Hulu on Thursday rolled out "binge" ads that only appear for users who are binge-watching a certain TV series. The ads are co-branded with Hulu in an effort to make them feel less intrusive and commercial than regular TV ads.

Why it matters: Hulu Vice President and Head of Advertising Platforms Jeremy Helfand says that in total, 50% of ad-supported viewing hours on Hulu take place in a binge-watching fashion.

Details: The new ads only begin to appear during the third episode of the viewer's experience. They are meant to reward viewers who are spending lots of time on Hulu consecutively. There are two types of new binge ad formats:

  1. Ad-free episode: These ads offer an ad-free episode courtesy of an advertiser. The ads appear for 10 seconds with a customized message to let the user know that they've unlocked an ad-free episode, sponsored by an advertiser.
  2. Promotion ads: These ads allow advertisers to peddle promotions, courtesy of Hulu. For example, Cheez-its, one of Hulu's commercial launch partners for binge ads, will be offering consumers $1 off of their product for watching the ad.

The new ads will launch with Cheez-its, Makers Mark and Sparkle paper towels as exclusive ad partners. Publicis, one of the world's largest global ad agencies, will be Hulu's agency launch partner.

The big picture: Hulu has been tinkering with ways to create new types of ads that are less intrusive and more aligned with modern TV viewers' behavior habits.

  • In January, Hulu rolled out "pause" ads, or ads that appear on a users' screen when they hit the pause button while watching a show.
  • In June, Hulu debuted its "viewer-first" advertising philosophy, which contends that ads should be consistent, relevant and immersive for viewers. From an advertiser's perspective, the ads will be more effective if they're enjoyed by the consumers. As part of that philosophy, Hulu launched an ad frequency cap.

Be smart: Hulu is one of the few TV streaming companies that's relying on ads to grow its business. In May, Hulu Senior Vice President and Head of Advertising sales Peter Naylor said that 70% of its viewers are on the ad-supported plan.

  • Helfand says that the company's goal is to have 50% of its ads revenue come from selling less-disruptive advertising formats within three years.

Go deeper: Hulu debuts "pause ads" in effort to make TV ads less annoying

Go deeper

Deadly Hurricane Zeta churns inland after lashing Louisiana

A satellite image of Hurricane Zeta. Photo: National Hurricane Center/NOAA

Hurricane Zeta has killed at least one person after a downed power line electrocuted a 55-year-old in Louisiana as the storm moved into Alabama overnight.

What's happening: After "battering southeastern Louisiana and southern Mississippi, it was "racing north-northeastward," continuing "life-threatening surge and strong winds continue over southern Mississippi and southern Alabama" late Wednesday, the National Hurricane Center said.

22 mins ago - World

Taiwan reaches a record 200 days with no local coronavirus cases

Catholics go through containment protocols including body-temperature measurement and hands-sanitisation before entering the Saint Christopher Parish Church, Taipei City, Taiwan, in July. Photo: Ceng Shou Yi/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Taiwan on Thursday marked no locally transmitted coronavirus cases for 200 days, as the island of 23 million people's total number of infections reported stands at 550 and the COVID-19 death toll at seven.

Why it matters: Nowhere else in the world has reached such a milestone. While COVID-19 cases surge across the U.S. and Europe, Taiwan's last locally transmitted case was on April 12. Experts credit tightly regulated travel, early border closure, "rigorous contact tracing, technology-enforced quarantine and universal mask wearing," along with the island state's previous experience with the SARS virus, per Bloomberg.

Go deeper: As Taiwan's profile rises, so does risk of conflict with China

Updated 48 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Politics: Biden ahead in Wisconsin, Michigan as cases surge in the Midwest.
  2. Health: Fauci says U.S. may not return to normal until 2022 — Trump's testing czar: Surge "is real" and not just caused by more tests Some coronavirus survivors have "autoantibodies."
  3. Business: Consumer confidence sinking Testing is a windfall.
  4. World: Europe faces "stronger and deadlier" wave France imposes lockdown Germany to close bars and restaurants for a month.
  5. Sports: Boston Marathon delayed MLB to investigate Dodgers player who joined celebration after positive COVID test.

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