I got one of my first breaks in the film business over twenty years ago. I walked into a production office and told them that I could raise over $100K of product placement for their indie film. No one was doing it in those days and there was no how-to guide. I told them they did not have to pay me unless I was successful. I went to the library did some research on companies, and started cold calling. It was pretty much a piece of cake.
Nowadays there are many product placement agencies that the brands contract with to seek out good placement opportunities. On a typical indie film, you hire a rights clearance and product placement person to work with you clearing and obtaining trademarked items. It's a labor intensive field based around relationships and know how.
With the ubiquity of user-generated content, new opportunities have risen not only for the brands, but also for filmmakers. Although I don't know of any pot-of-gold stories, there are a handful of new services looking to bring efficiencies to the field by helping brands and creators utilize various online tools. Granted no artist desires to turn their work into a walking advertisement, but brands also have an incentive to bring audiences to a work that they are featured in. Careful consideration can yield a win-win situation.
Which of these new services are the best? What other ones are out there? How do they differ? I don't know, but maybe some of you do. These are the ones that I have found so far: