NEWS5 November 2010

ITV seeks supplier for product placement research

New business UK

MALTA— Independent UK broadcaster ITV has appointed sponsorship analyst Repucom to monitor and evaluate product placement in its programmes, and is seeking another supplier for research services.

Sarah Messer, head of commercial research at ITV, announced the contract win today at the Media Research Group conference in Malta, and said a second RFP for research services has been issued, with a supplier expected to be appointed early next year.

ITV has already conducted quant research with Nielsen and a qual study including eye-tracking with KAE (now part of Optimisa) to look at how placing products in programmes will affect the viewer experience, and what benefits it will bring for brands. The broadcaster is also working with MirriAd, whose technology allows products and ads to be incorporated digitally into video.

Product placement, which until now has been banned in TV, film and radio in the UK, will be allowed for independent broadcasters from the end of 2010 as communications regulator Ofcom updates its code to reflects changes in the law. Certain types of products including alcohol and tobacco remain excluded, as do certain types of programmes, including those aimed at children.

Repucom, which grew out of Australian sponsorship company Total Sport & Entertainment, will use software that tracks the appearance of brands and products in broadcasts to measure the size, prominence and duration of each placement. Results are then validated by people.

Messer told Research today that it is still not clear what the UK’s market for product placement – or the research that lies behind it – will look like. “Nobody in the UK has been measuring this market or got a tried and tested methodology,” she said. “We don’t really know yet how product placement is going to behave and what the advertisers will want to know. So it will be a case of building up a picture over time.”

As for the size of the market, Messer said that demand is clearly there from advertisers, but it is likely to remain “small” for at least a couple of years. Some have speculated that the market could be worth up to £100m annually, but Messer said these are only “guesstimates”.