent in this world, it’s how companies are always finding new and creative ways to shove ads in your face. Hulu’s latest experiment involves a less abrasive strategy than the usual video ad break—it’s going to place static banner ads on the screen when you pause your video starting in the second quarter of this year.
As stands, this is just a test rather than a full-blown roll-out, and will start with only two brands—Charmin and Coca-Cola. It’ll apply only to Hulu-owned content, which includes its original shows and licensed videos, Digiday reported. A visual rendering of what these ads might look like shows a small Charmin banner on the right side of the pause screen overlaid on an episode of Marvel’s Runaways. A zoomed out version of this Charmin pause ad is available on Variety. It’s immediately obvious to me that this type of advertising will likely result in at least one meme, thanks to the eventual misguided placement of an ad and its corresponding pause screen. But that’s only if the viewer sees it—the ad reportedly won’t pop up until five seconds after the video is paused in the event that someone is just rewinding or fast-forwarding.
“It’s less startling to the viewer,” Jeremy Helfand, VP and head of ad platforms at Hulu told Digiday. Side by side, this is arguably a less aggressive approach than interruptive video ads, though it’s unclear if streams with these banner ads will include fewer or shorter video ads.
While this static Charmin ad looks relatively harmless compared to some of its counterparts in the ad business, this format is still in its early stages, and it seems bound to evolve into something more annoying. According to Helfand, Hulu will also play around with the idea of sliding the ad onto your screen from the top or the side of the video, or making it interactive. A static Charmin bear is tolerable. A Charmin bear careening down from the top of your screen prompting you to click on its toilet paper roll for a discount code sounds more like a nightmare.