The Ins and Outs of Virtual Product Placement

Tim Cross 23 January, 2023 

When Netflix and Disney+ introduced ad-supported subscription tiers at the end of last year, it was painted as advertisers finally getting a long-awaited opportunities to have their brands turn up in some of the world’s most-watched shows. But this wasn’t quite accurate – brands had been working with paid subscription platforms for years via in-content product placements.

This business is substantial – brands pay tens of even hundreds of thousands of pounds to appear in single episodes of SVOD-owned TV shows. And these streaming services have spotted an opportunity to grow these revenues further – through virtual product placements which can be swapped in and out of shows dynamically. Amazon specifically has invested in virtual product placement for its Prime Video content.

These types of placements throw up obvious challenges around trading, creative design, and measurement. VideoWeek spoke with Stephan Beringer, CEO at in-content advertising platform Mirriad, to hear more about the ins and outs of how these campaigns work.

In simple terms, how does Mirriad’s in-content advertising technology work? 

Mirriad allows brands to buy and execute in-content advertising campaigns at scale. The company’s technology virtually integrates brands and products into CTV and streaming content with its full end-to-end solution. The Mirriad platform has been built on years of experience with  thousands of brand insertions for the world’s largest advertisers on premiere content. We manage the full process, from content analysis and inventory creation to the actual virtual brand insertion and ad delivery.  

Mirriad serves the advertising and media industry in a completely new way – offering an AI powered platform that takes contextual advertising to a new level, by identifying the most exciting  and relevant moments that viewers are highly engaged with. The company’s patented computer vision technology can insert products, signage, and video into these relevant content moments dynamically. This technology creates a net new revenue stream for content owners and  their ad-supported and subscription models, and it dramatically improves the viewer experience by limiting commercial interruptions.  

How are these types of placements bought and sold? Do advertisers have to link up directly with  media owners to understand what inventory is available and where their brand can fit in, or can they be traded programmatically? 

Brands and publishers include in-content advertising in larger negotiated contracts, but that’s just the beginning. Mirriad is building a marketplace where advertisers and their agencies can transact across content platforms and the most relevant contextual opportunities that they select in the Mirriad platform. Mirriad is building towards programmatic transactions, a path that we’ve laid the foundation for in 2022.  

What kind of assets does an advertiser need in order to run this type of campaign? 

Pre-existing marketing or product assets such as a logo, product imagery or signage is all that is  required to run in-content advertising campaigns. 3D models of products can be shared with Mirriad as well. 

What kind of targeting is possible? 

Advertisers can target the same way as in digital campaigns. This means advertisers have the  full capability of addressable targeting such as geotargeting, first party and third-party audience  targeting , and any other factor in between, such as browser targeting, etc. device targeting is possible as well as operating system targeting (Visio TVs, LG TVs, etc.). Variables such as  household income and number of people in household can be targeted as well. Advertisers can  also target consumers who are in the market for a certain product or service and then Mirriad shows the relevant product/signage placement.

How does measurement work for these campaigns? 

Measurement is contained within a unified buying platform (DSP) that has all the advertiser’s data and analytics. These metrics include impressions, information about who has viewed it (what audience has seen a particular ad), and how a campaign influenced other media channels that advertisers are running. With this insight, advertisers can make decisions in real time to optimise performance, such as creative optimisation via A/B testing with digital executions.  

Brand effectiveness and attribution can also be measured through research partners such as Kantar.  

How do you see the virtual product placement space evolving in the next few years? 

Mirriad sees in-content advertising and virtual product placement becoming a standard format  across all programmers, content creators, advertisers and their agencies. In-content advertising  is net new inventory that doesn’t increase the ad loads or compromise the viewing experience. In fact, research with Kantar shows that in-content advertising actually increases the performance of traditional video ads and commercials. We will see a massive growth once we’re  fully integrated with all the supply- and demand-side platforms.

Advertisers will be using in-content advertising and virtual product placement as a format that enables them to reach otherwise unreachable audiences, and engage with otherwise not engaged or inattentive audiences. Whether as in-content only buy or in combination with other campaigns, we believe the format will become a line-item in plans and buys.  

Follow VideoWeek on Twitter and LinkedIn.


About the Author:

Tim Cross is Assistant Editor at VideoWeek.
Go to Top