By Leslie Taylor
People watching an advertisement during a broadcast of the Winter Olympics were more likely to feel positively about the commercial and recall the brand and message than if they had seen the same company’s ad during a regular prime-time broadcast, according to a study by IAG Research.
After much hand-wringing in recent days about NBC’s tough competition for ratings during this Winter Olympics, advertisers may find their ads ended up scoring with viewers.
According to the IAG study, brand recall was on average 17 percent greater after a product was advertised during the Olympics telecast than after it was advertised on another prime-time broadcast. Olympics viewers were also 36 percent more likely to remember the brand’s message than were viewers who saw the ad during another program.
These metrics should be a consolation to advertisers disappointed with the ratings of Olympics coverage. As network TV continues to lose market share to other platforms and digital video recorders make it easy for viewers to bypass commercials, a venue in which an audience is willing to engage with advertisements is increasingly rare.
Mike McCarley, VP of communications and marketing for NBC sports, said the survey results confirmed the network’s research from past Olympics. Advertisers benefit from being associated with the Olympics, he said, because advertising in the Olympics goes beyond just the number of households who view a TV commercial.
“There’s a value associated with the Olympics that people realize, and viewers are drawn to that. It’s a positive experience to see athletes of the world gathered for peaceful competition,” Mr. McCarley said. “It really resonates with viewers.”
Olympics advertisers hope the warm, fuzzy feeling people get watching the Olympics will translate into good will toward their product, and the IAG study suggests this strategy is effective. Viewers were 36 percent more likely to have a positive perception of a brand after viewing an ad during the Winter Games than after an ad aired during another prime-time program.
It is difficult to determine how much of an Olympics ad’s effectiveness was the result of its placement in the Olympics broadcast and how much was due to the frequency with which it aired. For heavy advertisers who bought more than five prime-time units, brand recall during the Olympics was 53 percent higher than during other prime-time programming. Likewise, message recall was 88 percent higher and likability 72 percent higher.