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USA Today debuts Rio Ad Meter to ‘drive the ad community conversation’

USA Today and Adobe want to capitalize on consumer interest in Olympics content.

Good news, sports fans throughout the ad industry: You don’t have to wait for Super Bowl LI in Houston for your next chance to assess ads during a live event.

That’s because USA Today has expanded its Super Bowl Ad Meter, which, for 28 years, has allowed viewers to rate ads throughout the NFL championship game. In other words, this year there’s an Olympics Ad Meter, too.

Sports are one of the few events consumers watch live anymore – in fact, 112 million people reportedly tuned in for Super Bowl 50. And even though the 2016 Ad Meter netted a small subset of that overall figure with about 52,000 registered users, USA Today’s effort to capitalize on consumer interest in the Olympics is certainly logical.

Ditto Adobe, which is sponsoring the Rio Ad Meter.

“The USA Today Ad Meter franchise has, until now, only existed for the Super Bowl, but this year’s Olympics is promising record ad sales and it’s a logical moment for USA Today and Adobe to help measure the impact for marketers,” said Alex Amado, vice president of experience marketing at Adobe. “A lot of budget and strategy goes into how brands can show up in a meaningful way and we wanted to acknowledge and celebrate those efforts, just as we have for the Super Bowl.”

USA Today said Adobe has been a Super Bowl Ad Meter sponsor for two years, so the extension was logical, and Adobe will have “100 per cent ownership of the Ad Meter hub throughout the Olympics.” Further, a rep noted, “we’ve extended [Adobe’s] branding into the in-video graphics of the editorial video content and we’ll also be running co-branded promotional units that feature Adobe sponsorship markings.”

According to Amado, Adobe’s target includes senior marketers at big brands that buy Adobe Marketing Cloud solutions, as well as anyone who enjoys creative advertising and engaging marketing experiences.

“We always want to be where our audience is – delivering an optimized digital experience with the right message at the right time across screens,” he said. “Storytelling around the Olympics is incredibly powerful and the best advertisers leverage that opportunity to create strong emotional connections with their audiences through commercials and related digital experiences. The Rio Ad Meter Bracket allows Adobe to host a cultural conversation around Olympics marketing and acknowledge the efforts marketers are taking to be meaningful and relevant.”

According to NBC, the first four days of the Rio Olympics had nearly 123 million viewers, with an average of about 31 million per night.

And, in a statement, Dave Morgan, president of USA Today Sports Media Group, said, “We know there are conversations happening around Olympic-themed ads.”

As a result, Rio Ad Meter marks an opportunity for USA Today to create related content – in fact, the release said the media brand will produce a corresponding editorial series with articles that break down each round’s results “with insights from marketing experts and USA Today contributors.” In addition, a video series will “take a deeper dive into the top trends and topics surrounding the Olympics, including a behind-the-scenes look at the Team Visa Rio campaign and the most marketable athletes of the 2016 games.”

The rep said the Olympics are becoming an increasingly important part of many brands' marketing strategies and so USA Today wants Ad Meter to contribute to and drive the ad community conversation. This includes the aforementioned videos and articles, as well as interviews with a senior IOC marketing executive and USOC sponsors, as well as athletes about why they associate with particular brands and how their values align with those companies.

“We also wanted to bring the consumer perspective to the conversation, which is why we created the interactive and engaging bracket to allow fans to show their support for their favorite ads from this year’s Olympics,” the rep added.

Rio Ad Meter

While the Super Bowl Ad Meter includes “all national ads that air from after the coin toss through the end of regulation — including halftime,” the Rio Ad Meter will instead feature 32 curated spots in a bracket-style challenge that went live August 12.

According to the rep, USA Today’s editorial team narrowed the Olympic ad field to 32 candidates based on “a number of factors, including originality, cleverness and poignancy.”

The first round will span four days with voting closing on August 16. Each subsequent round will last two days with the final round kicking off August 22. Per the rep, USA Today will award a “gold medal” to the top ad on August 24.

Interestingly, after the IOC eased its stance on content from non-sponsor brands, the Rio Ad Meter will include ads from non-official sponsors as well.

See below for the brackets in full:

Region 1: Kerri Strug

First-round Matchups:

1. Coca-Cola’s "Gold Feelings" vs. 8. DeVry’s "Donnell Whittenburg"

2. Procter & Gamble’s "Thank You, Mom" vs. 7. United’s "One Journey. Two Teams."

3. Mini’s "Defy Labels" vs. 6. Visa’s “The Carpool to Rio"

4. Chobani’s "No Bad Stuff Anthem" vs. 5. Dick's "Gold in US"

Region 2: Michael Phelps

First-round Matchups:

1. Under Armour’s "Rule Yourself 1 (Michael Phelps)" vs. 8. Hershey's "Hello from Home"

2. Coca-Cola’s "Together Is Beautiful" vs. 7. Apple’s "The Human Family"

3. Virgin Media’s "Be the Fastest" vs. 6. Citi’s "Team USA"

4. Visa’s "The Swim" vs. 5. Omega’s "Recording Olympic Dreams"

Region 3: Carl Lewis

First-round Matchups:

1. Gillette’s "Perfect Isn't Pretty" vs. 8. Bridgestone’s "Road to Rio"

2. Nike’s "Unlimited You" vs. 7. Budweiser’s "Olympics Commercial"

3. Nissan’s "Bolt Vs Flame" vs. 6. Toyota’s "Stand Together"

4. USA Swimming’s "Swim United" vs. 5. Samsung’s "The Anthem"

Region 4: Jackie Joyner-Kersee

First-round Matchups:

1. Always’ "Keep Playing" vs. 8. Ralph Lauren’s "My Time"

2. Gatorade’s "Never Lose the Love" vs. 7. Ford’s "Fans"

3. Samsung’s "The Chant" vs. 6. Under Armour’s "Rule Yourself 2 (USA Women's Gymnastics)"

4. BMW’s "Built for Gold" vs. 5. Powerade’s "The Corner”