Covering September and October of 2003, based on a total of 9,091 product placements—defined as those brands captured when a brand's name is clearly heard or when it appears for at least one second—across the six broadcast networks, Nike registered the highest number of placements in prime time, with 233. Ford autos came in second (137) with Internet service provider NetZero (92) third.
Nielsen's service, which officially launched March 1, will release full-season data in May or June.
The initial findings don't break out which brands got exposure through actual deals between the producers and the brands and which ones were put together by prop masters, assembling production elements based on script needs.
The WB Network's "Jamie Kennedy Experiment" exposed the greatest number of brands with 581 occurrences, according to the findings, followed by UPN's "The Mullets" (515) and CBS's "King of Queens" (466) coming in third. NBC's "Fear Factor" (254) came sixth with "Friends" (197) in 10th place.
%%PULLQUOTE_RIGHT%% Laura Caraccioli-Davis, senior VP-director of SMG Entertainment, part of Publicis Groupe, said the data only deliver value if properly contextualized. "What is connecting to the placement? What is the engagement level? I can look at 'Survivor' and see X number of brands, but what is the value?"
Caraccioli-Davis said clients pay careful attention to how their products are being used and that the Nielsen information was probably valuable to network executives who need to keep tabs on what deals are going on.
Bob Flood, exec VP-director of national electronic media at Optimedia USA, also a part of Publicis Groupe, said: "Everything will be reviewed with regard to the methodology and other important factors such as whether [the placement] was part of the strategic mission. Product placement is really an evolving matter."
Realizing an opportunity, other companies like iTVX and IAG have also launched services evaluating the impact of product placement.