Now that the 2012 Summer Olympics is underway in London, there will be a lot of talk about the deliberatively exhaustive planning that went into staging such an event for billions of people around the world to enjoy. Behind the scenes, major brand sponsors are making equally intensive plans to leverage their association with the summer games in ongoing media campaigns. NBC’s exclusive arrangement for Olympics coverage in the United States also extends to the lucrative sponsorships and major ad campaigns that are packaged with its broadcast and online stewardship of the games.
As part of the planning, MediaMind, a division of distribution platform DG, worked with NBC Olympics to develop a custom online ad format and build the ad units that NBC will deliver for its partner brands. MediaMind and DG are managing a majority of those campaigns as they work with NBC and six of the seven major Olympics sponsors to deliver ads across the network’s broadcast and digital channels.
As the exclusive vendor of a custom, premium ad format for the digital side of NBC’s Olympics coverage, MediaMind is responsible for most of the custom ads that NBC will deliver throughout the games, said Phil Jones, MediaMind’s account director for NBC Universal. The H-Unit initially displays a 115 x 30 banner with 140 x 1000 left- and right-side gutters on the publisher page. Once expanded, the banner displays a 982 x 90 leaderboard that spans the width of the editorial content, connecting the gutters and forming an H shape, explained Jones. If site visitors continue to interact with the ad, the leaderboard will remain open and animated, giving users the ability to view video and other content.
“Since we’re serving the ad, we’re able to track all of the impressions, interactions, and video plays and video,” said Jones.
For its part, AT&T worked with NBC Olympics on a Flash-enabled “polite banner,” which is essentially a rich media ad that can display video and serve larger files without interrupting the page’s load time. The ad unit features sequential downloading and proprietary compression technology to allow larger files to fit standard publisher specifications. Samsung, another major Olympics sponsor, built an expandable banner ad with MediaMind that integrates rich media with video.
Fred Cunha, divisional VP of affiliate relations at DG, said most of the creative content and videos will carry the same copy and messaging as the TV and print spots, but not all. Cunha will be on site 24/7 at NBC’s Media Operations Center to manage the flow of TV spots and more generally, as he puts it, “keep the broadcasters happy.”
Just as NBC has different divisions for television and online, DG and MediaMind are put together in much the same way, Jones added. During the months leading up to the event, MediaMind worked with NBC Olympics to develop the custom H-Unit format and build the ad units that NBC will deliver for its partner brands. While he won’t be on the ground in London like Cunha, Jones has a team in place in the “digital war room” with a direct point of contact for each individual campaign for the Olympics.
“If a campaign goes live and there’s an issue, there is a process in place for them to get in touch with somebody immediately,” he said. “The problem with display ads is they launch at midnight, so if there’s going to be a problem it will happen in the middle of the night.”
While some of the digital campaigns will be very similar to the TV spots, Jones said, the objectives in digital tend to differ depending on the advertiser. “Some of the campaigns want branding; obviously branding is a big thing for the Olympics,” he said. “Some of them are interested in people interacting with the ads or driving them to a particular website or Facebook page of theirs.”
Programmatic is taking over the digital advertising world, and at an even faster rate than expected, according to eMarketer, which raised its forecast for programmatic ad spending in the U.S. on the back of growth in mobile and video programmatic buys.
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