Addressing Product Placement Concerns

A recent survey sought ANA member companies' attitudes and activities concerning branded entertainment. The results were presented at the 2005 ANA annual Television Advertising Forum. One of the more important results centered on how to establish the efficacy of product placement integrations.

When looking at effectiveness, 40 percent of the survey respondents thought there ought to be an industry standard measurement for branded entertainment deals. But 80 percent of those 'involved' in branded entertainment said they are going to assess the impact of their branded integration efforts themselves.

What is the issue here?

We have two groups: one group is looking for an external guideline to help them make better decisions about where to put their money. The other is turning inward to analyze the impact in their own way - for precisely the same reason.

While approaching it differently, both groups are looking for a way to make better decisions about where to spend their money. Thus, we have an overlap.



A Remedy

A focus on the basic fundamentals of product placement offers a viable starting point for both groups. Rather than expecting that an industry standard will be agreed upon soon, or in putting valuable energy into a variety of non-comparable ways to assess the effectiveness of placements after they have occurred, the best place to start is by benchmarking the inherent, initial 'quality' of the placement. From this, marketers and producers have a tangible and natural 'starting point' from which to work. That is, they can establish the basis for later calculations of impact and effectiveness.

Regarding return on investment (ROI), it is misleading to consider artificially calculating a separate ROI on any single element of today's marketing arsenal, just as it is to think that measuring the impact on 'short of dollars' measures (e.g., awareness, attitude, or behavior intention shifts) will help you make a proper ROI assessment. This is because so many things work in tandem in today's dynamic marketing and advertising environment.

While we agree with the comment (from the same Media Week March 23, 2005 article that announced the ANA survey results) that "The Holy Grail for marketers is trying to get the ROI," measuring this 'ROI' independently of all other activities is not correct. If you want to measure dollar in/dollar out effectiveness, a holistic approach is needed.

But, we shouldn't let that distract us from helping marketers and producers focus on the most important aspect of product placement: a fundamental starting point - an estimate of the inherent quality of the product placement - to help them make better decisions and do better deals. The industry can be well served by this approach to rid themselves of chaos and instability, without sacrificing the rapidly emerging potential of creative ways to reach consumers and audiences.

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