Study: Mixed bag for product placement

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NEW YORK -- Product placements yield less brand recognition than traditional TV commercials and are only slightly more effective than 30-second spots at motivating viewers to purchase a product, according to the first product placement valuation study conducted by Nielsen Media Research.

Product placements do, however, slightly outperform commercials in creating positive feelings toward a brand and also boost brand awareness when combined with TV spots, according to the 45-page study that aims to quantify the value that product placement contributes to traditional TV advertising. The survey also found that combining a product placement with a commercial actually reduces purchase intent when compared with either a placement or TV spot alone. The study was conducted between October 2005 and June.

The study surveyed more than 10,000 people who participated in the screening of 50 programs across broadcast and cable television, during which placements and commercials were featured for nearly 200 consumer brands.

According to the study, the average recognition rate for brands featured as product placements is 39.8%, compared with 46.6% for products appearing in commercials. But in cases where a placement is reinforced by a commercial, the brand recognition rate climbs to 57.5%.

Among those who noticed a brand featured in a placement during the study, 57.4% felt positive about that brand's association with the show, compared with 53.7% who spotted the brand in a commercial. The study found that 37.4% of viewers expressed interest in purchasing a brand seen in a placement, compared with 36.1% who noticed the product in a TV spot. When a product placement was combined with a commercial, purchase intent dropped to 35.4%.

"This comprehensive study demonstrates that product placement can represent a valuable enhancement to a media plan," said David Poltrack, chief research officer at CBS Corp. "More importantly, it also confirms that not all product placements are successful, and it provides valuable guidance for the development of an effective product-placement program."
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