LONDON: Advertisers in the UK have proved slow to adopt product placement, but interest is anticipated to rise during the next five years.

Despite the fact this form of marketing was officially permitted in the UK as of 28 February 2011, thus far fewer than 20 deals have been struck between brand owners and TV stations.

ITV, the UK's largest ad-funded broadcaster, has worked with Concept2Rowing, Nationwide and Nescafé so far. Gary Knight, the firm's commercial content director, suggested the discipline was in currently its "pre-toddler" phase.

"There's a lack of case histories, but we are rolling them out in the next six months which will help spur the market on. 2012 will be the re-energising period for us for product placement," he told Marketing Week.

"This isn't just about creating more media signage for the market. The reason we were fighting for this years ago is because it's about finally giving advertisers a deep advertising opportunity within content."

Nick Price, head of content at MPG Media Contacts, the agency network, was also upbeat about product placement's prospects. Price served as chairman of the Producers Alliance for Cinema and Television, which pushed for the removal of restrictions on this area.

"Product placement is a similar story to sponsorship, which also started slowly but now nobody thinks twice about it," he said.

"I think we have a hard year ahead of us negotiating deals and conducting research but by the time there has been around 30 deals in the market - probably by 2013 - there will categorically be a place for product placement in the UK."

Overall, Price predicted that product placement could be worth £120m in five or six years time, still only 3% of TV spot sales, albeit growing fast from a low base.

Previous research from YouGov, the survey firm, found that 72% of UK consumers knew what product placement was, while 25% of 18-24 year olds agreed their attitudes would improve towards brands which used this approach.

"The fact that there hasn't been any significant social or mainstream media backlash against it over the past year indicates that it is a palatable and acceptable form or marketing communication in consumers' eyes," said Adele Gritten, head of media and financial services consulting at YouGov.

Data sourced from Marketing Week; additional content by Warc staff