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Thanks to the magic of CGI, your brand could soon be edited into a streaming platform’s original programming.
Product placement was among the most-talked-about trends in presentations at the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s NewFronts this week. Similar to Upfronts for the TV industry, the event offers streaming and social media platforms a chance to pitch brands on their latest advertising offerings.
NewFronts featured a range of announcements around content and advertising. This included options for brands and retailers, including new options to bring visibility to products, and bringing shopping directly into the content.
Here’s a look at the ecommerce and creator-focused announcements from the weeklong event:
Product placement in post? It’s coming to Amazon. The tech company’s NewFronts presentation included an intro to a Virtual Product Placement (VPP) open beta program that will enable products to be added via CGI to Prime Video and Amazon Freevee shows. Added to designated shots, the products will be added after filming is complete. Elsewhere, billboards and signs will be able to display different messages.
Amazon said VPP is already available on Amazon original shows like Reacher, Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan, the Bosch franchise, Making the Cut, and Leverage: Redemption.
Amazon shared the example of a still from Bosch where M&Ms were added to a bowl.
“Virtual Product Placement is a game changer,” said Henrik Bastin, CEO of Fabel Entertainment and executive producer of Bosch: Legacy, in a statement shared by Amazon. “It creates the ability to film your series without thinking about all that is required with traditional placements during production. Instead, you can sit with the final cut and see where a product could be seamlessly and naturally integrated into the storytelling.”
In testing, a CPG brand reported a 6.9% increase in brand favorability and a 14.7% increase in purchase intent for their campaign, per Amazon.
The sports-focused streaming platform has additional targeting capabilities for brands. Dubbed “Follow the Audience,” this feature uses first-party data to create customized audience segments, which can in turn be used to target viewers. For instance, this could be used to reach football fans with specific ads, even if they aren’t watching football content.
“Not only can we target contextually and demographically, but we can also identify audiences based on viewership behavior and preferences to tailor campaigns to specific fans, no matter what type of content they’re watching,” said Diana Horowitz, SVP of advertising sales at fuboTV, in a statement.
The Facebook and Instagram parent put a focus on creators with its new offerings. It announced a change to payouts for Reels content on Facebook that will mean more money for some creators (Others will receive less). Additionally, it is creating a new initiative called Challenges on Facebook that is designed to incentivize content creation. It is also rolling out additional insight tools for Reels Play creators.
NBCUniversal’s streaming service had a pair of new ad offerings to unfurl.
A new feature called a Frame Ad will feature a brand message in a border around a show that is playing on the platform. This could include interactive elements that make the ad shoppable. For brands, NBCUniversal also pointed out that it has access to first-party data and a partnership with quick commerce service Gopuff.
Product placement within a show is the focus of a second tool called the Peacock In-Scene Ad. Currently in exploratory mode, this will offer a custom solution for brands to identify the right moments in shows to deliver personalized messaging for a viewer. Then, Peacock will integrate a brand’s product into the show in post-production.
"The majority of Peacock customers are opting for our ad-supported experience and we remain focused on collaborating with our brand partners to develop innovative, personalized ad experiences that continue to enhance the customer experience,” said John Jelley, Peacock Senior VP of product and user experience, in a statement.
Social media is getting more shoppable. Roku offered a look at how streaming services are adding the ability to browse and buy products, too. The platform now has original content. With that comes advertising. Roku said it will be adding a new program for retailers that pairs shoppable ads with its Roku Pay. This is designed to allow products to be sold directly from ads.
Additionally, Roku is partnering with Microsoft to explore how TV advertising, both linear and streaming, impacts search.
The celebrity endorsement just got easier. The Snap x Cameo Advertiser Program offers brands that advertise on Snapchat access to the 45,000 actors, athletes, musicians, reality stars and influencers in Cameo’s talent pool for custom video ads. Brands also get access to ideation and editing services, as well as other benefits. Already, Mattress Firm, 37Games, Kraft, and Molson Coors have used the program.
TikTok’s latest advertising product is allowing brands to appear next to the platform’s most popular videos.
Called TikTok Pulse, the contextual service is offering space for brands among the top 4% of videos. They will appear in the For You Feed, the algorithm-powered feature that curates and recommends TikToks specific to a user's interests. Initially, this capability is being offered in 12 categories, including beauty, fashion, cooking and gaming. To ensure brands appear next to content they deem appropriate, TikTok is also applying an inventory filter and making third party tools available for suitability and viewability verification.
Alongside providing access for brands, TikTok is also testing a revenue share for creators. Initially, those with more than 100,000 followers will be eligible.
On Amazon-owned Twitch, a new program called For Twitch, With Twitch is set to curate creator-driven content for brands. Another feature called Co-Op Drops offers brands a chance to integrate themselves into in-game rewards offered during video game livestreams.
Alongside a host of new content partnerships and plenty of chatter about Elon Musk's impending takeover, Twitter announced a pilot program that is focused on highlights of big global events. Advertisers will be able to promote and run pre-roll on live event pages where the highlights will be shown. This will make content appear in a user’s timeline, as well as place it prominently in the Explore tab, Twitter said.
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New advertising opportunities are being beta tested for in-store audio and product demos.
Retail media’s fast growth isn’t only limited to increasing spend. The advertising itself is also poised to appear in more places beyond ecommerce marketplaces, and even beyond the web.
The latest example comes from Walmart Connect, which is the retail media arm of the world’s largest retailer.
Walmart shared details on testing that it is completing for in-store retail media. To this point, Walmart Connect has been considered the advertising platform for Walmart’s ecommerce site. But these tests indicate that’s poised to expand.
Stores present a potent opportunity for Walmart. It has 4,700 big box locations around the U.S., and customers returned to them in droves last year. In 2022, 88% of the retailer’s customers visited Walmart stores.
Walmart Connect already has already dipped a toe into in-store advertising, with a TV wall, self-checkout ads and integrated marketing. The new pilots aim to take a step further.
“The next frontier of retail media is in-store experiences, and it’s one we’re excited to chart,” Whitney Cooper, head of omnichannel transformation at Walmart Connect, wrote in a blog post on the new tests. “But it’s still an emerging opportunity for us, as we continue to test what serves customers best and which solutions are scalable to Walmart’s size.”
Here’s a look at the two new offerings currently under beta test:
Walmart suppliers will be able to integrate product demos into campaigns across in-store and digital environments.
Product demos aren’t new to store floors, but Walmart Connect is seeking to give them an update that blends digital and physical experiences.
“Part of our test is how to enhance the omnichannel experience by bridging the physical back to digital: For example, by pairing a demo cart with QR codes that link back to a curated Walmart.com landing page so customers can find inspiration and shop their list all in one spot,” Cooper wrote.
Walmart is currently offering 120 demos at stores each weekend, and plans to scale to 1,000 by the end of 2023.
Walmart Connect will now offer advertising placements on Walmart’s in-store radio network. Suppliers will have the option to purchase ads by region or store, enabling targeting of key markets.
“This is the first time brands will be able to speak directly to Walmart customers through this medium,” Cooper writes. “These ads also create a new upper-funnel touchpoint for brand marketers and out-of-home (OOH) buyers to create awareness, because in-store audio is about connecting with customers wherever they are in the store — they don’t have to pass the brand in the aisle.”
With the tests, we’ll be watching for how this advertising is measured, and whether Walmart Connect is tracking impact across different types of formats, and not just a single campaign.