With the Summer Olympic Games beginning in Tokyo, Japan, on Friday, July 23, many ad agencies would have committed their brands’ TV ad spending months ago.

But what if those agencies wanted to buy or change their campaigns during the competition?

NBC has partnered with video ad-tech firm Innovid to ensure that ads delivered through NBC’s digital streaming platforms can be tweaked in real-time, rather than in weeks.

Enabling third-party ad serving

In this video interview with Beet.TV, Innovid co-founder Tal Chalozin explains why this move represents a change for the way US Olympics TV rightsholder NBC has always done things.

“The advertiser needed to send a file via email and wait for confirmation in email and a lot of massively manual process, which created massive delays,” he says.

“Changing creatives in real-time, as the campaign goes, was close to impossible, let alone any advanced capabilities like rotation.

“From an ad-tech standpoint, there was no third-party ad serving into the Olympics.

“Now, for the first time ever … we will have actual third-party ad serving using an open standard like VAST available within the Olympics.”

In theory, that means advertisers could change the creative in their pre-purchased slots to reflect the performance of Team USA athletes, for example.

The everywhere Olympics

Chalozin says the tech hook-up is available across everywhere NBC is streaming Olympics, including NBC Sports, Peacock, syndication sources like Twitch.

Innovid customers get the NBC inventory out of the box, and there is a new self-service ad-buying portal ad OlympicsAdManager.com.

With this year’s Olympics held in Japan, for US viewers, many events will be happening in the early hours of the morning or otherwise the day-time.

Olympics’ CTV year

Since viewers mostly flock to live sport drama, that poses a challenge to NBC. Of course, it’s a challenge that the broadcaster – the IOC’s long-running US broadcaster – regularly has to contend with, as the Olympics routinely relocates to different continents.

But this year represents something different – a year when on-demand viewing via connected TV (CTV) services could help non-live viewership to swell.

In Olympic years gone by, on-demand viewing was largely confined to desktop and mobile services. But consumers’ CTV behavior has exploded in the years since the last games in Rio in 2016.

If NBC can attract viewers to its Olympics CTV content, it will also want to take advantage of the medium’s advertising advantages in order to realize the best commercial opportunity from it.

But the move also represents  big mindset shift for broadcasters, which have long treated such tentpole events as a big opportunity to secure ad commitments long in advance.

In a pre-Olympics pandemic year when advertisers’ business planning went haywire, there was value in becoming more responsive than that.

New global hire

Innovid’s Olympics news also comes alongside another announcement – the appointment of Dominic Satur as VP of global brand partnerships.

Based in London, he will be responsible for expanding relationships with global brands and leading advertising transformation across channels.

Satur was previously with ad-tech company Flashtalking, which is due to be acquired by MediaOcean, for 10 years, most recently as VP of business development in Europe. He had helped that company build its European client base.

His role will involve counselling brands on how to take advantage of the new CTV opportunity.