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FremantleMedia to Track Plugs

Reality producer FremantleMedia North America wants to get a regular read on the effectiveness of its reality show plugs -- think all of those Cokes on American Idol, which launches its fourth contest on Fox this January.

FremantleMedia is the latest sign-up for IAG Research's product placement tracking data, but the first programmer to commit to the service, which tracks plugs in the six broadcast networks and the top 10 cable nets and correlates that with viewer responses and the effectiveness with an overall ad flight.

Fremantle will use the service for at least a year to gage the effectiveness of product placements in its U.S. shows, which include Idol and Fox's The Swan.

The producer joins a growing IAG product-placement client roster that includes advertisers American Express, GM, Unilever, Mindshare, Capital One, and media buyer Starcom.

IAG Co-CEO Alan Gould says FremantleMedia was attracted by the company's combination of viewer response data and its ability to relate that to ad measurement data. That means that Fremantle and other clients can gage how effective the placements are in concert with traditional ad flights. Product placement is generally tied to flights of regular spots in the same shows.

IAG's In-Program Performance service relies on an online panel of some 800,000 who provide data on, among other things, how the plugs were received--seemless, jarring--how they affected brand perception and whether they turned viewers on or off to the product.

Gould expects to announce more clients by the end of the year, and sees a strong growth curve for the data, saying it is useful not only for advertisers to track the effectiveness of nontraditional ads, but for programmers like FremantleMedia to make sure that they are not crossing the line and compromising the entertainment product.

In a world of TiVo's and grazers, the traditional ad model's days are numbered, says Gould. "Everyone knows there is a Berlin Wall. The question is, is it 1983 or 1989."