"Olympic"-Sized Social Media Audiences Puts a Twist in Advertising Methods

by Nick DeVendra

Concocting an advertising budget for CPG companies used to be a simple recipe anyone could follow: add a few healthy cups of television, a few dashes of radio, sprinkle in some print advertising and you’re good to go. 

Boy, have things changed.

Now, not only do you need to diversify your ad spend with all of the above plus digital, mobile and anything and everything social, capturing the attention of millennials and Generation Z requires a trained eye to quickly tap into social media’s latest trends and a keen understanding that attention spans get shorter by the day. Now more than ever, advertisers are beginning to push their lion’s share of media budget chips towards social media and digital advertising, usurping the seat TV has maintained for so long.

As pointed out recently in Adweek, the Olympic Games in Rio may have become the tipping point for the ultimate change in TV’s age-old story and the requirement that people be glued to their stationary screens. The 2016 Rio Olympics was the first time in U.S. media history that the Olympics’ broadcast network coverage, including primetime, has been streamed simultaneously on digital platforms. 

According to the same Adweek article, the head of Facebook's office in Brazil said that, during the opening ceremony alone, 52 million people had about 110 million interactions on Facebook, while another 21 million had 62 million actions on Instagram. Gfk had estimated in a survey for Facebook that 64 percent of Olympics fans were planning watch the games on a mobile device and 51 percent said they'd watch replays on mobile.

NBCUniversal has billed the Olympic Games in Rio “the most successful media event in history.” The Games averaged 27.5 million overall viewers (this includes broadcast, cable and digital), and viewers live streamed 2.71 Billion minutes of Olympic coverage – a new record for event coverage. The 2.71 billion live minutes also nearly doubles the combined live streamed minutes of ALL prior Games.

I think it is safe to say that the relationship between digital and traditional media has become more of a mutually dependent and mutually beneficial one. A recent study by Turner Broadcasting that we cited in a blog earlier this summer showed that one out of five social engagements for brands was driven by TV advertising. Also, we know that creative can drive over half of the overall lift of a campaign, and digital ad testing makes finding the right creative much easier. Sometimes these “winning” digital creatives even turn into television ads.

While Google said earlier this year that YouTube ads were 80 percent more effective than television ads (through its analysis of 56 case studies), choice of media platform isn’t an “either/ or” proposition. TV and digital typically perform better when they’re together and, with the rise in both distracted viewing and multiple screens, all brands should be leveraging cross-media integration for the best campaign results.

Obviously there are so many ways to slice and dice your targeting and measurement data, especially with digital and social media campaigns, but it’s imperative to understand how each form of media you use is driving sales (or not) for your brand. It’s the only way to end up with profitable results, no matter which mix of media you use.

Contact me at if you’d like to discuss how to better measure and optimize your campaigns, as well as link what consumers view to what they do.

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