How Earned Media Proves to be a Power Play During the Olympics

Jessie Berry

The 2016 Summer Olympics are well underway in Rio, and it’s only a matter of time before we find out how this year’s games stack up in terms of audience engagement and resulting revenue for the sponsoring brands involved.

What we do know is that the Rio games have some big shoes to fill. The 2012 Summer Olympics in London raked in 3.6 billion global viewers, also making them the most-watched TV event in US history. But that’s not the only Olympic-sized number the 2012 Games achieved.



TV revenue from the London games rose 50% to $3.9 billion, and the organizing committees earned $1.2 billion in revenue from 2012 sponsorships. Not to mention the millions of Tweets, thousands of hours of mobile coverage, and billions of views of online video that audiences around the world engaged in during the 2012 games.

Clearly the last summer Olympics did quite well in terms of brand success, revenue, and audience engagement. But there’s another factor at play here that’s important to call out: the power of earned media.

With the media and consumers all over the globe consuming and creating content related to the Olympics on social media, online and TV, there’s clearly a huge opportunity here for earned media. Why? Because it consistently beats paid media when it comes to consumer perceptions of brands.

Just look at the numbers: over 92% of consumers trust earned media, with only 50% trusting paid ads. On top of that, earned media drives 4x the brand lift of paid media. And with an event as large and impactful as the Olympics, brands can take advantage of a global audience who is clearly engaged with their screens as they watch, listen, and read about the Olympics across multiple channels.

How can you be sure you’re going for the gold in earned media ROI at your organization? For starters, you want to make sure you’re tracking the right data with a media intelligence platform that offers:

  • Demographic data
  • Multichannel media tracking (TV, online, social, blogs, forums, publications, and radio)
  • Historical data that is never purged or deleted and does not expire
  • Real-time data
  • Sentiment analysis
  • Paid vs earned media comparisons

Regardless of whether or not you have the marketing budget for high ticket items like event sponsorships, primetime TV spots or other costly advertising campaigns, it’s essential to also consider the value that earned media can offer your brand.

For more insight into audience engagement during the 2012 Games and how earned media proved to be a power play for brands, check out our infographic.

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