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Bollywood and brands: what can marketers learn from product placement in the world's largest film industry?

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Product placement in Bollywood could at one time have been described as blatant and unapologetic. But with social media users in India now numbering some 200 million, many of whom are all too happy to call out the brands and studios getting it wrong, the industry has been forced to rethink its approach. We look at the lessons to be learned from this lucrative market and, over the following pages, find out what programmatic could mean for product placement and look at brand integration in the age of streaming.

Gucci, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Hermès and many other luxury brands popped up, unquestioned, in Sex and the City for six seasons and two films. More recently Old Forrester launched a new whiskey for the new Kingsman film and audiences barely batted an eyelid when an early scene pivoted around a bottle of the stuff. But it isn’t just western TV and film that continues to get into bed with brands. Much like Hollywood, Bollywood also has a long history of product placement. And it’s a relationship that has had as many highs and lows over the years as the characters in its movies and shows.

But as India’s digital sophistication reaches mainstream levels, an increasingly savvy audience is expecting a new type of relationship from its actors, directors and producers. Being on top of this is paramount because, according to the India Brand Equity Foundation, the Indian media and entertainment sector is expected to grow at 13.9%, to reach $37.55bn by 2021 from $19.59bn in 2016, outshining the global average of 4.2%.

This growth has empowered product placement in the Indian entertainment industry, which has become more sophisticated in recent years. Previously, placements were unsubtle and generally stuck out like a sore thumb, creating limited impact and the potential to actually make the audience annoyed with the product.

Filmmaker Vikram Bhatt believes product or in-film brand placements have almost become redundant in Bollywood. “There was a period of years when it was a huge thing, and it still can be,” he says. “However, when it doesn’t seem like a natural fit in the script, the audience today is smart enough to know how to distinguish between something subtle and something seamless. Unfortunately, for a long time the product placements were too loud in films.”

According to a report released by GroupM – Showbiz, the Indian Superpower – the total co-branded marketing media spend for Hindi films has reached approximately Rs.100 crore [$15.7m] a year. More brands tied up with films through co-branded marketing associations than in-film associations across all years. Brand alliances increased steadily from 2010 onwards until 2016, with media spend exceeding marketing budgets of the film in few cases.

Bhatt believes the growth of digital will create new opportunity. “With the digital era exploding, there’s a huge integrative opportunity for product and brand placements in web series and over-the-top (OTT) platforms, more than films. Audiences of the digital formats are more aware and will respond better to such techniques.”

The brands have already cemented their future with OTTs. The Indian digital sector is expected to cross the Rs. 20,000 crore [$3.14bn] mark by 2020 from Rs. 8,490 crore [$1.33bn] at present, largely led by OTT and digital advertising, according to an EY report, ‘Digital Opportunity: India Media and Entertainment.’
OTT players are catering to the millennial needs by integrating brands. SonyLIV rolled out a new home improvement show, House Proud, in association with Asian Paints and home accessories e-commerce business CuroCarte. Last year, SonyLIV partnered with digital entertainment company Pocket Aces, which earns its revenue by syndicating content to various OTT players like Uber rival Ola Cabs and airlines like Etihad and Jet, as well as selling merchandise based on the series.
Most recently, Pocket Aces partnered with Dice Media and Pepsi Co brand Kurkure to create a web series called 2by3.

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Rahul Puri (above), managing director of Indian film production company Mukta Arts, says that an increasingly savvy audience has also made actors and producers savvier, with brand relationships becoming subtler and having longer lifespans.

“As marketing tie-ups and brand positioning have become more intrinsically linked with actors and actresses, the positioning in films has also found a way that doesn’t offend the audiences and is well understood. Shah Rukh Khan [known as ‘the King of Bollywood’ having appeared in over 80 films] using a Nokia phone in his films is now a given, and audiences completely relate to why it’s there. Similarly with Sonam Kapoor [one of the industry’s highest-paid actresses who also has her own clothing line] and her multitude of brands. Actors themselves are also smart enough these days, as are producers and brand managers, to not force products, but to read scripts and carefully choose the type of placement according to the story and the film’s characters.”

E-commerce is indeed empowering the actors in Bollywood to integrate their own entrepreneurial ambitions within the content they are in. It is expected that Shahid Kapoor will wear his brand, Skult, and Anushka Sharma will wear her brand, Nush, in their upcoming movies. As to whether it is an effective way of getting brands in front of consumers, Puri says: “It can be. So much of it is to do with how the placement is done. Something that works well in the story and is relatable will have a lot of value for the brand. Remember, Hindi films are extremely well watched in theaters and on TV, so once the placement is done it will have immense repeat viewing as well.

For example, the hit movie 3 Idiots maintained an association with Pantaloons, who organised a fashion show featuring actor Aamir Khan and co-stars Madhavan and Sharman Joshi showcasing a range of 3 Idiots t-shirts, manufactured by Pantaloons. Ranbir Kapoor, star of Wake Up Sid, teamed up with Provogue to launch a range of t-shirts tying in with that movie.

Preeti Mascarenhas, principal partner of strategy at Mindshare, says Bollywood has been a strong recall and engagement medium for many brands. “It’s interesting to see the way brands have dramatically moved beyond using the medium tactically and borrowing the imagery to build relevance for the brands.”

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When thinking about what not to do, Varun Duggirala (above), co-founder and content chief of The Glitch, an agency focused that produces video for the web, argues that having actors emphasize the name of a brand too often, or too obviously, could result in negative responses from the audience – and social media trolling.
He says: “The true future [of brand placement] lies beyond the film. Think about the opportunities the digital space has thrown out, by allowing filmmakers to create content surrounding the film for the audience to understand and dive into the world of the movie before they see it. Can these extensions be used to make the brand’s plug in the film less blatant yet balanced, and give the brand more eyeballs overall so it’s a better return on investment for both sides? Also, we have music and music videos as a great asset, but often under-used as a means of brand placement.”

As to what brands should do to make product placement work, Xiaofeng Wang, Forrester senior analyst, says: “They should normalize product placement and make the product fit naturally in the movie. It can’t be too forced or intrude on the movie’s plot, it has to be seen and used in a natural context. Brands should create signature moments that an audience can easily notice and memorize – a natural placement doesn’t mean invisible or easy to neglect. Pick an important scene or leverage visual and audio to make product placement memorable.”

According to Statista, in 2019 it is estimated that there will be around 258.27 million social network users in India, a prediction which shows that digital is already influencing the Indian audience at a huge scale.

However, despite digitization, television will continue to be the biggest advertising medium in the country. The Media Partners Asia report forecasts that over the next five years, the fastest growing markets in the Asia-Pacific region will be India at 10.7%, China at 8.4% and then Indonesia at 8.2%.

Product placement may not be new to Bollywood, but savvy digital audiences are already calling out those who get it wrong. The smartest actors and producers are signing deals with brands that have longevity on both the big and small screen, meaning that those brands are presented with a highly lucrative opportunity in this rapidly growing and dynamic market.

This feature was first published in The Drum's February issue, the Future of TV.

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10 questions with… Anna Watkins, UK managing director of Verizon Media

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In an attempt to showcase the personalities of the people behind the media and marketing sector, The Drum speaks to individuals who are bringing something a little different to the industry and talks to them about what insights and life experience they can offer the rest of us. This week's 10 Questions are put to Verizon Media's UK managing director Anna Watkins.

What was your first ever job?
It would have been washing my dad's car to earn my £1 pocket money each week. Smart man.

Which industry buzzword annoys you most?
Relatable.

Who do you find most interesting to follow on social media?
@POTUS is truly mind-boggling.

what is the highlight of your career (so far?)
Working with such a creative, inspiring and intelligent bunch of people every step of the way.

What piece of tech can you not live without?
It's baffling that I was born in London yet still seem to use Citymapper every day.

Who or what did you have posters of on your bedroom wall as a teenager?
Adam Ant and Count Dracula (aged 7). I'm not quite sure what that says about me.

In advertising, what needs to change soon?
We need a truly diverse workforce.

If you could change anything about a social media platform you use, which one and what would you choose to do?
It’s more a question of changing myself – I need to flex my creative muscles if I’m ever to make more than one friend on Tumblr…

What is (in your opinion) the greatest film/album/book of your life?
Scarface / Sign of the Times / War and Peace – delusions of grandeur, mine and theirs.

Which industry event can you not afford to miss each year and why?
The big awards bashes – it's like going to a series of weddings where you know half the guests.

The Drum's 10 Questions With… runs each week with previous entries available to view here.

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Mobile carriers end data sharing with location aggregators; should marketers worry?

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The collection and use of real-time mobile-location data has emerged as a critical piece of the larger data-privacy debate. A recent run of negative stories have conveyed the impression that location data usage by marketers is tantamount to spying on consumers.

We’re also starting to see lawsuits, like one recently filed by the Los Angeles City Attorney against the Weather Company, for allegedly misleading consumers about how their location data would be used. More suits will likely follow.

Carriers cut off data sharing. The negative coverage and exposure of some high-profile abuses have motivated major U.S. mobile carriers to cut off location data sharing with third party “location aggregators.” The latest to do so is AT&T, following a story by Motherboard that indicated carrier data was getting into the hands of unauthorized third parties — bounty hunters, in this case — and being used for legally dubious purposes.

As a practical matter, these moves are unlikely to significantly impact use of location data by advertisers on major platforms or in the programmatic ecosystem. AT&T owns AppNexus; Verizon owns Verizon Media Group (the rebranded Oath). Location data will probably still be available to advertisers on these platforms — they’re not “third parties.” (We’ve asked Verizon for clarification on this point and will update the story if they respond.)

Calls for more regulation or legislation. Location data are so valuable and widely available that abuses are inevitable. Some of these increasingly frequent reports are adding momentum to calls for federal data privacy legislation. The carriers’ decision to cut off location aggregators is at least partly an effort to preempt investigations and potentially forestall regulation.

Some location data companies embrace the proposition of clear regulatory or legislative guidelines, however.

For example, PlaceIQ CEO Duncan McCall recently told me in email: “I think that the California Consumer Privacy Act and hopefully a similar federal law (as a state-by-state patchwork of different laws would be good for no one) will not only give consumers protection and confidence, but will finally give the digital data and location data ecosystem a well-thought out set of rules and guidelines to adhere to. This will bring stability and predictability to the industry, and help weed out some of the “wild west” players that have had no interest in investing for the long term good of the ecosystem.”

Most location-data companies also say they adhere to ethical data-collection practices and are scrupulous about being “good actors” in the ecosystem. Some are vocal about the responsible and/or socially beneficial use of location technology. And some organizations (e.g., NAI) are seeking to enforce transparent and ethical data collection standards. Foursquare told me in email that their apps and partners seek opt-in consent for use of location data.

Why you should care. Location data is available from a wide range of sources in the market, including app developers and the programmatic bid stream. The loss of carrier location is not a significant blow to the ecosystem.

However it is reflective of a trend toward the tightening of access to location information more generally. While it remains to be seen whether federal privacy legislation passes in 2019 (multiple bills have been proposed), California’s Consumer Privacy Act will go into effect January 1, 2020. Other states may enact similar or more strict laws, which would lend further impetus to comprehensive federal legislation.

The post Mobile carriers end data sharing with location aggregators; should marketers worry? appeared first on Marketing Land.

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Catalina adds first attribution tracking service

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Best known as a provider of retail marketing intelligence based around loyalty cards and in-store printed coupons, Catalina this week released its first attribution service.

Called Catalina Multi-touch AttributR, it traces a path from digital advertising — in various channels on various devices — to a purchase made in a store with a loyalty card. The company is able to track purchases down to the UPC bar code level.

At the level of the Diet Coke flavor. Coca-Cola, for instance, can now track how a web site ad shown on a computer affects the purchase of a Diet Coke, as well as whether the flavor chosen is Twisted Mango versus Ginger Lime. Additionally, the attribution service can report if it’s the first time this consumer bought Twisted Mango.

Previously, Catalina measured how its printed in-store coupons affected buyer behavior, but it didn’t track the impact of ads. The new attribution solution is the company’s first effort to link digital ads to buyer behavior, and it plans to add addressable TV ads to the system.

Catalina tags the digital ad with its own attribution pixel, which is called when the ad is shown and provides data on the specific campaign deployments.

But the connection between the ads shown, the various devices used by a single individual, and the in-store purchases are actually made by consumer data firm Experian on Catalina’s behalf, through such persistent identifiers as phone numbers or email addresses.

“Not in the business of knowing who you are.” In the new attribution service, the retailer sends the loyalty card ID to Experian, which matches it with the digital cross-device profile of a given individual and with the ads shown to the user on those devices. Experiam then returns a report to Catalina that uses an anonymized ID.

Catalina CMO Marta Cyhan told me the company deals only with anonymized IDs because “we’re not in the business of knowing who you are,” although Experian does have PII.

The data is updated daily to a self-service dashboard for brands (see below) and, since Experian tracks profiles, the attribution can also include the effect of ads on repeat purchases, new buyers of a product category and other consumer behaviors.

Difference from NCS. Catalina, which filed for bankruptcy protection last month, is also known as a partner in Nielsen Catalina Solutions (NCS), which employs data from the in-store coupons and loyalty cards. But, Cyhan said, Catalina’s new attribution measures individuals across multiple channels deterministically, since the actual people are known through the Experian matching, while NCS is focused on measuring single channels through probabilistic modeled data.

Additionally, she said, Catalina’s new solution is updated daily, includes buyer behavior changes and provides granularity down to the UPC level, while NCS provides post-campaign reports on overall sales lifts.

Why you should care. Catalina’s shopper data is used widely by marketers, and this first attribution service will help brands determine the impact of their paid media spend.

Additionally, Catalina is providing a very fine level of granularity, down to the individual product bar code, with a very high level of certainty. This approach could provide the kind of accurate, return-on-spending results that major consumer brands have clamored for.

The post Catalina adds first attribution tracking service appeared first on Marketing Land.

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