Stories are King…Not Content or Traffic…Olympic Digital Strategy Revisited

So ole Olivier has pulled his punches and has shown us how headlines work…force individuals like me to pull over from a five hour road trip to write a post…somewhat related.

In his witty post about blog content, generating revenue from the blog, converting content into traffic, thus traffic into revenue…has led me to a discussion, especially as it relates to his headline:

“10 Digital Content Strategy Lessons from the Olympic Games.”

He goes on to pull this premise:

“”Content is king?” Bullshit. Traffic is king. “Content,” or rather the promise of content is just the pull, the pitch, the promise. The real carrot is the revenue from that traffic.”

I agree and I want to add to the debate.

Ok…I am going to use these two premises from his argument to make a point…

First…my thought is this…Stories Are King…Stories Sell…Stories Generate Revenue. Social Media is just the marketing tool to generate the traffic and buzz that feeds to the stories! Guess what, NBC is capitalizing on this free market of real time information exchange.

All week, people have been bitching and complaining about the Olympic spoilers. Think back to Tuesday when the Women’s Gymnasitics won Gold, first time since 1996. Huffington Post and many other outlets posted pictures and information immediately to the front pages of their websites, then tweeted and shared with the world.

People were fussing and complaining about this information coming across their social timelines and newsfeeds. They may been spoiled, but it was one hell of a marketing channel that NBC leveraged later that evening.

LaTimes reported: “NBC made the team’s story the anchor of its taped Tuesday prime-time coverage, which drew an average of 38.7 million total viewers, according to Nielsen.”

They go on to tell us, “It was the most-watched first Tuesday of any non-U.S. Summer Games since 1960, when American Olympic telecasts started.”

This storyline was one that captivated online, US audiences. We looked at the headlines, we complained we found out early. But…OOH BUT…do you think that Tuesday nights viewership would have broken Olympic viewership numbers without the social share of real time information?

Now let’s get to the story. We as American’s know the competitiveness of Women’s Gymnastics in the Olympics. I remember watching Mary Lou Retton capture our hearts with her amazing story and her amazing Gold Medal performance. Yep…it was 1984 and it was a perfect 10. You can watch it by CLICKING HERE. Thus the storyline gains American context.

As U.S. gymnast McKayla Maroney was congratulated by her teammates after competing in the vault in the women’s team competition Tuesday at the 2012 London Olympic Games…the storyline was in place. The Gold was secured…and the social space blew up Tuesday.

From As the US Women’s Gymnastics team wins Gold (just after 10am ET), roughly 23K comments/minute made on social outlets. And that was not the peak for the day. As the men’s swim team won the 200m Freestyle Relay, the social conversation peaked around 34.8K comments/minute.

The Women’s Gymnastic Gold story created buzz…this story generated social eruption…this story created a social awareness better than any digital tv guide. People knew they had to go home and watch the story unfold. And NBC capitalized by making this story the anchor of the taped delay broadcast.

They watched the social eruption and capitalized on the story. What does 38.7 million total viewers mean…ad revenue.

Well before the Olympics…NBC CEO was in a break-even mentality:

“Combined with higher production costs in London, NBC had expected at one point to take a $200 million loss for the games. NBC paid $1.2 billion for the rights to show the games on TV and online in the U.S. Before the games opened, it said it sold more than $1 billion in ads, breaking the record of $850 million set during the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

Ahead of the London Games, NBC got 10 percent more for every minute of prime-time advertising compared with the Beijing Games. It also tripled its pre-sales of online ads to $60 million, as it’s streaming all events live for the first time.

Better ratings could mean higher rates for ads sold at the last minute. They could also help the network, which is fourth overall in U.S. ratings, promote new shows in its fall lineup and boost viewership of non-sports programs such as “Today” and “NBC Nightly News” during the Olympics.”

So…23K social comments/minute during women’s gold and 38.4K social comments/minute during men’s swimming gold led to 38.7 million total viewers. Do you think this will help ad revenue? I bet NBC is going to capitalize on the moment when America was spoiled with this trending story.

Story’s SellStories are King…and the real time social share was the channel that tied the story to the viewers online, converting them to watch later. They wanted to watch for their own eyes. Traffic (or the measurement of the traffic) just gives something for the bean counters to sell the story. If you don’t have a story (a compelling story with layers)…you don’t have traffic.

And for Olivier…headlines sell as well!

***Image credit to Olivier’s blog and