Going For Olympic Gold In Digital Marketing

person Krista Lewis

Director of Digital Marketing — Ai Media Group

The key to maximizing the efficiency of these Olympic ad buys given the viral nature of news stories is constantly monitoring the effectiveness of the ad buys, as well as the volume of searches for specific news stories.

Digital marketers will face a monumentally noisy summer in attracting the attention of engaged consumers.

A heated, contentious U.S. presidential race complete with wall-to-wall news coverage of the Democratic and Republican conventions will dominate the news media this summer. Savvy political media buyers from both campaigns, as well as super PACs, will be gobbling up online ad inventory in an effort to target undecided voters.

Competing head-to-head with the U.S. presidential race for consumers’ attention this summer will be the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from August 5-21.

Google’s focus on what it has marketed to advertisers as "micro-moments" -- targeting consumers with mobile ads based on mobile searches for products, information or research -- could prove to be the key for digital marketers. Especially for those intent on piggybacking on the Olympics for success with ad campaigns this summer.

Successful digital marketing during the Olympics will consist of bidding for desktop and mobile searches, based on spectacular wins, come-from-behind victories, nail-biting finishes, and even heartbreaking Olympic athlete mistakes.

Numerous ad and marketing industry stories in the past five years have highlighted the social media control rooms/war rooms of large brands or media companies. Successful digital marketers during the Olympics will have control rooms ready to make ad buys based on the rising/viral news stories from that day’s competition.

What’s a real-world example of this strategy in action?

Let’s take an online athletic shoe retailer intent on a successful digital-marketing campaign. The retailer’s ad team can prepare Olympic-themed product pages or micro-sites prior to the game. (Those sites would need to conform to the Olympics advertising guidelines especially if the retailer wasn’t an official Olympics sponsor).

Once the Olympics begin, the retailer’s ad team would be monitoring and prepping constantly - alert for Olympic news stories to target for real-time ad bidding. For example, if an Olympic runner’s hopes were dashed, due to an odd shoe malfunction, the retailer will be ready.

They can target mobile/desktop searches for multiple variations of what consumers’ might be searching for “running shoe accident Olympics” or “Olympic runner lost.” The retailer can bid on those search terms and use ad copy or images to attract consumers.

Then, the retailer’s ad team would study site analytics, ad performance and adjust their ad spend accordingly -- killing low-performing ads and increasing ad spending on better-performing ads. The ad team would be ready to turn off the ad spend once Olympics news shifts to another athlete’s triumph or defeat.

We’ve given one example of digital marketing/advertising targeting the Olympics: Google SEM. The same principals can also be rolled out in similar fashion across multiple digital channels: Yahoo and Bing SEM, Facebook ads, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.

Again, the key to maximizing the efficiency of these Olympic ad buys given the viral nature of news stories is constantly monitoring the effectiveness of the ad buys, as well as the volume of searches for specific news stories. Successful digital marketers will stop a campaign once the search volume slows, capitalizzing on the next Olympic news meme/story.

Here are two ways NBC is adapting to the new digital media landscape to increase the overall viewership of Olympics sports content.

Buzzfeed:NBC is partnering with BuzzFeed to produce special Olympic content for Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and other apps. The number of Olympics viewers between the ages of 12 and 17 increased 25% from the 2008 Beijing games to the 2012 London games. Given the accelerated changes in media consumption, NBC hopes to continue that trend via their partnership.

Snapchat: NBC is intent on reaching an audience that might not be watching the Rio Olympics this summer via traditional cable or streaming. Buzzfeed will create Olympics content for a Snapchat Discover channel. Snapchat will publish daily "iive stories" using content from NBC, athletes and sports fans at the scene.

Savvy digital marketers know engaged audiences will expand beyond the typical sports fan. Given the dearth of large-scale media events that capture the attention of consumers across demographics and ages, the Olympics is attractive to digital marketers.

Krista DiBiccari is Director of Digital Marketing for, Ai Media Group, a New York City–based media company that specializes in defining, managing, and executing online marketing strategies.

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