Digital product placement: Why it’s time to rethink your advertising channels

Digital Perspectives

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November 24, 2017
Digital product placement: Why it’s time to rethink your advertising channels
By: Alexandre Naressi

A recent PageFair report shows that 11 percent of the global internet population is blocking ads. That’s a total of 615m devices across desktop and mobile. And this figure is growing quickly, with 30 percent increased adblocker usage year-on-year. It’s a major commercial problem, with publishers set to lose more than $27 billions in revenue by 2020 as a result. Clearly, consumers are fighting back, and a frictionless experience is being sought.

The resurgence of product placement

Against this backdrop, non-interruptive forms of advertising are more powerful than ever. One tried and tested format is product placement. In recent years, product placement lagged other forms of digital advertising in terms of transparent ROI and specific targeting. But the technological focus favoured by the likes of Amazon and Netflix coupled with developments in computer graphics mean digital product placement could be the future for targeted advertising with real time results.

This is because digital product placement can enable advertisers to reach users with messaging that feels native to the medium rather than jarring. Key to this approach is ensuring assets appear entirely photorealistic, and that they can be rendered extremely quickly into videos.

At Accenture, we’ve been considering the possibilities of digital placement, and are in the process of developing an end-to-end solution that will allow the rendering of product placement and native advertising into video content assets. This solution would let brands drop logos and branded products into entertainment shows, programmatically, in real-time. The technology would not only provide a non-interruptive content experience for users, but could unlock new revenue streams for publishers.

Speed is vital in allowing brands and publishers to trade this new style of creative programmatically. Different users can be served personalised advertising, natively, into the show or other content they’re consuming. This will be possible within the boundaries of both new and existing programming, while artificial intelligence is employed to detect the optimal places to position product placement.

A new wave of disruption

In our research and development, we’re currently considering what the impact of product placement at scale might be. We’re countering barriers by utilising research into human attention to optimise the placement of branded assets, as well as building marketer-friendly tools and machine learning to build photorealism into the rendered creative.

Will there be any losers in this new programmatic content landscape? Well, ultimately, yes. As these new formats are adopted by publishers—and not blocked by users—then advertising dollars will flow to them. It’s logical to predict that this positive flow will be at the expense of other traditional advertising formats. Overall, the addition of more effective and consumer friendly digital advertising formats will draw revenues away from more traditional advertising mediums.

Also under threat will be revenue streams dependent upon interruptive formats, such as pop-ups and pre-roll. The vendors of these medias-and publishers who cannot switch from them-will likely find themselves threatened by the shift in the media investment landscape.

However, the implementation of this technology should be widely welcomed by all stakeholders in the digital media industry. Users will find that their consumption experience will be improved, and advertisers will see the revenues previously eroded by adblockers replaced by ad dollars from non-interruptive sources. Crucially, though, brands will find their messages being delivered in more user-friendly formats that elicit better responses from the users they want to target.

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