Going for the win at the big summer games

July 26, 2016

Tags: Industry Perspectives, 2016

Casie Attardi Jordan
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Next month, thousands of athletes from 206 countries will take part in the summer Olympic Games in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. As the games kick off, the world’s digital publishers and advertisers will have a unique opportunity to capture the hearts and minds of global audiences. In fact, the time around this year’s Olympics has the potential to be an unprecedented win for publishers and brands alike via mobile programmatic.

The Olympics have evolved over the years to adapt to the changing world. For example, women were allowed to participate in the Games for the first time in 1900 at the Paris games; in 1960, Rome saw the beginning of the Paralympic Games. Just as the Games have evolved, so too has the medium by which the Games are consumed. This year over 4,500 total hours of Olympics content will be live streamed, including every competition taking place. According to a study by eMarketer, 64% of Olympics enthusiasts plan to use a mobile device to consume Summer Olympics content. This summer, the global mobile audience will be primed and ready to consume media content.

This year, an increasing percentage of brand marketer budget has hit the digital ecosystem, and the second screen is poised and ready to capture this spend. Consumers plan to both view and comment on the live events while on mobile devices. Twitter retained market research firm Research Now to investigate what its US users expect during the Olympics, and found that 89% of users surveyed said they plan to watch these games online.

So what’s the best way for marketers to connect with viewers?  The digital advertising podium spots are up for grabs this summer, and mobile programmatic has a great shot to take gold. With 30-second prime-time television spots costing brands more than one million dollars each, mobile programmatic represents a more inclusive and ROI-positive way for brands to reach enthusiasts during the time of year they are rooting for their favorites in Rio. And as global smartphone users consume these events and other mobile content, they are primed to drive results for brands: compared to desktop ads, mobile advertising drives 2-3x higher point lifts for key brand metrics such as favorability, aided awareness, likelihood to recommend, and purchase intent.

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Just a few short years ago, mobile programmatic was an emerging tactic for brands and apps. It has since grown to become one of the largest sources of investment for brands, particularly during globally consumed events like the World Cup and the Winter Olympics in Sochi in 2014. Seasonal occurrences and major events are known triggers for increases in mobile programmatic spend. For example, here at MoPub we saw a major spike on our exchange in event-based spending surrounding sports last year during the 2015 NFL Super Bowl and again when football season kicked off last fall . This summer’s events in Rio have the potential to score marketing gold (and silver, and bronze) for the in-app ecosystem.

For US brands, the truly live aspect of these games makes advertising on mobile during this time especially attractive. The games in August are the first Summer Olympics since the 1996 Atlanta-hosted games to be live in a time zone close to that of the United States. These games will have the most live coverage of any games to date, and more hours of live-streaming competition than ever before. This offers brands an unparalleled opportunity to connect live with customers, who are likely to spend an increased amount of time on their mobile devices during this exciting time.  Mobile programmatic can give brands the ability to catch these consumers’ engaged eyeballs as they are consuming content on the second screen.

In 2016, US programmatic digital display ad spending is estimated to reach $22.10 billion . That’s a jump of 39.7% over last year, and represents 67% of total digital display ad spending in the US. Aligned with that unprecedented growth, and the opportunity of the global and live always-on moments of these big games, programmatic players should stay focused for the duration. Publishers should keep an eye on price floors and optimizations throughout the events, and take note of the advertiser differentiation. DSPs can expect higher session times and the potential for increased conversions thanks to highly engaged mobile consumers.

This summer, mobile programmatic dreams can come true in Rio.

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