Online ads need to stop being intrusive, especially around 2018 Olympics: Eurosport MD

Arjun Kharpal & Lucy Handley, special to CNBC
Shutterstock | Advertising Week Europe

New advertising formats that are integrated with content, rather than intrusive to viewers, are needed ahead of the 2018 Winter Olympics, according to one of its broadcasters.

"We actually as an industry need to do work to create formats that are more native to online and how people want to experience that. That's a big open question for people," said Ralph Rivera, managing director of Eurosport Digital, speaking to CNBC Correspondent Arjun Kharpal on a panel at the Advertising Week Europe conference in London this week.

In 2015, Discovery-owned Eurosport won the 1.3 billion euros ($1.4 billion) rights to screen the Olympic Games from 2018 to 2024 in Europe, beating public broadcasters such as the BBC, which does not permit advertising. The BBC will continue to show the Olympics, in a sub-licensing deal signed with Eurosport in February 2016.

Rivera added that the industry needs to think beyond simply moving traditional advertising formats into new mediums.

"The way we look to answer that – and the Olympics is a great context for that because there are a lot of restrictions for how you advertise - is how do you create formats that can be integrated but less intrusive?" Rivera said.

"The next time the Olympics rolls around with Eurosport doing it all online, will be the first time that advertisers can actually advertise in and around Olympic video."

"So we are looking at that and saying how can we do that in such a way that it doesn't disturb the experience but provides the ability for a sponsor to get their [message] to be integrated, to do bumpers [or] overlays that are way more integrated than they otherwise would be."

Rivera joined Eurosport last October from the BBC, where he was director of BBC Digital, and said that his role is part of the broadcaster's push to premium rights.

"The key message in joining was: this isn't the Eurosport that you might be familiar with, which used to take second tier sort of rights, what was leftover when the public broadcasters had the rights. It was: let's get premier rights like the Olympics, like Bundesliga [soccer league] in Germany, like [the] Tippeligaen league in Norway and be much more exclusive rights, more local and more premium," he said.

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