Marketers Should Consider Emotional Quality Of TV Shows

Marketers looking to place their products in television shows would be well advised to link their products to shows in which viewers are more "emotionally engaged," according to new research from The Nielsen Company.

The research, which involved surveying 10,000 people about 200 brands and 50 television shows, revealed that products placed within programs that were defined as "emotionally engaging" by the consumers were recognized by 43% more viewers than programming that was considered less engaging.

Overall, positive brand feelings for products increased 85% when placed during "highly enjoyable" programming. Perhaps more importantly, purchase interest for a product placed within a "highly enjoyable" television show increased 145%, according to the study.

"The more that you enjoy a program, the more you'll relate to the characters and the more likely it is you'll use the product," Annie Touliatos, director of product development and marketing for Nielsen, tells Marketing Daily. "It's nice that the research follows logic."



Not all programs performed equally, according to the survey. "Lifestyle programs"--reality shows that do not typically involve competitions or eliminations, like "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" or "American Chopper"--get a nearly 60% boost in brand recognition when the program is considered highly enjoyable. Comparatively, highly enjoyable competition-based reality programs receive a 28% boost, while highly enjoyable sitcoms get only a 10% boost.

"When we looked at sitcoms, we didn't see as dramatic a lift [as other programs,]" Touliatos says.

The positive feelings and purchase intent also did not increase markedly when paired with a commercial during such programming. Adding a commercial to a highly enjoyable show that already has a product placed in it only increased brand recognition by 5%, according to the study. Purchase interest only increased 97% when both a commercial and product placement were used during highly enjoyable programming. Oversaturation--by combining a commercial with product placement--could account for that difference, Touliatos says.

The new Consumer Insights study follows Nielsen's first-ever Product Placement Valuation study from last year. That study found that nearly 58% of viewers recognized a brand when product placement was used in combination with a commercial, versus nearly 47% recognition for just a commercial. Ultimately, the new findings show that marketers should take the emotional resonance of a program into consideration when making product placement decisions, Touliatos says.

"It's so difficult these days to choose [how to spend marketing dollars] and how do you justify that decision," she says. "We felt this [information] was a useful tool."

Product placement, which has seen increased usage with the advent of digital video recorders and commercial-skipping, could come up at the Federal Communications Commission's meeting next week. FCC Chairman Kevin J. Martin--as well as commissioner Jonathan Adelstein--has expressed a desire to review FCC guidelines for product placement, particularly whether networks and stations should offer more disclosure when product placement occurs.

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