The world’s best athletes are competing in Rio de Janeiro right now, but the digital ads game may be even more competitive.

Here are the six ways to handle the cutthroat sport of digital advertising during the world’s biggest athletic event.


In the same way that an elite athlete keeps a close watch on how their training sessions are improving, you will want to keep a very close eye on your metrics.

Since the next two weeks will be filled with advertising, both on and off of social media, you will want to ensure your spend is both effective and efficient – you’re likely to be up against a lot of competition for placement no matter your market.

A constant watch of the benchmarks you have already set for your campaigns will make sure that you stay in budget.


If you’re a brand selling swimwear, sports drinks, or fitness tracking app, you can incorporate your products into the overall theme of this elite athleticism.

Utilizing your designers to upgrade your creative and connect your message to the sporting events that are taking place, can make your brand relevant and exciting to a new group of potential customers or users.

As we will discuss below (and as you may have picked up already), there are very strict rules regarding how closely you can discuss these events. But as long as you walk that very fine line, you can work the events to your advantage with your creative.


If you sell sneakers and target people who play basketball, that approach may not need to change. However, who exactly Facebook chooses to place in that targeted group may change. This change could be based on consumers’ responses to the ongoing sporting events taking place.

You could also more narrowly target different Facebook users or Google searchers through the use of new keywords or interest sets that may tie in more closely to the big games. This could help you unlock new audiences that hadn’t previously been exposed to your products and offers.


There are many brands out there that have paid enormous sums of money to be exclusive partners for this event. Whether it’s a specific sport, or the games as a whole, they have paid for their role as the king of the hill.

With that knowledge, advertising costs are likely to increase. These brands will be spending massive amounts of money on their ads during this time, and you will want to make sure you keep your eyes peeled for any jumps in your own costs.

Be sure that you check your bids, and perhaps even turn them down, to save money for the upcoming holiday season in Q4.


There are two major drawbacks to advertising on Facebook during this time.

First, as mentioned above, the larger advertisers will be spending big on Facebook. Unless you are able to match their spend or top it (which will be hard) you risk get drowned out on that platform.

Second, these sporting events occur at nearly lightening speed. It can be difficult to keep up with your ads on Facebook at the same rate that the competitions are occurring in reality.

So during this time, Twitter might actually be the better platform for your ad spend. Not only can you keep up with the fast pace of the events, you can also promote Tweets as soon as you post them. This allows you to capitalize almost immediately on anything major or exciting that happens.

Not to mention, back in 2012, Twitter beat Facebook for the amount of use during the Summer Olympic Games.

It’s a rare day that you would find a better ROI on Twitter over Facebook, but this is just such a time.


As you may have noticed, I have been extremely careful to leave out specific phrases or words when I have been describing how best to succeed during these next two weeks of competition.

The reason for this is from Rule 40 and Rule 50 of the International Olympic Committee’s by-laws.

Their purpose is to ensure that the “national and Olympic identity of athletes” remain at the forefront of the competition during the Games.

In the same vein, it also protects those that have spent millions to be official sponsors of the Olympic games. They get the exclusive right to associate themselves with the Olympics via hashtags, posts, and social media generally.

Since any discussion of the Games, outside of news articles or explaining these rules, cannot be incorporated into advertising, you have to be very creative in your language.

I’ve used terms and themes such as “elite athletics”, “major competition”, “competition over the next two weeks”, and mentioned Brazil, but not the city that the events are occurring.

All of these methods and more are crucial to avoid repercussions for promoting your brand during this time.

So long as you follow the letter of the law, you can keep yourself out of hot water (or contaminated water, as the case may be).


With this big event coming right before the ever exciting holiday shopping season, you will want to make sure you pace your ad spending appropriately. Follow these six methods, and you should waltz into the 4th quarter of 2016 on budget and ahead of the game.