Putting a price on Olympic spirit

Written on 13 August, 2008 by Jonathan Crossfield
Categories NewsTags advertising

If you were one of the 7.8 million Australian’s who watched the Olympic ceremony, like me, you would have also seen the ad-breaks at critical points in the program, like just when the fireworks were climaxing. First of all, shame on you Channel 7 – worst – coverage – ever.

And what did we break for? A hideous Coles ad giving a cheer to the ‘un sung’ hero’s of the Olympics – the people who support the athletes, who do so assumably by buying groceries from Coles.

Also getting a share of 15.6 million eyes in were Qantas (Official Airline of the Australian Olympic Team), Lenovo (Official Laptop of the Olympic Team) and Red Rooster (Official Chicken and Chips Retailer of the Olympic Team) and some others…but who could concentrate when that Coles ad kept popping up…every…single…break.

Is it just me or did the Olympic’s just get really cheap? Well not for Channel 7 who paid $78.8 million to bring these games to you. But for the rest of us, who held this event with some sense of national pride and global unity – the cheap attempts of big companies to ‘cash in’ on the sentiment is pretty revolting.

In China, the Olympics air freely on 4 channels and they even put a special channel together just for the games. And what do we get? Snippets, shown out of order (so that popular events are in prime time) and some small offerings from SBS – who to their credit don’t interrupt the games as much.

To put this into a context that is going to help you as someone marketing your business, imagine you’re an advertiser and have enough cash to throw at an ad during the Olympics. You want to make the most of this slot so you gear your ads to tap into the games in some loose connection that even your most loyal brown nose employee cringed at “Official Curling Wand Supplier to the Olympic Team”? I don’t know…

I’ve seen companies with a similar spiel for selling paid links on a website, boasting over 10,000 hits a day! ‘Wow’ you say, ‘10,000 people who are going to see my ad’. Sure they are, and just like the people who tuned in to watch the Olympics and got Coles ads, people are landing on that site looking for something else. But this isn’t a debate about buying space on a website based on traffic stats. This is about context and being sensible.

It’s not enough to assume an audience is interested because they’re looking. The same is true when we think about optimizing a site. It’s not enough just to select keywords that people are searching on that describe what you do, you also need to be looking very closely at what is going through the persons head when they’re using a phrase. And now an example…

Client ‘X’ (we’ll call them) wants to rank for ‘mortgage calculator’. They are a mortgage website who (if you call up, or fill in a form) they’ll calculate what your monthly payment and interest will be. Nothing is ‘live’ though. They want to rank for the term because there is heaps of people looking for this online utility. People who use the term, however, want an online utility that calculates mortgages live when you enter in data.

The point is, keywords need to take into account not just volumes of search terms, or even that they related to what you do. They also need to take into account what is going through the users head when they use that term and essentially, are ready to digest your message.

If you don’t, you’ll be paying for attention without interest.