As the use of digital video recorders (DVRs) continues to rise – the market penetration at the end of 2009 was measured at 32.3% – marketers are looking for new ways to reach TV viewers.  Often, this means weaving the discussion of or appearance of products into the program itself. According to a report by VSS Communications, marketers spent at least $3.9 billion in 2009 to get their “products, services and brands” onto the TV screen.

Arrangements for product promotions and branded entertainment are often established prior to the traditional upfront selling season, May, for the industry. For example, last year, Rob Master, Unilever’s director of North American media  wanted to change the way TV advertising was working for his brands yet still get the most out of the value proposition built on “flexibility, value and quality.” Masters says the “days of simply running a schedule of 15-seconds or 30-seconds and just buying straight [gross rating points] are over.”  During 2009, Unilever asked media companies to come up with ideas for plans to get brands in front of TV viewers but outside the realm of traditional ads. Subaru is another major advertising that has shifted to this strategy.

The use of branded entertainment will grow as TV stations compete with online media for audience share. An early report on the 2010 upfront season indicates that  nearly 4 in 10 advertisers will increase their expenditure on branded entertainment “as an alternative to the 30-second spot.”

And on the horizon, look for advanced TV advertising to come into play over the next few years. As more consumers use interactive devices, such as DVRs to watch TV, marketers will be exploring addressable and interactive marketing strategies.

[Sources: Atkinson, Claire. Preview: Handicapping the Upfront Stakes. Broadcastingcable. 15 Feb 2010. Web. 17 Mar 2010; Media Trends Track. TVB. n.d. Web. 15 Mar 2010; Neff, Jack. Upfront Not Working for You? Try Reversing It, Like Unilever. Advertising Age. May 2009. Web. 15 Mar 2010; Quinton, Brian. Pride of Placement. PromoMagazine. 1 Dec. 2009. Web. 17 Mar. 2010]