So let’s face it, it is no secret that people tend to react differently to an advertisement when they know that there is persuasive intent. It is just like when you go to the mall and the salesperson greets you. You expect to always hear “do you need help finding anything today”. So your mind is trained to automatically respond with, “no, I’m just looking”. If a salesperson approaches with a completely different tactic it throws you off completely, because you are so conditioned to hearing one thing and responding one particular way. Your guard is automatically up because you know that this person is here to sell you something. Our minds react the exact same way to an advertisement. We immediately want to get up and go to the bathroom or change the channel when a television advertisement comes on. Or we have simply trained our minds to tune the commercial out, because our mind sees the commercial as background noise.
It's funny because when I completed my Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing at The University of Southern Mississippi, I did not think that I would have to hear “location, location, location” ever again. Not only does product placement play an important role in marketing, it is also crucial in advertising as well. I am that person who notices if Olivia Pope is using an iPhone or a Samsung phone in Scandal. I am that person who pays attention to the emblem on the vehicle that is being driven in Real Housewives of Atlanta. Maybe it's just the marketing guru in me or maybe I’m just a junkie for brand awareness because I work in Advertising.
Product placement actually has a few advantages over traditional television advertising. But what exactly is product placement? Product placement is defined as a combination of advertising and publicity designed to influence the audience by unobtrusively inserting branded products in entertainment programs such that the viewer is unlikely to be aware of the persuasive intent (source: When Product Placement Goes Wrong). The overall goals and objective of product placement is to generate positive associations toward the placed brand, thus creating positive brand attitude.
One of the most important advantages of product placement is viewers cannot avoid exposure to the placements. (source: When Product Placement Goes Wrong). It seems that most modern advertising mediums today solve that one problem, avoiding exposure and it is simply beautiful from both an advertiser’s perspective, as well as an advertising agency’s perspective. Typically DVRs are allowing television viewers to skip commercials. Another downfall to television advertising allows is the possibility that many viewers are getting up taking bathroom and kitchen breaks when commercials come on, ergo they are not actually being “exposed” to the advertisement at all. From a digital perspective, that brand is displayed on a web page (whether on desktop or mobile), thus exposing the viewer to the brand whether they actually engage (click) on the ad or not. Even “skipable” pre-roll ads still give the brand free exposure (because they typically do not have to pay for the ad unless the viewer watches the video in its entirety).
So because we know that viewers have conditioned their minds to react negatively when they are being “sold” something, how do we make sure that the placement of the product is subtly moved from the background to the foreground without changing the meaning to the viewer? We want them to notice the product but we don’t want them to “know” that they now notice the product. I think the type of program that the product is being placed in has a significant impact on how the product placement will be perceived. I also think frequency places an immensely important role in the attitude toward the brand. The more often you place it in the program I think over time the viewer will begin to “accept” it.
When I hear “location, location, location” I also think of geo-fencing, or what is known as “latitude/longitude advertising. Geo-fencing is a feature in a software program that uses the global positioning system (GPS) or radio frequency identification (RFID) to define geographical boundaries (source: What is Geo-Fencing?). Advertisers use the geo-fence, or virtual barrier to determine the location of the target audience and uses those coordinates to push advertisements to a particular segment of people using the apps on the target’s mobile device. Often geo-fencing is used at a competitor’s events, but not always. I recently worked with a client, a restaurant actually, who used geo-fencing at a major little league baseball tournament that was being held in the city and we pushed ads encouraging the parents in the stadiums to come eat at the popular, local restaurant. Again this is a perfect example of free exposure. This is a case where the advertiser is not concerned with whether or not the target clicks on the ad simply that they have been exposed and now they will hopefully consider taking their family to eat at their restaurant after the game. I think geo-fencing is a perfect instance when ad placement is perfect because we know that the viewer could potentially have an interest. The downfall of course is the target knows that they are being sought after to be advertised to, therefore I think it is very important that the ads are very engaging and very intriguing. Capturing the interest is the key with geo-fencing. Bait them, reel them in, hook them and bring them on home (to whatever it is you are advertising to them)!
I think as placements are becoming increasingly important in media, we first have to understand how and when they are effective. I am constantly seeking additional ways that brands can generate positive brand attitude. I often discuss the importance of social media on my blog. Social media can generate both positive and negative attitudes toward a brand but how can an organization maintain a positive brand attitude or shift from a negative to positive brand attitude online?