Dive Brief:

  • Farmers Insurance has launched a three-part series of ads resembling episodes that form one complete story, per details shared with Marketing Dive. Farmers is the first in the insurance category to create an ad that tells a sequential story on Hulu, according to the streaming platform.
  • The sequential ads, created with agency of record RPA and media agency Zenith, feature twists and cliffhangers and will run on Hulu as a show within a show.
  • Farmers has debuted two spots that will run as individual episodes, “Parking Splat” and “Fly-By Ballooning.” The ads launched during CNN’s New Year’s Eve special and began running on Hulu on Jan. 1.

Dive Insight: Farmers’ three-part storyline approach with cliffhangers could stand out with viewers and help the brand drive awareness. While each part of the ad is just under 30 seconds, research by Google and Ipsos found that sequences of six-second and TrueView ads can boost ad recall by 118% and purchase intent by 40%.

As brands increase their digital video budgets, many marketers are experimenting with different formats, lengths and creative for their video content. Farmers’ new episodic ads are the latest example of this trend. The insurance company is attempting to offer viewers an engaging story as well as variety, building on the idea that audiences may find it annoying to see the same ad over and over.

More brands are partnering with over-the-top (OTT) TV platforms, like Hulu, recognizing that traditional TV ad buys are no longer enough to reach audiences who are cutting the cord and moving to OTT. Ad spending on OTT TV was projected to rise 40% to $2 billion in 2018, as 80% of U.S. households were expected to be reachable through OTT last year, according to Magna’s U.S. ad forecasts for 2018.

Hulu has been working on new ad formats to attract advertisers. The company recently announced plans to launch “pause ads” in 2019, which Hulu says will “provide a natural break in the storytelling experience.” The platform also says it expects more than half of ad revenue to come from “non-disruptive experiences” over the next three years. Hulu teamed up with Range Rover in September on a futuristic car that appears in the streaming service’s original series “The First.” The series also featured an integrated ad for SunTrust, titled “Confident Explorer” and telling the story of a little girl’s obsession with space exploration and following her into adulthood.

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