Hulu Wins Patent for Ad Selector Interface

Pay TV distributors and online video providers that allow viewers to choose from multiple ad units that are streamed before a program may be forced to pay license fees to Hulu.

The company, which introduced the “Hulu Ad Selector in 2008,” won a U.S. patent for the invention on Tuesday. Wing Whit Mak is named on the inventor on the patent, titled, “User Control Of Ad Selection For Subsequent Ad Break Of A Video.”

Abstract: During or prior to streaming of video content to a client device, a server provides data configuring an interactive object on the client device. When activated by user input, the interactive object enables a user to select one or more video ads to be streamed to the client device during an upcoming ad break, during play of the streaming video. The interactive object enables the user to perform the selection without interrupting viewing of the video.

Claims:

  1. A method, comprising: sending video content having a defined video ad break at a designated location from a computer server to a client device, wherein the defined video ad break is configured for a first non-zero number of video ads; determining a second number of video ads during the sending of the video content to the client device; providing an identifier for each video ad included in the second number of video ads to the client device that is receiving the video content, prior to the defined video ad break and upon starting of the sending of the video content, wherein the second number is greater than the first number, and wherein information for the second number of video ads is concurrently displayed at the client device upon playing of the video content and prior to the defined video ad break; receiving, during the sending and prior to the defined video ad break, an indication of at least one selected video ad selected based on the information for the second number of video ads in response to a user input; and sending the at least one selected video ad to the client device during the defined video ad break.
  1. The method of claim 1, further comprising configuring an interactive object for operating on the client device during the sending of the video content to display the information for the second number of video ads and process the indication based on the user input.
  1. The method of claim 2, further comprising serving the interactive object to the client device during the sending of the video content.
  1. The method of claim 2, further comprising serving the interactive object to the client device prior to the sending of the video content, configured to be activated after the sending of the video content is initiated.
  1. The method of claim 2, further comprising configuring the interactive object to appear as a selectable object near a window in which the video content is being displayed on the client device.
  1. The method of claim 2, further comprising configuring the interactive object to appear as a selectable object overlying the video content on the client device.
  1. The method of claim 1, wherein the second number of video ads are determined prior to the defined video ad break for play in the defined video ad break.
  1. The method of claim 7, wherein the determining the second number of video ads further comprises eliminating one or more video ads played during a prior ad break of the video content.
  1. The method of claim 7, wherein the determining the second number of video ads further comprises selecting at least a portion of the second number of video ads based on user profile information from the client device.
  1. The method of claim 1, further comprising storing the indication of at least one selected video ad in a computer memory; and selecting one or more alternative video ads presented for user selection after the defined ad break and prior to a following ad break, based on the indication.
  1. An apparatus, comprising: at least one computer processor configured for: sending video content having a defined video ad break at a designated location from a computer server to a client device, wherein the defined video ad break is configured for a first non-zero number of video ads; determining a second number of video ads during the sending of the video content to the client device; providing an identifier for each video ad included in the second number of video ads to the client device that is receiving the video content, prior to the defined video ad break and upon starting of the sending of the video content, wherein the second number is greater than the first number, and wherein information for the second number of video ads is concurrently displayed at the client device upon playing of the video content and prior to the defined video ad break; receiving, during the sending and prior to the defined video ad break, an indication of at least one selected video ad selected based on the information for the second number of video ads in response to a user input; and sending the at least one selected video ad to the client device during the defined video ad break; and a memory coupled to the at least one computer processor for storing data.
  1. The apparatus of claim 11, wherein the at least one computer processor is further configured for configuring an interactive object for operating on the client device during the sending of the video content to display the information for the second number of video ads and process the indication based on the user input.
  1. The apparatus of claim 12, wherein the at least one computer processor is further configured for serving the interactive object to the client device during the sending of the video content.
  1. The apparatus of claim 12, wherein the at least one computer processor is further configured for serving the interactive object to the client device prior to the sending of the video content, configured to be activated after the sending is initiated.
  1. The apparatus of claim 12, wherein the at least one computer processor is further configured for configuring the interactive object to appear as a selectable object near a window in which the video content is being displayed on the client device.
  1. The apparatus of claim 12, wherein the at least one computer processor is further configured for configuring the interactive object to appear as a selectable object overlying the video content on the client device.
  1. The apparatus of claim 11, wherein the second number of video ads are determined prior to the defined video ad break for play in the defined video ad break.
  1. The apparatus of claim 17, wherein the at least one computer processor is further configured for determining the second number of video ads comprising eliminating one or more video ads played during a prior ad break of the video content.
  1. The apparatus of claim 17, wherein the at least one computer processor is further configured for determining the second number of video ads comprising selecting at least a portion of the second number of video ads based on user profile information from the client device.
  1. The apparatus of claim 11, wherein the at least one computer processor is further configured for storing the indication of at least one selected video ad; and selecting one or more alternative video ads presented for user selection after the defined ad break and prior to a following ad break, based on the indication.
  1. A computer program product, comprising: a non-transitory computer-readable medium comprising code for: sending video content having a defined video ad break at a designated location from a computer server to a client device, wherein the defined video ad break is configured for a first non-zero number of video ads; determining a second number of video ads during the sending of the video content to the client device; providing an identifier for each video ad included in the second number of video ads to the client device that is receiving the video content, prior to the defined video ad break and upon starting of the sending of the video content, wherein the second number is greater than the first number, and wherein information for the second number of video ads is concurrently displayed at the client device upon playing of the video content and prior to the video ad break; receiving, during the sending and prior to the defined video ad break, an indication of at least one selected video ad selected based on the information for the second number of video ads in response to a user input; and sending the at least one selected video ad to the client device during the defined video ad break.
  1. A method, comprising: receiving, at a client device, video content sent from a computer server, the video content including a video ad break configured to initiate at a future point of the video content; enabling, concurrently during play of the video content, display of multiple alternative video ads determined upon starting of the receiving of the video content and prior to the defined video ad break; enabling, concurrently during play of the video content, user selection of at least one selected video ad from the multiple alternative video ads in response to a user input prior to the defined video ad break and upon starting of the receiving of the video content; transmitting an identifier for the at least one selected video ad prior to initiation of the video ad break; receiving the at least one selected video ad; and playing the at least one selected video ad on the client device during the defined video ad break.
  1. The method of claim 22, further comprising displaying an interactive object on the client device while playing the video content and prior to the video ad break, the interactive object configured for displaying the multiple alternative ads and processing of the user input.
  1. The method of claim 23, further comprising receiving the interactive object from the server while receiving the video content.
  1. The method of claim 23, further comprising receiving the interactive object from the server prior to receiving the video content, wherein the interactive object is configured to be activated after play of the video content is initiated on the client device.
  1. The method of claim 23, further comprising displaying the interactive object configured as a selectable object near a window in which the video content is being displayed on the client device.
  1. The method of claim 23, further comprising displaying the interactive object configured as a selectable object overlying the video content on the client device.
  1. An apparatus, comprising: at least one computer processor configured for: receiving video content sent from a computer server, the video content including a video ad break configured to initiate at a future point of the video content; enabling, concurrently during play of the video content, display of multiple alternative video ads determined upon starting of the receiving of the video content and prior to the defined video ad break; enabling, concurrently during play of the video content, user selection of at least one selected video ad from the multiple alternative video ads in response to a user input prior to the video ad break and upon starting of the receiving of the video content; transmitting an identifier for the at least one selected video ad prior to initiation of the video ad break; receiving the at least one selected video ad; playing the at least one selected video ad during the defined video ad break; and a memory coupled to the at least one computer processor for storing data.
  1. The apparatus of claim 28, wherein the at least one computer processor is further configured for displaying an interactive object while playing the video content and prior to the video ad break, the interactive object configured for displaying the multiple alternative ads and processing of the user input.
  1. The apparatus of claim 29, wherein the at least one computer processor is further configured for receiving the interactive object from the server while receiving the video content.
  1. The apparatus of claim 29, wherein the at least one computer processor is further configured for receiving the interactive object from the server prior to receiving the video content, wherein the interactive object is configured to be activated after play of the video content is initiated.
  1. The apparatus of claim 29, wherein the at least one computer processor is further configured for displaying the interactive object configured as a selectable object near a window in which the video content is being displayed.
  1. The apparatus of claim 29, wherein the at least one computer processor is further configured for displaying the interactive object configured as a selectable object overlying the video content.
  1. A computer program product, comprising: a non-transitory computer-readable medium comprising code for: receiving video content sent from a computer server, the video content including a video ad break configured to initiate at a future point of the video content; enabling, concurrently during play of the video content, display of multiple alternative video ads determined upon starting of the receiving of the video content and prior to the defined video ad break; enabling, concurrently during play of the video content, user selection of at least one selected video ad from the multiple alternative video ads in response to a user input prior to the defined video ad break and upon starting of the receiving of the video content; transmitting an identifier for the at least one selected video ad prior to initiation of the video ad break; receiving the at least one selected video ad; and playing the at least one selected video ad during the defined video ad break.