Product Integration/Placement Explodes vs. Traditional Ads

Research Findings and a New Way of Measuring Success

Product Placement and Integration are blasting through the strong barriers erected by audiences against traditional advertising and on-demand content.

There are numerous studies that show why traditional or digital advertising on their own may not give brands the results they want. A few examples include:

  • A January 2022 article in TVTech reported that 76% of viewers either don’t watch TV ads at all, or watch on mute.
  • A Sept. 2021 article in The Conversation reported 90% of online viewers skip videos before they even begin.
  • A March 2022 study by S&P Global found that approximately 37% of subscribers of selected hybrid video-on-demand platforms selected the ad-free tier rather than the ad-supported one.
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So, marketers are turning to product placement and integration to capture attention. In fact, product placement/integration spending for 2021 jumped 12.3% to almost $23 billion globally, and 13% to almost $13 billion in the US according to a new PQ Media study featured in Mediapost.  Seventy percent of this increase came from placements/integration in TV followed by those in digital media, music, film, video games and print. It’s a new day indeed.

However, what really works is combining placements/integrations with traditional advertising, or combining the two in online and offline media, in the same campaign. An Aug. 2022 article quoted Erin Schmidt, chief of product placement at BEN: “If you’re only running a 30-second spot, if you’re only doing integration, the impact isn’t as big” … “But if you are doing both, in most cases, you’re seeing a significant impact [and] a significant increase in attribution.”

Unforgettable Product Placements/Integrations

The product placements/integrations technique started in the early 1900’s when soaps and tobacco companies sponsored shows in which characters would use their products. In 1956, the movie “Around the World in 80 Days” used a real-life ship on which to place the main character. Just a few recent exceptional campaigns included:

  • Reese’s Pieces sales increased 60% during the first three weeks of Spielberg’s “E.T.”1
  • Etch a Sketch sales increased by 4,500% and Mr. Potato Head by 800% while Slinky’s received 20,000 orders, thanks to great placements in “Toy Story”.2
  • General Mills brand Old Paso and Honey Nut Cheerios enjoyed sales lifts of 24% and 29% from product integrations in linear TV from 2019 – 2021 according to a new study reported in AdAge for BEN3.
  • And of course, many more.


Is Product Placement/Integration Always Better than TV Spots?

Coca-Cola in American Idol in Brands & Films

Not always, according to a great deal of research on the effectiveness of placements and integrations. Just a few recent studies include:

In 2018, a study from Wroclaw, Poland, found that product placement/integrations yielded better recall results than TV commercials when viewing in the real-world environment. However, TV spots do better when viewed in a research laboratory.4

In 2019, a University of Washington study looked at product placement effects on store sales for CPG and found that product placement has a small, positive effect on demand overall, and that it appears to be more effective at driving sales than TV spots for soda and some of the other brands tested, but not for coffee. In other words, the magnitude of placement elasticities varies across categories, brands, price and more.

ABX Advertising Benchmark Index has been testing product integration globally for years from a purely creative standpoint, and has found that, product integration and standard advertising are equally effective across all media types.

For example, a recent ABX study for a major global entertainment company (Brand X) showed TV spots scored higher in almost all KPIs except for Brand Recall (TV was best), while product integration scored highest for See Again. But almost all of the other KPIs for the two groups were not statistically different. Brand Recall for product integration is lower, perhaps because of its subtle integration into programming.

Product Integration vs TV/OLV

The study above was based on hundreds of TV/OLV ads and about 100 product integrations.

ABX measures the creative impact of product integration and compares it directly to traditional media due to its global methodology that measures all creative in the same way.

Gary Getto, President of ABX, explains, “In testing creative globally, we can see how product integration compares to other media types and determine its effectiveness across a range of KPIs. Does the brand register with the audiences? Have perceptions changed? Which actions are likely to be taken? Which integrations and shows work best, etc. We can quantify the value of product integrations for any brand or business; identify where it fits in overall plans; and provide insights that will make future product integrations successful with results in 24-48 hours at affordable price points.”

But the devil is in the details. As stated above in the University of Washington Study, the magnitude of placement elasticities really defines the success of a program.

  • Remember the scale of a placement/integration and how much ancillary activity is running simultaneously, such as a social media campaign, WOM, sweepstakes, traditional ads, etc. Product placement/integration with on- and offline ad support tend to have better results than placements in just one media type.
  • Placements early-in-show, with multiple product placements and in-show integrations that fit into the story, impacts product familiarities. Each piece of creative drives brand recall and CTAs.
  • External forces such as where the product is placed, how many viewers see the integration, how many times it appears, and whether a major character or personality is using it … all are factored into creative testing.
  • Understand which types of shows work best? What media – broadcast, cable, streaming, digital, radio? Should the integration be funny, avant-garde, sentimental, features oriented or practical? Were the shows about sports, news, sports, drama, comedy, soap? Was it seen or heard in a car, at home, in social settings?
  • Is the product itself suited for placement (i.e. soda yes, coffee no)? Are the price points reasonable? Does the brand compare well to other products in the category?
Starbucks in You’ve Got Mail (1998, Warner Bros., screen capture) – in Brands &Films.
Starbucks in You’ve Got Mail (1998, Warner Bros., screen capture) – in Brands &Films.

Final Thoughts and Tips

Product integration is not a silver bullet; creatively it is about as effective as a commercial but there are variables that make it effective. For instance, 40% of TV ads underperform creatively, 76% of viewers pay little or no attention to TV ads, and 90% skip past online video ads. With odds like those for commercials, product placement/integration is ideal.

An outstanding study by Fossen and Schweidel5 investigated how “prominent product placement activities – especially verbal placements – relate to immediate increases in online WOM and website traffic for the placed brand with some evidence of decreasing returns at high levels of prominence.” In other words, be careful not to overload a show with too many placements or ads, especially too close together.

Furthermore, they write, “Our data is limited in that it is not single-source nor does it allow us to directly observe an individual’s behavior across devices and platforms. Such single-source, cross-device or cross-platform data would facilitate gaining a more complete picture of content consumption and exposure to marketing.”

And that’s exactly what ABX does. It provides single-source, cross-device, and cross-platform data in the form of creative testing that is available within 24 hours and useful for immediate learnings on how to make the next product integration better.

1 Product Placement on Television: An Effective Means of Breaking Through the Clutter?

2 Product Placement on Television: An Effective Means of Breaking Through the Clutter? (Dens et al., 2012)

3 Study executed by TV analytics firm 605

4 Is Product Placement Really Worse Than Traditional Commercials? Cognitive Load and Recalling of Advertised Brands, 2018

5 “Measuring the Impact of Product Placement with Brand-related Social Media Conversations and Website Traffic” © 2018 Beth L. Fossen and David A. Schweidel for Marketing Science Institute.

Jeff Schamel

Vice President, Operations

Jeff Schamel Directs Operations for ABX with Experience from IPSOS and P&G

Jeff has more than 25 years of market research experience including project management, client service, operations, production and sales.

Before joining the ABX Senior Management team, Jeff was a Senior Account Manager at Ipsos, working with Procter & Gamble and other client assignments. Prior to that, he was Senior Project Manager for Opinion One, where he was responsible for guiding the company’s online, mall and other initiatives for eight years.

Jeff began his market research career with Cooper Research while participating in the Professional Practice Program at the University of Cincinnati, Ohio. Upon graduating with his BS in Marketing and Management, Jeff led a team of data analysts as Group Manager at Matrixx Marketing Research (now Concentrix).

Jeff’s broad in-depth marketing research experiences enable him to bring a unique perspective to directing operations that creates effective and efficient environments to support a wide range of client activities.  Having come up in the industry alongside the advent and progression of online interviewing, he has a unique perspective on the benefits and challenges of conducting quality research resulting in meaningful results.

Jeff considers himself an amateur music historian and sports enthusiast, as well as a family man, who takes advantage of the many outdoor activities in his community including biking, hiking, kayaking and swimming.

Dr. Peter Moomaw

Co-Founder, Vice President, Development

Peter is the primary developer of operations technology and data analysis. As a chief visionary on the Research and Development team, Peter works to generate innovative ideas for the continued development of processes and protocols.

Peter brings 17+ years’ experience in software development in the market research industry. He was previously at Opinion One, where he was integral in the development of research software systems covering a number of areas.

Peter has a BA in Mathematics, a BS in Physics, and a PhD in Physics, all from the University Cincinnati.

Martin Geraghty
Martin Geraghty

Vice President, Client Services

Geraghty Brings Experience from Roper Starch, GfK, MRI and IPSOS to ABX

Martin has more than 20 years of experience in the market research space including business development, methodology, product design, operations, client service, analysis and sales. He is a member the ABX Management Group with both client-service and operational responsibilities. Before joining ABX, Martin held senior management positions at Roper Starch Worldwide, GfK, MRI (Mediamark Research) and Ipsos. At Ipsos, he managed client service covering all aspects of the research process including research design. He managed the development and implementation of several brand and advertising measurement programs across a broad range of business sectors, helping clients maximize marketing objectives and return on investment. Prior to joining Ipsos, Martin was Vice President at MRI and was involved in business development, day-to-day management and long-term planning and growth for syndicated and custom programs. He also developed and updated the organization’s operational infrastructure to bring new and improved measurements to the marketplace. Before joining MRI, Martin was a Vice President of Operations at GfK. He managed researchers developing programs to monitor and improve methodologies. He played a key role in overseeing profit responsibility of client programs. Prior to his role at GfK, he was Vice President of Research and Operations at Roper Starch Worldwide.
Michael Alf

Co-Founder Ocucom and ABX, Vice President, Software Development

Michael Alf Brings 12 Years’ Software Engineering in the Market Research Industry

Michael is one Founders of Ocucom, of which ABX is a division, and has over 12 years’ of software engineering experience in the market research industry. As a Lead Software Engineer with Ocucom, he brings a unique blend of a technological background along with hands-on market research experience. Michael specializes in providing custom software solutions utilizing Ocucom’s dynamic software platform to address unique client needs in an efficient and cost-effective manner.

Prior to starting with Ocucom, Michael was a senior software engineer at Opinion One in Cincinnati, where he was one of the principal architects of the OASIS 2 Survey Software Package. He also played a key role in developing a licensable solution to bring to the market place as well as handling the logistics of on-site training and support of end-client users.

Michael obtained his B.S. in Computer Science from the University of Cincinnati.

Greg Tunstill

Co-Founder, Chief Information Officer

Greg Tunstill Leads the Creation of ABX Communications Tools

Greg Tunstill, a founder of ABX, is the Chief Information Officer responsible for ABX’s technical infrastructure and maintenance. He also leads the design and development of ABX’s communications tools, a critical component of its technology services.

Prior to joining ABX, Greg was Director of Network Operations of Opinion One since its inception in 1992. He designed and developed the communications systems that were the core of its data collection networks and was responsible for continuing development and implementation of information technologies. Prior to his position at Opinion One, he designed inventory control and expert systems for BellSouth field offices and worked as a consultant and independent contractor. In 1991 he joined Americom Research as a systems engineer where he advanced to Director of Network Operations and met members of the team that formed Opinion One.

Greg is a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University where he obtained a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science.

Julian Brown

Chief Technology Officer

Julian Brown is an ABX Founder and Chief Visionary for Strategic Planning

Julian brings 20+ years of software engineering and market research experience to ABX. As one of the Founders and in his position as Chief Technology Officer, Julian is the chief visionary responsible for strategic planning and development.

His primary day to day roles include management of software development, oversight of survey production, and lead architect for custom software development projects. As the principal technology architect, Julian adapts emerging technologies for use in market research. He is responsible for maintaining the “continuous development” philosophy.

Before becoming one of the Founders, Julian was Vice President, Software Engineering at Opinion One. In this capacity, he was responsible for the design and development of Opinion One’s core technology and licensing products.

Prior to Opinion One, Julian worked for Americom Research, starting as a Software Engineer and progressing to Director, Software Development. While at Americom Research, Julian pioneered the design and creation of one of the market research industry’s first fully interactive computer-aided interviewing suites.

Julian received his Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from Middle Tennessee State University.

Gary Getto


A Pioneer in Measuring Across all Media Types

Gary has an extensive background in product development, strategic planning, and sales/marketing. He is a frequent speaker to the advertising, marketing, and public relations communities.

Gary is a pioneer in efforts to measure and analyze the combined impact of news coverage, social media, and advertising communications on key business metrics, such as sales or product preferences, with ground-breaking work linking communications activity to business outcomes. He was also one of the first to apply artificial intelligence to better understand how communications impacts consumer behavior.

As part of these pioneering integrated measurements, the need to benchmark every ad and build a comprehensive database of advertising performance metrics for evaluating all advertising creative became clear. Gary has been part of the ABX management group that developed the methodology, technology, and criteria for measuring advertising performance globally, and at scale, in an affordable manner. 

Now Gary and all ABX partners work with communications leaders across a diverse set of industries to expand that understanding by incorporating the first-ever Gender Equality Index™, creative measurement solutions for ESG, Diversity & Inclusion, Ethnicities (in and out-of-country), Product Placement/Integration, Brand Fit™, Gaming, Audio and more.

Gary holds a B.S., in Mechanical Engineering from Lehigh University and a Masters in Management Science from Stevens Institute of Technology.

J. J. Klein​

Chairman & CEO

Developing Valid and Reliable Information through Syndicated and Custom Research

JJ Klein has devoted his entire career to developing more valid and reliable information through syndicated and custom longitudinal research programs for Fortune 500 companies. This extensive knowledge base enabled him to create and develop ABX, which now offers the most accurate normative database for advertising effectiveness measurement in the marketplace.

JJ brings more than 35 years of marketing, research, consulting, and technology experience in designing and developing methodologies and programs for long-term growth. He has exceptional strength in domestic and international new business development, strategic planning, and identifying and tracking consumer, retail, and industry trends.

Leadership in Top Global Research Firms

Early in his career, after attending City University in New York as a math and science major, JJ joined Simmons Market Research Bureau as a Project Director. Over time, he rose to Associate Executive Vice President. Among his accomplishments, JJ created the first online interactive data analysis and delivery system for agencies, media, institutions, client, and service companies.  

JJ and Bill Simmons then founded a new venture …Three Sigma Research Center. It was here that JJ, Chief Operating Officer, created the first major syndicated rating system for Newspapers in the U.S., which later became the Scarborough Report. Three Sigma Research was eventually sold back to Simmons; Simmons sold it to Scarborough; and then Scarborough was acquired by Nielsen.

Following the sale of Three Sigma, JJ joined Audits & Surveys Worldwide as a principal leading the sales tracking and market share audits for a broad range of retail and service establishments both domestically and internationally. Following the acquisition of Audits & Surveys by GfK, JJ joined Roper Starch as Executive Director, reporting directly to the Chairman.

Creation and Development of Ocucom™ and ABX™

In 2004, as he continued his industry visionary travels, all of JJ’s experience came together as he tackled new solutions for market research in the Internet age. He and four partners founded Ocucom™ and invented a research-proven, respondent-oriented Ocular™ approach to internet sampling and multi-modal interviewing methodology. For the first time, respondents could answer text-based questions within a visual communication world where the computer screen was the interviewer/communicator. Inventions continued such as Ocucom’s PreCast™, the first long-form video viewing solution in the industry.

Also, during this time, JJ’s early leadership in internet research methodology caught the eye of top-tier global research competitors. He ended up designing methodologies for their online survey capabilities.

Then, in early 2012, he formed ABX™ as an outgrowth of Ocucom. JJ had conceived the idea for ABX some 15 years prior but had to wait for internet maturation and online panel/sampling companies to evolve. ABX partners focused on JJ’s ABX concept and methodology by building an infrastructure and a 5-year formative database before opening to the market in 2018. The new company offered the first high-quality Ocular research system for all ads in all media types with detailed, never-before analytics; the first syndicated, all-media type ad effectiveness platform; results in 24-to-48 hours on dashboard, and significantly lower costs. At ABX, as at Ocucom, inventions have continued such as the expansion of the ABX syndicated program into the first-ever global solution, and the first Gender Equality Index™. Solutions have expanded to include creative measurement for ESG, Diversity & Inclusion, Ethnicities (in and out of country), Product Placement/Integration, Brand Fit, Gaming, Audio, and more.

A Career Devoted to Validity and Reliability in Market Research

JJ’s background brings together an extremely unique blend of extensive experience in designing and developing global and regional longitudinal research programs. His accomplishments include the design and initiation of programs and methods that produce more valid and reliable information. They also include contributions to the market research profession through association membership, speaking, writing, and presenting.

Like Nielsen for TV, Arbitron for Radio, and MRI for Magazine, JJ’s original design for the newspaper program continues as the Scarborough Report ratings standard for Newspaper.  Today, JJ leads ABX as a syndicated and custom research service for ad effectiveness and gender equality, which have quickly become the gold standards of their own.

Angela Jeffrey, APR

Vice President, Brand Management

National Award-Winning Veteran of Public Relations, Advertising and Marketing

Angela is an internationally known speaker and national award-winning veteran of public relations, advertising and marketing.  She has been a teacher and leader in the use of metrics to measure communications impact for over 20 years, especially at the intersection of PR and Advertising.

Angela is primarily responsible for all ABX marketing efforts, and for projects that involve PR or social media measurement. She is the primary driver of our collaboration with the prestigious Institute for Public Relations as we develop methods to measure the impact of PR and social media on advertising effectiveness.

Prior to joining ABX, Angela was Strategy Director at Salience Insight, (now CARMA), a global provider of PR effectiveness measurement. Previously, she was a Vice President at Surveillance Data, Inc., an international analytics powerhouse that specializes in predictive modeling. Angela continued as a key leader upon the sale of her division to VMS and helped develop Vantage, with Gary Getto, the first platform to measure the combined impact of PR and Advertising.

Angela graduated summa cum laude from Southern Methodist University with a BFA in Journalism and BBA in Marketing.



Diane Light Waight

Vice President, Business Development

Diane Light Waight handles Sales, Business Development, and Marketing for ABX

Diane has 20+ years of experience helping Marketing, Advertising, and PR decision-makers at global brands, media companies, and agencies increase their ROI by connecting and authentically engaging their target customers through Sales, Business Development. MarTech, AdTech, Big Data, Market Research, SaaS, eCommerce, and Integrated Marketing.

She is passionate about her family, entertainment, health & wellness, empowering women, and environmental sustainability.