Live Moments: Olympic Gold in Digital Advertising

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Kurt Kratchman, Grapeshot, Chief Operating Officer

There is nothing like the thrill of Olympic excellence and victory to bring tears to the eyes of even the most reserved hearts.  As we watch the world's greatest athletes excite and inspire in Rio, brand marketers also have the opportunity to seize the moment to engage consumers.  And when I say “seize the moment,” I mean that not only metaphorically but also more literally.  You see, as we move towards an "always on" real-time brand-consumer feedback loop—a much more accurate way of describing the current digital advertising dynamic than the traditional “customer funnel”--, the opportunity exists for marketers to create engagement at unprecedented levels and take the notion of personal marketing to scale.

It’s amazing to contemplate just how far our industry has evolved within the context of the Olympics.  Historically, the Olympics were major tentpole events scheduled years in advance that every global brand marketer planned for and set aside budget.  In the pre-digital era, blue-chip brands would invest millions upon millions for official sponsorships with the IOC, which would take the form of traditional event marketing programs including signage and local, on-the-ground promotional activation.  All of this was, of course, bolstered by national network and cable TV ad buys.   And if you were outbid in your particular product vertical, you could still employ a creative ambush marketing effort to hijack some of the share-of-voice from the official automotive or apparel maker of any given Olympiad.

That was how things were typically done.  Until data. 

In 2016, because of how big consumers’ digital footprints are, brand advertisers now have the wherewithal to collect consumer data with depth and broad range, which in effect, builds a powerful, dynamic feedback loop that is always pulsing with the most recent, virtually real-time behavioral indicators of any given customer.  Brands are collecting data; assessing it; then putting the best new insights into action at an unprecedented volume. 

At the same time, this proliferation of marketer audience data sets looks likely to spill over into the rest of marketer organizations beyond the paid media groups. I predict that there will be an irresistible merging and integration between ad tech and martech.   The third-party software platforms that have sparked the data-driven paid advertising revolution will ultimately lock into martech like Salesforce, Oracle and Adobe to better sculpt CRM and email marketing campaigns.   This will lead to an elevation of measurement standards and practices whereby marketing spends can be tracked holistically against specific business objectives with the utmost accuracy and efficiency.

The impact within the context of huge tentpole events like the Olympics cannot be underestimated.   

As brands perfect their real-time data collection/messaging methodologies, they will be able to nimbly and reactively seize marketing moments that emerge unexpectedly.  For those of you old enough to remember the “Miracle on Ice” 1980 U.S. hockey team upset over the unbeatable Soviet team at the Winter Games in Lake Placid, imagine how marketers could have leveraged that moment if we had the same level of real-time data application then that we have now.

I’m writing this piece in the middle of the Rio Games and I can’t help wonder which marketers have set up their infrastructures where they are poised to leverage any big moments that are unpredictable but bound to happen.  

Welcome to the New Normal!

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