Amazon is experimenting with a new way to let brands advertise their products on the company’s original shows. During its recent Newsfront 2022 presentation (via AFTVnews), the company launched the Virtual Product Placement beta program, which will let brands use CGI to insert their products in original shows on Amazon’s Prime Video and Freevee (previously IMDb TV) platforms after shooting has concluded.
Reacher, Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan, the Bosch franchise, Making the Cut, and Leverage: Redemption are among the first shows to participate in Amazon’s Virtual Product Placement beta program, and the company is already seeing encouraging results from this new CGI-powered product placement technology. “A CPG brand experienced a 6.9% increase in brand favorability and a 14.7% increase in purchase intent for their campaign,” Amazon explained.
“Virtual Product Placement is a game changer,” said Henrik Bastin, CEO of Fabel Entertainment and executive producer of Bosch: Legacy. “It creates the ability to film your series without thinking about all that is required with traditional placements during production. Instead, you can sit with the final cut and see where a product could be seamlessly and naturally integrated into the storytelling.”
It’s too early to say if Amazon is about to start a trend with these CGI products digitally inserted during post-production, but the point of view of filmmakers not wanting to worry about advertisements during production is certainly understandable. From the viewer’s point of view, though, there has to be a certain balance to find for these ads not to start looking and feeling like subliminal messages.
As the intense competition between streaming services is pushing all platforms to increase their investments in original shows, Amazon’s Virtual Product Placement technology may well become a differentiator. Movie studios, filmmakers, and brands have a lot to gain from this technology, but you have to wonder if Amazon didn’t open Pandora’s box. Time will tell if future Amazon Originals will feature more ads, but maybe this will be the price to pay to make the production of increasingly costly shows more sustainable.