My thoughts on sponsored content, product placement, branded entertainment, and advertainment.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Product placement and sponsored content is taking over the media. What used to be just commercials has evolved to cover all of the fronts: TV shows, movies, video games; the possibilities are limitless. Product placement and sponsored content is so common that it's almost impossible to count. Sometimes it's even hard to notice the product placement, intricately woven into many sources of media.

The rise of product placement and sponsored content is partly attributed to the concurrent popularity of TiVo, and a public need to bypass commercials and get straight to the show. Product placement is a way to expose the audience to products without getting skipped over. From the rise of Youtube to the creation of online TV channels, it is obvious there is a nationwide trend to bypass advertising, with a counteractive trend to make it unavoidable.

Youtube has been one of the biggest topics of conversation within the media world. The company that has become huge within a matter of months was snatched up by Google, only to present a number of topics concerning legality of content. Televisions shows can be seen for free on the site, sans commercials. consistently--to this day--questions how a site like Youtube is helping out commercial sponsors. Like TiVo, Youtube is a way for users to view what they would like without suffering through a commercial break.

And so Youtube ignited a spark in the minds of media executives. The site that became huge though viral marketing brought rise to other companies hoping to capitalize on the online video sharing trend. lists that negotiations are currently being made regarding the acquisition of Metacafe, another online video sharing site. It would include the same concept of Youtube, except would be directly sponsored by television channels. The site would include commercials that could not be avoided. This deal demonstrates that Youtube is broken. Advertisers need a platform, and a site that mimics Youtube fixes the broken detail of rampant online video sharing.

The online trend of sponsored content flourished from the onset of the Youtube deal. MTV recognized the difficulty of getting the fickle teen audience to view commercials, so they posted the finale of a show online only, making sure there was no way the ads would be missed. Budweiser has similarly placed ad-ridden content on the net in the form of the TV channel, Then there was The site, backed by HBO executives, has only ads. No shows. It's a reversal that media companies are willing to try because of all the technology that has given viewers the power to press fast forward.

Media companies have become more willing to take risks because of the lack of ad exposure. The book that OJ Simpson had published, along with the subsequent interview that was set to air on television, was a ploy to increase ratings and ad revenues by FOX. They wanted to gain a lot of attention in the form of shock value. They wanted viewers glued to their seats as OJ talked about how he would have gone about basically admitting to murder. This is the unconventionality that some outlets have resortein orderorder to keep bringing in commercial sponsors.

Examples of how media companies attempt to force commercials on the world show a holistic convergence in media that spawns from an increase of technology. The same television show today can show up online, on satellite radio, or on a podcast. There are so many more options for media acquisition. There are also so many more options to avoid the advertisements that have always been institutionalized within the media. Advertisers are aware of the new technologies, and have become sneakier in getting the ads through to the eyes and ears of the consumer.

Television and radio alike have been taken over by a new generation of technology savvy people with a willingness to try new things. This leaves advertisers with the problem of TiVo, XMradio, and a general pace that is simply too fast for a commercial break. Product placement has grown tremendously within television and movies, and sponsored content has taken over the World Wide Web. With the net reigning as one of the most popular advertising platforms, television, radio, and advertisements have all come together online to represent a hybrid of media. Consumers get the immediacy that they desire, while ads get the exposure they were meant for. The convergence is an ongoing trend in media that has brought advertisers to come to think unconventionally in regards to ad placement. With ever evolving technology, it takes a great deal of thinking outside of the box to reach this new generation of media consumers.


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