To survive for almost two decades in a field like product placement, HERO has had to embrace the wise words of Confucius, “The green reed which bends in the wind is stronger than the mighty oak which breaks in a storm.” We have to be the green reed.
In 1997 when we opened our doors, there were no DVRs! Those wouldn’t even begin being shipped until 1999 and would still require years to become the mainstream. YouTube, now a powerhouse of both spot ads and branded content, wasn’t launched until 2005!
As the power and draw of internet-based entertainment content grew, so did the advertising resources brands redirected toward it. But, like the function of fast forwarding to skip commercials on a DVR, ad blocking software like Ad Block Plus came on the scene and created new challenges for marketers, inspiring many of them to re-redirect large portions of their resources back to the good old TV set. Whether a TV is receiving its signal from cable, satellite, antenna (19.3% or 60 million Americans currently use antennas to capture their TV signal) or Roku/AppleTV style devices, and therefore spot advertising, as we have known them since the 1950s are still alive and well!
The March 2016 issue of Variety quotes Brian Wieser, a media-industry analyst with Pivotal Research Group, who believes that in 2016, the TV networks are likely to seek CPM increases anywhere from 5% to 9%! A media buyer himself, Weiser also said, “For those seeking broad reach, sight-sound-and-motion and brand awareness, traditional TV still utterly dominates all alternatives despite the growth of digital media owners and increasing consumption of video on internet-connected devices.”
Granted, as the article also states, to lock in deals, the networks will have to offer packages that put advertising not only in “The Voice” and “The Big Bang Theory, but on digital extensions of those programs. But they are the digital extensions of network TV shows, which remain the most desirable venue next to feature films, which are a constant.
So, as the trends have changed (or remained the same as the case may be), HERO bent, reed-like, expanding and modifying our placements to reflect the changing media. We have forged relationships with productions on SVOD outlets – largely staffed by our long time industry allies – and established a HERO warehousing location in Atlanta where a great deal of production is taking place.
Throughout it all, and concurrent with their explorations into digital media and self-created content, brands seeking product placement have continued to come to HERO looking for cost effective exposure within produced shows. Indeed, the demand for “traditional” product placement hasn’t diminished in the least. HERO, like a reed, still bends. As shows from non-sponsored SVOD providers like Netflix and Amazon rise to become the popular “network” shows of tomorrow, we continue to deepen our relationships with those productions. If we don’t we will fall like an oak… landing across multiple platforms!