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Nike Plans Real-Time Olympics Ads on Twitter

  |  July 16, 2012   |  Comments

Nike will try a program of promoted tweets designed to blend into the ongoing social discourse on Twitter.

nike-riseabove2Nike is banking that people will be tweeting avidly on a second screen as they watch Olympics basketball games on TV during the London 2012 Summer Olympics. Nike's Jordan brand will try to own those real-time conversations through a program of promoted tweets designed to blend into the ongoing social discourse on Twitter.

Nike is not an official sponsor of the 2012 Summer Olympics, July 27 through August 12, but it is seeking to capitalize on the Games indirectly.

When the Team USA men's basketball team is playing, the Jordan brand will include spontaneous real-time comments about the game in its promoted tweets. These Twitter ads will also contain pre-planned brand content and links.

The Twitter effort, orchestrated by Nike agency Wieden and Kennedy and ad tech company 140 Proof, is part of Jordan's inspirational #riseabove marketing campaign. During the Olympic competition, the brand's promoted tweets will be updated within seconds with timely comments that Nike first posts to its regular Twitter following.

The promoted tweets are aimed at a broad audience of sport enthusiasts far beyond Nike's pool of Twitter followers. By tapping into real-time action, Jordan hopes to prompt non-followers caught up in Olympic fever to retweet and share its promoted tweets, thus amplifying the buzz around Jordan's #riseabove campaign. "When people who are simultaneously watching sports and tweeting, see a promoted tweet about the real-time game or score, then it's not an ad anymore, but an information tool," says John Moonigian III, 140 Proof co-founder and CTO.

As a lead-up to the live-action Olympics Twitter ads, on July 3 Jordan began a series of promoted tweets that tout the brand's #riseabove short film series and introduce an Instagram crowdsourced #riseabove photo contest.

The Twitter ads appear on the Twitter feeds of people who follow basketball and Olympics-related accounts. "To identify our target, we focus on what accounts people follow on Twitter, rather than what they post," says Moonigian. "That's because a lot more people read content on Twitter than post content." In addition to the Twitter site itself, Nike is placing paid tweets on online and mobile apps that people use to access their Twitter feeds, such as TweetCaster and Echofon.

Campaign metrics include the number of retweets, replies, and sharing as well as the volume of positive sentiment. "Simple affirmations like 'LOL' are not counted as being as valuable as people adding photos or their own thoughts" to the brand-sponsored tweets, Moonigian says.

140 Proof has also targeted and delivered social ads tied to live sports events for ESPN and GM. ESPN ran timely social media ads during the Summer X games in June and GM's Chevrolet ran social ads during the 2012 Super Bowl. The Chevy campaign resulted in more than 52 million social impressions and drove over 120,000 downloads of the "Chevy Game Time" app, per the agency.

But does monitoring Twitter and other social media distract people from the actual televised game? Research says no. A recent study by Time Warner Research Council reports that interacting with social media on a second screen gets people more involved with TV programming than if they were watching it without social media. NBC Sports' editorial teams are working with Facebook to produce social media segments that will be broadcast throughout the Olympic games on the NBC network.

When it comes to social advertising during live televised sports, Moonigian says Twitter has the edge over Facebook. Twitter is faster, shorter, and more public. The best social ads have a brief timely message with a clear, simple request for a public answer or picture, which is what Twitter is good at, he says.

But the advertiser has to accept a certain amount of volatility. "When you plan Twitter ads tied to big sporting events, you don't know who is going to win, or what people are going to say. But you do know that the event is going to be discussed," and the advertiser can be part of that, he says.

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Joan Voight is a Contributing Editor to ClickZ. Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, she has covered online and offline media, marketing and advertising since the mid-1990s for several business publications. She spent nine years at Adweek magazine, where she was San Francisco bureau chief, national senior writer and contributing reporter.

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