The Olympics

Here Are the Olympics Ads Best at Keeping Viewers' Attention

GE, Folgers, Google Had Some of the Top Spots Watched During the Games

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Amid all the Olympics hype around brands, platforms, viewing patterns and advertising tactics, one thing is abundantly clear -- NBCU and the Games have delivered gold when it comes to keeping viewers' attention.

Winning on live and same day

Consider this:, which measures the activity of ads appearing on more than 11 million smart TV screens, has found that, on average across all six networks (NBC, NBC Sports, USA Network, Bravo, MSNBC and CNBC), clocked Olympic viewing for TV ads is at 96.4% for live or same-day viewing.

A funny spot for Google Photos has been popular during the Olympics coverage.
A funny spot for Google Photos has been popular during the Olympics coverage.  Credit: Google via YouTube

What this means is if a brand placed a TV ad on Tuesday during the Olympics, it was overwhelmingly seen on Tuesday -- not recorded and zoomed past on Friday or decoupled from the programming in VOD after three days.

Audience retention increased view rates

What's more impressive about the Olympics TV ad data coming in is that people weren't flipping the channel as much as they normally do, either. View rates (the percentage of an ad that, on average, has been watched across all airings) for TV ads for live sporting events can be hit or miss, depending on who is playing, what else is on, the score, etc.

Not so for the Olympics. After 400 brands ran 815 different creatives more than 15,000 times across the six Olympic networks, all of those ads combined averaged a view rate of around 90%. Basically, people put the Games on and put the remote down. That could be for a few reasons: NBCU accentuating cliffhangers, or a lack of other worthwhile programming -- or maybe the Olympics just has a leave-it-on sensibility.

Everyone wins -- some by more

Despite a high average view rate for the Olympics, there were definitely winners and losers. Quick-serve restaurants, for instance, can't seem to break past a 78% average view rate, and wireless carriers advertising during the Olympics have hovered around 81% since day one.

Brands that can claim victory

These are the brands (with a minimum of 10 airings and a spend of over $1 million during the Olympics) leading in general when it comes to keeping viewers' attention:

1. Folgers (98.76% average view rate). Folgers' only ad, a charming tribute to the people behind Olympic athletes, has had the best showing by a brand during the Games so far.

2. General Electric (98.56% average view rate). GE is seeing view rate success with a series of ads featuring Sarah, a good-natured employee who's shown giving tours and answers the questions of curious company visitors.

3. Google (98.14% average view rate). Google has been advertising Google Photos with two ads: One that shows the frustration of running out of storage on your phone at the most inopportune times, and another funny look at the risks of spontaneously jumping into a pool.

4. United Airlines (98.13% average view rate). United Airlines has had two different approaches to its Olympic advertising: One catchy spot takes a look at an action-packed day of Olympic athletes in an airport, while another illustrates the luxury of taking a business class flight.

5. Mini USA (98.12% average view rate). Mini's sole commercial for the Olympics, "Defy Labels," is an inspiring look at the diverse faces and personalities of Team USA athletes.

Top ads

And here are the top individual spots (with over $1 million in Olympics spending and at least 10 airings) with the highest view rates. This ranking differs a bit from the brand list, with General Electric dominating:

1. General Electric "Sarah Explains: Digidustrial?" (12 national airings, 99.60% average view rate)

2. Citi "Why Does Citi Sponsor Team USA?" (11 national airings, 99.41% average view rate)

3. General Electric "Sarah: Building Advanced, Robot-like Machines" (27 national airings, 99.24% average view rate)

4. Twentieth Century Fox "Trolls" (25 national airings, 99.15% average view rate)

5. General Electric "Sarah: Just Like PB&J" (19 national airings, 98.77% average view rate)

For details about how iSpot measures and calculates view rates, click here.

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