Product placement describes the strategic, often subtle insertion of a brand’s product, logo, or another identifier into a television program, film, or book. With the rise in popularity of mobile devices coupled with the social media boom, it’s not uncommon for businesses to direct their product placement efforts in even more untraditional ways: Businesses can compensate influencers or those with large followings to incorporate products or brand mentions in online posts, too. The visual-based social media platform Instagram, in particular, is used often for this product-placement based type of social selling.
There are several tiers to product placement. At its most subtle, products or logos are simply seen in the background but not mentioned directly. In other instances, a character in a book or on a screen clearly identifies the product and uses it as part of his/her daily life. In rare instances, the plot of an entire piece of media is based on a product or a brand. In any of the three tiers, product placement works best when the advertising is not overt. To be most effective, product placement tactics should feel natural given their context.
More generally, product placement also refers to general product positioning, especially in the world of e-commerce. For example, businesses may choose to place their products into specific categories to make the search process easier for online shoppers. Retargeting is a type of product placement as well. During retargeting, brands strategically remind shoppers of products they’ve recently left in abandoned carts or viewed repeatedly online. Knolling is another product placement technique in which companies arrange products in such a manner that is intended to evoke positive emotions from page visitors.
Sometimes product placement is confused with product distribution or where a customer actually views, touches or purchases the product itself.