Media, advertising fuel Olympics

cokeringsAs the 29th Olympic Games are finishing up, we thought the media and advertising opportunities surrounding the games were worthy of some more coverage. What do the Olympics look like from a technology perspective? What media platforms are marketers leveraging during the summer games and at what cost?

Before looking at the Olympics as an advertising platform, it is worth noting the massive tech infrastructure that is necessary to successfully run an Olympic Games. Beijing expected 20,000 journalists, 800,000 visitors, and 110,000 security personnel to watch 2,500 athletes compete in their athletic events. The broadcast audience for the 17 day event is said to exceed four billion people. A few of the brands that are powering this huge event include: Sun, Lenovo, AT&T, Telefonica, Limelight and Panasonic.

On U.S. television, NBC and their family of networks has exclusive rights to the Olympics broadcasts and will show more than 3,600 hours of events. The advertising opportunity is massive. NBCU is predicting their $800 million investment in the broadcast rights will return more than $1 Billion in ad revenue across their combined media properties. The U.S. Presidential candidates are in on the eyeballs bonanza as well. John McCain leads with $6 million in advertising buys during Olympic broadcasts, and Obama is spending $5 million.

In China, CCTV, the exclusive broadcast rights holder in that country is expecting $11.6 billion in ad revenue from the games. DirecTV, Dish Network and Comcast are providing exclusive content packages to their subscribers and leveraging dedicated HD streams and Video On Demand channels to bring new content to their users.

The online video coverage of the Olympic Games will provide the first major test of Microsoft’s Silverlight video player and provide unprecedented distribution for the application. will stream 2,200 hours of live footage from the games via Silverlight and is optimized for up to 600,000 simultaneous streams. Microsoft has said they are seeing upwards of 8 million Silverlight downloads a day over the last several days.

While the Internet provides an always on/on demand destination for Olympics content it is estimated that just $100 million will be spent on Internet advertising related to the games. The bulk of this spend will be directed towards the NBCU/Microsoft co-marketing alliance. Early results from Nielsen Online show that NBC’s Olympics Video Site reached 436,000 unique users on August 8 and 858,000 users on the first full day of competition.

Tier one Chinese Internet destinations like Sina and Sohu anticipate tremendous growth in brand equity and user base with significant Olympics coverage and sponsorship deals. In fact, research indicates 83% of Chinese Internet users will choose Sohu for their online destination for Olympics coverage. As an official sponsor Sohu has exclusive rights to certain content from China’s Olympics coverage from broadcaster CCTV.

On the mobile marketing front, official Beijing games sponsor, Coca Cola will use SMS to drive opt-ins for sponsored Bluetooth advertising. Estimates from Coca Cola and their marketing technology partner predict they will reach over 1mm Chinese and international consumers from 500 hotspots spread across the city. Conversion from SMS request to Bluetooth opt-in is expected to hit 35%, giving Coke a sizable audience to engage with. In the United States Verizon is packaging highlights, news and results for Vcast subscribers, and AT&T MediaFLO will provide a variety of content for subscribers.

So what is the ROI of sponsoring the Olympic Games? CNBC says 60% of 2004 and 2006 Olympic sponsors have seen gains in share price and 75% of Beijing sponsors were up in the months preceding the opening ceremony.