At every marketing campaign (and therefore also product placement activity), two questions should play a central role:
What goals do I have?
Who is my target audience?
As long as these questions are not sufficiently clarified, any further activity does not make any sense – except earning money by simply doing something – regardless the results.
What is meant by goals and target audience?
Before we discuss the background to this statement, let us briefly explain what is meant by the terms “goal” and “target audience” – especially since you can interpret “goal”, “target” or “objective” in different ways. Often people fear that their work will become measurable and controllable by setting goals. Here the goal would describe a particular key performance indicator (KPI). Usually, you would rather use “objective” than goal. However, this kind of objectives is irrelevant with regards to this article.
We are talking about the goals that are behind a specific marketing activity. Those goals should answer the question “why are you doing this”. This can be a better reputation, a pure increase of reach or to get into new marketing channels. It is important that each project has only one specific goal. Of course, everyone wants to always order a panacea. However, this usually makes absolutely no sense, because it does not exist in marketing and advertising. Of course, you can take into account all possible goals, but in the end, this leads to the fact that each object can be only partially met (more on this later).
The same applies to the target audience (or target group), which is linked irrevocably to the specific goal. A campaign can only be ideally set up if it is clarified in detail, what group of people one wants to reach with the activity. Do I want to target wealthy men from Arab countries between 50 and 60 years, or rather young Swedish women who love tofu? This question must be answered as precisely as possible. The more complex and expensive a single marketing activity is, the more likely some tend to define the target group accordingly wider. Similarly to badly defined goals, this would dilute the marketing campaign’s success, because you have to work with a huge compromise rather than a perfectly target the relevant consumers.
Why is this important at all?
Even this was somehow answered before, we want to make it more clear with a product placement use case.
The given goal is, of course, to sell more of product X. In order to easily measure the whole thing, one wants to maximize the reach at a given budget. For the budget, the product must also been noticed very easily. Since product placement works also emotionally, the reputation values of the product and also the brand should increase by 40%.
The target audience of the product consists of younger women who still know the youth line from previous years and look back to that time with great memories. But since one wants to also strengthen the brand and also men and anyway each age group are targeted by the brand in 15 countries, the target group is very difficult to define. With a high reach figures you get to anybody anyway, right?
Who is now faced with the task of doing some product placement based on this information, has the major problem that there are no clear guidelines and any clear cut-goals. The product might work with “America’s Next Top Model” which would offer good reach figures, but this would also only address women. The next big romantic blockbuster might also work. And it also includes some men. Fit. So now we need a very prominent placement. But does this have a positive effect on the reputation? Perhaps, but not necessarily. Certainly not everybody in this large audience. But well, after the implementation, we do a small phone survey – somehow there we always get the desired results out.
Conclusion: The work is only based on pure intuition. The result might certainly be pretty impressive. The question, however, is whether the real long-term effects are actually that positive. A very conspicuous placement of a well-known product has often led to rather negative effects. In any case, we might not have reached any person of the target audience ideally. The given objectives have also not been fully met, since a campaign for brand reputation and a prominent product placement to generate attention usually conflict with each other.
The given goal is to raise the reputation of product X in order to increase sales indirectly afterwards. The relevant effects should also work in the long run. One wants a product placement in a rather more significant and wide-reaching content to use this activity for further campaigns. There, one would use the placement as some kind of trust seal and springboard to additionally gain some explicit short-term effects.
The target audience of the campaign is congruent with the target audience of the product, focusing on the United States.
Based on this much more concrete demands we can plan possible product placements very accurately and even compare them with each other. Unlike in Case A, we now do not have any conflicting goals. One can now in fact choose “America’s Next Top Model” and has found an extremely good “target audience fit”. The alternative movie would also work somehow, but with minimally worse results at higher costs. In order to gain positive long-time reputation effects, we avoid a prominent placement and instead use a number of more subtle product integrations. At the same time another advertising campaign (TV and online) will be implemented. There, we explicitly refer to the placement and use it as content for the ad. Thus, you have the advertising impact effects of the individual channels maxed out perfectly.
Conclusion: The implementation can be planned very goal-oriented right from the beginning. Simultaneously, the advertising impact can be ideally adapted to the objectives. Through the split of the campaign, one uses all the benefits of the different marketing channels, whilst also benefiting from strong synergies. In the end, one has thereby achieved a similarly wide range of goals, but with a better result and way more efficiency.
In the end, a very broad definition leads to a lower advertising impact because no one can be targeted ideally. This is particularly problematic because advertising effectiveness is usually not a linear process. A slightly worse campaign does not necessarily lead to a slight decrease in success. Rather the success might even be totally vanished because the campaign is so inaccurate targeted that the threshold to get any relevant target audience reactions is not met in any case!
As an agency or consultant, but also as a corporate marketing planner you should always make sure to define clear-cut goals and target audience – particularly for a single campaign. If your (internal or external) customers want to use a broader definition, it should be pointed out that this leads to a dilution of the effectiveness and thus a poorer efficiency. This might be even worse in the end. In this case, you should rather start a number of different campaigns – maybe even smaller but rather more targeted activities.
It would be a total mess to define no goals/objectives and target audience at all. Then, all actions would be based on simple guesses. That is usually not effective and never efficient.