NBC Olympics: Spikes Seen in Brand Recall, Search

NBC today issued research it commissioned from Google that indicates huge spikes in search queries for brands that were featured during Friday’s opening ceremonies at the Vancouver Winter Games.

Separate data from Nielsen IAG showed significant increases in brand and message recall for ads that aired during the broadcast.

By all accounts, the network’s weekend coverage of the games has garnered an impressive audience share. The telecasts have averaged 28.6 million viewers in prime time, per Nielsen. (NBC said that was the best winter opening since the Lillehammer Games in 1994, when the Nancy Kerrigan/Tonya Harding spat drove massive interest.) The 28.6 million figure is nearly 25 percent higher than the opening weekend average from the Torino Games in 2006 (22.9 million).

Google tracked search queries for both “Haiti” and “We Are the World” after NBC debuted a three-minute version of “We Are the World 25 For Haiti,” a celebrity songfest designed to raise donations for the earthquake-stricken nation. 

The performance (produced by AEG Live, FremantleMedia Enterprises and GroupM Entertainment) aired at 8:50 p.m. ET, and triggered an immediate 10-fold spike in queries containing “We Are the World” and/or “Haiti,” per Google. Searches then tapered off to a level that was about twice the volume noted before the performance aired.

“We were able to demonstrate that there is a very significant relationship between exposure [on TV] and [resulting viewer] behavior,” said Alan Wurtzel, president of research, NBCU.

The network and Google also tracked queries for four different movie ads, including spots for How to Train Your Dragon and Green Zone (the others did not want to be identified), as well as commercials for insurance company Sun Life, and similar search spikes occurred, Wurtzel said.

“This is a important finding because it speaks to the value and power of television going forward,” said Wurtzel.

Nielsen IAG found that auto ads running during the opening ceremonies had brand recall levels 40 percent greater than the prime-time average, and message recalls approaching 70 percent the norm. The likeability score was almost 50 percent higher.

Financial services and retail spots running the same night also showed across the board increases, per the Nielsen IAG research. Wurtzel said that showing “confirms what we’ve always said to advertisers: that the Olympics is a singular extraordinary marketing platform.”

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