hulubrandspotlight header Brand Spotlight: Hulu

By Tara Lane, Staff Writer

Beyond a product, a brand is important for establishing a company’s image in the eyes of its customers. On the Internet, it’s even harder for a Web-only brand to establish itself, considering the hundreds, if not thousands, of other sites ready to take its place. In order to get the attention of users, offering a unique product is key, while putting a solid brand and image behind it.

Hulu, a relatively new video-viewing site, is changing the way people watch television. Launched in 2007 to a small set of private beta users, the site has experienced massive growth and a boost in market share in only two short years. It was started as a joint venture by NBC Universal, Fox Newscorp, and ABC Inc. Its popularity has spread like wildfire, delivering product that is hard to compete with – because it’s one of the only few sites that delivers rich. accessible content.

Hulu has not gone unnoticed by our friends Creo the Creative, Ana the analyst, and Connie the Consumer, who we’ve gathered together for another brand spotlight. The innovative branding efforts and unique business model instituted by Hulu have caught the attention of Creo, while Ana is impressed by the site’s growth and rankings within the Web community. An avid TV viewer, Connie likes Hulu because it is a convenient and simple medium, which is often hard to find on competitor sites. Hulu listened to what people want, and has delivered beyond expectations.

Creo the Creative: When I first saw the TV advertisements by Hulu, I have to admit I was skeptical. In these commercials, actors are representatives of Hulu, describing how Hulu is a plot to take over the world and turn our brains to mush. After using the site and seeing more of the commercials, though, I’m actually impressed, and very amused. I like that the company can poke fun at itself and respond to criticism in a subtle way. People who may have never heard of Hulu before seeing a commercial will certainly be intrigued by what they’ve seen – a brilliant advertising tactic, if you ask me.

Ana the Analyst: The numbers speak for themselves, Creo. This past July, Hulu viewership surpassed that of Time Warner Cable, one of the most popular cable providers in the United States. Fast Company reports that 38 million viewers watched at least one video on Hulu in July, while 34 million went watched their TV. I’m still baffled by the growth they’ve experienced, but I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. They deliver rich content at no cost to the user, something we’ve all been searching for.

Connie the Consumer: That’s exactly why I’m a fan, Ana. While it was certainly helpful when the major networks started offering streaming episodes of popular shows on their individual Web sites, the players were often hard to use, or wouldn’t even work. Hulu has always been dependable, and doesn’t require me to download anything. The quality of the images is excellent, too. Hulu gives me everything I want, for absolutely free.

Ana: To monetize their content, Hulu has built an impressive ad structure. The brand holds its advertisers to a high standard when it comes to producing the ad content viewers will see. They know that if ads are boring and unappealing, not only will they not be effective, but viewers are less likely to return. Viewers don’t seem to mind sitting through a 30 second commercial if they’re getting the content they want.

Creo: Also with its advertising, Hulu often offers viewers choices, to either watch a longer commercial before the show and have a commercial-free experience, or to continue as normal with scheduled breaks. That choice is something you don’t typically find with other online video sites.

Connie: One of my favorite features is often overlooked by most viewers. They also offer full-length movies, from films that have just been released on DVD to older, nostalgic movies that may be hard to come by elsewhere, and interesting documentaries. Networks also provide exclusive Web content, such as exclusive behind-the-scenes features, interviews with the cast, and other features you don’t normally see even with a DVD set. I have yet to see another site that can match any of these features.

Ana: I think what surprises me the most about Hulu in general is that it was launched by companies that are usually in competition with each other, fighting for viewers and numbers each week. The fact that they could come together has helped them immensely. As the fourth most-viewed video site on the Internet, maybe other companies can learn something from Hulu and the networks behind it.

Creo: They did a smart thing by launching the site to select users in the beginning, requiring invitations and passwords to experience the site. Those few users then went on to tell their friends when Hulu went public, meaning they already had a solid user base from the start. There is just so much more I can say about Hulu, but I’ll let people discover it for themselves, just like I did. Word-of-mouth marketing has seriously contributed to Hulu’s growth and appeal; their ads are secondary to the power of the public to spread the word.

Embedded Video (Alec Baldwin Commercial)