Olympic Games Digital Engagement Rises

Estimated Reading Time 7 minutes

The London 2012 Olympic games set the bar high both on and off the track. The games’ LOCOG (London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games) website achieved 432m views from 109m unique users in 201 different countries. 66% of traffic came from search following a significant SEO campaign targeting 1,700 keywords. Traffic was also driven by a partnership with Google to run 10 Olympic themed Google doodles in 16 days, something the 2016 games utilised too.

Even in 2012, 60% of traffic was via a mobile device, while the Paralympics saw 9% of the traffic the Olympics received, up from 1% at the Vancouver Winter Olympics. The official app was downloaded 15m times, from people in 155 different countries (becoming the most downloaded app in 7 countries), with 5.8m upgrading for the Paralympics version (econsultancy.com).

LOCOG also had a significant social presence, with 8 Facebook accounts reaching 49m users, 48 Twitter accounts with 1.9m followers receiving 150m tweets, along with a large footprint on Google+, YouTube and Tumblr.

Rio 2016

Rio 2016 was labelled the first ‘mobile Olympics’ given the advancements of mobile technology. Nielsen’s U.S. TV ratings show a significant reduction in viewership when compared to the London 2012 games, with the latter receiving an average daily audience of 33 million compared to Rio’s 27.9 million. This seems to reflect the move away from TV to mobile and tablets. Surveys in China revealed 83% of people consumed the Olympics on TV, while 67% used their mobile. Statista reported that 91% of millennials used a second screen whilst watching TV, 69% of which were mobile or smartphones.

That said, TV is still the predominant channel to reach viewers in all corners of the globe and many brands use the Olympic Games’ reach to leverage their products and services. TV advertising during any major sporting event is hugely competitive, but is just one part of the puzzle, as shown by the graphic below (mediaradar.com).


Olympics media mix


Google Analytics shared some insights on the top 10 brands that broadcast adverts live during the opening ceremony, based on consumer surveys and second screen response data. In the U.S. Coca Cola was the big winner with nearly 35% reporting seeing the ad with Samsung, Chevrolet and Visa also faring well.

These ads don’t just resonate with the viewer, they also drive online searches for both websites and YouTube content. Second screen activity plays a significant part in this, with 94% of TV ad driven searches during the opening ceremony coming from mobile devices, compared to 56% when the ads were not being aired. It is therefore imperative that TV advertising is accompanied by a comprehensive mobile strategy.


Branded Rio Olympics content on YouTube based on viewership is currently led by Gillette’s ‘perfect isn’t pretty’ with over 33.6m views: https://youtu.be/xRXfevLDZBc. This is followed by Samsung’s ‘The Anthem’  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tBxMpuiBO7Q and P&G’s ‘Thank you Mom’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MQ3k6BFX2uw campaigns.

Amongst the most shared Rio Olympic Games 2016 content were BBC Sport’s incredible trailer, Gatorade’s tribute to Usain Bolt in “The boy who learned to fly” and two entries from Under Armour’s Rule Yourself campaign features the USA women’s gymnastics team and Michael Phelps (Unruly.co).


Nissan also used their automotive partnership with the 2016 Olympic Games to launch their new car Nissan Kicks in Brazil. They received 2.4 billion impressions on Twitter for their Olympic themed hashtags and ranked number 1 in the automotive category, with their #QuemSeAtreve (#WhoDares) becoming the 3rd best performing hashtag behind only 2 of Coca Cola’s hashtags (mediapost.com). Furthermore, there have been nearly 9 million views of their Bolt v Flame campaign on YouTube. The games helped raised awareness of Nissan in Brazil, with over 2,000 registrations and down payments for Nissan Kicks through an online system never before used, generating a 1% increase in their market share in Brazil.

What’s Next?

Obviously the games are far from over with the Paralympics commencing on Wednesday 7th September with another notable campaign including Channel 4’s Paralympics 2016 trailer “We’re The Superhumans”, which was the most shared video prior to Rio 2016 (Unruly.co).[/vc_column_text][mk_padding_divider][vc_video link=”https://youtu.be/IocLkk3aYlk”][mk_padding_divider][vc_column_text]Hold tight for more clever digital activations. The winners will be those who pair their TV advertising campaigns with well thought out mobile strategies to maximise the undeniable rise in second screen engagement.

Darren Parsons
Darren is a member of Digital Clarity’s account management team. He has a wide interest and vast experience in sport sponsorship and marketing having worked in the industry for 9 years. Darren keeps up to date with market trends and enjoys facilitating the strategies companies use to digitally enhance their profile and visibility via various platforms.