As some brands lie in wait, Twitter builds out Olympic offering

Due to controversy, the platform's head of sports believes some advertisers may wait for the Games to begin before mounting their campaigns.

While some advertisers – such as SkipTheDishes and Sobeys – are already in market with campaigns on Twitter for this year’s Beijing Olympics, others are still playing the waiting game.

Conor Clarance, Twitter Canada’s head of sports, says some advertisers are in a holding pattern as potentially disruptive factors like the Omicron variant, political controversy and the pull-out of the National Hockey League add elements of uncertainty to the Games.

“We’ve got a few brands that are ready to go and have been ready for months, but we’ve also got a couple of brands that may be waiting to see what happens with all the conversation around Beijing,” he says. “Compared to previous Olympics, you might see more advertisers choosing to jump in after the first three days of this year’s Olympics.”

Clarance isn’t concerned about a decline in viewers as a result of the NHL’s pull-out of the Games, which has forced the league to schedule make-up hockey games between Feb. 6 and Feb. 22.

“What will be really interesting is how those competitions stack up: will people start treating it like an NFL Sunday, where you watch a bunch of NHL hockey games and then that bleeds into your Olympic hockey?” he says. “We’re expecting to see a ton of excitement for the Games on both the men’s and the women’s side and I think the NHL, being on at the same time, is candidly great for the sports fan.”

Twitter is partnering with the CBC for content, and the platform is also offering streaming exclusives during both the Beijing Olympics, which runs between Feb. 4 and Feb. 20, and the Beijing Paralympics, scheduled for March 4 to March 13.

Clarance says the live-streaming Twitter will offer via the CBC is similar to the Tokyo Games and will include Opening and Closing ceremonies, the men’s snowboard halfpipe competition, ice dancing and the Women’s Hockey Gold Medal game – which equates to 12 hours of streaming over the course of the Olympics.

“The [CBC] is bringing 200 clips over the course of the Games onto the platform, so advertisers can add pre-roll ads before those medal moments. As consumers wake up – or as they stay awake to watch the Games – they’ll be able to follow on their phone and actually see the highlights live as they’re happening.”

For the Paralympics, Clarance says Twitter will be streaming eight-to-12 hours of competition daily and over 300 clips will be provided over the course of the Games’ nine-day run.

With CBC placing content on Twitter within seconds after it occurs, the platform is expanding its Olympic offerings to include Twitter Spaces, its live audio conversation platform.

“It was available for Tokyo but it was still quite new at the time,” Clarance explains. “I think what you’ll see is more adaptation at the publisher level, so you’ll see brands like the CBC or potentially other publishers, start to make use of Twitter Spaces over the Olympics. It’s an easier, low-barrier way of talking about breaking news as it happens.”