Friday, March 6, 2009

Product Placement

I am watching American Idol for some reason and there isn't an angle of the show that hasn't been blanketed by the media or around the water cooler (I always found the water cooler to be an awkward place to converse at work. I think it's the small cups and the bending). Stupid expression aside, the thing I always think about when watching Idol is product placement.

According to TNS, in the 3rd quarter of 2008, Americans watch more than 22 minutes of brand appearances and ad messages per hour of Prime Time. Of the 22 minutes, almost 14 minutes are commercials or PSAs. That leaves 9 minutes of brand appearances during the broadcast. Over 37% of your television viewing carries some type of ad message.

This isn't a knock on the practice. Last decade we laughed at the scene in Wayne's World where Wayne sold out by shilling for Pizza Hut and Pepsi during his show. Now, we shrug. DVR and TiVo have made product placement a necessary evil. OMD CEO Alan Cohen revolutionized circumventing the DVR ad skip, but the technology is limited to the ads just prior to the program's restart. As DVR continues its rapid expansion, networks are under increasing pressure to find new ways to deliver the ad message.

Jimmy Fallon's spectacularly awful new show looks to incorporate the internet into show bits. The WNBA put the McDonald's logo on team jerseys. And I don't have to tell you about the ubiquity of Coke cups and Ford music videos during Idol.

While we have become increasingly more tolerant of the tit-for-tat relationship between DVRing viewers and the sneaky advertisers, there will always be a technological battle to diffuse the other side. But we aren't far from the day where you will be able to order a product directly off your TV. When I am in the mood for a Coke and Ford, that might not be so bad.

Brand Appearances vs. Advertising: Q3 2008
(minutes:seconds per hour)

Unscripted Programs 10:12 14:07
Scripted Programs 6:10 12:37
(Kimmel, Leno, Letterman)
15:15 15:13
Source: TNS Media Intelligence
1 Figures include network advertisements, station promotions and PSAs. Local commercial time is excluded.

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