The holidays are an emotional time. Whether you're dealing with a crowded house or rejoicing about finally getting the gift you've always wanted, you've got to express yourself. And what better way than through GIFs - the language of the Internet?
This past holiday season, Hulu's gift to TV fans around the world bottled the magic of the holidays in an innovative GIF experience unlike any other. The Perfect GIF generator paired users' tweets and Tumblr posts with the perfect TV GIF – it's Hulu's way of saying, "We love you as much as you love TV."
TV fans were directed to the site and invited to share their feelings about the holidays (good or bad) in 140 characters or less. As fans typed in how they were feeling, a predictive text engine scanned their entries and searched a massive library of TV moments to find the perfect GIF that typified their holiday sentiment. By merging content, creativity and technology, Hulu asks for 140 characters and gives the GIF that's worth a thousand words.
The results were overwhelmingly positive both from a qualitative and quantitative standpoint. Fans of Hulu loved the way the GIFs perfectly echoed their holiday sentiments and the increased word of mouth and exposure that the campaign drove contributed to 52% more impressions and 43% more shares for the same period of time versus 2013.
If there's one thing we can all agree on, it's that the holiday season is a polarizing time of year. People either love it or they hate it, and our research revealed that there was no shortage of conversation about it on the web. Do a quick search on Twitter for #favepartofchristmas or #worstpartofchristmas and you'll find an endless supply of reasons for why people either love or hate the holidays. By the same token, if you search Hulu you'll find an equally endless supply of TV shows and episodes that echo those emotions.
The depth of Hulu's catalog of content has been a competitive advantage for years, but many consumers still aren't familiar with just how much content Hulu has. To show the world just how deep the rabbit hole goes, we tapped into pre-existing consumer behaviors and developed an experience that was equal parts entertainment and social utility.
To power the experience, we used a natural language processing engine to look beyond words and use concepts, emotions and topics to match a user's post against a database with thousands of GIFs from a wide swath of shows. This first-of-its-kind application of this type of technology allowed us to create an experience that literally felt like it was powered by elves. Just in case the user wasn't totally stoked with our top recommended GIF, we provided an ordered list of alternatives as well as additional filtering capabilities. For those users with writers block, we created a 'write it for me' button to pre-populate the text field with one of many pre-written messages. Once the user found his or her perfect GIF, he or she had the option of either downloading or sharing it via Twitter, Tumblr or classic email.
Beyond paid media and email blasts to Hulu's subscriber base, we drove awareness for the campaign by setting up an extensive listening program and surprising users who were talking about why they love or hate the holidays with perfectly matched GIFs. The reactions to our 'surprise and delight' efforts were overwhelmingly positive, with many customers explicitly tying their brand experience to retention: remaining Hulu customers.
Overall, our primary goal with The Perfect GIF was to drive social sharing and advocacy for Hulu by creating an experience that was fun, compelling and easy to use. We also wanted to build awareness for Hulu's vast content library. To that end, we made sure that our extensive GIF library represented over 70 different TV shows. By the end of the campaign, social posts from the site garnered over 15k content shares, which contributed to 23 million social impressions and even a few "Hulu gets me" tweets.
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