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Schedule Changes Impacted Product-Placement Numbers

Sep 17, 2008  •  Post A Comment

The latest figures from the Nielsen Co. show that product placement was down 15% in the first half of the year. But a closer look behind the numbers indicates that advertiser demand for product integration—or the networks’ willingness to provide it—hasn’t cooled at all.
Nielsen reported that 15% drop in product placement on the 11 networks it measures, which include the broadcast networks and a handful of cable networks. In a breakdown, Nielsen said placements were up by 12% on the broadcast networks and down 20% on cable, resulting in the overall 15% decline.
But the changes on both broadcast and cable are caused mainly by scheduling changes, rather than an increase or decrease in overall placement activity, said Annie Touliatos, VP of sales development at Nielsen Monitor-Plus and Nielsen Product Placement Service.
Some of the shows with the most placement on broadcast usually air in the second half of the year, but this year, more episodes showed up in the first half, skewing the broadcast totals. And some of the shows with the most placement on cable aired fewer episodes in the first half compared to prior years, she said.
The big broadcast shows that aired more often in the first quarter were NBC’s “The Biggest Loser” and Fox’s “Hell’s Kitchen.”
Meanwhile, on cable, TLC’s “American Chopper” and “Miami Ink” aired less frequently, as did MTV’s “Run’s House” and “Pimp My Ride” and A&E’s “Driving Force” and “Dog the Bounty Hunter.”
These programs usually show up in Nielsen’s list of shows with the most product placement, and moving them was a big factor in the numbers, Ms. Touliatos said.
“If we had consistency with those programs … then we would probably have a pretty consistent level of product placement activity year-to-year,” she said.
Nielsen said there were 204,919 brand occurrences on broadcast and cable TV in the first half of the year. Nielsen’s Product Placement Service categorizes the placements and said 30% of them were in the foreground on the screen during broadcast shows. On cable, the most common form of placement was as wardrobe, at 28%.
The show with the most product placement in broadcast during the first half was “American Idol,” with 4,636 occurrences.
NBC had four of the top 10 shows in terms of product-placement occurrences, ahead of Fox and The CW, which aired two each.
Nielsen said placements in ABC’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” were among the most impactful during the first half. The single most impactful placement was Target’s appearance on the March 16 episode of “Oprah’s Big Give”; nearly 65% of the viewers who saw the show recognized the Target brand and felt positive about it.
The brands most often seen in product placement on broadcast included Coca-Cola, 24-Hour Fitness, Chef Revival, AT&T and the Pussycat Dolls Lounge. Apparel was the top-ranked category.
Despite airing less frequently in the first half of 2008, “American Chopper” was the cable show featuring the most product-placement occurrences, with 26,794.
The most successful product placements appeared on TLC’s “Trading Spaces,” including the top-scoring placement, which involved Home Depot on the April 12 episode. About 75% of its viewers recognized and responded positively to placements in that episode.

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