Earlier this month, NewTeeVee reported the results of a study by VivaKi on the best online video ad units. The accuracy and impartiality of the data collection and analysis apparently is open to some debate, but the bottom line is that the results indicate that Hulu could be revolutionizing the use of advertisements with streaming online video, simply by letting viewers choose the ads they want to see.
If you haven’t experienced this yet yourself, there are at least two different approaches used by Hulu. One will present you with a choice of three ads, and you get to choose which one to watch. In many cases, all three are for the same product. The other choice is to watch a long-form ad or movie trailer instead of a shorter version, and in return, you do not have to watch any other commercials for the remainder of the show.
This type of choice was never possible with traditional broadcast TV. The point-to-point nature of streaming content on the Internet, however, makes it easier to add interactive features. It appears that commercials are less objectionable when the viewer is given some measure of control. I also think, however, that this will develop in the future to allow the services to deliver choices specific to your interests. Think for a moment about Google AdWords; advertisers know that their ads will only appear when a user searches for specific terms that are relevant to the advertiser’s products. Well, services like Google know a lot about each one of us as individuals, based on the content we search for, the Web sites we visit, the products we order online, the programs and movies we choose to watch, and much more.
I don’t think it will be long until we start getting offered advertisements tailored to our specific interests. I’ll sit down to watch something Hulu, and instead of watching a car commercial, I may be offered the choice of watching an ad for products related to sailing, bluegrass, or woodworking. One man’s junk mail is another’s interesting information, and if focused more accurately, we may come to see video commercials as welcome additions rather than irrelvant intrusions. And I think I’ll like that much better than the current system.