program producers, Madison + Vine has learned.
Nielsen plans to expand its initial product placement tracking system into a broader monitoring service that allows TV network executives to know and study details of all deals that result in products being shown in their programming.
Nielsen's new product placement tracking service data is currently bought only by Zenith Optimedia Group, said Dave Harkness, senior vice president for strategy and development at VNU Media Measurement and Information Group. He said the company is currently in negotiations with several networks.
The service began Sept. 5, 2003, with Nielsen analysts taping and watching every single show on the broadcast networks for analysis.
Mr. Harkness said the service will be further developed to provide network executives with data about all aspects of product inclusions in programming.
Many brands end up in TV shows by way of prop masters and producers who negotiate placements as a means of cutting production costs. Nielsen is investigating ways of systematically identifying placements that are the result of such barters, as well as those that are paid for directly through the networks.
Mr. Harkness said that, ultimately, the new service can offer networks "an opportunity to synergize and monetize all the casual [product] appearances" in TV programming.
"We're trying to get that information directly from the producers," he said. "This is the first opportunity the networks have had to get some understanding of product placement. ... Now they have a way of understanding and linking [it] with the advertising sold in the programming. They'll work to get some control of the brand appearances."
In last week's first full season report, the new Nielsen system ranked Coca-Cola Co. as the champion of product inclusions in show content.
Coca-Cola products or mentions appeared 2,260 times, second only to Nike apparel products, which appeared 1,048 times in programming, according to the report.
Mr. Harkness said the Nielsen study found that January was the heaviest month for brand inclusion in TV content. He said during that month many original shows were launched and many more product inclusions appeared.