The days when television adverts were the best way to sell to most consumers passed when mainstream channels and programmes stopped being able to reliably command the attention of the masses. While Christmas adverts from the likes of John Lewis and Marks & Spencer can still hit the headlines, even they are released online before they are shown on TV to help build up the hype and impact.
The rise of streaming services like Netflix and the decrease in audiences for ‘live’ TV have meant that even traditional brands are having to go multichannel with their advertising, so it’s no surprise that the picture is even more clear-cut for consumer electronics brands, whose audiences are even more likely to be skipping the adverts. So how do you advertise to people who don’t see your adverts?
The rise of the ad skippers
Avoiding adverts is easier said than done. Streaming on apps run by providers like ITV and Sky means viewers are still seeing adverts around and during programmes, while YouTube has adverts before most of its content. But many of these can be skipped, and surveys have shown that up to 90% of viewers will skip ads that play before videos online, while 76% skip or ignore adverts on TV.
For streaming services, adverts are being used as both a way of getting revenue directly from the advertisers but also as a way to tempt users into subscribing for premium ‘ad free’ versions of the service. A survey of Netflix subscribers showed that 90% of people would pay more rather than have to see adverts, while 74% said that they’d cancel the service if it started showing adverts.
In further bad news for brands relying on traditional advertising, a survey by the McCarthy Group revealed that 84% of millennials don’t like or trust it. Not only will they actively avoid advertising, but one of the most important audiences for consumer electronics brands has said that it will outright reject what they are being told via the ads. Though this is concerning, it doesn’t mean that this group can’t be reached. It just means that the way consumer electronics brands try to reach them needs to change.
Is product placement the future?
On the surface of it, you wouldn’t think that product placement would be a better way to reach an audience as savvy and cynical as the ad avoiders. So often in the past it has been done in a clumsy or downright obvious way, even by tech giants like Google, which managed to get an entire film made as product placement (The Internship). But it has also delivered impressive results for brands, even those who hadn’t paid for the placement.
For consumer electronics brands, the opportunities are clear for product placements, as there are so many shows and movies where high tech gadgets are required for use by spies (the James Bond franchise alone can support a whole industry), cops and robbers and even just regular people like us. As long as the placement fits within the story or purpose of the show and doesn’t come across as too obvious, it can do a huge amount for brand recognition and appeal.
In a report about product placement and technology brands, the Retail Marketing Group stated that: “Product placement in television programmes and movies fits perfectly into these restrictive criteria. Product placement works according to a psychological phenomenon, the mere-exposure effect, which states that being exposed to something repeatedly can increase one’s preference towards it. Product placement allows repeated exposure to a brand, and the potential to increase brand appeal, in a platform that is not skippable and not an aversion-inducing traditional advert.”
While product placement can have huge potential, it needs to be approached with a level of caution. Retail Marketing Group continues: “For product placement to be most effective, the product must be placed as subtly as possible; the mere exposure effect is stronger when products are embedded into the storyline, are frequent and inconspicuous. Research states that if the product is too obvious or prominent, then viewers become aware that they are being manipulated and discount any positive feelings towards the brand that may have been created.”
It’s important to note, however, that product placement can refer to more than just placements that have been paid for. TV shows are repeatedly featuring products – especially consumer electronics products – and even these can drive sales when the right kind of technology is used. By making use of tools that can recognise when a product is featured or mentioned on TV, consumer electronics can respond in a highly reactive way and serve ads that can take advantage of any search interest. It’s all about being there in the moment that there’s a high level of interest.
Taking an example from the fashion industry, the impact of product appearances on major TV shows can be seen through the popularity of ITV’s Love Island. When the show aired earlier this year, it helped boost searches for certain fashionable items: there was a significant spike in searches for ‘ASOS dress’ and ‘patchwork dress’ enjoyed an increase as well. Why? Because products related to those searches were featured on the show not as product placements, but just as items the stars were wearing.
Marketing for consumer electronics brands means overcoming the shifting landscapes of the modern world and ensuring that your brand is getting in front of the right people. If those people are ad skippers who will neither be likely to see nor pay attention to traditional advertising, you need to find alternate methods that will be more effective. Product placement, along with smart reactive marketing, is undoubtedly one of those methods.
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