The estimates, which were put forth as part of the official announcement of Nielsen's new Product Placement Measurement Services (MediaDailyNews Dec. 2), a new syndicated media research service that will monitor and trend the audio and visual appearance of products and brands depicted inside TV programming in much the same way that Nielsen's Monitor-Plus unit tracks advertising exposures in other media. In fact, the new service will be based in Monitor-Plus' Shelton, Conn.-based operations and product placement is being considered by Nielsen to be the '17th" medium to be monitored by the service.
The big difference between product placement and the other monitored media, however, will be the fact that not all of the placements detected by Nielsen will be for paid placements. At least not initially.
"The networks have no idea how much is going on, or what the value of it is," said Dave Harkness, senior vice president-business development at Nielsen, who is overseeing the new service's launch. By making the TV industry cognizant of the magnitude and value of such placements, Harkness said he believes telecasters will be in a better position to reap capital value for those occurrences.
And while there clearly is a push on both sides of the product placement negotiating table, the formalization of a marketing services around the practice could ruffle feathers and change the TV production process. Historically, the practices has been regarded more as an art form controlled by set designers and less of a form of commerce controlled by TV sales and marketing organizations.
But with potential billions at stake, not to mention a sizeable chunk of commissionable billings for ad agencies that get involved in the process, everyone from network row to Madison Avenue has a keen interest in exploiting product integration as a new advertising tool.
There's also a strategic imperative, because many in the industry believe it is a bullet-proof solution to commercial-skipping technologies and behavior.