Survey: Consumers open to product placement

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A survey of 862 online discussions about product placement during the past three months found that more than two-thirds of entertainment consumers are not bothered by the practice, but the third who are feel most disturbed by brand integration on TV.

The survey, conducted by New Media Strategies, an Arlington, Va.-based word-of-mouth marketing and intelligence firm, is based on online discussions held on 43 Web sites, including such portals as Groups.Google.com and Groups.Yahoo.com as well as film, TV and gaming sites IMDb.com, IGN.com, AintItCool.com, TelevisionWithoutPity.com, GameSpot.com and TeamXbox.com.

More than 68% of the comments surveyed were either positive or neutral about product placement, while about 32% were negative, with most of the criticism directed toward excessive placements in a single TV show or movie as well as unrealistic product placements.

"We saw a much larger percentage of positive comments than we expected," New Media Strategies vp marketing Sam Huxley said. "Usually people go online to vent, so we were expecting a more negative perception of product placement. But what we're seeing is not just more positive discussion but a lot of people actually defending the practice to other consumers. It's not just marketers putting out the line that product placement increases realism. People online are saying fake products are more distracting."

The survey, conducted from September-December, found that a majority of consumers are willing to accept placements if they do not detract from their entertainment experience and that subtle and humorous placements are more effective than plastering products everywhere.

Huxley also was surprised that the largest number of negative comments about product placement were made about television, the medium that remains free to consumers. Of 329 conversations about television placements, 194 were positive and 135, or about 41%, were negative. Of the 476 discussions in the film category, 355 were positive and 121, or about 25%, were negative. There were 57 conversations monitored about product placement in gaming, with 46 of them positive and 11, or about 20%, negative.

"The one medium that people get for free is the one in which they are least receptive to product placement," Huxley said. "They're less negative about it in film and gaming even though they're paying for the entertainment. That's kind of surprising."
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