Product Placement Benefits Versus A Media Buy


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Magic happens in TV and film when a brand finds a home in content where everything just clicks - and the engaged audience notices, and brand sales rise.  It doesn't happen all the time.  Quite frankly, it's not so easy to do.  And it doesn't necessarily cost a lot.  It's an art, but it all starts based on one major thing - a brand is committed to and actively engaged in creating a comprehensive Product Placement program.  A program built on relationships, education, and making it easy.  

In this blog post Hollywood Branded looks at the reasons WHY a brand should consider giving up just one national ad spot to give their brand a chance at making magic, and what the marketing practice really is.



Product Placement And Media Buying Isn't Apples To Apples

Product Placement cannot be truly compared to buying ad spots for several reasons.  

For one, you aren't getting a commercial created around your brand. The brand is going to appear in the scene with full or partial logo, but to be counted as a placement should in all instances still be identifiable to the general audience.  Don't expect marketing messaging most likely (for that, you are going to be paying MORE than a traditional :30).  Although it absolutely can happen.  That's where the magic happens when it does.

And unlike a media buy, it's a creative process.  It is not a sheer purchase/negotiation from a rate card and then a routing through traffic department to yield the positive on screen result with network reported air dates.  It takes time.  A good deal of luck.  And phenomenal relationships.

Instead, with Product Placement typically 4 to 6 shows are going to have to be worked on to yield even one result on screen. That means tremendous work on the behind the scenes end of the program from vetting the opportunity to negotiating it and even hand delivering or shipping product. And then monitoring the content by having someone watching every second of the content to ‘find’ the exposure – as there is no reporting by the network.  These costs are all baked into the CPM.  With our agency social media content for repurposing is also prepared and provided for turnkey sharing across the brand. 

Some Assumptions You Should Know About Product Placement

On Screen Exposure Type & Time

  • Most product placements are on screen 2 to 10 seconds at a time.  There are scenes that will shift viewpoints, and possibly bring the product back into focus - but typically a brand isn't center scene for minutes at a time.
  • At least with our agency, placements are only considered confirmed if they appear for a minimum of 2 to 3 seconds on screen, and have identifiable logo or packaging recognizable by average consumers. i.e. what we call the ‘mom test’. If 'your mom' would recognize the brand from the placement by a still image shown to her, it counts.
  • Confirmed placements will fall in a range of background, foreground, hands on, verbal and hands on with verbal mention. These truly should be valued higher than a typical commercial spot by a pre-determined factor based on the 'star power' association with the content, and of course the DVR ad skip proof capability.

Efficiency Driven Costs

  • Media agencies like to buy advertising in efficiencies - getting the most bang for their buck.  Product Placement agencies work somewhat similarly in that there is an efficiency of time management at play when we work with multiple brands within the same scripts.  So that means the more brands an agency actually has, the more cost-effective they can be.  Your brand isn't getting lost in the clutter - as long as the staff truly understands the brand and is still positioning it individually. 
  • There are similar placement venue opportunities to share amongst additional brands - i.e. bathroom cabinets, kitchens, closets, garages or convenience store/pharmacy/grocery.
  • Product Placement agencies have more negotiation power with productions by being able to bring more brand solutions to solve a productions’ need.  And can often slip in a brand based on a favor...
  • For companies with several brands, rates are often structured so that there is a declining cost factor based on a higher number of brands participating in the program.


  • Our agency guarantees our work to provide a minimum number of exposures or reach.  We assume everyone would do this, but know it to not be quite true.

Content Inclusion

  • Content offering Product Placement includes Network TV, Cable TV, SVOD, Studio Feature Films and Independent Feature Films. The more types of content a brand works with, the higher the overall audience reach, and the more types of exposures secured.  


  • We do not factor in repeat airings from original debut into performance CPM, nor global distribution factors. Both of these factors would increase value by a range of 10x to 100x.  We know our brand clients want to be in good shows - good shows get re-broadcast and distributed now globally.  The potential reach is humongous.

Realities of Media Buys Vs Product Placement

  • No Skipping!  Ad spots get DVR skipped, but still get factored into your CPM. Exposure baked into the content through Product Placement is non-skippable.
  • More Options!  Product Placement offers options to be in content that is not purchasable (ad free) like Netflix and Amazon SVOD TV. Or premium cable like HBO and Showtime content. 
  • Re-Aired Content! The TV show placement re-air often at least 10x plus whether that is immediately following initial debut or in syndication. You would have to purchase additional media inventory to be included for each additional show airing.  
  • High Viewer Engagement! There is a proven higher association of viewer engagement in the scripted content versus running any sort of advertisement, whether a :10 or a :30. 
  • Celebrity Star Factor! There is the celebrity factor in which brands seen in content – beyond hands on and including background and foreground - get highly noticed by this engaged audience, and rubbed with the ‘sheen’ of celebrity stardom. 
  • Magic!!! Product Placement can make magic happen.  Media buys? Eh. The creative might be magic. The media buy, not so much.


So Now What?

You also have the reality of the steps to make Product Placement happen.  The entire Product Placement program takes an incredible amount of human work and time.   Which brands do need to keep in mind.  It's a building process that is about educating production personnel and getting their buy in as they become familiar with the brand - and even turning them into fans.

Have you ever wondered how a comprehensive product placement program works?  Or do you want to know how to create a promotional partnership strategy with a movie partner?  This video will answer all of your questions as it shows the steps and processes taken by Hollywood Branded that lead to your brand increasing both consumer engagement and sales!

How Product Placement Works Video