Personalisation - & Product Placement | ...Gasp!


& Product Placement

There’s a blatant tendency amongst marketing professionals to describe the slightest technological advancement as though it will completely change the business forever.

My personal favourite is ‘bleeding edge’…as if the term ‘cutting edge’ just wasn’t quite good enough.

I have at least a couple of books on my shelf with titles like “The End of Advertising As We Know It” and if you read a few press-releases, you’ll keep seeing words like ‘groundbreaking’, ‘revolutionary’ and ‘pioneering’. My personal favourite is ‘bleeding edge’…as if the term ‘cutting edge’ just wasn’t quite good enough.

Of course it’s mostly what my flatmate would pronounce as ‘hyper-bowl’.

But this story has piqued my interest, as it’s about the fact that food companies have found a clever way around the Ofcom ban on advertising unhealthy foods during kid’s T.V shows.

Gamification is a movement in marketing to which the exaggerated terms are applied too. I don’t think it spells the end of marketing as we know it, but I do think it’s important. By creating games for kids with ads cleverly woven into them, food companies are planting their brands firmly in the little sponge-like brains. And until recently it seems parents, and Ofcom have been none the wiser.

I suppose it’s only natural behavior by the food companies, they are a business that needs to sell after all, and no doubt they’re not technically breaking the rules. But it does seem a little duplicitous to be advertising to kids, under the guise of a fun game.

Which leads me to another ‘bleeding edge’ innovation in advertising. Apparently BSkyB will be implementing a new system called AdSmart, through which TV ads are personalised to the household, rather like a Google algorithm. The degree of personalisation will be based on location of course, but also publically available data like household income, number of inhabitants and even credit history.

Since the damming predictions by George Orwell and his ilk, I think it’s fair to say we’ve all decided that we’re just not that bothered. So in theory this scheme from BSkyB is good news, if ads are more personalised to me, then that’s surely good news for me.

Although talking to Giles about it today (that’s our Creative Director, don’t you know) he made an interesting point, that while the scheme will lead to greater “targeting” in the adman’s spreadsheet; part of the appeal of ads is in the multi-viewing and potential social activity that follows it. Just think about the SuperBowl ads, which dominate social channels during airing and for days after. If we’re not all watching the same ads, how can we talk about them? All of a sudden a degree of word of mouth is lost, which as we know, is probably the most effective marketing tool of all. Maybe AdSmart isn’t as good as Sky would have us believe…

Since we’re on the subject of personalising the telly, I might as well share with you the widespread prediction that the next step will be personalisation of T.V product placement

Product placement has been around for a while, but in practice it could mean that when you see a billboard or logo on Eastenders or your chosen piece of fluff, it’ll be different for everyone. So when Danny Dyer is stood at the bus stop on Albert Square, the ad shell in the background will show a poster for the next V&A exhibition to my girlfriend, and I’ll see one for athlete’s foot or something.

There’s something about product placement that really rubs people up the wrong way. I know you’ll never read a review of a Bond film without the critic, kvetching fiercely about it.

I think it’s because an ad is an ad, and everyone knows what it is. Whereas with product placement, people feel like the wool is being pulled over their eyes, that they’re somehow being duped.

Perhaps that’s why there’s been such outrage over the food ads in kid’s games. Having said that, maybe people just get annoyed when product placement is clunky and blatant, well, let’s see does this compilation from the king of clumsy product placement grind your gears?

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