Commercial Broadcasters look likely to be soon able to develop new revenue streams from product placement in programming, as the Government relaxes rules to bring the UK into line with the USA and elsewhere.
This will provide some solace to the likes of ITV, C4 and C5 - who are in desperate need of some good news going into Q4 2009. Will it make up for the current shortfalls? No, very unlikely - there's a lot of programming that no self-respecting brand would want to be paying to be in, but there's certainly some opportunities for smart selling and smart buying to be had next year. The big question is actually whether this will cannibalise existing revenues or grow the market? What's the point in paying for centre-break for a brand message, when the tea is being made, when you can get screen presence, with a chosen character or environment built over a period of time?
But what do consumers think about this? Will they notice? Do they already think it's happening?
We've been covering this on our community sites for a couple of our clients this week, and the view is mixed. For some "it's about time, TV should reflect the reality of real-life" and for others "they've been doing this for years, Emmerdale is always featuring new cars".
There's a lot of work to be done to properly understand the true effect of product placement once it does happen. Our view right now is that placement+social media+word of mouth = brand effect and ROI - but measuring it will be a tough challenge.
We're working on it though - understanding the nuances of consumers and interactions with brands is right up our Street.