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2 | last updated January 18, 2023
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This document is intended for advertisers. It provides a summary of the video-streaming measurement processes employed by Hulu, LLC (Hulu). It includes a general description of Hulu’s measurement methodology, filtration processes and reporting procedures. Issuance of this document is in accordance with Hulu’s accreditation conferred by the Media Rating Council (MRC).
Hulu provides an Ad-supported streaming digital video service that offers a selection of TV shows, clips and movies via its video players at hulu.com, embedded Hulu video players hosted at other internet sites, mobile devices via the Hulu mobile application and over-the-top (OTT) internet-connected devices via device-specific Hulu applications. Users of Hulu’s digital video service may elect to view content on hulu.com and through external sites such as yahoo.com. To view Hulu content on web, or any Mobile or OTT internet-connected device, Hulu users must subscribe to the Hulu service. Video Ads are served within the Hulu player at pre- and mid-roll positions. Hulu partners with Content Providers (CPs) and distributors to provide digital video content to users. Hulu also produces certain original video content available through its streaming video service. Regardless of the origin of the content, Hulu maintains control of its streaming digital video players and content pipelines, and encodes all video content and advertisements prior to distribution within Hulu’s proprietary video players on Web and within Hulu applications. Access to Hulu content is limited to users within the United States, including US territories and military bases overseas, based on IP-address geolocation as determined by a third-party vendor; other regions are blocked. In most situations, Hulu’s first-party Ad server performs Ad decisioning. However, Hulu also supports third-party Ad serving in certain situations involving pre-established relationships with specified content providers. Please note that Hulu only supports Companion Ads along side Rich Media ads.
The following Hulu metrics are included in MRC-accreditation scope, on the Web, Mobile In-App and OTT platforms:
The default report sent to clients is the “Standard Delivery Report”. This is an non-syndicated MRC report that includes some MRC accredited metrics, but not all. Clients have the ability to request the “Expanded MRC Accredited Metrics Report” which includes all MRC metrics for which Hulu has received MRC accreditation for.
The following items are excluded from MRC-accreditation scope:
Clients send Impressions and Completions to geographically-dispersed CDNs provided by Akamai. Akamai’s CDNs then forward these beacons to Hulu’s measurement servers.
Client initiate Impressions and Completions by firing a beacon via HTTP GET request. The measurement server returns a 200 to indicate successful reception of the beacon, and writes a line in its log file to record the Impression or Completion. The above is true of Impressions and Completions for all video, rich-media, and display Ads.
Network latency may result in beacons not arriving at the server around the moment an Impression or Completion occurs, but rather at some point afterward. If this is case, the Impression or Completion is counted upon receipt. Network issues may also cause beacons being duplicated somewhere along the way (e.g., by a third-party proxy server) between Hulu’s client and server. Hulu addresses this risk in two ways. First, by never performing beacon retries on any accreditation platform (i.e., Web, Mobile In-App and OTT). Second, by performing beacon de-duplication on the server side.
Hulu does not engage in auto-play of Video or Interactive Ads. Playback is never initiated without an explicit user action (i.e., click or tap). Hulu engages in Continuous Play, which is automatic advancement to a new piece of Content after an existing piece of Content comes to an end. Hulu uses a threshold to determine when to show an “Are you still watching?” confirmation. After four hours of continuous play on VOD (Web, Mobile In-App and OTT) and six hours for Live content without user interaction, the dialog is presented, and if no confirmation (i.e.,‘Yes’) is received from the viewer, further playback is stopped. Based on a preliminary study conducted in September 2022, ~6.1% of sessions originated on Hulu were eligible to receive the “Are you still watching” prompt. This was after fours hours of continuous play on VOD (Web, Mobile In-App and OTT) and six hours for Live content. Hulu is developing and conducting improved studies on viewer inactivity in order to update its continuous-play functionality.
Hulu’s ad serving environment utilizes forced duration where advertisments are not skippable.
Hulu’s Mobile application is available to all mobile devices on the platforms mentioned below in the same geographical region as its Web and OTT offerings. Namely, the U.S. and its territories.
Hulu uses a threshold to determine when to show an “Are you still watching?” confirmation. After four hours of continuous play on VOD (Web, Mobile In-App and OTT) and six hours for Live content without user interaction, the dialog is presented, and if no confirmation (i.e., ‘Yes’) is received from the viewer, further playback is stopped. Studies are performed on an annual basis, to understand viewer patterns and inform decisions on whether adjustments to improve experience are necessary. Continuous Play is used more frequently on OTT, as compared to Web and Mobile. As a result, Hulu’s studies on Continuous Play are conducted on a subset of OTT devices.
Detection of TV-off state, and accordingly pausing playback, is entirely dependent on the capabilities of hardware. Where detection is possible, Hulu apps pause playback. However, there is a population of devices that do not communicate the change of hardware state to higher levels in the tech stack. In these cases, Hulu apps are unable pause playback, although Continuous Play thresholds apply as normal. Hulu has conducted research to gain a general understanding of the aforementioned hardware capabilities and limitations. A study was performed on a broad sample of devices running Hulu’s OTT app. This sample included devices from manufacturers Amazon, Apple, Google, LG, Microsoft, Panasonic, Roku, Samsung, Sony, Tivo, and Vizio. These devices running Hulu were paired with a variety of TVs from manufacturers that included LG, Panasonic, Phillips, Samsung, Sharp, Sony, Toshiba, and Vizio. The study was also ran with and without an AV receiver between the Hulu device and the TV.
A summary of study results is as follows:
In conclusion, there are many permutations of hardware, settings, and use cases to consider. Improving detection of TV-off is a complex industry issue that will require consistent commitment from TV manufacturers.
Based on User Agent, Hulu performs the IAB dual-pass method to remove all traffic that doesn’t appear on the international lists of spiders and bots, and valid browsers.
Filtration is applied against Hulu’s entire traffic across the Web, Mobile In-App and OTT platforms. No subsets or sampling techniques are used.
An analysis of IVT during Q3 of FY2022 shows that IVT typically fluctuates at immaterial levels.
Hulu reports a variety of metrics to clients on a per-Campaign basis.
The reports in accreditation scope – Standard Report or Expanded Metrics MRC Report – are presented to clients at multiple points in the Campaign, depending on Campaign length and client preference. The Standard Report is always presented after a Campaign ends.
Estimation is not used. Report metrics are composed solely from actual data collected in the measurement process.
While report data accumulates on a day-by-day basis, it is considered final as, once processed, a day’s data is official and generally unchanging. Data revisions are possible but rare. Please note that ad blockers may limit ad measurement on the ad platform.
These are Impressions and Completions, and their derivatives – Completion Rate and Delivered Percent.
Impressions and Completions are segregated in three ways:
Open columns with no metrics or data can also be presented. They are meant to reserve space conveniently for manual data entry. These include Estimated Spend values, Third Party and Discrepancy.
Reports can be:
Campaigns parameters are entered by Hulu’s Campaign Coordinators. Before being set live, every Campaign is subject to full review by a Campaign Manager.
After going live, Campaigns undergo pacing monitoring by Campaign Managers to ensure they’re delivering as expected. Optimizations and debugging are performed if necessary.
Revised metrics, including Impressions and Completions, will be communicated when excluded or invalid activity is detected for a Campaign after initial reporting and within three days after the end of the Campaign. The methods of communication include e-mail statement and / or updated reporting.
Campaigns billed against Hulu metrics are never billed for IVT traffic. In other words, Ad Campaign targets are always met after discounting any traffic identified as IVT. However, as mentioned above, clients are always notified of gross vs. net numbers. After reviewing these, clients may contact their Hulu Campaign Manager to discuss any general questions around IVT volume and classification.
Source data for Hulu’s reports is retained indefinitely without expiry. Records of data reissuance are also retained indefinitely.
At the time of this writing, Hulu maintains an important relationship with Akamai.
Akamai provides CDN services, playing a pivotal role in beacon gathering, and consequently has a material impact on Hulu ad delivery. Other business relationships exist but are not listed due to having no influence on Hulu’s ad delivery mechanisms. Per MRC regulations, Hulu has worked with Akamai to complete a qualification process whereby Hulu ascertains Akamai’s stance and progress against anti-IVT measures. While Akamai relies on its clients to make their own IVT policy decisions, Akamai offers a suite of tools to counteract IVT. This suite includes Bot Manager, which allows clients to configure appropriate responses to requests from bots, and use white and black lists. Another tool offered is Kona Site Defender, which provides rate control and analytics, as well as IVT-behavior detection. Akamai has also granted Hulu access to its SOC 2 security-based report2
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