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Tracking Product Placement

Tracking Product Placement - Los Angeles Times Research...

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Los Angeles Times Research firm Nielsen tallying product placement ads Firms are vying to provide the information to advertisers who want to keep tabs on where competitors' products are popping up in TV shows. By Alana Semuels Los Angeles Times Staff Writer July 21, 2008 SHELTON, CONN. -- — On the fourth floor of an office building in this green Connecticut town, Sarah Martin goes to work every day as a television watcher. She doesn't mind watching "Ellen" and "Lost." She hates the days she has to sit through "American Chopper." Unfortunately, she can't fast-forward. Martin's job is to count when brand names such as Coca-Cola or Cadillac or Yamaha appear in TV shows -- on a soda can, whizzing past in a street scene, flashing on a billboard in the background, anywhere within the camera's range. She works for research firm Nielsen, which provides the information to advertisers who want to keep tabs on where competitors' products are popping up in TV shows. They are popping up quite a bit these days: Martin said when she started her job a year and a half ago, she'd count an average of 10 brands in a prime-time network show. Now, it's closer to 50. Viewers of the logo-laden "American Chopper" on Discovery Channel might be exposed to brands as many as 1,000 times per show. "I used to watch TV all the time," she said. "Now I go home and do other things," such as reading books. Martin is part of a small army of people employed by research firms and advertisers to track product placement, one of the fastest-growing segments of the advertising industry. Advertisers spent $2.9 billion in 2007 to place their products in TV shows and movies, up 33.7% from the year before, according to media research firm PQ Media. This year spending is projected to hit $3.6 billion, not including "barter" arrangements -- in which a company gives away products to be used in shows, rather than paying for them to be placed there.
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