The evolving art of outwitting TiVo
by Nadira A. Hira, FORTUNE Magazine

(FORTUNE Magazine) - American TV viewers are no strangers to product placement. They've been seeing it in the past few years on everything from 24 to American Idol. The hottest trend: "brand integration," where products are stitched into shows' story lines.

On May 15 a company called NextMedium will take that tactic to a new level with the launch of Embed, an online marketplace for brands and the entertainment companies that want to integrate them. Among those already in talks: Ford (Research), Staples (Research), 20th Century Fox, and media buyer OMD.

Integration has become TV advertising's buzzword of the moment, as digital video recorders--TiVo (Research) and its ilk--have gained ground; they're now present in ten million U.S. viewing households, and Forrester Research projects they'll be in 39% of homes in four years. Not good for companies or ad agencies shelling out big bucks to buy 30-second spots.

Still, integration hasn't been a silver bullet. Deals are difficult to broker, and their impact is hard to measure. Which is where Embed comes in. Networks and other media outlets post their brand-integration availabilities--say, a car for a prime-time chase scene-- and buyers, searching by everything from show ratings to character descriptions, can make an offer.

Through a partnership with Nielsen Media Research, buyers and sellers can access a database--called Place*Views--to track the performance of the integrations, from how long they lasted to who actually saw them. Embed (which charges subscription and transaction fees) also uses the data to generate a score it calls a brand's "entertainment IQ." Every time an anxious CMO logs on, that number, along with a nifty market-share pie chart and a clip of his brand's most recent integration, greets him.

Hamet Watt, the 34-year-old CEO of NextMedium, hopes to harness what's long been an ad hoc marketplace. In a report last year PQ Media estimated that unpaid placements--wheedled for free by cozying up to stylists and set directors--accounted for more than two-thirds of the roughly $3.5 billion product-placement market in 2004. Top of page

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Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer LIBOR Warning: Neither BBA Enterprises Limited, nor the BBA LIBOR Contributor Banks, nor Reuters, can be held liable for any irregularity or inaccuracy of BBA LIBOR. Disclaimer. Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.