Up Your Olympics Strategy and Dominate the Digital Games
Research Intelligence

Up Your Olympics Strategy and Dominate the Digital Games

by Molly Winik , Senior Digital Research & eCommerce Specialist 5 Min.
July 13, 2021 | Updated August 9, 2022

The 2021 Summer Olympics are, finally, around the corner. And while gymnasts are refining round-offs and swimmers are perfecting strokes, a whole different competition is taking place off the field. 

The online arena is buzzing with anticipation for the delayed 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympic Games. We’re here to help you prepare. By benchmarking data on website traffic, audience engagement, and industry rankings, you’ll get key insights to help you benefit from the Olympics search trends. 

We’ll break down key metrics for top publishers, sponsors, and Olympic-related websites (from both the 2016 Olympics and present day)  so you know what to expect. Read on to discover who the internet is cheering for, which websites could make it onto the podium, and where you fit on the leaderboard. 

Gauge audience interest 

Analyzing Olympic-related website traffic can give you a better idea of audience interest towards the sporting event itself. Keep in mind key engagement metrics like monthly visits and page views. These provide you with an understanding of how popular your website is compared to your competitors, and if customers are spending time browsing or losing interest fast. 

Let’s start by benchmarking against the 2016 Summer Olympics. Comparing a similar standard gives a better idea of the numbers you should aim for during an influential seasonal event.

Traffic to olympic.org was 825% higher in August 2016 than the following two months. It received nearly 20 million visits in August, compared to 2 million in September and only 1 million in October 2016. The same trend can be seen for teamusa.org (the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee), where monthly visits spiked by 358% in August 2016. 

Toggle the graph below to see how each website’s total visits and page views swelled during the Olympics. The high number of page views suggests visitors were interested in the content and eager to engage with more pages.  

Fast forward to today and we see that, on average, teamusa.org receives 800 to 900 thousand visits a month. But as the Olympics near and fans search for updates, there’s a sharp increase in traffic. In the last 28 days, the website had 1.8 million visits and we expect this to grow exponentially next month. 

You can apply this process to any seasonal industry event that experiences high peaks of traffic. It’s important to differentiate between these benchmarks and the average industry norm, though. With these insights, you can build a baseline for digital performance and strengthen your decision-making process. 

Get Seasonal with your Keyword Strategy

As you prepare your Olympic digital strategy, use historical data from similar events to track your progress in real-time and anticipate the numbers you need to beat to stay competitive. In the end, you’ll have a clear picture of how the market has evolved over time, and could even predict the future. 

tokyo olympics

Streaming, the gold standard

The website performance of top TV and video streaming services sheds light on how your audience prefers to consume content, and can show how viewer preference has shifted over time. 

During the 2016 Olympics, nbcolympics.com was the preferred way to join the action. The website’s streaming services landed them eighth place in Similarweb’s Sports Industry category for website performance in August 2016. After the Olympics, nbcolympics.com fell to rank 343 and 613 in September and October respectively.

A closer look into the website’s engagement metrics reveals just how high viewer interest climbed. In August 2016 there were 100 million total visits to nbcolympics.com. Just one month later, this number dropped to 3 million – a 3000% change. Page visits, bounce rate, and page views all follow the same trend and were noticeably higher in August 2016 compared to the rest of the year.

This chart demonstrates the importance of understanding user engagement, both during a peak event and after. 

When diving further into audience demographics, with 86% of the traffic share, we can see the U.S. had the most hardcore fans. Other top Olympic-streaming countries were Canada, India, the U.K., and Australia. 

More companies than ever are offering streaming services for the Olympics. Right now peacocktv.com and hulu.com are the traffic winners, but let’s see how this changes in the coming weeks. 

website performance

Publishers playing the long-game 

While it’s important for digital publishers to win website traffic during the Olympics, they also need to make a lasting impression. Publishers and media websites hope to expand their audience reach during major events like these, l so that brand awareness and popularity will continue to grow once the event is over.

Let’s look at the top publishers from August 2016. 

Although espn.com and cnn.com won the most traffic during the Olympics with 473.4 million and 484.4 million total visits respectively, cnbc.com was the most successful in post-event engagement – year-over-year (YoY), its website grew 53%.

samsung olympics

Sponsors winning customer love 

If you’re sponsoring an event, you’ll want to see how marketing channels are performing during peak seasonal events. An effective marketing strategy will lead to an increase in traffic from a variety of platforms. 

We looked at some of the top Olympic sponsors from 2016, including Coca-Cola, Visa, and Toyota. Based on marketing channel performance, we can conclude that Samsung was the most successful. It was one of the only sponsors to see improved performance across all marketing channels in August 2016 (compared to September). It received 15% more direct visits, and increased social visits by 8%, organic search by 16%, and earned 15% more referrals in August 2016 than September.

From this data we can assume that the most successful marketing channels for major Olympic sponsors are direct, organic, referrals, and paid search. 

See what’s #trending

As with any trending event, the internet has been flooded with keywords related to the Olympics. We see similar trends with other major sporting events, like the NBA Playoffs or UEFA Euro

The sites currently owning traffic share for the keyword Olympics 2021 include nbcolympics.com, wikipedia.org, usatoday.com, and cbssports.com. But it will be interesting to see how these patterns shift once the games begin and users start to tune in. 

organic competitors olympics

Top related trending keywords that you should be incorporating into any marketing or research strategy for the Olympics include:

  • 2021 summer olympics
  • tokyo summer olympics 2021
  • when do the olympics start 2021
  • summer 2021 olympics
  • japan olympics 2021

A quick geographical analysis shows that the United States is leading in user interest towards the Olympics. The average number of monthly searches in the U.S. for “olympics 2021” is 107% higher than its closest competitor. 

Winning the digital gold 

A successful market research strategy looks at the big picture. To win the digital gold medal this summer, you need to understand how influential seasonal events will impact audience behavior, drive new trends, and affect traffic patterns. 

While you may have an idea of where you fit into the landscape, you’ll need data to conduct effective market research, analyze shifts in consumer behavior, and adapt to new industry conditions. 

With Similarweb’s Research Intelligence, you’ll have access to real-time data on your website performance, so that Olympics or not, you continue to beat your competitors and set new personal records. 

Try it for yourself for free!

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