Can you even imagine a time when YouTube was that small?

The old-school costs associated with ad campaigns.

Facebook wasn’t nearly the international force in 2008 that it is now.

Twitter was, by comparison, nearly non-existent.

The brands that rank highest, when searching for Olympic brand campaigns.

Where the social-media campaigns are happening.

Infographic: What's Different About The 2012 Olympics? Social Media, Basically

How much bigger is social media in 2012 than it was in 2008? Three times? Ten times? Try 100 times.

The Olympics are one of our oldest traditions—a time capsule we revisit every four years. And while its athletes gradually become stronger and faster, other technologies have been advancing exponentially.

Click to enlarge.

This infographic by Pappas Group really puts that idea into perspective. It compares the size of social media in 2008 with 2012, using Olympic events like weight lifting and pole vault to scale just how much this sector has grown.

"When we began to visualize the impact of the Summer Games on branded social media, each category we were looking at took on its own event-like stature. So the idea of using a traditional isometric style to create an Olympic arena of sorts seemed like a natural fit," explains Art Director Spencer Slemenda. "We started thinking of different events and how they would affect the chart data. The integration of the cut-out athletes came quite easily from that."

The visuals are remarkably effective at fleshing out these stats—let’s just admit it, swimmers competing for first place, even if they just create a bar graph anyway, are far more interesting to look at than a traditional graph. But there’s a larger point that we see in Pappas’s infographic that’s more important than the sheer number of Facebook subscribers or the amount companies like P&G spend on advertisements: The web, Internet, or cloud, whatever you call it, powers entities that expand on the exponential scale, a scale far beyond the frameworks of even the most impressive physical specimens of the human species. And so while it’s not so hard to imagine the Olympics in another hundred years, imagining the digital infrastructure behind them becomes entirely unfathomable.

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  • RichardLipscombe

    thanks for this article - it makes me think about the potential impact of social media on the revenue models that shape our experience of the Olympic there is an interesting conflict between Olympic Brands and Social Media...Olympic brands tend to be exclusive on event content while social media tends to be inclusive on the same event effect they are pulling in different directions...

    surely the challenge for those running the next Olympics, in Brazil, is to have these two elements of the Olympic experience in sync... in future, there is so much potential for new brand value for those advertising, marketing, or promoting the Olympic experience in a digital economy...

    ahead the marketing gurus face the challenge of how best to marry the social media experience with the brand experience of the Olympics (ie onsite and through various media channels)...those who purchased the rights to Olympic Brands perhaps need to be encouraged to find new ways to work together that will ulimately maximize the value of the Olympic experience for their consumers - eg commercial TV might  increase the value of the Olympics to their advertisers if they develop digital revenue models that ensure more social network access to event content (including interviews with athletes, etc)...

    in future the impact of social media on the Olympics will surely be greatly enhanced when brands and social networking are both inclusive of the event content we all want to experience...cheers richard.

  • Rich Beans

    I thought infographics make information easy to read. How is the information even related? I get anxiety looking at this. 

  • Thouz

    The data is interesting. Meanwhile it's too bad the visualization is not very effective.

    Not sure why the isometric format was chosen, except for maybe the 'cool' factor. It seems irrelevant to the theme, and makes the information difficult to read.

    In some charts, the labels are connected to the separation lines in between the segments (e.g. swimming pool, archery), which is taxing on the eyes.

    A few other minor observations:

    In the top bar charts, the scale/ticks don't seem to have use while adding clutter (maybe except the top one, but the bar values are labeled at the bottom anyway).

    In the Team Nike vs. Adidas charts at the bottom, why use K in one and 000 in the rest?

    The bright yellow background, optically adding noise in the negative space, may be contributing to the difficult readability / focus overall.

  • Lex

    Sad that Adidas was misspelled. Sort of ruins the effectiveness of that portion of the info graphic.