A new study conducted by Kantar found that contextually driven in-content virtual product placements and brand integrations worked better for advertisers than traditional commercials.
Kantar conducted the study working with Mirriad, which implements in-content ads for top advertisers. The study, which looked at multiple campaigns, also found that adding virtual product placement made the advertiser’s commercials more effective.
Some of the reasons for the effectiveness of virtual product placement make common sense. More viewers see product placements because they tend to tune out, change the channel or click on the “skip ads” button when a commercial break begins.
Kantar found that in content ads deliver a 22% to 49% audience gain compared to commercial breaks, depending on the product and the market.
People also say they like relevant, appropriate product placement, with 79% of consumers saying they like in-content advertising, compared to 12% who said they find traditional advertising enjoyable.
While the consumer benefits from in-content advertising–it doesn’t interrupt the program and Mirriad’s data and artificial intelligence technology–the placement relevant both in the context of the show and the product relevant to the consumers–there are advantages for media owners, who get new inventory to sell, and advertisers as well.
“Not only do we reach more people, but among those we reach, which is the totality of the viewership, we have a strong impact,” Stephan Beringer, CEO of Mirriad, told Broadcasting+Cable.
Beringer said the Kantar study confirms for clients who anecdotally have found that in-content virtual product placement works, that the strong performance is a norm.
“Across multiple campaigns, people remember the brands, people, people consider the brands and products, and they actually consume them,” he said.
Beringer added that contextual relevance is making a comeback in the advertising world and that in-content advertising takes advantage of that, both by matching the advertiser to relevant content. Increasingly sending the right integration to the right target viewer. This is increasingly happening in real time via programmatic technology.
In one recent campaign, different audiences saw different integrations at the same time, all delivered in real time as people were watching the content as a stream. “I think we are really the first who have actually done this.”
Beringer said Mirriad works with advertisers and media companies to enable contextual in-content advertising. “We are the ones that run massive campaigns for very massive brands,” he said. “We have the most advanced solution here. We like to see ourselves as a company that enables the marketplace. We are not the marketplace itself.”
"The number of executions created by Mirriad will be up 300% this year and the U.S. is the most progressive market for integrations," he said.
While in-content advertising is growing, the streaming television industry is increasingly opening its door to traditional commercials, with Netflix and Disney Plus in the process of introducing ad-supported tiers.
Beringer declined to comment on the wisdom of that approach, but noted that streamers and other media platforms can sell both commercial and virtual in-content integrations. “It’s not an either or,” he said. “And what we’re seeing here is that they have this ability to lift the performance of their TV spots by doing in-content placements at the same time, so it’s a complimentary opportunity.”
He also noted that unlike traditional ads, which can lose their potency, or even become irritating with increased frequency, viewers continue to respond to in-person ads now matter how often they appear.
In the study Kantar looked at three groups of viewers exposed to advertising: those who saw a brand’s in-content integration in an episode of a series but not a TV spot; those that saw a commercial; and those that saw both a commercial and virtual product placement.
Kantar found that brand awareness among people who saw the in-content ad was 18 percentage points higher than those who were unexposed. Ad awareness was 25 points higher, favorability was 6 points higher and product consideration was up 9 points.
The addition of in-content ads to a running TV campaign boosted brand awareness by 10 points, ad awareness by 4 points, favorability by 3 points and consideration by 7 points.
Looking at two campaigns for consumer packaged-goods products, Kantar found that after 30 days, 56% of consumers who were exposed to in-content advertising actually consumed the product, compared to 34% among those who only saw commercials. Those consumers spent 11 percentage points more on the products advertised.
“At Lexus, we’re committed to reaching consumers through content that is meaningful and authentic to ensure that we’re meeting our audiences where they are, in a non-disruptive way,” Mia Phillips, senior manager of advertising and media at Lexus, one advertiser that has worked with Mirriad, told B+C. “With Mirriad’s AI technology, we’re able to create those experiences while simultaneously expanding our brand reach. We’ve seen proven results across all of the in-content campaigns we’ve executed with Mirriad over the last six months and are confident in the continued success.”
Kantar looked at two different types of in-content advertising and found that there was only a slim difference between virtual product placement -- putting a product on a shelf or kitchen counter -- and inserting a brand via virtual billboards that appear in the background of a scene.
In some shows, Mirriad inserts a TV set to the scene and a commercial for the advertiser is running on the screen. Beringer also said he likes it when Mirriad puts virtual signage in the blue sky of ads by adding a blimp to the scene.
Beringer adds that emotions can be a powerful part of in-content advertising. Surprisingly, sad scenes can make advertisers happy if their products are seen as indulgences or pick me ups, like ice cream or chocolates.
Another interesting finding in the study was that when two complementary brands -- a soft drink and potato chips, for example -- are inserted into the same content, their brand metric lifts were higher than the lift each got when inserted individually.
“Virtual in-content ads offer brands a unique new opportunity in the media landscape. Seamless integration into familiar content ensures high consumer receptivity and acceptance, while also being highly noticeable and impactful,” said Sparsh Pandya, Client Director, Media, Insights Division at Kantar Research. "Advertisers should be piloting now and using our established research framework to measure which flavors of placement work best for their brands.” ■
Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.
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