When advertising on Hulu (pre-roll ads) goes wrong

By Nick DeNardis - Thu, Nov 5, 2009-->


General, Marketing, Video

When advertising on Hulu (pre-roll ads) goes wrong

Advertising your institution on a number of sites via text, banner, or even pre-roll videos ads has become ever more popular as the shift from print to digital takes hold. There is one downside to this change though, loss of context control.

You can make a well branded and copy written ad and spend hours on your landing page. Making sure to catch every user possible and track all your conversions but it can all be destroyed by the context you ad is placed in. An example of this was brought to my attention last night.

An Example

The twitter account @420revolution posted this status:

Oakland University Supports Marijuana Use https://bit.ly/4joFGJ

Which leads you to a Digg.com article with the same title and description:

Self Explanatory

You finally end up at a YouTube video of a screen cast which shows an Oakland University commercial with the words “The following clip is brought to you by Oakland University”. What follows is a video by HowCast explaining “How to legally obtain medical marijuana.” Here is the video:

The tweet was eventually re-tweeted a few times and dugg a handful of times. Luckily this example was not a PR nightmare for the institution and it was on a site like Hulu which does have a good grasp on the content they push out. But as site start to push out more user generated content be prepared for the sorts of things an ad could endorse.

The Lesson

Obviously Oakland University did not place this ad on this particular video but the more online ads are being dispersed on sites with wide ranges of content it becomes impossible to control what context your message is being displayed in.

I am not sure the advertising policy or options Hulu gives to its advertisers as far as targeting. But this would apply to any site your university advertises on that could have questionable content or user generated content. Where does the line get drawn between promoting yourself and endorsing a product/service/opinion you have no control over?

Your Thoughts

Have you come across other examples of university advertising #contextfail? Or have policies/guidelines at your institution that only allow you to promote in approved spaces?

This post was written by:

Nick DeNardis

Nick DeNardis - who has written 26 posts on .eduGuru

Nick is the Associate Director of Web Communications at Wayne State University by day. By night he hosts the video blog EDU Checkup where he reviews higher education web sites live. Nick is an active member of the higher education web community and is an officer of Refresh Detroit, a group of web professionals whose goal is to promote web standards, usability, and accessibility.

Nick's LinkedIn Bio

2 Responses to “When advertising on Hulu (pre-roll ads) goes wrong”

  1. Avatar image
    Rob S. Says:

    With their public face, Oakland U would obviously denounce their association with this video.

    But, let’s face it, this YouTube video is probably getting them more attention nationally, and more return on their advertising dollars, than their Hulu spend did.


  2. Avatar image
    Frank Locust Says:

    Was Oakland University prepared for this when the news finally got big enough? Big entities like Oakland U or commercial corporations should start getting social media watchdog policies in place to monitor such potential SM nightmares.


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