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JCPenney broadens advertising via Hulu Plus mobile app

The JCPenney mobile ad

Department store chain JCPenney is running mobile ads inside the Hulu Plus iPhone application that let users shop via the retailer’s mobile site.

The JCPenney ads promote the company’s new month-long sales that are part of a larger rebranding move. The mobile ads are running as in-stream video commercials.

“Everything we do is now focused on the rhythm of our customers’ lives, so shoppers can find all the things they want, exactly when they need them, month by month,” said Kate Coultas, spokeswoman for JCPenney, Plano, TX.

“Each month, we feature an exciting month-long event with even better values on products and services customers are looking to buy that month,” she said.

Mobile brand
JCPenney is running the mobile ads as 30-second video clips. The ads include a button in the top right-hand corner that users can tap to be directed to JCPenney’s mobile site.

When users tap on the button, they are taken to the specific product page for the March sale, which runs through the end of the month.

From there, users can add items to their shopping baskets, navigate the site and check-out while still inside the ad, which helps keep shoppers in one place.

In order to continue watching content, users must click out of the ad and finish watching the clip.

Making a user watch the entire video clip is a smart way for advertisers using Hulu Plus to ensure that their message gets seen. Additionally, consumers are more likely to remember the brand after watching a video.

“Because of the immersive nature of mobile video, mobile video advertising makes a great deal of sense for a retailer,” said Lisa Abramson, director of marketing at Rhythm NewMedia, Mountain View, CA.

“Mobile video ads deliver the engaging emotional impact necessary for brand building,” she said.

“Through mobile video, consumers develop a deep relationship with a brand that ultimately leads to loyal, repeat consumers.”

Ms. Abramson is not affiliated with JCPenney. She commented based on her expertise on the subject.

Optimized sales
JCPenney’s month-long sales are a new initiative from the company to make its pricing strategy more transparent to consumers.

Every month, the retailer picks certain seasonal items that will be on sale for the entire month.

To get the word out about its new pricing and strategy, JCPenney recently ran a mobile ad campaign in Pandora’s iPhone app that let users shop (see story).

By leading users to a specific page inside the JCPenney mobile site in the Hulu Plus ads, the retailer quickly shows users exactly what the ad promotes. For mobile, this is crucial for users who have a small screen and are looking for quick access to content.

Hulu Plus can be a great place for brands such as JCPenney to advertise because the service is subscription-based and targets users who have shown that they are willing to pay for content.

However, making sure that campaigns are optimized for mobile devices is key.

“Adding interactivity to mobile video ads is an extremely effective way to allow for deeper engagement for those consumers that are interested in learning more from the brand,” Ms. Abramson said.

“At Rhythm we offer many options including allowing users to tap to a longer-form video, add an event to their calendar or share the video with their social networks, among many others,” she said.

“These buttons create a more robust experience for those consumers who want to dive deeper into the experience after being primed with the video ad.”

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York