Why Australia's Olympic Committee invested in bespoke digital fan engagement

Partners and sponsors gain brand exposure and conversion through online experiences for virtual spectators

The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) set its sights on an online fan hub as a digital destination for gamified fan experiences during the recent winter Olympics.

“We were looking for something that provides a slightly different angle for our fans around Games time,” AOC digital and marketing manager, Will Jago, told CMO. “From an awareness perspective, the Olympic Games is incredible, with many millions of people across the country and across the world engaging with the Olympics, whether they're viewing it, whether it’s engaging with views for social media content and so on.  

“The one avenue we didn't have, prior to Tokyo, was that place where we could have fans engaging with an Australian team platform while the Olympic Games were going on.”  

The idea was to encourage fans to get involved in the action during the Olympics, without the need to be in the stadium. At the most recent games, there was a photo competition encouraging people to try winter sports in the height of summer using the hashtag, #ChasingWinterYourWay. Fans could also get involved with daily live trivia.  

For AOC sponsorship partners, digital enables them to achieve brand exposure and conversion through real-time, user first tailored experiences for fans “through a noise-free channel developed solely for updates on the Australian Olympic team,” Jago said.  

Understanding the value equation  

Work started with Tokyo 2020, which gave the AOC an understanding about where it could deliver additional appeal for fans while providing value for partners and stakeholders. With the most recent Olympics at Beijing 2022, the platform was able to hone fan data, “allowing us to make informed decisions in building our fanbase for the years to come,” Jago said.  

The AOC tapped Komo to develop a platform for compelling virtual experiences for the AOC and sponsors that support the team. Jago described the platform as “light touch” from the AOC’s side, pointing to the ease of drag-and-drop functionality as enabling the team to do a lot of what it wanted to do in a responsive way.  

“We could be quite dynamic and have a sense of familiarity but every single day have set promotions, like trivia or moments of the day. It also gave us a platform to spin up new things on each day if something became particularly newsworthy,” he explained.  

"This also coincided with our customer data strategy we've embarked on, where we could capture first-party data and build up the datasets to start understanding more about what sports people were interested in, which athletes the fans were interested in and so on.”  

Building up datasets has created opportunity for the AOC during the Games time itself, but it's also opened up engagement outside of this timeframe while connecting athletes with Australian fans.  

Driving the digital strategy  

As part of its digital strategy, and with Channel Seven as broadcast rightsholder, the AOC was able to roll some of the network’s audience tags across its platform to understand even more about audiences at Games time.  

“The audience goes from tens of thousands outside of the Games up to millions during Games time, so it gave us a really good opportunity to understand a lot more about the insights behind those users without having the first-party data to target them directly,” Jago said.  

The platform also enables the AOC to develop connections between specific athletes and fans.  

“It gave us an opportunity to create content, so then that content became promoting those good luck messages just before the respective athletes started competing,” Jago continued. “Then when those athletes finished competing, we had very simple execution where we could then connect those kids who sent in the good luck messages with the athlete who competed just simply via Zoom.  

“It created a really lovely connection between the athlete and the student, whereby they can talk about inspiring the next generation and also challenges they may face at the grassroots level. Then again, it also created content for our channels. So it facilitated that full circle whereby we're engaging the kids and encouraging them to send in good luck messages, using that as content and then connecting the kids with the athletes after the competition.”  

The whole approach fit neatly into the AOC’s digital strategy of building audiences and insights and understanding them and then using athlete-led content to drive that. As a membership-style organisation rather than a strictly commercial organisation, Jago noted terms like ‘conversion’ and ‘funnels’ take on a different meaning.  

“Growth and conversions are about driving grassroots participation and the usual marketing funnel goes right down to this point too. On the marketing front, the mission is about building value for each of those individual stakeholders,” he said.  

The AOC’s key campaign is called ‘Have A Go’ and is about driving participation at the grassroots level. The goal is to bring together some of the Olympic partners that are data rich in a way to create value for the national federation at the grassroots level.  

“We want to be able to leverage that insight and understanding of the Australian public around the Olympic Games and to actually help drive registrations at the grassroots level,” Jago said. “There's commercial brand alignment and branded content we use to create the Have A Go platform and it’s making sure that delivers for the national federation as well so they can actually drive tangible results.”  

Have A Go is a long-term play that will take the AOC right up to the Olympics in Brisbane in 2032.  

“Everything we're doing in the platform is toward the next generation. It provides that natural bridge into the Olympic movement from the engagement is happening in schools,” Jago added.  

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You can also follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, follow our regular updates via CMO Australia's Linkedin company page   


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