Rio Olympics: Three Takeaways for Advertisers

By Brendan Gill  | 

Even though the medals have been handed out at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, there’s one more competition to judge: how did advertisers perform? This year’s games were an especially important event given the ongoing evolution in consumers’ media habits.  The results did not disappoint. How did changes in consumer behavior impact advertiser decision-making and how audiences watched the games? Here are three key advertiser takeaways from Rio 2016 that may impact your own organization’s decision-making for the 2018 Olympics and beyond:

1. TV ratings were down, but streaming viewership was way up
Compared to the 2012 London games, NBC reported TV ratings were down 18%, with an average nightly prime time audience of 24.9 million viewers. However, NBC also reported that viewers digitally streamed more than 2.71 billion minutes of coverage, nearly double the amount from the previous two Olympics combined. These viewership habits from Rio were as clear a sign as ever that advertisers need to carefully balance and complement their efforts between both TV and video.

2. Social media highlights were a key companion to TV
Complementing the point above, many younger Olympics viewers followed the games on social media, with one study noting that 84% of millennials who watched Olympic highlights on social also watched NBC’s prime time coverage. Social media coverage also turned out to be a huge viewing hit for NBC, which saw nearly 35 million viewers of its Olympics content on Snapchat. As more viewers turn to YouTube, Facebook, Snapchat and beyond to get their Olympics fix, this may lead advertisers to rethink how they pair TV advertising with simultaneous campaigns in social media.

3. Mobile and video advertising “earned silver and bronze”
Olympics advertising has traditionally been the province of big TV spenders, and this year was no different. Nevertheless, one interesting change in advertisers’ channel choices was the growing number of Olympic-focused mobile and video campaigns. One study of Olympic advertisers found that there were 555 total TV advertisers this year. Of those, 242 also ran mobile ads and 128 also ran video. Expect to see more Olympics-focused video and mobile spending in 2018.

There’s no doubt the Rio Olympics offered advertisers another thrilling year of exhilarating moments. Still, the results offer plenty of food for thought about how brands may need to evolve their media spending strategy for Pyeongchang, Tokyo and beyond. Keep watching, because this competition is still far from over…

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