Get Ready to Participate: Four Ways Marketers Will Use Omnichannel Marketing to Capitalize on the Olympics

By Thérèse Mulvey, ‎Valassis Vice President Marketing Intelligence , Valassis

The Olympics are here.  Every couple of years, the world comes together for a little friendly competition, and along with the Olympians, come droves of spectators that will be in-person, tuned in or logged on around the world throughout the two-week competition.  The question is, how can marketers take advantage?  Large-scale events like the Olympics (or even the Super Bowl for that matter) present an interesting opportunity for marketers, especially those with a global audience.  The scale of the event and the breadth of the audience are substantial to say the least; however, it’s this very scale that makes it increasingly challenging to understand the impact, or the return on investment, that specific campaigns will have throughout the event – especially considering that the majority of the audience will be tuned into the television to watch as the Games unfold.

Most campaigns executed during the Olympics in the past revolved around increasing brand awareness.  While that objective remains the same today, marketers have access to more data and a new media mix for reaching and activating their target audience. Large consumer packaged goods manufacturers have been leveraging print prior to the kick off of the Olympics to help build visibility, brand recognition and drive campaigns.  Similarly, small businesses can take advantage of the Olympics by offering tailored campaigns that offer promotions surrounding the Games.

According to a Nielsen study, nearly 85 percent of consumers are using a smartphone or tablet while watching TV which gives the marketing community a whole new way to engage audiences during the Olympics – without spending millions on a television advertisement or sponsoring a particular event.  On average, it takes approximately 10 different touch points to get a consumer to convert which is why we can expect to see more marketers using an omnichannel strategy that mixes online and offline tactics to gain eyeballs and drive engagement.  Here are four specific ways the marketing community will start to take advantage of the evolving media landscape and how online and digital advancements work in parallel with traditional print media to get involved in the Olympics and start to drive touch points with key audiences throughout the event.

  1. It’s increasingly important to incorporate geo-targeting throughout the consumer’s path to purchase.  This strategy helps marketers understand the “day in the life” of a consumer.  Geography has been redefined through mobile and advertisers must leverage a strong media integration strategy that reaches consumers across the multiple sources of information they use to make purchase decisions – offline and online.  This means brands have to break the traditional mindset of simply targeting promotions around the retail store location and refocus on connecting with the mobile consumer, making the trade area customized to them.  Leveraging geography is essential to finding the right consumer, at the right point in their journey to deliver the right message.   
  2. Expect to see social media as an increasingly popular way for brands to engage audiences across the globe – whether they’re sitting on their couch in front of their TV or if they’re slope side cheering on Bode Miller as he races down the mountain. The medium presents a tremendous opportunity for brands and advertisers that are looking to drive awareness and engagement during the Olympics and it will be interesting to see how it will change this particular Winter Olympics.  Oreo was lauded for its real-time marketing through Twitter during the Super Bowl blackout last year and we can expect for real-time to be the standard for social campaigns, interactions and awareness surrounding the Olympics but we need to make sure it continues on to drive engagement going forward.
  3. Omnichannel needs to be the standard for moving Olympic audiences through the path to purchase. There will be an opportunity for brands and retailers to grab mindshare and attention without big spending on a 30-second TV spot. Make sure all of your advertising hops on the Olympic bandwagon so that the touch points resonate through print and digital. Have some form of a call to action that brings audiences online or in store so they can take the next step by completing a form, downloading something, purchasing a product or engaging in one form or another.  Developments in digital have provided marketers an incredible opportunity to understand the behavior of audiences and tailor omnichannel campaigns to reach them at multiple touch points, across several different devices and media channels.  It’s all about catching attention in the right place at the right time with the right media and omnichannel is the best possible means to make those connections.
  4. Mobile advertising will be a game changer for brands and advertisers, especially for audiences that are on the ground at the Olympics in Sochi, Russia.  Serving appropriate ads based on location will add a critical touch point for the media mix and offer marketers the opportunity to catch audiences on the move and on the ground.  Let’s also not forget that the majority of U.S. consumers tend to watch television with a smartphone or a tablet in their hand meaning that mobile will play a key part on driving engagement with media campaigns.

It’s hard to predict exactly what we’ll see from advertisers over the next few weeks, but it will be exciting to watch as it unfolds.  The Olympics Games are an opportune time to engage with audiences but advertisers shouldn’t feel like they need to spend millions of dollars to nab mindshare and move their prospects down the path to purchase.  Advances in integrated print and digital campaigns have created new, cost-effective ways for your brand to get attention that’s measurable and effective and by integrating your campaigns with print and online media your brand can be perfectly positioned to get the best possible reach and brand lift that drives conversions.


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