Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Private and Public Developments in TV Product Placement

If you can't measure it, you can't sell it.

-Alan Wurtzel, president of research and media development at NBC Universal

In Alana Semuels, "Research Firm Nielsen Tallying Product Placement Ads," Los Angeles Times, July 21, 2008

The measurement of product placement in television programming has become a major activity during the past few years. Marketers increasingly make deals to have their goods show up during the action so viewers will have no choice but to see them. (When it comes to commercials, they can always switch channels or fast-forward on their DVRs.) The Nielsen research firm has ambitions to become the major go-to company in this area (as it is with television ratings) and it has augmented its own audits of products in programs with the purchase of IAG Research, which uses a different method to track placements. Other companies audit placements in different ways, all trying to prove their value to marketers and their agencies, who need to justify their activities. "Advertisers spent $2.9 billion in 2007 to place their products in TV shows and movies, up 33.7% from the year before, according to media research firm PQ Media. This year spending is projected to hit $3.6 billion, not including "barter" arrangements -- in which a company gives away products to be used in shows, rather than paying for them to be placed there."

In the midst of all this private research activity, the Federal Communications Commission has responded to critics who argue that consumers need straightforward information about when products are being placed in programs in exchange for money. "Such disclosures currently run during the credits, but the agency plans to examine whether product placement notices should be written in bigger print and displayed for a longer period."

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