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On Marketing: Olympics marketing and communications testing ground

by Josh Gordon Published: August 9, 2016 3:25 PM
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In all of the media hubbub of the Democratic and Republican conventions it's easy to forget what is actually the largest media event on the globe this year -- the 2016 Rio Olympics.

As a person who loves competitive sports, I definitely enjoy the Olympics.

I enjoy them as a marketer and consumer of media even more.

The Olympics are a massive platform upon which new approaches to coverage, new media technologies, and new styles of storytelling are tried and evaluated.

Plus, this Olympics is ideal from a time zone perspective, as Rio is just one hour ahead of the Eastern time zone, maximizing the exposure for the games in the United States. For the first time since the 1996 Olympic Games, U.S. viewers will have ample opportunity to watch events live, as they unfold.

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The Olympics are, in total, 2,084 hours of programming on television. Those hours are divided up between 11 networks -- all owned by NBC. NBC's digital platforms will broadcast an unprecedented 4,500 hours of coverage online for desktop and mobile viewers.

If you have a cable provider, you'll be able to watch every single second of every event -- a first for the Olympics. So, you'll finally be able to satisfy that 10:30 a.m. badminton craving you've always had!

Some of the events will include a virtual reality telecast / in the midst of the Pokmon Go craze, too. Many events are also going to be broadcast in 4K resolution, a notable enhancement to the HD we have grown accustomed to.

If you like the underwater camera shots of the swimmers and divers, you'll be impressed by how far the technology has advanced since 2012 in London.

Aside from impressive camerawork, the way information is distributed is what marketers must watch.

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Look for much more content on Facebook and Twitter this time around. The human-interest stories that add flavor to the Olympic telecast will be executed on many more platforms this year, in part because of how information consumption on social media has changed in 2012.

For example, a recent study released from Pew Research indicated that Facebook use has expanded amongst the U.S. population, with some data showing a 13 percent increase in daily usage.

NBC already has plans for capitalizing on this data point. For the first time ever NBC will push highlight packages of events through social media, including Facebook, and also leverage Snapchat's Discover feature.

Broadcasters no longer fear distributing content on social media, either. At one time NBC executives feared pushing content through social channels for fear that seeing content in a social feed would dampen a potential viewer's enthusiasm for tuning in during primetime.

Broadcast data reflects a new reality -- that people who consume Olympic coverage via social channels do spend more time with the primetime Olympic broadcasts. It seems for the Olympics, the more content they can spread throughout the world, the more popular it becomes.

That's a good lesson for marketers, too.

Aside from new ways to distribute content, from a media perspective, the post-games analysis will include new research and insights on how consumer habits are changing regarding media consumption. Grasping these changing habits is essential for improving your marketing and communications skills.

Keep an eye out for ground-breaking approaches to storytelling and content distribution, and send me an email with your favorite!

Josh Gordon is an award-winning marketing communications professional and President of Full Spectrum Marketing, a full-service advertising agency with digital roots based in Kent, Ohio and Wooster, Ohio. You can reach Josh at jgordon@fullspectrummarketing.com.


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