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ESPN to Track Product Placements

TV sports superpower ESPN has signed up for Nielsen Media Research's new Sponsorship Scorecard service to track sports product placements.

Scorecard, which launched in July 2004, helps gauge advertisers' return on investment by tracking the number of exposures of virtual signage--behind home plate for example--or sponsored half-time contests.

Nielsen last month announced that the PGA tour had signed on as a client to track all those hats and shirts (think Phil Mickelson and that blue Ford logo) and leaderboard shots.

Other clients include pro teams, advertisers, and other cable networks, though Nielsen is keeping those close to the vest. The company is in talks with arguably the signage champs, NASCAR, to track its 200-mile-per-hour plugs.