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Consumers Define the Olympics Online

  |  August 18, 2008   |  Comments

Why brands must allocate media budgets to themed-content offerings.

The pageantry, excitement, and glory of the Olympic Games awakens the athlete in all of us. The athletes represent the best we can be physically. The triumphs remind us that the impossible is possible and adversity can be overcome. The bedrock truths of human nature evidenced by all cultures, races, religions, ethnicities, and creeds lay foundation to a global community.

Every two years, the Olympics affords us overwhelming, positive feelings, and emotions through the athletes and their stories, the events, and the spirit evidenced in everyone touched by them. Something this powerful is magnetic. It draws us as close as we can get. We devour as much as we can access, watch, read, hear, experience, feel, and play.

To satisfy demand, media companies, Web sites, and even consumers are delivering a 24/7 treasure trove of Olympic content online. Game companies and interactive entertainment developers are immersing us in virtual Olympic experiences. Together, the interactivity of online and console content offerings and games have brought us closer to the Olympics and the international community than many dreamed possible.

What's Available?

I'm truly amazed by the wealth of Olympics content on the Web. Everything that you could want to understand and experience relating to the Olympics is available in real time and on-demand. For example:

  • General Web Offerings: Articles, images, audio, video, schedules, profiles, in-depth analysis, sport breakdowns, history, maps, medal counts, predictions, odds, statistics, interactivity (chat, blogs, surveys, polls, opinion forums), etc.

  • Official Media Rights Holder, NBC.com: Truly awe-inspiring coverage. Round the clock in-depth coverage and analysis in all possible media formats available on demand, in standard and unique applications, with keen consideration for user experience and customization.

  • Olympics Media, Reuters: Articles, news feeds, images and videos available for free to any media company, Web site, agency or consumer. Never before has the Olympics been so accessible. Every company or consumer can offer Olympics content from their Web presence. Content that has been historically tightly controlled can be accessed, creatively packaged and distributed by all.

  • Consumer Generated Media, Social Networks: Consumers also serve as media channels on the Web and the Beijing Olympic Games are proving how significant they can be in that role. Consumers are adding immeasurable value to the games through public opinions, content offerings, creative expressions, and content embeds. Millions of people are producing and displaying Olympic-themed content and showcasing content, programming, and applications from others within their online profiles and personal Web sites. They are increasing consumer excitement while extending the reach of sponsored programming and content to their friends, families, and social networks. Search for "Olympics" at Facebook, MySpace, and YouTube to see this firsthand.

  • Games, Online and Console: Games are as close to the real thing as we can get. They engage almost all senses in Olympic experiences, taking us into the events, educating us, allowing us to virtually compete, and awarding us triumphant medal moments. Games satisfy the athlete in us who wants to experience the Olympic Games first-hand. They're the harbinger of a not distant future in which we don a virtual reality headset, suspended in midair, dive into a photo realistic pool and match our best strokes against the Beijing Olympic feats of Michael Phelps.

Here are some Olympic educational games online:

Here are some Olympic event experiences for various platforms, including consoles, online, and mobile devices.

Who is Making it Possible?

A tip of the hat to the big sponsors of the official media rights holder's content: Atos Origin, Budweiser, Coca-Cola, GE, and more big brands. They make up the lion's share of the advertising revenues that the official media partner generates.

These marketers are powering the 2008 Olympics while championing continued and expanded coverage of future Olympics. Their sponsorship dollars will deliver a profitable return on an unprecedented investment of resources, time, and talent to the official media partner, NBC. Without that, we would suffer a great loss of interest from the established media channels we consume and the top talent they employ in future Olympics media rights bids.

Equally important, and arguably in conflict with the official media rights holder, are competing media companies, small media properties, ad agencies, development firms, Web sites, in-house marketing departments, and even consumer-generated media. They have Olympic content offerings that may not have the rings, but provide results.

One could argue that these companies hurt the games by diminishing the media rights holder's value and ROI (define), but both camps benefit all parties through coexistence. The Olympics gain greater exposure. More content is provided to receptive consumers. Smaller budget advertisers are given an opportunity to connect with consumers through Olympics content. Increased traffic is driven to the official media rights holder through promotion, links, and mentions from competing media properties. More advertising dollars are budgeted.

Take Away

Too late for you as a media buyer to execute an Olympic content sponsorship? There's still is a message the Beijing Olympics delivers specifically to you. It's a message that's applicable to other events you will consider allocating media budget to.

Media buys have become incredibly complex and, at the same time, incredibly powerful. To capitalize on an almost inconceivable and certainly unheralded marketplace, we must redefine our media evaluation and buying habits to align with the dramatic evolution of the media itself.

We must not only select media properties with big audiences and plan to engage them with standard Interactive Advertising Bureau ad units. We must also put media dollars behind branding content, integrating ads into interactive applications, and distributing the offerings that we develop.

If you aren't allocating some of your media budget to themed-content offerings and embed "incentives" that encourage Web sites and consumers to share your message, you slept through the revolution.

Thanks for your mind share.

--KC

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kevin Carney is founder and CEO of GMS, an innovative company that provides interactive engagement solutions to many of the world's most recognizable brands. He began his career at Young & Rubicam and has since developed a proven record in the advertising, new media, and video game industries. He's held management positions within visionary companies, including Broadcast.com, TEN/Pogo.com (Electronic Arts), Vivendi Universal Games, Walt Disney Company, and Ziff Davis Game Group.

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