Are You Doing the Hulu?

Hulu I watched an interesting interview recently with Jason Kilar, the CEO of  Hulu. For those of you who "don’t Hulu," the Web site was launched in March 2008 for viewing in the United States. Basically, it’s a service that broadcasts previously-shown T.V. shows and movies and has become quite the competitor with television. Hulu — which comes from a Chinese proverb which means "the holder of precious things" — began its advertising campaign during NBC's Super Bowl XLIII with an ad starring Alec Baldwin. Now, there are more than 200 advertisers.

Here's how the Economist describes the rise of Hulu:

In the spring  of 2007 Jason Kilar was trying to beef up the video offerings of his employer, Amazon, the world's largest online retailer, when he got a call from a headhunting firm. Would he consider running Hulu, a new joint venture by two "old media" giants, NBC Universal and News Corp? The idea was to enter the confusing online-video market by starting a service from scratch—and doing it properly. Mr Kilar said yes. He showed up in his new office in Santa Monica, near Los Angeles, and with his small team started scribbling ideas on the "whiteboard" wallpaper. And so Hulu was born.

Hulu provides a combination of content and convention which ultimately attracts customers.  What does it mean to you? Mainly that television participation is shrinking. The day following its Super Bowl ad, Hulu attracted 1,082 brand mentions online (a 259% increase). According to Nielsen’s BlogPulse, Hulu also generated  448 shared links after it's first ad — i.e. bloggers who passed along a link to the site. even crowned Hulu as the winner of the "TweetBowl".

This is an example of viral marketing at its best. It isn’t like the Swine flu and there are no shots for it. Viral marketing describes any strategy that encourages individuals to pass on a marketing message to others, creating the potential for exponential growth in the message's exposure and influence. Like viruses, such strategies take advantage of rapid multiplication to explode the message to thousands, to millions.

So let’s say you are looking for your favorite Saturday Night Live programs. Go to Hulu and you will find plenty of shows to watch. So now you know what your customers are watching and why they aren’t watching your commercials. If you can watch your "favorites" maybe you don’t need to pay for cable?

"The world has turned completely upside down," Kilar told the Economist.  "I find that very inspiring. Others might be scared out of their wits. But to me, this is the way media always should have been."

What does it mean to those of you advertising?

It just further supports the notion that advertising is changing. Many of you are commenting on how TV viewing is down. As you can see, there are lots of reasons for this. Most of it is connected to non-traditional ways of viewing, namely video. It is essential that you start asking your customers for their email addresses. You might phrase it as such: "We would like your emails so we can notify you of special offers or events that we are hosting." Collect emails from your Chamber of Commerce attendees, your Kiwanis members or any other place you hang out.

If the customer doesn’t have an email, aim to get their mailing address.

Remember, there’s a huge difference in price—direct mail vs direct email. Post your video on Facebook and your blog and you’ve moved way up!

How about creating your own video email campaign to send to your customers? Are there other non traditional advertising channels are available to you?

How many of you out there are "Huluing?" What do you think?

Need some help with viral marketing? Give me a call and let’s brainstorm.


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