Research Briefing: NBCU and Warner Bros. Discovery pursue programmatic ad dollars at the Olympics

This research is based on unique data collected from our proprietary audience of publisher, agency, brand and tech insiders. It’s available to Digiday+ members. More from the series →

Interested in sharing your perspectives on the media and marketing industries? Join the Digiday research panel.

In this edition of the Digiday+ Research Briefing, we examine how programmatic advertising is opening up the Olympics to more advertisers, why some social platforms are distancing themselves from the social media label, and how Walmart and Target are gaining ground in retail media, as seen in recent data from Digiday+ Research.

38% of brands are increasing their programmatic spend this year

This year, more advertisers than ever will have a shot at the Olympic and Paralympic Games. NBCUniversal (NBCU) and Warner Bros. Discovery are making inventory on the Peacock streaming platform and the Eurosport website and supporting apps available to buy in private marketplaces for programmatic advertisers. That development could mean brands with smaller budgets can access huge Olympic audiences previously fenced off to big spenders. 

“Every time the Olympics come around, all of my clients are asking about how to get in without being a ring holder because of the massive investment that comes along with it,” said Ronnie Beach, U.S. sports lead at Wavemaker Sports, Live & Gaming, without naming specific clients.

Programmatic advertising remains a stalwart among marketers’ ad budgets, according to a recent Digiday+ Research survey. More than three-quarters of brand and retailer pros (77%) said their companies currently use programmatic site display ads, and an even larger 80% of agency retailers said the same of their clients.

NBCU, in particular, is gunning to be the top seller of online audiences during the Summer Olympics. According to the pitch deck the broadcaster is taking to agencies, which Digiday has seen, it’s giving advertisers two options: place ads around their social coverage (think pre-roll) or sponsor the content directly. 

NBCU’s Peacock is set to carry the entire Olympic schedule — over 5,000 hours of live sports — and ads running against that coverage will all be available to buy programmatically, via a partnership with ad tech provider The Trade Desk. Financial details of the partnership were not divulged.

Warner Bros. Discovery, which holds coverage rights across Europe via its Eurosport brand, has also begun to make inventory on its Olympic coverage available programmatically. It launched a new marketplace in May, WBD Connect, which gives advertisers access to ad inventory across CNN International Commercial (CNNIC) and WBD Sports Europe, including Eurosport, in partnership with ad tech vendor Magnite.

Insights and stats:

  • “You’ve got a billion dollars worth of advertising running over 14 days — there’s going to be lots of advertisers that find their way in.” — Jeff Gagne, svp at Havas Media Network
  • A significant chunk of marketers are increasing their programmatic spend this year. In Q1 2024, 38% of brand pros said that their spending on programmatic site display ads increased over last year, and 42% of agency pros said the same of their clients.
  • More brands spend a lot on programmatic, while more agencies spend nothing. In Q1 2024, 24% of brand and retailer pros said that their companies spend a large or very large portion of their marketing budgets on programmatic site display ads, up from 17% in Q3 2023. Meanwhile, 18% of agency pros said in Q1 2024 that their clients spend none of their marketing budgets on programmatic, up from 2% in Q3 2023.

Read more about marketers’ programmatic spending

Digiday+ Research digest

Some social media channels seem to be distancing their identity from “social media networks” to play up the positive aspects of their channels for users and ad spend. This comes as misinformation has entered the chat and some channels have had to reckon with how their feeds foster bad behavior. Pinterest refers to itself as “the antidote to traditional social media,” as Bill Watkins, the platform’s chief revenue officer, told Digiday at Cannes Lions. Snap has taken a similar approach, also labeling itself the antidote to social media in its “Less social media. More Snapchat.” campaign. Overall, marketers’ social media ad spend varies widely by platform. 

The stats:

  • YouTube doesn’t always get as much attention as its social media counterparts. However, 85% of brand and retailer professionals told Digiday in Q1 2024 that at least a very small portion of their companies’ marketing budgets goes to YouTube, up from 75% in Q3 2023.
  • Marketing spend on X (formerly Twitter) has dropped dramatically. Twenty-six percent of brand and retailer pros said in Q1 2024 that their companies spend at least a very small portion of their marketing budgets on X, down from 61% in Q1 2023. Thirty-nine percent of brand, retailer and agency pros said in Q1 2024 that brand safety concerns are their biggest challenge with X.
  • The percentage of brands and retailers who spend a large portion of their marketing budget on TikTok has been growing steadily for the last year. Nineteen percent of brand and retailer pros said in Q1 2024 that their companies spend a large amount on TikTok marketing, up from 13% in Q3 2023 and 6% in Q1 2023.

Read more about marketers’ spending on TikTok

Amazon may dominate the retail media space, but Walmart and Target are gaining ground among marketers investing in retail media. This is according to a recent Digiday+ Research survey of brand, retailer and agency professionals. Outside of Amazon, a whopping 85% of marketers invested the most in Walmart’s retail media platform as of Q1 2024. Just six months prior, 54% of marketers said they were spending at least a very small portion of their marketing budget on Walmart’s retail media network. Target’s Roundel platform also accounts for a significant share of marketers’ retail media spend. As of Q1 2024, 39% of respondents said they invest the most retail media spend in Target. So how much are marketers spending, exactly?

The stats:

  • More than half of brand, retailer and agency pros (52%) spent at least a very small portion of their marketing budgets on Walmart’s retail media platform as of Q1 2024, on par with the 54% who said the same in Q3 2023.
  • More than one-third of marketers (39%) said in Q1 2024 that they spent at least a little on Target’s Roundel platform — a drop from the 44% who said the same in Q3 2023.
  • Nearly a quarter of marketer respondents (21%) said in Q1 2024 that they spend at least a very small portion of their budget on Kroger’s retail media platform, almost unchanged from the 21% who said the same six months prior.

Read more about marketers’ investments in retail media


See research from all Digiday Media Brands:

Digiday+ Research

Glossy+ Research

Modern Retail+ Research

https://digiday.com/?p=549385

More in Marketing

After years of uncertainty, Google says it won’t be ‘deprecating third-party cookies’ in Chrome

After much back and forth, Google has decided to keep third-party cookies in its Chrome browser. Turns out all the fuss over the years wasn’t in vain after all; the ad industry’s cries have finally been heard.

Digiday+ Research: Publishers anticipate having more time with third-party cookies than marketers

The timeline on which Google will officially kill the third-party cookie is anyone’s guess at this point. According to a Digiday+ Research survey conducted in the second quarter, marketers’ guesses look very different from publishers’.

The Guardian moves closer to being a reader-supported business as it launches new cooking app

The app is being used to provide a compelling offering which encourages readers to support the Guardian more financially, while also reaching new audiences.