It's election season, and that means big dollars for Hulu.
Though political ads still dominate the airwaves, they're also targeting Hulu's 21.5 million viewers, according to comScore's latest available video data. Here's what the streaming service has been reaping in, according to AdWeek
The network’s political ad revenue grew by a whopping 718 percent over 2008, per Hulu; the increase over the midterm elections was even higher. While Hulu declined to provide dollar figures, the service claims political is a big category that helped drive its upfront this year. Brian Wieser, senior analyst at Pivotal Research Group, estimated that Hulu’s total ad revenue for 2012 would be between $400 million to $500 million.
While part of this can be attributed to shifted viewing habits, the source of the money -- and how much more there is this time around -- can be explained by the rise of super PACs, which can donate unlimited funds to political candidates.
Campaigns are turning to the Web not only to expand reach. Online video ads also allow targeting rules to reach the people that can help determine an election, such as those in swing states. Women and Hispanic voters, in particular, are some of the most desirable viewers this election season, according to JP Colaco, Hulu's SVP of advertising. Social is the other area campaigns are investing in, helping bridge advertising with "get-out-the-vote efforts," Colaco added.
Hulu is among the most innovative in the online-video ad market, reaching 100 percent completion rates thanks to an ad-swap program it debuted earlier this spring
. That program continues to play an important role in political ads, helping deliver the most relevant message to viewers. This technology lets viewers choose the campaign and ad message they care most about, such as taxes, education or health care.
However, the Web is quickly running out of room for political advertisements
, especially in swing states, according to Politico. This affects not just Hulu but also YouTube, Yahoo, AOL and other properties. Fifteen- and 30-second spots have either been sold out or will be auctioned off at record prices. Bottom line: regardless of who wins, politics is a big boon for online video.