Let the Games Begin!

The Olympic Games return to the international stage this August in Rio de Janeiro, and 76% of the world's population is expected to tune in on television. Of those 3.6 billion global viewers, 85% will be on additional devices while watching.

The prevalence of second screens will make the upcoming 2016 Summer Olympics the most watched and talked-about Games on social media yet.

Some 68% of American TV viewers watched the 2014 Winter Olympics, and because Rio is just one hour ahead of Eastern Standard Time, the 30 million Americans expected to tune in will be able to watch live events in prime time.

The Olympics are also especially popular in the U.K., where 90% of the population watched the 2012 Summer Games.

The International Olympic Committee estimates the majority of its 33.9 million social media followers will use additional devices while watching the Games, and generate more than two billion impressions across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.



For marketers using paid social, the Games can begin now. We had an email exchange with Sean O’Neal, president of social media agency Adaptly, to bat around ideas for how brands can contribute to, rather than detract from, the experience.

What can a marketer do before the games begin? 
Join the conversation and buzz in the run-up to the Olympics by driving engagement around Olympians, teams, sports and key events. Make sure your messaging is relevant and tailored to the audience you’re targeting.

Twitter’s conversation targeting, for example, is an opportunity to specifically tailor messaging to what users are tweeting about, which can result in significantly higher engagement.

Travel brands can use Facebook and Twitter’s travel-category targeting to provide tips and suggestions for consumers who are traveling to Rio. Pinterest’s Promoted Pins are also ideal for targeting users who are searching for guidance as they plan their big trip.

What’s the plan for when the Games begin?
With about 80% of social-media users accessing social platforms through mobile devices, the Olympics is an opportune time to capture users when they’re dual-screening or on-the-go.

Be brave: go mobile-only and take advantage of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest mobile ad units. As native formats, they deliver maximum impact, especially when combined with video assets which can achieve deeper engagement.

The autoplay video units of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are the most effective way to drive awareness and cost-efficient cost-per-completed-views.

Twitter’s event targeting offers a unique opportunity to reach users who are watching and engaging with the Olympics. Tap into this targeting product to gain greater share-of-voice around the big event.

What about Pinterest?
For FMCG brands, the Olympics is a prime time to target users hosting parties, meals and events around the world’s biggest sporting event. Create Pins with tips, tricks and helpful advice for party preparations.

Isn't all this brand-insertion into experiences going to become tiresome at some point?
When brands are inserted into an experience in a way that is relevant — i.e. informative, entertaining, thought-provoking — then it is not seen as intrusive, it is seen as valuable.

Social platforms have an unmatched ability to deliver relevance through personalization and identity-based targeting.

Plus, the advertising on these platforms is delivered in “native” formats to mimic true consumer conversations.

What if I don’t want this?
People can dismiss or hide specific ads from advertisers or opt out of interest-based ads altogether by adjusting their privacy settings with the social platforms.

Give an example of what it looks like when marketers mimic true consumer conversations.
With the social platforms, consumers and marketers create and consume content in virtually the same way: If a consumer can’t do something, marketers shouldn’t be able to either.

Advertising formats/creative should closely resemble organic content. Native ads — promoted Facebook posts, promoted tweets, promoted pins, etc — are unobtrusive (unlike more “traditional” media like banners) and are truly embedded in the platform experience. They seamlessly flow within the feed and resemble consumer conversations.

How do you measure it for purposes of ROI?
Your social media ad solution should be able to deliver across both branding and direct-response objectives — well beyond proxy metrics like clicks and engagement.

Our clients run complex, multi-channel campaigns and they gauge paid social ROI through real business outcomes — measures like brand lift, online sales, offline foot traffic and offline sales.

Who gets involved to make a successful social media campaign happen?
The end marketer, the social platform(s), sometimes a media and/or creative agency and typically a social marketing technology provider. One of these typically acts as the “glue” to bring the others together.

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