Technology Enables Product Placement in CGM

Entertainment Media Works (EMW), a media firm specializing in product placement, plans to enable “plinking,” or product linking, in consumer-generated media. Early plans include revenue shares for content creators.

Plinking is the process of adding a product or service link to a visible object or image in a video, according to EMW’s CEO Ashley Heather. The concept has been deployed by others, including United Virtualities, which launched an ad product that added a Flash overlay to video last year. This “hot spotting” has largely been in the hands of brand advertisers and not consumer-generated media (CGM).

The product, which was discussed at TimeShift: Advertising & Broadcast Summit at the NAB conference this week, is still a few weeks away from launch. When deployed, it will have an interface for users to upload and tag video. Users will freeze a single frame and define an area where the product is located. It can be any product from an iPod to particular jacket or pair of jeans. Once tagged, the item will be clickable throughout the runtime of the video, and will link to an e-commerce page.

Entertainment Media Works tracks the SKU numbers for several products in its database to facilitate matching the tagged product to a measurable lead. That product discovery process is similar to that used by social shopping site ThisNext which launched over the summer.

The ability to plink video isn’t limited to content creators. Under EMW’s plans, content viewers and user communities will be able to take existing video and add links for a piece of the revenue share. In situations where someone other than the content owner adds links, Heather said both parties will get a portion of the proceeds.

Video aggregator sites have not yet committed to enabling plinking on their sites, but EMW is in talks with a handful of sites, Heather said.

The marketing firm has developed a cross-channel product placement site called On that site, users can shop for clothes and other products seen on popular TV shows. Heather said the site received 1.2 million visitors in a two-month period and garnered 600,000 click-throughs to retailer sites. “There is considerable revenue in giving information to consumers based on what they’re seeing,” he said.

Factoring in the potential of product placement on CGM, Heather said about a million pieces of user-generated video are uploaded each day could bring in $250 million in revenues each year if only 1 percent of viewers of CGM convert.

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