Esurance and Cisco Among Hulu Beta Advertisers

After testing the new Hulu video site from NewsCorp and NBC Universal, launched in beta today, we’ve experienced some smooth streaming, and some video that sputters at best.

As for the ads, there’s a variety of formats already running from advertisers like Cisco, Esurance and Crest. For instance, 5 quickie spots from Esurance appeared intermittently throughout an episode of NBC’s “Heroes.” Most of the serial-style ads were about 5 seconds each, while the second was about 20 seconds. The same types of spots ran during another Heroes episode for Cisco.

A more standard video ad format was seen when viewing a clip from NBC’s “Journeyman” on MSN, one of Hulu’s many distribution partners. Before that clip played, a pre-roll spot for Crest Whitestrips was served alongside a banner for the same advertiser.

Expect to see lots of different formats in Hulu video, from overlays during short-form content that play only when users initiate them to sponsored banners, interstitials and end plates displaying advertiser logos after content plays. Viewers watching longer-form full-length episodes and movies from MGM will see more ads. However, while shows on TV feature 8 minutes of ads along with 22 minutes of programming, Hulu video of the same shows will feature 2 minutes of ads. The video will maintain the natural ad breaks of the TV shows.

Hulu won’t say much about how ads are targeted yet, but it’s probably just contextual at this point.

In conjunction with the launch, Hulu announced top execs running the project. The company had already announced its hire of Amazon alum Jason Kilar as CEO in June, noting a focus on customer experience. The top ad sales head honcho is Jean-Paul Colaco, SVP of advertising; Colaco was most recently SVP of business development at Walt Disney Company.

Other newly–announced execs include SVP and CFO Tom Fueling, formerly of Ascent Media and ARTISTdirect; and SVP of Content Acquisition and Distribution Andy Forssell, previously from Siebel Systems where he ran Oracle’s CRMOn Demand Hosting Operations. User-experience man Eric Feng was named CTO and SVP of audience for Hulu; Feng founded Mojiti, an online video operation acquired by Hulu in September.

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