The value of product placement part 2: was anyone paying attention?

This is the second article in a series of three by Michael Byers about measuring the value of product placement in Australia. In this instalment he looks how to gauge the resonance of your placement.


Throughout this series we are addressing the overall value of product placement. In our first article we looked at in-program placement and how to best measure the value, so now we ask the question, was anyone paying attention?

In-program placement can provide excellent exposure for your product or brand yet inclusion doesn’t necessarily guarantee its resonance with the audience. It is therefore necessary to ascertain what the reaction from viewers was. If it has struck a chord, we need to know what is it that the audience is attracted to, and if it hasn’t, why not?

With the rise of social media and the integration of multiple platforms for communication, measuring how your product resonates with the audience has become quite a complex undertaking. Gone are the days of simple status postings. Social media has evolved into a powerful marketing tool for companies and their brands, which, if strategically navigated and managed appropriately can provide astounding results and insights.

The key to social media lies not just with the partaking, but understanding what your intentions are and what you want to achieve from it. Direction is crucial. There is now so much data easily available to marketers that if you ask the right questions you can gain valuable insights into the wants and desires of your target audience. The challenge being knowing which questions to ask.

Social media is a dynamic environment and with it so are the ways in which we choose to watch, receive information and communicate. Multiscreen viewing is now becoming out-dated and reality TV programmes such as MasterChef Australia are being developed to morph into social media vehicles across multifunction platforms so they continue to engage with the viewer long after the episode has been aired.

The data dilemma

Back in the 1990s database marketing was all the rage yet it has to be wondered whether anyone effectively utilised all the information they had spent thousands of dollars collecting. We may have moved on from this now but one has to wonder whether social media is in danger of a not too similar fate, with many organisations obsessive about accumulating Facebook ‘Likes’. One the surface, this seems great, yet have we ever stopped to wonder why? What does it really mean to have a few thousand ‘Likes’?

It goes without saying that an accumulation of ‘Likes’ indicates we’ve obviously been doing something right and attracted interest and a following yet how is this accountable? What is it telling us and does it have an ROI?

To get a greater understanding of how we connect and relate to our audience we need to keep things in context and be wary of looking at figures, or ‘Likes’, in isolation. This is why I feel it important to take a holistic approach when measuring placement to ensure a balanced perspective is maintained.

What is being said? And where?

When looking at engagement, we need look no further than MasterChef Australia with the program having grown its community through its website and social media presence – not only enticing the audience to partake but providing innumerable opportunities to engage at varying levels.

The program’s Facebook page is quite lively and having accumulated a staggering amount of ‘Likes’ (over a million) there is a large online community regularly engaging in discussion. Interestingly though, the vast majority of the communication appears to be between followers, with little, if any, interaction from the brand.

Forums also provide a great insight into consumer sentiment though a word of caution – Channel 10 TV, as with many other broadcasters, carefully edit and monitor their websites, as do companies with their microsites, to ensure any unfavourable comments are promptly removed.

It is therefore important to take a broader view and actually “listen” to what is being posted on social media as well as well as looking at how many and which platforms are being used.

Figure 1

The diagram above shows the share of voice, across eight platforms, for MasterChef Australia during the 2011 finale. So taking into consideration the differing demographics drawn to each of the platforms we can begin to build our picture of engagement.

Figure 2

Taking a closer look at the Twitter mentions it becomes easier to ascertain precisely when interest was sparked, for how long and the audience it reached.

The judges, the contestants, the products – who won?

So who has been getting the attention? The products are placed, the judges are paid and the contestants are game but only by closely observing viewers comments and patterns to them can we come to some conclusion on this.

Interestingly though, throughout the series we have seen the steady rise of the off screen ‘hero’, with identities using their screen successes and community of followers to boost their profiles and launch careers.

Where to now?

Over the past three years MasterChef Australia has raised the bar and set new parameters for reality TV in Australia, particularly in relation to audience engagement. We have seen how important it is to maintain a dynamic and ever-evolving approach to social media in order to capture and grow your community.

As the world of social media continues to evolve with companion TV devices and viewer apps signifying the future, so to dawns a new era in audience engagement encouraging us to maintain a fluidity in our campaign planning.

With this change come new approaches to product placement programmes, such as MasterChef Australia, where opportunities arise for multi-level engagement and more subliminal approaches to seeding across a vast array of platforms. Brand advocates, both paid and unpaid, power people, social seeders and bots, both automated and human, all provide increased possibilities for brand awareness and advocacy.

Measuring audience engagement

The measurement of engagement and sentiment and capturing of accurate and timely data is vital as it opens windows to the relationship the viewer has with a brand and provides opportunities for making tactical adjustments to programs. It’s important to draw on independent data and metrics to ensure an unbiased perspective when measuring audience engagement providing you with vital information from which to manage your campaigns.


Plug: Marketing has teamed up with Showbrands to offer two exclusive resources containing vital information for brand managers and media agency teams involved, or considering being involved, in product placement activity.

Details and pricing information for ‘The Product Placement Handbook’ and ‘Brand Value Analysis Report’ can be found here »

Michael Byers
BY Michael Byers ON 3 April 2013
Michael Byers is managing director of Showbrands, specialising in branded entertainment creative strategy, measurement and project management. Twitter: @Showbrands
  • Hello

    This is a fantastic article and a good insight into how to truly measure the success of branded entertainment. Masterchef is a massive success and a great case study to prove expertise.

    I believe that branded entertainment is a real growth opportunity as brands aim to find ways to be more entertaining – we know from the advertising world that the most entertaining work captures attention and it needs the right level of strategic thinking to make it pay.

    Anyone can make the content or put a product in a show but the real difference is doing it so it actually works! Part of that magic formula is getting the right production services involved, paying the right price for the content, and managing the process to maintain that value all the way through. It is all too ‘hit and miss’ otherwise IMHO.

    Accountability is everything these days.