A few years ago, product placement specialists were prop guys who made sure that a Coke can appeared in a scene. Now, with the advent of virtual product placement, it doesn’t matter if a Coke can was actually on hand. The virtual product placement guys just add it in later.
Recently, we talked with Mirriad a virtual product placement firm powered by AI.
Roy Taylor is the founder and CEO of another virtual product placement firm, Ryff. The company is introducing a new platform, Spheera, with a beta version set to go April 15, and public launch scheduled for July 4. Below are excerpts of our conversation with him, edited for clarity and length.
Marketing Daily: How does virtual product placement work? Is it different every time someone sees the placement, or is it one placement that goes out to everyone?
Roy Taylor: That's entirely in the hands of the content owner and the brand. What we've done is built a platform called Spheera, which allows brands and content owners to connect up to the reserves with each other.
Marketing Daily: And how do you do that?
Taylor: We ingest the contents -- and at the same time, we collect all the visual data for it. With that visual data, we now drop a 3D image or product in front of the frames, just exactly the way you do in a video game. The inspiration for it was Call of Duty: Warzone.
Marketing Daily: Is there something you can't do right now with product placement that you expect to be able to do in a few years?
Taylor: Well, I don't know what's going to be out in a few years. But I know what I'd like to do now: do good. When the World Cup Soccer Championship took place, do you know there wasn't a single woman's product in it? Not one. I think that's wrong. I think that's not fair.
We also want brands to be able to reach the audiences that they care about without mediation. Right now that's controlled by basically five big media agencies.
Marketing Daily: How can you manage that?
Taylor: Because we can connect them straight to the content that the viewers most liked to watch. Right now, if you want to be in media, you have to go to the agency who's buying it and they will determine the price you can access it for, and determine the audiences you can reach. Why should they have that power?
Marketing Daily: Your company scores product placements for authenticity. Can you give an example of that?
Taylor: Well, yeah, the easiest way is to give an example of when it goes wrong. So the manual product placement agent that was so pleased and proud to tell Peloton that they've got Peloton into "Sex in the City," the second movie, was not so pleased and proud when a director decided that Mr. Big was going to die of a heart attack running on the Peloton machine in "And Just Like That." That would never happen with us. Yeah, we have an entire library of continuity errors.