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Those products can be digitally airbrushed in to respond to who is watching, where and when. And with so much of TV consumed via digital means today, that's easy to know down to the individual.
God help us as we take our first wobbling steps into an always-on world of virtual reality through such devices as google glasses.
When the virtual layer is applied in response to who we are, where we are (whether in your head or via 3D narrowcast to instances where-ever we turn) we won't know whether the product we are looking at, picking up, drinking from, is what we thought it was, or a product 'placed' by a rival. Think you've picked up a Coke can and opened it? It's actually a Pepsi you are drinking. Ha! Made you take the challenge. Aaaargh!
The reason this is so scary is because it is both so do-able and so predictable given how the marketing industry has remained so wedded to old models of interruptive advertising.
The radical digitisation of product placement as seen in the BBC example linked to here is a response to the fact that they've noticed we don't like to be interrupted by ads. Digital TV allows us to effectively adblock - by zipping past each ad break because we aren't watching live.
Instead of learning the lesson that we don't want interruptive ads, they move the ads into the bit we want to watch uninterrupted (the shows) in the form of placements.
I'm wondering what it will take for some of these guys to let go and refocus their smarts and their tech on a model that both their clients AND their clients' customers, would actually welcome.
I fear some will be painting the sky while we stare pointedly at each other before they get the point.