Marketing During the Olympics: How to Maximize Your Online Campaigns

When the 2020 Tokyo Olympics became the 2021 Olympics, we all knew that this would be an event like no other. While everyone was hoping for a regular, full-blown Olympic celebration, a spike in COVID-19 infections in Japan changed the rules, again. This time, no spectators at any of the sporting events.

Despite it all, the forecast still predicts a huge viewership for the Games. In fact, NBCUniversal is expecting the most profitable Olympics broadcast ever. Weeks before the opening ceremony, the cost of advertising spots on NBC is through the roof. But you don’t have to advertise on the big TV networks to get your brand seen and heard. With zillions of bytes of Olympic broadcasting, news, entertainment, and commentary on the internet, it is time for marketers to think about how they can join in on the potential profits.  

Advertising during the Olympics: take advantage of the interest surge

A lot has happened since the last Olympics in 2016, notably the rise of online streaming. There has also been a marked rise in the number of internet and smartphone users, which means that digital advertisers have a far bigger potential reach and exposure to target audiences this Olympics than ever before in history.

Moreover, sports have a unique ability to unite and inspire people around a common passion, in every city and nation. At a time when there is a heightened need for unity and hope, brands like yours are in an ideal position to deliver messages that connect people to their offerings.  

A key tactic to tapping into those trends and getting brand exposure on the open web during the Olympics is native advertising. With native ads, marketers can recommend their product or service via targeted ads on premium publisher sites worldwide. That means delivering focused messages and content to relevant target audiences, and driving high-quality traffic and conversions, at an incredibly opportune time.

Why is native advertising important to Olympics marketing?

The best time to ‘talk’ to your target audience is when they are interested and engaged. This makes the Olympics a huge opportunity for advertisers. Of course, people are watching the sporting events, but more than that, they are checking the news, reading commentary, and following all the other parts of the Olympics that make it so exciting – the opening and closing ceremonies, the stories of sportsmanship, national wins and losses, and much more.

During this kind of special global event, particularly when it happens only once every four years (and especially in the wake of a once-a-century global pandemic), it’s an exceptionally good time to reach large audiences who are deeply engaged and attuned, and at the same time to enjoy great ROI for your advertising investment.

Here are some of the key advantages of native advertising that are so powerful for marketing, especially during the Olympics:

Brand safety

While the Olympics brings a surge in interest and audiences, it also brings a surge in ads. The best way to keep your brand safety intact and to avoid getting entangled with poor-quality ads and brands is by leveraging a high-quality platform like Outbrain. Our premium publisher network and strict advertising guidelines mean that Outbrain ad placements and content are always top quality, attracting high potential audiences on the world’s best publisher sites. Read more about our content guidelines here.

Targeting across interests

Sports fans are not the only ones watching the Olympics, although they are more likely to. People with all sorts of interests gather around a global event like the Olympics. Citizens in different countries follow their national team, even if they don’t usually follow sports. With interest targeting, advertisers can serve native ads to different audiences, based on the content they want to read or view. For example, according to Outbrain BrainPower data, 26% of native ad conversions come from placements on Entertainment sites and 26% from News sites. Websites in those categories are a great place to promote ads and capture the attention of people who are looking for content about the Olympics.

Lots of ad formats

Significant advances in adtech mean that native ads are no longer just “Sponsored article” ads. Take a look at the Smartads Gallery for a complete world of ad formats, such as carousel ads, video ads, app install ads, native social ads, and much more. These formats provide advertisers with far more options to create native ads and recommendations for different conversion goals and audiences than ever before.

Automated optimization

There’s so much going on this summer, and for marketers, being able to automate campaigns takes a lot of work off already heavy shoulders. With Conversion Bid Strategy (CBS), advertisers can go several steps further and even automate the optimization of campaigns according to pre-defined conversion goals. This is a huge bonus during a global event like the Olympics when internet users are behaving in a dynamic way based on fast-changing events on the ground. By using CBS, advertisers can be sure their campaigns are automatically optimizing based on those changing behaviors in real-time. Find out more about CBS here.

Maximize your wins with native advertising

The Olympics is one of the few truly international events, and it’s a huge deal for marketers. Over the years, the way people watch and enjoy the Olympics naturally changes. Traditional TV still rules, but streaming is having a big impact. Millennials are more likely than other generations to engage with a brand because it sponsors their Olympics team. And 64% of Gen Z Olympic fans are looking for brands that position themselves as innovative. There are a lot of moving parts in marketing during the Olympics, that’s for sure. Turn to native advertising – with all its benefits – as a surefire way to keep up.

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