Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Invading the content (Part 4)

Continued from part 3 ..........

Measuring product placements

Measuring product placements in TV is like chasing a mirage. In cinema the effect is more outstanding as reported by the western media that when Tom Cruise wore a Ray ban aviator the sales went up by 40 % and when he wore an Oakleys in MI 2 the sales shot up by 80% ,as per Time magazine.... This is because, cinema gets audiences who are there having made a voluntary choice of exposure, and having spent money for entertainment, unlike television audiences whose involvement and degree of attention is questionable. Moreover, research has revealed that moviegoers, regardless of age or movie going frequency, actively participated in viewing experience and actively interpreted brands that they encounter there . But a time tested, believable mechanism to measure the effects in quantitative terms is yet to evolve. Buyers of such slots will have to succumb to the prices fixed by the seller, many times with no measurable justification. Many such buyers depend on the reputation and past success of the programme producer, the extent to which he allows placements and their own bargaining skills.

The basic premise that the ratings of a programme in TV need not be applicable for commercial breaks in that programme is the reason why product placements have come into prominence. It has been suggested by researchers, that even in programmes with high
Television Rating Points (TRP), the recall of commercials happening during the commercial breaks aren’t very promising, and some times even dismal You and I have experienced that very often .Havent we? When that is the case, will the fame of a popular programme be carried over in full glory, to the products placed in such programmes? It is a question yet to be answered.

Most of the researchers who have worked with Cinema product placements in focus, seem to have emphasized on the power of recall value as effectiveness of product placements and not much emphasis on the power of interpretation and the resultant attitude except a few works . Does recall contribute to attitude change? Those who have gone inside the topic have left it open for future research with the emphasis that, both recall and attitude effects after product placements should be studied . Industry practitioners like Zergio Zyman, also have often commended that “eyeballs don’t equal sales".Considering the fact that TV viewing is more casual and grazing takes place, more research in this area is necessary before any reliable measuring format can be accepted.
Some attempts like comparing the amount of time a product is exposed in the programme with the cost of an equivalent ad slot in the same programme and charging the same money from the client were done. But the authenticity and believability of such measures are disputable. Very often advertisers wonder why they have to spend so much of money for a not very apparent appearance of the product during a programme. Some attempts are made by television audience agencies like TAM(Television Audience Measurement) in this direction. ‘TAM received International Recognition & Appreciation when its Paper on “Evaluating Soft Brand Advertising on Television" (from an advertiser’s point of view) was announced as the Best Paper amongst 22 other strategy papers from various parts of the globe in European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR) 2004. This paper was a path-breaking analysis on Product Placements within TV Programs which already is a multi-million dollar industry in the West and worth a few hundred crores in India already. During Mid-2004, the concept of In-programme Product Placement was researched upon from a consumer point of view and presented at the World Audience Measurement (WAM) Conference in Geneva’.

A tool now in discussion is the Q-Ratio or the Quality Ratio from iTVX which delves into the quality of the placement, the visuals, how well it has been integrated into the story, based on which they arrive on the value it deserves .The quality of exposure of the brand is assessed frame by frame and how such exposure helps the brand, and around 50 characteristics of the placement is taken to arrive at the right value. This is an attempt to understand how these placements score in terms of quality and what valuations one can do in monetary terms for these placements....

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