World Record or False Start? Here’s how the brands behind the Games’ best ads actually deliver for potential customers

As the world slowly reopens, the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo are both a reminder that we’re making progress (the Games are actually happening), but also that we still have a ways to go (no spectators allowed in the stands). But the magic of the Games are the performances themselves. So the notion of the whole world watching the same event, together, after the year plus we’ve all endured, is nothing short of special.

And brands agree. With so many eyeballs simultaneously glued to this two-week period, they’ll be paying a pretty penny to tie their message in with the moment to either reinforce or jumpstart awareness of their brand — ultimately leading to more business.

Given that, the most expected action a potential customer would take upon seeing a particular ad (or an in-game reference to a primary sponsor) is to visit that brand’s website. After all, a brand’s website these days is its digital storefront. And after a year of COVID, online activity has never been higher. So our question is about, well, questions. We wanted to know which brands, with all their investment driving potential customers to their website, can actually answer basic questions using their site search experience?

Following AdWeek’s list of the Games’ top ads, let’s find out which brands are medal-worthy, and which didn’t even qualify for competition:

1. The International Olympic Committee: Did not qualify

Question: How old is Sky Brown? (featured in ad as youngest Olympian)

Their answer: No answer — no search functionality on

What about

Their answer: Random answer

2. Dick’s Sporting Goods: Did not qualify

Question: What is the best women’s fencing equipment? (featured prominently in ad)

Their answer: Random results — including a Milwaukee Bucks NBA championship hat!

3. Michelob Ultra: Did not qualify

Question: How many calories does Michelob Ultra have?

Their answer: No answer — no search functionality

4. Ally Bank: Qualified, but no medal

Question: What is your savings account interest rate?

Their answer: A list of account types and their current rates — decent job, a few steps away from a direct answer.

5. Canon: Did not qualify

Question: How much do DSLR cameras weigh?

Their answer: Random answer

6. Procter & Gamble: Did not qualify

Question: How many brands does P&G have?

Their answer: Random answer

7.  Microsoft: Bronze medal

Question: How much does Microsoft Teams cost?

Their answer: It depends on team size — provided a helpful link. Well done, but still required another click to the link.

8. Costa Coffee: Did not qualify

Question: Where is the nearest location?

Their answer: No answer — no search functionality

9.  Vans: Did not qualify

Question: What are the best skate shoes for beginners?

Their answer: Photos and links to potential product fits, but no direct answer. 

10. Pantene: Did not qualify

Question: What’s the best shampoo for curly hair?

Their answer: No answer — no search functionality

The final tally:

8 “Did not qualify”

1 “Qualified, but no medal”

1 Bronze medal

Microsoft came the closest, but no brand on this list was able to follow up their impressive brand ads with an equally impressive site search functionality. This is a surprising oversight, namely because site search is 1.8x more effective at driving conversions compared to visitors who don’t use site search. Sure, customers can attempt to navigate through category tabs and product descriptions, but when a front-and-center search bar can’t answer even the most basic of questions, even the most patient customer would be inclined to move right along and exit the funnel.

So the search podium looks pretty bleak here, with the big winner performing at a bronze level. That’s because most of these brands are using an unathletic version of site search. The gold standard is AI search, so hopefully before the 2024 Games come around, more brands will use the offseason to get their websites in Olympic shape.

To learn more about Yext’s modern AI search platform and how it can help your brand turn site visitors into winning customers, click here.

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