TV product placement goes live in the UK from February 28th


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If you are tiring of the barrel load of hype about how your brand can’t possibly survive the next week without a social media strategy, you may be interested in another quieter revolution that is about to go live on our TV screens. On the 28th February product placement goes live on UK TV. Whilst this doesn’t directly involve a computer (unless someone submits one), this is a significant new media opportunity for UK advertisers.

Earlier this week an edition of Coronation Street (the UK’s leading and longest running soap) featured a kitchen shot which included a packet of, I think, ‘Honey Nut Cheerios’. Take note, that’s not ‘Cheerios’ or ‘Honey Nut Loops’ but ‘Honey Nut Cheerios’. If like me you find these sub-text jokes by ITV’s production teams rather amusing you’ll be sad to know that their days are almost certainly numbered. But all is not lost; the commercial opportunites around product placement are set to mushroom and that’s good news for advertisers.

From February 28th we can expect to see more popular high street brands making star appearances on the breakfast tables of some of the UK’s leading programmes. The opportunities are of course almost endless. Many TV programmes feature kitchens, kitchen tables, cars, clothes, shoes, TVs, mobile phones, T-shirt logos, food products and drinks to name but a few. As the year progresses we are likely to see more branded products appearing more overtly in programme content. This raises two questions for advertisers and marketers.

First, how do brands make it work? I see product placement as being a bit like sponsorship where the route to impact, acceptance and increased brand salience is through careful targeting of content, environments and associations. A brand that makes the right association with a point of view, a cause (even if only fictional) or a personality may well benefit. A brand that gets it wrong may suffer the indignity of product mis-placement.

The second question is how do we evaluate it? This one is tricky because the returns are unlikely to be short term or immediately obvious. Product placement is not as intrusive as advertising; the advertiser is not granted sole use of the screen for the ad slot they’ve purchased. Product placement sits on screen within another set of messages that are being received in different ways by viewers. This carries a potential risk of intrusion which needs to be measured and managed as carefully as any awareness or sales upside.

In the US where product placement has been around for some time, there are media tracking companies who use image recognition software to measure how long a product has appeared for. They then attach audience size and cost data to provide a value for the reach and length of exposure obtained for the brand. It seems that in the main product placement evaluation is limited to calculating the media value of brand exposure and to measuring recall and awareness.

One interesting metric could be changes in online brand searches as a result of product placement views or mentions. I know from working with advertisers that just one mention of a product in a property makeover programme for example can drive a significant spike in online brand search activity and e-commerce sales. It may be that the granularity of search data may allow it to emerge as a useful currency for measuring the short and medium term effectieveness of product placement.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Simon Foster
I am currently Head of Analytics for EMEA at m/SIX, an agency co-owned by The&Partnership and WPP. I work with advertisers to help them increase their marketing effectiveness across digital and traditional media channels using advanced evidence-based techniques.


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