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Embedded Advertising/Product Placement/Branded Entertainment and Marketing Soar, Business and Industry Trends Analysis

Today, more than ever, marketers are seeking ways to get their products and brands in front of consumers in a relevant and effective manner through embedded advertising.  This is the practice of arranging for products and brands to be seen in use by entertainers or athletes, or in relation to a specific event or locale.  For example, marketers very frequently pay substantial fees to have characters in a movie drive a certain make of car or drink a certain brand of soft drink.  This is often true in television as well.  A related concept is native advertising, in which media content appears to be editorial in nature rather than looking like advertising.
Embedded and native ads now go far beyond product placement in films and TV shows.  For example, “advertorials” in magazines have become as commonplace as “infomercials” on television.  Often, these advertorials are eight to 16 pages in length, and contain useful information such as travel tips, fashion guides or recipes, and may feature photos of or quotes from noted personalities.  Unfortunately for the consumer, it is often difficult to tell where editorial content leaves off and advertorials begin.
Sponsored content (also known as “native advertising”) is growing in its share of ad space and spending.  A service called Taboola provides advertisers with a convenient way to get this content onto social media.  Taboola claims that such native ads receive 10-times higher engagement than standard ads.  Companies specializing in sponsored ad production and placement include Vice and BuzzFeed.
Branded entertainment can be an effective way to embed brands.  This can take myriad forms.  PepsiCo, for example, paid for a high-quality movie titled First Descent about snowboarding.  Pepsi’s Mountain Dew soft drink appears occasionally in the movie.  This ties into Mountain Dew’s sponsorship of sports events and other efforts to associate the brand with action sports.  Likewise, the James Bond series of films embeds sponsor ties such as luxury watches worn by the character or sports cars driven in the films.

SPOTLIGHT:  Branded Entertainment
Branded entertainment is entertainment programming or content whereby a brand's message, image or positioning is built into the content in a vital and relevant manner.  The benefits may include an opportunity to break through the advertising “clutter;” a chance to align the brand with relevant stars, athletes, settings or scripts; or a new opportunity to reach target audiences in a meaningful and memorable way. 

     Another type of advertising is “product placement,” in which advertisers pay to have their products on set in films, videos and television.  Classic film examples include Reese’s Pieces in the 1982 film E.T. and Ray-Ban sunglasses in the Tom Cruise film Top Gun.  A growing number of TV shows, especially reality-based programming, are providing advertisers with means of reaching viewers with implanted advertising as well.  This is vital since, with the advent of DVRs, viewers are fast-forwarding through ads or skipping them altogether.  The Journal of Management and Marketing Research cited a Nielsen study which found that product placement on TV can boost brand awareness by as much as 20%.
Other newly popular alternatives to classic 30- and 60-second commercials are advertiser sponsorships.  Even newscasters are reporting stories behind desks holding branded cups of coffee.  Formerly NBC’s and now USANetwork’s reality show The Biggest Loser regularly showed weight-loss contestants eating at sponsor Subway’s restaurants or trainers exhorting the benefits of eating Yoplait yogurt.
Yet another booming branded entertainment venue lies in brand placement within electronic games.  Revenues for this practice are soaring, and advertising within video games is a perfect example of reaching a passionate interest group.  An IGA-Nielsen study reported that 82% of consumers reacted positively to seeing contextual in-game ads during game play.  The launch of revolutionary game players accelerated the trend.  While electronic games reach a surprisingly large number and variety of households, they are particularly effective for reaching young males under 25 years of age—a segment that is spending less and less time viewing traditional media.  Chrysler has been especially successful by embedding its Jeep brand in this medium.
NBC effectively ties Twitter into its popular The Voice reality singing show.  Viewers are diving into “second screen engagement” as they send and receive tweets on their smartphones while they watch the show.  Tweets sent by the coaches are timed with peak activity when the show airs, driving more viewers to watch and engage in the Twitter conversation.  Advertisers can ride on Twitter’s coattails by using the show’s hashtag (#TheVoice) in its own tweets, sent just after a commercial airs.  

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