Surveying the Truth: Measuring Viewer Responsiveness to Product Placement on Television

 Founder and Co-CEO
of IAG Research

Listen to AUDIO of the Interview (30 minutes) >>

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Alan Gould, the founder and Co-CEO of IAG Research, talks about his company’s unique product placement measurement product. It gives advertisers, networks and brands important data and insights about what television viewers recall in the programming and product placements they watch, and ad effectiveness.

Here are Highlights of Mr. Gould’s Interview:

About IAG Research

  • IAG is a syndicated data company that primarily provides data about ad effectiveness.
  • Their clients are advertisers and networks.
  • Advertiser clients use IAG’s ad, product placement performance and engagement data to optimize advertising.
  • Network clients use IAG’s data to understand the value provided by advertising from a pricing standpoint, according to metrics: ad performance, impact of product placement and the value of an engaged audience.
  • IAG’s major clients include American Express, Procter & Gamble, Toyota, Paramount, General Motors, Verizon, Sprint and 20th Century Fox. IAG also has contracts with NBC, CBS, Fox, ABC, The WB, ESPN and Lifetime.

Listen to AUDIO of the Interview (30 minutes) >>

About IAG’s Product Placement Measurement Service

  • IAG’s product placement measurement service is straightforward and unique. It consists of a panel of more than a million typical TV viewers who go online after watching programs and take short-form surveys about the programming and everything that they have been exposed to on television. The surveys are taken online and are designed to be an extension of the tv viewing experience, not as a research experience.
  • This data is collected every night for all the messaging on television: advertising, product placements and programming.
  • IAG differentiates between the different types of product placement (e.g. product mention, product displayed, product integrated with central character, product embedded in storyline).
  • The key differentiator from other services is that IAG measures actual viewer impact. For example, it provides insights about the following:
    Recall: Did a TV viewer actually notice a placement?
    Fit: How well did the placement fit into the program, according to the viewer?
    Changes to Brand Opinion
  • IAG marries this information up with its ad performance data and gives clients a holistic read about how a client’s messaging on television is performing.
  • IAG launched this data collection in 2001 and has collected about 150 million surveys.
  • Currently, IAG covers six broadcast networks in prime time and about ten of the leading cable networks. It also covers non-prime sports, late night, early late night television and will be rolling out additional coverage during the day. Its mission is to cover all the programming on TV.

Listen to AUDIO of the Interview (30 minutes) >>

Results and ROI

  • IAG’s data enables advertisers to understand what the levels of recall were, how that compares to similar placements competitors have done or placements that have occurred outside category, how that compares to previous years, how it fits in the minds of the viewer and if they were able to move the needle on brand opinion.
  • IAG’s data enables networks to determine what value they are providing to their clients, the marketers.
  • Some advertisers who create expensive one-off campaigns on The Apprentice are trying to get viewers to change opinion and do something. They might not care whether a placement fit into a program because it is not going to be part of their ongoing television messaging.
  • Generally, measuring ROI is different for every client and depends on the objective of that particular brand.

Differences Between IAG’s and Nielsen’s Services

  • IAG’s service is complimentary to Nielsen Media Research service and other measurement services because it measures viewer response for every placement, every night and on every network it covers. Nielsen measures product placement occurrences and matches this up to audience size. They then project a value onto that, which is essential info in the planning process. If you marry Nielsen’s service up to IAG’s viewer impact data, you can get a more complete read.

Listen to AUDIO of the Interview (30 minutes) >>

Insights and Trends

  • Clients most commonly ask the following questions:
    What was the effect of my advertising placements?
    What results can we expect from a specific integration opportunity?
  • Duration on screen is not a proxy for understanding the value that the advertising gets.
  • Look at viewer response segmented by genre because each programming environment brings different pre-conceived notions regarding what is acceptable product placement and what is not.
  • In unscripted programming, there is a higher level of acceptance of product placement among viewers.At the same time, clients can potentially do more harm to a brand if they are not careful.
  • In the future, you will continue to see brands experiment with different types of integrations on unscripted TV shows. Advertisers or programmers will not shy away from what was started several years ago.
  • On the scripted side of TV, no one wants to do anything to upset the entertainment value of the programming. However, networks have been giving product placement away for a long time and are now trying to figure out if there is a way to create a standard marketplace for these campaigns.
  • In the future, you may not going see as many product placements on scripted shows. You will see more of it focused into a single integration that is pretty well incorporated into a program’s storyline.

Listen to AUDIO of the Interview (30 minutes) >>

TV Shows Doing Branded Entertainment Right

  • American Idol performed very well for Cingular, Coke and Ford.
  • IAG has also seen success with The Apprentice, Survivor, Desperate Housewives and CSI.

Listen to AUDIO of the Interview (30 minutes) >>


  • One misconception is that younger people with more iconic and ironic attitudes toward advertisements are less concerned about product placements and older people are more negative about TV brand integrations. This is not always the case and a reason why advertisers and networks should look at data.

Listen to AUDIO of the Interview (30 minutes) >>

New Measurement Services in the Pipeline

  • Advertisers need planning tools that take everything into account: audience engagement, effective advertising, effective product placement in such a way that they can begin to plan better and have a better sense of the results that will be achieved.
  • IAG is continually refining its metrics depending on the specific needs of client groups. This is a process that will continue.

Listen to AUDIO of the Interview (30 minutes) >>