Hulu "Play Next" Feature
In an effort to increase engagement per session, we were tasked with developing an in-ad product that would give a user the option to add a piece of content to the autoplay queue following the content currently being watched. Essentially, if you were watching an episode of Family Guy (from Fox), Hulu should serve you a promo ad for Bob's Burgers (also Fox) and allow you to "add" an episode to your queue so that it automatically starts playing as soon as your Family Guy ep ends.
So let's start with some basic questions:
- Can a Play Next (PN) ad only be for content from the same content partner? Ex. Can I see an ABC ad while watching a FOX show?
- Can a PN ad be for content that you've already seen? Ex. you're caught up on Bob's Burgers but can still "Watch the latest episode"?
- Are PN ads for movies possible? (at least during an ad-supported stream)
- Can you see 2 PN ads in a single stream? Possibly if you didn't interact with the first?
- Are there any other business-cases this product can apply to? Ex. Is it something advertisers can take advantage of?
There wasn't a lot of time to devote to research or usability testing, so the goal was to develop a small, light design. After a short amount of time, we could evaluate performance then continue to iterate on.
We began by asking more questions:
- Could we make it intuitive with as little additional cognitive load as possible?
- What content should be used? Search thumb? or Episodic Thumb?
- Since this was within our player, where and how would this feature present itself to the user?
- How much copy and what would the CTA be?
We batted around variations on copy length, image size, and overall layout. Here are a few examples:
Ultimately, we decided to strip it down for an MVP that we could build on. We decided that the addition of the thumbnail might be confusing. Throughout the product, the use of these thumbnails are always actionable. You click to play an episode, or you click to go to the series page. The thumbnail in this instance would be the first and only place that the asset breaks convention, which without learning more about the use of this feature, made it hard to justify using it here. Did it add enough to the feature to increase engagement? Or maybe it was redundant since you're watching a video ad of the content anyways?
This feature ended as a small and simple delivery, however, the nuances in design and copy made the exercise very valuable to me. Unfortunately, the feature never launched due to shifting priorities in the roadmap of player development.