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2010 Olympics offer video marketers a unique opportunity
Event marketing is not a new thing in the world of advertising. Brands and marketers have used big events to engage consumers as long as events - from World's Fairs to the Olympics - have become popularized. But this year marketers have an even bigger opportunity to rise - or fall - with the first 'always on' event functionality.
For the first time not only online video but also social networks will give marketers a unique place to engage consumers interested in the Winter Games. NBCUniversal is streaming 400 hours of live coverage during the Vancouver Olympics. There are video sites, apps for mobiles and even social media where consumers can log on to get medal counts, watch clips or see interviews with the athletes. Most of these offerings also come with pre-roll ads attached, giving marketers a near-captive audience.
But along with an engaged audience come bigger opportunities - there is a global eye on most websites, social networks and mobile offerings. And then there are the problems - is the marketer using too hard a sell? Will there be ad fatigue more quickly than in years past? And will the consumer really engage?
"The Olympics bring about a unique branding experience because of the halo effect of being involved with Olympians," said Bryan Hjelm, Vice President of Marketing with Unicast. "This isn't conversion marketing. [It needs to be] more of a sponsorship type of ad to get the name out there and be associated with the event. We are seeing two things: a global audience reaching a very targeted demographic and 24/7 traffic. So marketers can be more creative with ad buys because of the extended traffic."
According to the Q2 2009 North American Technographics Media and Advertising Online Survey the majority of consumers prefer watching in-stream video ads (37%) with video sponsorships (22%) coming in a close second. The Q3 survey, meanwhile, found that over half of all demographics from Gen Y through Seniors watch online video at least once each month. The latest numbers from Nielsen Online show a 5% increase in unique viewers (per month) from 2009 through 2010. According to the Nielsen report there are now more than 147 million unique users watching online video.
During the Olympics these numbers are expected to skyrocket as consumers who haven't become involved with online and mobile video become interested, and as consumers who have been watching view even more content.
"A lot of times the publishers don't know who the users are so it is difficult to target to higher levels," said Mr. Hjelm. "We will see highly targeted mobile video ads become publishers and marketers know who that user is. . .[the] focuse is on pre-roll, for sure. Pre-roll is the dominant format for video. [But the International Olympic Committee] is strict on the Olympics being the primary content rather than the ads becoming the story, as happens with the SuperBowl. The ads take a backseat in terms of creativity and customization."
So, while targeting is possible, marketers will be best served - at least for the 2010 Olympics - to target a little more generally. They will also be better served by focusing on the buy and brand image and message rather than a SuperBowl-type, attention getting ad. But, there is also the potential that an ad - along with a highly-sought-after clip - will go viral.
"The rise of online video has been steadily increasing [with the Olympics] it just shears up even more. Pre-roll ads will be everywhere, and you'll have a lot of social media as consumers share clips - and the opportunity to go viral," said Mr. Hjelm.
Is there still time to get in on the Olympic advertising action? Hjelm says there is still time, because the online realm moves at such a fast pace. Marketers signing on now won't get the high-profile sponsorships but there is time to create an ad-buy on Olympics content sites.
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