System Compares Brand-Entertainment Efforts to Other Media Types

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NEW YORK -– In the latest effort to establish an accurate method for measuring the impact of product placements in TV and film, TNS Media Intelligence launched the Branded Entertainment Reporting Service earlier this month.
A new measurement service from TNS aims to compare branded efforts to other types of media.

The service integrates branded-entertainment data into a system capable of comparing it to advertising in 18 other types of media, said Lori Madeloss, senior vice president of product and custom services at TNS.

“What a client does is they can look either by category or by brand at what they’re doing within regular advertising -- TV, magazines -- and now add in the branded-entertainment slice,” Ms. Madeloss said.

Comparing ad messages on database

A client using the service to access information on the WB program One Tree Hill, for example, would see that Cingular has several product placements and mentions within the show, but would also see on the database that other wireless carriers have commercials within the program, Ms. Madeloss said. In using the program, clients could deduce that Cingular's placement was most likely paid, but not exclusive, and the data would also reveal what kind of product placement/advertising deals One Tree Hill may have with various brands.

Clients of the service can also access a Web application that covers all brands placed not only in prime-time entertainment programming, but also in some cable and daytime programming.

TNS Media Intelligence’s new service joins several other services already measuring TV and movie product-placement impact using a large range of variables. The lack of a solid, industry-wide standard and method for accurately measuring this impact has been the largest stumbling block for the growing branded-entertainment business.

“Right now everyone has a different way of placing value and doing the integration,” Ms. Madeloss said. “We felt it was more important to do the details ... and then our clients can use those to really evaluate their brand.”

TNS's system is still in the process of being tested by several media agencies and major networks, Ms. Madeloss said. While marketers have started using it, the company would not disclose its client list.

Nielsen's PlaceViews software

Nielsen Media Research, a rival of TNS, monitors product placements with the Nielsen Product Placement Service. The service includes a software database called PlaceViews, which catalogs and counts all visual and audio references to products during prime-time entertainment programming on the six major TV networks regardless of whether the reference was paid for, said Kerry Kielar, manager for marketing communications at Nielsen.

PlaceViews users can look up data on whether a product was used in the foreground, background, as a prop, in the storyline, which characters were involved and duration of time the brand was on air. The service allows the clients to actually view or listen to the product placement itself and search by product, program, advertiser, product category and network.

Those using Nielsen's service includes Publicis Groupe's ZenithOptimedia Group and Omnicom Group's Ketchum Entertainment Marketing.

Counting viewers

Working with Nielsen’s other rating services, the product-placement service also reports how many viewers were watching the program at the time of the product mention, Ms. Kielar said.

But Alan Gould, CEO of the syndicated data company IAG Research, said it’s vital to provide advertisers with data on viewer impact in addition to cataloging occurrences and audience size because many viewers leave the room or stop paying attention during commercial breaks.

“You have multitasking, channel surfing. ... It’s becoming more and more important to the advertisers and networks, quite frankly, to understand who’s actually paying attention at the moment,” Mr. Gould said.

Still seeking comprehensive ROI assessment

An Association of National Advertisers survey of 118 major marketers including Visa International, Tyson Foods, Best Buy and Campbell’s Soup found that 63% had tried a mix of branded entertainment initiatives in their marketing campaigns, but 40% of the group felt there was no credible measurement system that satisfied marketers’, media buyers’ and media owners’ needs for comprehensive return on investment assessment. Of those surveyed, 85% said their primary concern was a measurement system that quickly reported who had been reached by the product placement.

“At the end of the day, all of this is being driven by advertisers,” Mr. Gould said. “And if you talk to advertisers, they’ll tell you this: Branded entertainment is new, and they’re trying to get their arms around it. ... You can’t do that by simply counting occurrences and duration onscreen.”

IAG Research’s own service for measuring the impact of product placements is In-Program Performance. The service registers the effectiveness of advertising based on viewer responses to the content of the shows, advertisements, placements and sponsorships, in addition to cataloging and counting occurrences of product placements. The In-Program Performance database includes every TV program, ad, placement and sponsorship –- not only those involving their clients’ shows or products.

Mr. Gould said the service measures viewer recall, message understanding and likeability of advertisements and records “fit” of product placements -– whether they seem natural or awkward and forced. The service also tracks changes in brand opinion.
The In-Program Performance service lists networks NBC, CBS and Fox, and marketers American Express, Sprint, General Motors and Toyota Motor Sales as clients.
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