Measuring the Impact of Product Placement with Brand-Related Social Media Conversations and Website Traffic

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Advertisers are growing increasingly concerned about the ease with which traditional television advertising can be avoided. Product placement activities, where brands are visually and/or verbally incorporated into television and movies, have continued to grow. In contrast to television commercials that can be avoided by viewers, product placement is embedded in the programming itself and is more difficult to avoid. Despite its popularity, there is limited research in marketing that has investigated the impact of product placement. In this research, the authors investigate the relationship between product placement in television programs and the volume of social media activity and website traffic for the featured brand. Using data on nearly 3,000 product placements for 99 brands from the fall 2015 television season, the authors find that prominent product placement activities—especially verbal placements—are associated with increases in both online conversations and web traffic for the brand, with some evidence of decreasing returns at high levels of prominence. The authors also find that, for most placement modalities, television advertising occurring in close proximity to placement activities does not enhance these increases in online viewer engagement.

Data files and the online appendix are available at

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