NBC Olympics: Mobile Offers Ad Synchronicity, Can Align With TV

Hayle Chun

Captiva Island, Fla. -- NBC conducted research on its multiplatform coverage of the Vancouver Olympics and found that nearly half the people using its mobile offerings did so while watching coverage on TV. Going forward, that might help the network pitch advertisers on programs where TV and mobile messaging are more closely aligned.

"Mobile does not equal 'on the go,'" said Hayle Chun, a digital media executive at NBC's sports and Olympics operations.

Research shows about 39% of the mobile-TV multitaskers used a handheld device to find additional content -- whether athlete biographies or the rules of curling. About 44% appear to have been too lazy to reach for the laptop -- that percentage said a mobile device was easier to use than a computer.

"The idea that your mobile content needs to be framed in a way that isn't just for people out at bars, out at restaurants, but for people engaging at home was (surprising) for us and it offers a secondary opportunity for us in terms of the synergies with TV," Chun said at MediaPost's Email Insider Summit.



If people access Olympics information online when they aren't tuning in to TV -- say at work -- there is some evidence mobile offers a different dynamic.

"In a way, online ends up sort of being the opposite of TV patterns, you see that mobile actually mirrors TV patterns," Chun said. "For advertisers, we think that the opportunity is there for real synchronicity in terms of [TV-mobile] messaging."

Further evidence about the growth of mobile consumption during February's Winter Games came in how people absorbed alerts NBC sent out about coming events and other promotional information, Chun said. NBC found that click-through rates were about the same for alerts sent to email inboxes as they were for mobile deliveries.

Mobile messages were "not just read and deleted, they were generating click-throughs at the same level as email alerts."

Some of those click-throughs could have taken people to the NBCOlympics.com hub, where NBC began experimenting with Twitter offerings. Among them was a "Tweet Sheet," a real-time compendium of all tweets U.S. athletes, from Lindsey Vonn to Shaun White, were sending themselves.

NBC also created a "Twitter Tracker," which used images of athletes to highlight what topics were generating the most conversation in the Twitter universe at any particular time. People could then click on a topic and access the strings.

With those two features housed within NBCOlympics.com, NBC could surround them with banner ads. Moving ahead, Chun said they can generate marketer interest since Twitter users tend to be tech-savvy, play an influencer role and skew more male. About 4% of people visiting NBCOlympics.com were also exploring Twitter content, but there is evidence they were highly engaged fans, Chun said.

NBC itself also created a Twitter page mostly as a marketing vehicle, where it had a so-so 80,000 followers, but Chun said it provided valuable consumer insight.

"It's maybe the first time we've really engaged in a direct two-way conversation with our users," he said. "This is a new platform, and one that we are very excited to explore further."

London calling? NBCU will carry the Summer Games there in 2012.

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