NBC brings interactive video ads to Winter Olympics

Dive Brief:

  • NBC Olympics, an NBC Sports Group division, has chosen advanced TV provider BrightLine to create interactive video advertising for its production of the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, which runs Feb. 8-25, a news release announced
  • NBC Olympics kicked off the partnership with a series of promos on NBC Sports, Apple TV, Amazon Fire and Android and Apple devices. The campaign features U.S. snowboarder Shaun White, alpine skiers Lindsey Vonn and Mikaela Shiffrin, figure skater Nathan Chen and freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy. The promos give viewers the opportunity to access information and fun facts about the athletes using their TV remote control.
  • Comcast’s Xfinity is also using BrightLine on NBCUniversal platforms for ads during the games, which will additionally run on Apple TV, Amazon Fire and Android and Apple devices. BrightLine partnered with FreeWheel, which is owned by Comcast, to manage the advertising. 

Dive Insight:

As Americans’ viewing habits change, marketers are grappling with what to do about declining TV viewership and how to better target sports fans with their advertising. People still watch events like the Olympics in large numbers, but are more often live streaming the games — this was certainly the case for the Summer Olympics in Rio two years ago — or going online for highlights, interviews and other information about teams and players. With its BrightLine partnership and interactive video ad campaign, NBC Olympics is committing to offering more meaningful content that enhances viewers’ experiences across platforms rather than just providing a static ad.

NBC is also hoping the interactive approach will help it rebound from the ratings dips of the past few Olympic games. The 2016 Summer Olympics averaged 26 million viewers, down 15% from the 2012 games, according to Ad Age, and the 2014 winter games averaged 21.4 million viewers — a 12% decrease from 2010. Interactive video will give viewers broader access to Olympics content beyond the TV broadcasts, including on mobile devices, and could be the answer for increased engagement.

Interactive video ads typically drive a 47% boost in the time consumers spend with brand messages compared to non-interactive ads, per a study by Magna Global, the media strategy group owned by Interpublic. Brands can triple the time consumers spend with their messages with interactive campaigns, the firm found. Interactive ads are also 32% more memorable, driving a 9x higher impact on purchase intent, even if the consumer doesn’t interact with the content. 

NBC Sports has projected ad revenue from the Winter Olympics will reach $935 million. The network is changing its ratings guarantee for TV advertisers from a household guarantee to a metric average of viewers age 2 and up, accounting for the growth in digital TV viewership. NBC is giving advertisers results via its in-house Total Audience Delivery measurement. The network is also selling 6-second Snapchat ads during the Olympics.

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