Another Integration Method: Customize Ads to Programming

Home Depot, GM Boost Recall by Bringing Elements of Sponsored Content Into Spots

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BATAVIA, Ohio -- Integrating brands into programs has been the predominant model for content integration, but doing things the other way around may pay off, too, according to research for NBC Universal by IAG Research.
A 'traditional' Saturn ad that runs during 'Project Runway' gets 19% brand recall in IAG testing, but the show-themed ad got 50% brand recall.



Customized ads

Speaking at the Information Research Inc. Summit 2007 in Las Vegas on Feb. 27, Alan Wurtzel, president-research and media development for NBC Universal, detailed how two advertisers -- Home Depot and General Motors Corp.'s Saturn -- have improved brand- and message-recall scores through ads customized around the programming on which they appear.

Around its broadcast of the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy, NBC commissioned IAG to do extensive research regarding consumer recall of ads run during the Olympics compared to the same ads run at the same time on other prime-time programming.

For Home Depot, which ran an ad explaining the retailer was "proud to employ more Olympic superheroes than any other company," brand recall among consumers who saw the ad during the Olympics was 43%, nearly four times the 11% brand-recall level among consumers who saw the ad during other prime-time programming. Recall of the Olympics-themed ad's message was similarly improved when running inside the Olympics -- where it scored 36% vs. 11% outside, Mr. Wurtzel said.

Saturn's 'Runway' stint

Saturn got similar results last year with an ad customized around Bravo's "Project Runway" and featuring host Tim Gunn. A "traditional" Saturn ad that runs during "Project Runway" gets 19% brand recall in IAG testing, Mr. Wurtzel said. But the show-themed ad got 50% brand recall, a more than 250% increase. IAG-measured "likability" for the spot linked to "Project Runway" was 26% when run within the show, compared to 9% in other programming, he said. (A Saturn Sky roadster is awarded to the show’s winning designer.)

"The point is that it is worth the time and effort to do this," Mr. Wurtzel said. "And we can now demonstrate what that payoff really is."

For NBC Universal, too, the payoff is fairly clear. Having advertisers do custom ads to run in its programming helps it get a piece of the branded-content action that often goes to producers unaffiliated with the networks.

But Mr. Wurtzel also had good things to say about the effectiveness of product placement -- particularly within NBC Universal's Bravo network. "I represent broadcast, cable -- we have lots of different platforms," he said. "Obviously, they're all beautiful to me. But the reality is that Bravo really has figured out how to do product placement very, very well."

Better recall than prime time

He noted how Sprint, in particular, got considerably more attention from viewers by combining advertising with product placement in Bravo's "Blowout" last year. Sprint ads run during a Sprint product placement on "Blowout" achieved 59% brand recall, according to IAG, compared to 39% when run on broadcast prime time. Similarly, ads run during the integration achieved 45% brand-message recall, vs. 26% when run elsewhere on prime time.

In general, Mr. Wurtzel said, "Blowout" has done better than average in performance of its product placements, in IAG research, with product-placement brand recall averaging 70% vs. the 44% IAG average for product placements on reality shows, he said. "Blowout" placements improved brand opinion among 27% of consumers on average, compared to a norm of 16% for reality shows generally in IAG research.
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