NewFronts: Amazon, Peacock Demo Product Placement Tech

Amazon and Peacock both showcased virtual product placement tech solutions at the NewFronts, demonstrating how marketers can substitute new brands into previously produced material. Currently in beta, Amazon’s new VPP tool lends immediacy to marketing decisions that were once locked months, if not years, in advance, placing products directly into existing content streams from Amazon Prime Video and the company’s Freevee streaming service. Peacock takes a slightly different approach with “In-Scene,” which identifies in-show opportunities for message-freshening during post. Both developments tap artificial intelligence to improve on past practices.

The new techniques introduce a fluidity to what had essentially been fossilized, inserting advertising “in the content instead of just around,” Amazon SVP of advertising products & tech Colleen Aubrey told NewFronts attendees.

The Amazon VPP beta program “has already been implemented in several Prime Video and Freevee original series such as ‘Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan,’ ‘Bosch: Legacy,’ the overall Bosch franchise, ‘Reacher’ and “Leverage: Redemption,’” TechCrunch reports.

Fabel Entertainment CEO and “Bosch: Legacy” executive producer Henrik Bastin describes VPP as “a game-changer.”

The art of writing-in generic placements like billboards and liquor bottles can be expected to reach new heights. Aubrey illustrated the technique using as example a billboard on which M&M’s was digitally added after the fact. “Working with content creators and using machine learning, we’re able to insert products and branded findings,” Aubrey said in TechCrunch, adding “billboards, signs and screens in any chosen show can now have specific messaging on the streamer.”

The new In-Scene ad format from NBC’s Peacock “will similarly blend products or messaging into movies and shows during post-production,” Gizmodo reports, writing that “some shows may even be framed with advertisements.” With the majority of Peacock customers opting for FAST service, the network is “focused on collaborating with our brand partners to develop innovative, personalized ad experiences that continue to enhance the customer experience,” Peacock SVP of product and UX John Jelley said in TechCrunch.

“Ad companies are chomping at the bit to get their ads on streaming platforms,” writes Gizmodo, adding that “product placement in movies is already a $23 billion industry, according to Bloomberg, and the form of advertising is working to fully infiltrate its way into streaming media, as it’s much harder to avoid than traditional advertising.”

Game studios “were the first to tease the idea of swappable product placements in living media,” Gizmodo says, explaining such services “essentially allow advertisers to offer verified ads in selected locations within the play space.”

As formerly ad-free streaming platforms like Netflix, HBO Max and Disney+ warm to the idea of advertiser-supported tiers, VPP could offer another way to offset production costs from consumers to brands.