Readers of this blog will know my interest in product placement. It stems from my experiential bent for engagement and context. There’s nothing worse than bad product placement — overt and reeking of commercialism. It’s eyeball hunting at its worst.

However, contextual product placement is a different matter altogether. It espouses engagement, and in doing so, is adopted by the viewer as a benefit rather than a detraction to the viewing experience. Marketing messages therefore are welcome, because they are embedded when and where the viewer is most responsive and receptive to them.

This story from MediaPost describes an evolution of product placement, one that is quite experiential in nature:

“Storyline placements are growing as the industry becomes more sophisticated about product integration deals,” says Annie Touliatos, director of product development, Nielsen Product Placement. “Meanwhile, we’re seeing a steady decline in background placements.”


Nielsen’s first-half product placement data demonstrate these trends, at least on cable networks, which accounted for 82% of the nearly 249,000 total TV placement occurrences logged by Nielsen.

Products being incorporated in the storyline accounted for 3,500, or just 2%, of the 204,000 total placements on the five cable networks tracked (A&E, Bravo, HGTV, MTV and TLC). But that represented a leap of 143% for the period, compared to first-half 06.

Foreground placements, representing 24% of the total, jumped 29%, to 49,181. Getting a brand shown on a T-shirt or other piece of wardrobe was the most prevalent tactic, accounting for 54,973, or 27%, of occurrences (up 4%).

Okay, other than the fact that the most popular tactic is probably the most lazy one, the rise in storyline product placement only strengthens the argument that marketing must add to the experience, not detract from it. Also, marketers have to work harder. Storyline placement is leaps and bounds beyond t-shirt placement in terms of sophistication, engagement and context.

And another quick note:

Overall, however, incidences of placements were down 7% on cable but up 40% on broadcast.

Is it no surprise that viewers are flocking to cable?


  1. I was informed very recently about the ad placements on the mobile screen, while sending text messgaes and the ads will be context sensitive… this launched in Delhi, India.

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