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Hulu Introduces Shop-Able Ads, 360-Degree Spots and Its Live TV Service at NewFronts

Hulu is continuing in its efforts to reinvent the TV ad model through its new live TV service and with shop-able commercials.

The company finally announced its highly-anticipated TV service Wednesday morning at its NewFronts pitch to Madison Avenue.

For $39.99 per month, viewers will be able to watch 50 channels, including the big four broadcasters, record up to 50 hours of programming and access Hulu’s $7.99 on-demand streaming content.

The live TV service will include dynamic ad insertion capabilities, meaning advertisers can serve messages to specific targeted audiences. The navigation screen will also allow for additional advertising opportunities beyond the 15 and 30-second spots.

Hulu is particularly interesting among the digital video platforms trying to win over TV dollars during the annual NewFronts presentations, which are inspired by TV’s annual upfront events and sales season. Unlike its digital rivals, it offers streams of shows that viewers know from TV, now with original series in the TV mold such as “The Handmaid’s Tale.” But it has digital media’s ability to experiment with different approaches to ads and targeting.

Hulu said Wednesday that is also introducing an e-commerce ad unit in conjunction with BrightLine, which will allow viewers to make a purchase directly inside the commercial. The first iteration of this will allow for the purchase of movie tickets, with other categories like retail and quick-service-restaurants being added in 2018, according to the company.

It remains to be seen how much consumer interest there will be in such a feature. Plenty of tests of similar interactive ads that let viewers shop or get deals within commercials have not gained traction.

This fall for the first time, marketers will be able to measure campaigns running on Hulu across all connected devices, according to the company. Nielsen’s Digital Ad Ratings will be available on the living room screen.

Magna, Horizon Media and GroupM are among the first media agencies adopting Hulu’s Digital Ad Ratings solution as a currency with which to make deals, said Peter Naylor, senior VP-advertising, Hulu.

Hulu is also partnering with SambaTV and Nielsen Catalina Solutions to measure whether ads that run on the service actually help marketers sell their products and services, Mr. Naylor said.

Other new ad opportunities include 360-degree ads in mobile and on TV and the opportunity for marketers to sponsor kids content.

Hulu used its NewFronts pitch to announce that it has picked up exclusive streaming rights to NBC’s “This is Us” and renewed “The Handmaid’s Tale” for a second season. “The Handmaid’s Tale,” based on the Margaret Atwood book of the same name, was the biggest premiere in Hulu’s history, including both acquired and original series, said Hulu CEO Mike Hopkins.

New original series include a drama with the working title “The First,” set in the near future about the first human mission to Mars, and Marvel’s “Runaways,” which tells the story of six diverse teenagers who don’t like each other but must unite against a common enemy, their parents.

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