What can the Olympics tell us about mobile and tablet advertising?

Last updated: 20 March 2014

Following the closing of the London 2012 Olympics and the handing over of the flag to Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Games, stats and facts are abounding fast. Did you know, for example, that 2.7 million bananas were eaten in the Olympic Village? Or that only 44% of medallists sang along with their national anthem?

More importantly, however, the Host Broadcaster of the event, the BBC, has released viewing figures showing that these Olympics truly were the multi-platform Games, with mobile and tablet usage soaring. Consumption of video content on mobile was one of the big takeaways from the past two weeks – the BBC saw 12 million requests for video on mobile in the two weeks alone.

But what about further afield? Well, statistics released by Google show that record numbers of fans across Europe, Japan and China have been turning to smartphones and tablets for Olympics-related information. You might also be interested in hearing that Olympic searches from tablets actually exceeded those from mobile in Bermuda and the Cayman Islands where, we could assume, holidaymakers were keen to stay abreast of the medals table.

So, while TV was still the main outlet by which to reach people, many drew on the second screen experience. Two trends we saw show the new-found mobility of our viewing experience:

– Mobile takes over around 6pm as people leave the office but still want to keep up to date with the latest action

– Tablet usage reaches a peak at around 9pm: people using them as a second screen experience as they watch the Games on their TVs, and also as they continue to watch in bed

While TV advertising is most certainly not dead, operators and brands are missing a trick if they ignore the potential gold mine on offer here. The BBC in any case does not broadcast or stream commercial ads (unless you are outside the UK) but mobiles and tablets (and the apps available through which to follow the Games) provide a huge opportunity.

It will be vital to make it tailored and relevant to the user. Fans of basketball might not be interested in paying for additional content focusing on cycling and athletics for example. We have already blogged about what the Brazilians can take away from the London 2012 Olympics in time for the World Cup in 2014 or its own Olympic Games in 2016, or what Russia can adapt in time for the Winter Olympics in February 2014. Our message here is aimed at sports events organisers, brands and operators globally: there is a massive opportunity to get their message to a wider audience – they just need to seize it.