IAC’s Ask: Most Effective Ads Are TV Show Integrations

One potential saviour for the decline of traditional 30-second TV ads are product placements.  IACI’s Ask CEO Jim Lanzone tells Ad Age’s Andrew Hampp that these are the company’s the most effective advertising vehicle:

Previous integrations with reality competition series such as NBC’s “Treasure Hunters” and MTV’s “Road Rules” both succeeded in driving traffic in real time as the show’s search-based plotlines unfolded. But recent months have brought a bigger push in fictional entertainment, with Ask.com buying integrations in everything from Showtime’s “Weeds” to MGM’s indie flick “Lars and the Real Girl,” which opens in theatres Oct. 12. And starting tonight, Ask will go after the celeb-savvy searches via a new segment on “Entertainment Tonight’s” “The Insider” that will highlight the top three celeb searches on Ask.com.

“Product integrations, in my mind, perform a different task than a pure advertisement,” Mr. Lanzone said. “An advertisement is part of a larger brand campaign where you control the message and you control the creative. With product integrations, it’s more of a real-life example of your product in action, which has the positive of actually demonstrating the benefits of your product.”

The placements haven’t helped Ask gain market share (excluding its network affiliates, the company has about 2% query share in the U.S.), but they have perhaps helped it stay stable.  And they will definitely help the television networks, especially since there is not comparable format online.