Out of their place: Integration dips

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NEW YORK -- The number of product placements on network television dropped more than 20% to 73,830 occurrences this year, while the amount of time that placements appeared onscreen fell about 20 hours, or 14%, to 120 hours, according to data released by Nielsen Media Research.

Annie Touliatos, director of product development and marketing at Nielsen, attributed much of the decline in placements (which also includes audio mentions) to the absence of "The Contender" on network television this year. The Mark Burnett reality boxing show, which moved to ESPN after lackluster ratings on NBC in 2005, racked up 7,502 placements when it aired last year.

"In terms of the top shows that we track, I see product placement as being flat, or just down 1% or 2%," Touliatos said.

The Nielsen Place*Views data covers Jan. 1-Nov. 26 in both years.

Touliatos said that combined audio-visual placements were up about 17% to 4,608 this year, indicating an increase in the number of planned product integrations in TV programming. "When we see a visual and verbal mention together, it is a more concerted effort than just putting a brand on the set," she said. "To us it indicates there are more planned placements going on."

Audio placements fell 7.6% to 16,571 occurrences this year, and visual placements dropped 27.1% to 52,651. But this year, audio placements represented 23% of all occurrences, up from 19% last year; audio-visual placements made up 6% of all occurrences, compared with 4% in 2005, and visual placements constituted 71% of all placements, down from 77% last year.

Year-over-year, placements were down slightly to moderately on "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" and "Rock Star" and dropped sharply on "The Apprentice" and "King of Queens." "American Idol," "The Amazing Race" and "America's Next Top Model" bucked the trend, with more placements this year than in 2005. "Idol" placements jumped from 400 minutes last year to 446 minutes.

This year, CBS ranked as the network with the most placements, grabbing the top spot from NBC, but its placements were still down 17.6% to 16,793. NBC came in second with 15,384 occurrences, marking a sharp 40% decline. Fox, which held on to its third-place standing, saw placements up 6.6% to 14,692. Among the top four networks, ABC again came in last, with its total number of placements down 22.6% to 8,091.

Coca-Cola was the most-placed brand of 2006 with 3,339 occurrences, up 18.8% from last year, when it also took the top spot. Five of the most frequently placed brands of 2005 reprised their roles this year, including Chef Revival, Nike, 24 Hour Fitness and SLS Electronic Equipment Speakers. Newcomers to the top 10 were the Chicago Bears, Cingular Wireless, Dell Computer, Starter and Nike Sport footwear.

The three most-placed categories this year were unchanged from last year, with apparel, soft drinks and universities taking the top spots. Autos jumped one spot to fourth place this year.
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