HULU’S COMMERCIAL ALGORITHM: THE ULTIMATE TROLL
Hulu has crashed onto the streaming services scene and has really been making waves. Offering a live TV option. Giving you the fastest access to current seasons. Beginning to rival Netflix’s quality and quantity with their Hulu Originals. Having one of the best color schemes in television apps. Green is honestly superior to red. It’s the color of money for one. And half of the Christmas color scheme. Supposedly, according to my BIF (best Internet friend) Google, our minds associate it with life, nature, energy, growth, freshness, safety, and ambition, among other things.
Despite all the good things going it’s way, though, Hulu has a dark side. Some might think that’s their default advertisement tier. Those people would be partially right. I mean, sure, there is the option to pay for Hulu with no ads. But who has that kind of frivolous spending in their budget? It’s twice as much. And then I would lose my built in bathroom, and snack, breaks. In other words, for more of my money, I would physically have to pick up the remote to pause what I was watching to take a break. That feels backwards. A little unfair, honestly. Thus, I am but a Hulu peasant living with their commercial breaks.
Side tangent aside, the commercial breaks are a necessary evil in my current lifestyle. If you’re living the 1% life and don’t have the basic plan, then you may not be able to relate to the one major downside to Hulu. Which, of course, is their commercial algorithm troll. During my PH years – that’s pre-Hulu in case it was unclear – I thought I was kind of an average, normal-ish millennial. Sure I had my quirks, but overall believed I was in the same general range as my peers. From a lifestyle and preferences standpoint.
However, after leveling up to multiple streaming services and adding the big green H to my TV apps, I’ve realized that I am both a middle aged soccer mom and a lonely college student. I am neither a mom, nor am I middle aged, nor am I lonely, nor am I a college student. At least, I didn’t think I was. Enter Hubert the Hulu Troll. In my mind this algorithm is an angry old man, so I figured Hubert best fit that analogy. Hubert made me realize that I’ve basically been living in some weird dream as a mid-twenties millennial.
I’m no algorithm expert, but I know that at a basic level it takes your viewing preferences and suggests commercials based on what category it thinks you fall into. Oh, and obviously your smart TV, and any other devices with your Hulu app, listens to your conversations and throws out commercials based on your conversations. So it takes the data it has, steals data from private conversations and stereotypes you. How fun is that?!
If it feels a bit creepy, that’s because it is. I’ve been talking about adopting a new puppy since the fall. Simply talking. And texting. With my friends and family. On my phone. Which doesn’t have the Hulu app. Yet, guess who keeps getting Petfinder and Hill’s Pet Nutrition commercials? Correct, yours truly. Although, if we’re being honest, it could have been a much worse topic for them to take from my non Hulu related activity, so I guess there’s a silver lining. I get to see adorable dogs on my commercial breaks. On the flip side, though, it also thinks that I have children. I get a disturbing amount of Pull-Ups, minivan, and Hornitos tequila commercials. If Hulu is listening, please just send me more puppies.
Like all good technology, it doesn’t always get it right. Occasionally I get commercials for Meow Mix and I know you don’t know me, but I’m not a cat person. I don’t own a cat. I won’t own a cat. Stop trying to sell me on the impossible. I also find it funny when I get whiskey commercials since I hate whiskey. And all of my private conversations would indicate that. Maybe my significant other is whispering sweet nothings in Hubert’s ear to try and get me on the brown liquor train. But I will stand strong.
My favorite part about Hubert, is that for a while I naively believed it was just random placements of ads to the highest bidder. Then my siblings, one who is in college and one who just graduated from college, informed me that they got Trojan, Tinder, and Tito’s commercials. At which point I realized that Hubert genuinely believes that I’ve outgrown my youth. I have not received a single commercial for any of those products. And I love a good moscow mule so what’s up with that?!
Alright, jumping off my pedestal for now. If you know someone who would enjoy this post and want to share it with them, that would be awesome. Sharing is caring, after all. Don’t forget to subscribe to get these in your inbox twice weekly and follow TRP on Twitter for frequent musings. Thanks for reading!
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