While Hulu may have some ad revenue issues based on the fact that it has no real idea of how many viewers it gets every month, one thing is clear. In the Google age, ad revenue models are changing.
With sites like Hulu and even Youtube, the technology has advance too far beyond any real measurable model on which traditional advertising rates can be based. Think about it – how many times have you seen a video from Hulu in a blog or embedded on a messageboard, or on someone’s facebook page? Tracking the true gross impressions is difficult. Also, just like with TV, how many people might be sitting around a PC watching an episode of House on Hulu during a lunch break (and let’s not get into the amount of people that simply use their laptop connected to a flat screen monitor as their primary TV experience – college kids, etc.)
That is why I think the Hulu model of brands sponsoring shows is a pretty solid model. Rather than creating rate cards based on gross visitors or some arbitrary number of viewers – the more popular shows that Hulu gets can command the highest rates for sponsorship.
This is where the traditional media and web can work together. Hulu could learn from network ratings what kind of shows are popular and leverages that data to determine its sponsorship rates.
I have no idea if this is their model – just speculating. But I think it is a good way to both create a logical revenue stream and also solve the issue of trying to track where and how visitors are accessing your content.
In the Tivo age, traditional networks are even seeing more sponsored shows with no or limited commercial interruption.
Now, if the pop up ad goes away in favor of more embedded and relevant online ad models, we’ll really be getting somewhere…