Xerox patent signals future of product placement

15 January 2010

NEW YORK: Xerox has developed new technology for TV sets that could revolutionise product placement in the US.

In a patent filing, the tech firm said the technology would allow minor adaptations to be made to broadcast content on a household-by-household basis.

For example, during periods allocated for product placements, TV sets adapted with the gadget would show different products to different people, depending on their likes and dislikes.

Under the current US system, brief paid-for mentions and displays of goods and services are mixed in with the content of shows in order to drive brand awareness.

High-profile examples of these promotions include the Coca-Cola products which appear on the judges' table in the Fox network's hit show American Idol.

However, use of the Xerox technology could dramatically improve the precision with which this promotional material is targeted.

In one scenario, viewers who have previously shown interest in sports events would hear a TV character mention a sporting goods store during a part of a show earmarked for product placement.

Simultaneously, the character would say the name of a department store in content broadcast to viewers who are less keen on sports.

Allowing marketers to optimise in-show product placement in this way would mitigate against recent viewing trends.

Increasing use of Digital Video Recorders means it is now easier for consumers to skip commercial breaks.

Xerox's technology would also enable TVs to store viewer information including age, favourite films and favourite TV shows, although the patent did not specify exactly how this information would be gleaned.

As previously reported on Warc, the UK government recently conducted a consultation on whether or not domestic broadcasters should be allowed to accept paid-for product placement.

The domestic TV market currently operates on a payments-free prop placement model.

Data sourced from MediaBuyerPlanner; additional content by Warc staff