· 4 min read
Marketers have their choice of options when looking to appear front-and-center in video entertainment, whether that’s through buying ads on streaming services or getting their brands placed inside a series as product integrations.
Here’s an idea: Why not try both?
Using both in-show product placements alongside traditional 30-second ads may be the best way to boost key metrics like sales and website visits rather than using either method alone, according to research from BEN, a firm that helps brands with product placements, creator partnerships, and music licensing.
“If you’re only running a 30-second spot, if you’re only doing integration, the impact isn’t as big,” said Erin Schmidt, chief of product placement at BEN, who has helped place brands in shows like Stranger Things and Riverdale. “But if you were doing both, in most cases, you’re seeing a significant impact [and] a significant increase in attribution.”
Measure for measure
For the study, BEN and TV measurement and analytics firm 605 compared results from cereal, snack, and automotive brands that ran ads on CBS, The CW, and ABC—and which also had product placement in the CBS comedy Mom, the CW drama Riverdale, or the ABC late-night series Jimmy Kimmel Live!—respectively.
The study compared four audiences: viewers who saw at least two seconds of a brand’s linear ad; viewers who saw the brand’s product integration but no ad; viewers who saw both a linear ad and the same brand’s product integration; and viewers who saw neither ads nor product integrations.
BEN was particularly interested in tracking products those audiences purchased within two weeks of the integration airing, which it did using shopping data from Catalina, as well as tracking audience visits to brand websites using data from LiveRamp.
The results were considerable. Doritos, which had a product placement within Riverdale, saw a 61% lift in sales among audiences who saw a TV commercial and the product placement in the series, nearly twice as much as the 37% lift in sales resulting from audiences who only saw the TV commercial, BEN found.
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On the CBS series Mom, a cereal brand saw a 53% lift in sales among audiences who saw a TV commercial and a product placement, more than 3x higher than the 13.5% lift from a TV commercial alone. The auto brand that advertised on ABC didn’t see any increase in website visits through TV commercials alone, but saw an 8% lift in website visits when audiences saw both a commercial and an in-show product integration.
“It confirmed what we have instinctively known and that is when you integrate a brand meaningfully into a storyline or character’s journey, it is remembered,” Barbra Robin, EVP of integrated marketing at The CW Network, told Marketing Brew in an email. “And, when you follow that moment with a commercial unit, it both amplifies and reinforces that moment, ultimately causing action.”
A new moment for product placement
For BEN, of course, this is great news. The company’s business is built off product placement, and Schmidt told Marketing Brew earlier this year that she was focused on figuring out how to prove the effectiveness product placement can have on actual sales.
But the results may also help networks think differently about how they sell product placement and ads as well. Product placement and media are often handled by different teams, but showcasing the potential for brand lift by using both strategies could be a way to encourage client teams to “work in sync,” Robin said.
Across the industry, there are efforts to build out additional product-placement opportunities, including efforts by companies like NBCUniversal and Amazon to build out digital product-placement offerings alongside their other ad products.
Update 8/10/22: A previous version of this article cited Barbra Robin as SVP of integrated marketing at The CW Network.