Nielsen to Measure Product Integration

Nielsen Media Research is launching a service to track one of the hottest phenomena in advertising, product placement, officials said last Thursday.

The ratings company said its new measurement service will enable users to identify the extent to which product placement is used and by whom, by creating a comprehensive repository of information on all product integration.

Nielsen, which will launch its new service in February, has been tracking product placements on TV since the start of the new programming season this fall. Initially, the researcher will only capture primetime programming on the six broadcast networks. Later, after it finalizes guidelines, the service will be expanded to track product placement on cable, syndicated and Hispanic fare.

Nielsen's new service will describe the physical characteristics of the product placement, such as whether there was audio and/or video; its duration on the screen; whether it was positioned in the foreground or background; and whether there is any interaction between the product and a character in the program.

Although Nielsen will not assign a monetary value to the ad placement, it will state what the show's rating was at the time the placement appeared on the screen.

The product-placement service will report information via a Web-based delivery system and include information by advertiser, brand and category; video and audio clips of the actual product placement; and information available by network, program and airdate.

The motion-picture industry makes more than $360 million on product placements, and the total media value of such placements on TV is likely to be several billion dollars, according to Nielsen.