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  • Writer's pictureMichael Burns

Unlocking Olympic Advertising for All: A New Era for Programmatic Buyers



In a groundbreaking move, NBCU and Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) are opening up their Olympic and Paralympic Games advertising inventory on platforms like Peacock and the Eurosport website, making it accessible via private marketplaces (PMPs) for programmatic advertisers. This shift democratizes access to one of the world's most-watched events, offering opportunities for brands with smaller budgets to reach massive audiences traditionally reserved for big spenders.


Key Developments:


  • Private Marketplaces Expansion: NBCU and WBD's decision to sell Olympic ad space programmatically on platforms like Peacock and Eurosport means more brands can now participate without the hefty price tags previously associated with such prime inventory.

  • Enhanced Brand Safety: Both networks are ensuring that their blue-chip clients' investments remain protected, preventing their ads from running alongside less reputable brands.


The Programmatic Experiment


Moe Chughtai, head of advanced TV at MiQ, sees the 2024 Games as a pivotal case study for programmatic buying in live sports coverage. With over 5,000 hours of live sports set to stream on Peacock, all ad spots will be available programmatically through a partnership with The Trade Desk.


  • Record Digital Revenue: NBCU has already surpassed previous digital ad revenue records for the Olympics, generating $350 million from new advertisers, indicating strong demand driven by programmatic buying.

  • Attracting New Advertisers: Alison Levin, NBCU's president of advertising and partnerships, notes that programmatic ads are appealing to advertisers who prioritize real-time performance and quick insights.


WBD is similarly expanding its programmatic offerings through its new marketplace, WBD Connect. This platform provides access to ad inventory across CNN International Commercial and WBD Sports Europe, including Eurosport, via Magnite.


Lower Barriers, Broader Access


Historically, only the largest advertisers could afford Olympic broadcast advertising. Now, programmatic's lower entry price is attracting brands with smaller budgets, democratizing the advertising landscape.


  • New Opportunities: Smaller brands are excited about the opportunity to advertise during the Olympics, a space traditionally dominated by major players.

  • Diverse Advertising Base: A wider variety of advertisers means viewers may experience fewer repetitive ads, enhancing the overall viewing experience.


Despite these changes, premium brands like Visa, NBC's exclusive "payments partner" for the Olympics, continue to secure top-tier ad spots through traditional channels, ensuring their brand remains in a premium environment.


Ensuring Quality Control


To address potential concerns about ad quality, NBCU employs an AI-enabled screening system from Hive. This system detects any visual or script elements that may conflict with existing sponsors' ads, flagging them for human moderation.


  • Robust Screening: This technology ensures that all programmatic ads meet NBCU and IOC's stringent advertising standards.


WBD's approach includes making a limited inventory available on the open market, with most deals pre-checked for compliance, ensuring that all ads meet IOC rules and WBD's standards.


The Future of Programmatic in Sports


Live sports streaming has already brought new advertisers into NBCU's portfolio, with an 87% increase in advertisers spending on live sports last year. This trend is expected to continue, with programmatic inventory serving as an entry point for larger investments.


  • Expanding Opportunities: More sporting events are likely to become available to programmatic buyers, with media owners needing to prove their tech solutions and demand-side platforms' capabilities.

  • Broader Implications: The success of programmatic ads during the Olympics could set a precedent for other sports, including major leagues like the NBA, as they explore ways to maximize revenue from advertising.


Final Thoughts


The inclusion of programmatic buying for Olympic advertising marks a significant shift, opening doors for smaller brands and creating a more diverse and dynamic advertising environment. This evolution not only benefits advertisers but also enhances the viewing experience for audiences worldwide.


In summary, the 2024 Olympic Games are poised to be a milestone for programmatic advertising, setting the stage for broader adoption across the sports industry. For brands looking to capitalize on this opportunity, the time to act is now, as the landscape of sports advertising continues to evolve.


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