Sunday, July 6, 2008

Analyzing the Beijing Olympics

To set the tone:

The official countdown clock on the Beijing Olympics site tells me that it’s 32 days left until the Summer Games. I LOVE the Olympics. I’m not usually a huge sports guy but I get worked up for every single event in the Olympics, even the red-headed stepchild events like Equestrian, Handball, and Sailing.

But I’m really looking forward to those marquee events, Swimming, Diving, Gymnastics, and Track and Field. Did you know that BMX cycling will be featured in this Olympics? Hey, even Rhythmic Gymnastics can be kinda fun – the twirling scarves and bouncing balls are mesmerizing.

To give a sense of how much I love the Olympics, watch this timeless moment from Atlanta’s ’96 Olympics when gymnast Kerri Strug needed to pull off a 9.493 or better on the vault. She’s given two tries, watch the first, watch the second, watch her be carried off in the arms of the team coach Bela Karolyi:

I still get chills.

Beijing will pull off a flawless games, despite a lower than expected attendance and the materialized concerns over pollution and safety. I had read that China Post is not shipping anything containing electronics, liquid, or organics within Beijing for security reasons.

In terms of the marketing, it will no doubt be a commercial spectacle and huge clusterf*ck with every international brand maintaining a strong presence in the city, the venues, and on the athletes themselves. But the strongest brand is the Games itself. The values and beliefs that the Olympics represent are so clear and unambiguous. The brand evolves with each Games played and now it will add a uniquely Chinese flavour.

Thankfully, NBC again has the rights to air the Games which, it expects, will be the most watched ever (don’t they always say that?). But to provide a level of redundancy and never before witnessed in the media industry, NBC will use the Olympics as a testing ground for delivering multi-channel content. So while I watch Fencing on Telemundo, Weightlifting on USA, Triathlon on CNBC, Judo on Oxygen, the Splash n’ Dash on NBC, Boxing on MNSBC, Table Tennis on Bravo, I’ll ALSO be able to see unique content through and on my mobile phone.

And it’s all being analyzed.

Consider the tremendous tracking and monitoring systems being set up to understand the behavior patterns of the different audience segments. Consider the marketing value in knowing that, for example, the average viewer of Bravo watches Modern Pentathlon for 21.37 minutes but will watch Syncro Swimming for 57.56 minutes. Match that against unique and trackable data from that same viewer online and on their phone. Match that too against comprehensive demographic and geographical data about that viewer (e.g. female, 47 years old, $67,988 in household income, zipcode 76493) and you have some pretty powerful insights!

So as I watch Canada bring home the gold (cough cough…) I’ll delight in both the spirit of the Olympics and the excellence of international sportsmanship and also in the knowledge that my viewing habits, both offline and online, are contributing to a powerful marketing media algorithm that will one day proactively help me choose what to buy through the targeted advertising I receive!

No comments: