Back in 2005 the internet was a simpler place. Twitter didn’t exist, the mobile web was a new fangled idea that hadn’t really caught on and broadband had only just become more common than dialup.

So with that as a background, the team given the job developing the new media strategy for the London 2012 Olympics must have had little idea of how drastically their task would change.

What started out as a team of two ended up involving 14 people who built 77 digital products, sites or services in six years.

At Econsultancy’s JUMP 2012 event LOCOG’s head of new media Alex Balfour revealed some of the impressive stats achieved by his team during the Games...

Web traffic

  • During the Olympics the LOCOG site achieved 432m total visits from 109m unique users across web and mobile, making it the most visited Games-time channel ever.
  • 60% of visits came from mobile devices. On weekdays 35% of visits came from mobile users, but this increased to more than 50% on weekends.
  • The Paralympics achieved similarly impressive stats with 30m total visits from 9.5m unique users across web and mobile.
  • Again a majority (52%) of visits came from mobile devices.
  • The Paralympics achieved roughly 9% of the traffic that Olympics did – at the Vancouver Games it was about 1%.

Mobile app downloads

  • The official Olympics app was downloaded 15m times, achieving the number one ranking in seven countries.
  • 5.8m people then upgraded it to the Paralympic version.
  • The original apps contained so much data they slowed people’s phones down and had to be scrapped.
  • 66,000 people rang a digital bell on the Join In app to welcome the Games on July 27.


  • In order to compete with broadcasters and traditional news outlets LOCOG ran a massive SEO campaign targeting 1,700 keywords.
  • Two thirds (66%) of traffic to the LOCOG site came from search.

  • To help drive traffic to the site LOCOG partnered with Google to run 10 Olympics themed Google Doodles in 16 days.
  • Around 5% of traffic came from the doodles and ‘knowledge panels’ that appear on the right-hand side of SERPs as part of Google’s Knowledge Graph.

Site content

  • LOCOG had no rights to the official video of the Games, so had to come up with a content strategy that didn’t involve any highlight footage.
  • This included live results from 7,000 heats or phases, country pages for 205 nations, profile pages for 10,490 athletes, 5,000 images and 100 stories a day, 15,000 non-sport events, 1,043 torch community runs mapped, and 8,000 torch bearer profiles even including twitter accounts.
  • It created detailed desktop and app maps of all venues that allowed the user to zoom down to seating level.
  • The mobile apps also had augmented reality and CGI venue tours.
  • The dedicated online journey planners were busiest at 9-10pm the night before events.
  • 10m visitors looked at the Torch Relay content, with 25% of them viewing the map that showed exactly where the torch was using GPS.

Global reach

  • People from 201 different countries visited the website, with the most frequent visitors being from the US and UK.

  • People from 155 countries used the mobile apps.
  • 40% of all online Britons visited the website, as did 29% of all online New Zealanders, 19% of all online Canadians, 12% of all online Americans.
  • For the Paralympics 50% of visits came from UK, 7.43% from the US, 4.88% from Australia and 3.2% from France.

Audience retention

  • LOCOG carried out more than 2,000 hours of user testing on its website.
  • Across the desktop and mobile sites the average visit time was 8 minutes 34 seconds, while the average page views per visit (PPV) was 8.26.
  • On the smartphone app the average PPV was 23 while on the tablet app it was 29.
  • The apps got 4+ star ratings across all platforms and received thousands of positive reviews.


  • Facebook was the top traffic referral source after search.
  • LOCOG had 4.7m fans and followers across Foursquare, Facebook, Google+ and Twitter.

  • LOCOG had eight different Facebook accounts with an accumulative 1.86m likes.
  • London 2012 content reached 49m Facebook users at peak, 43% of who were aged under 24.
  • According to Facebook it achieved more than 100m likes across all Olympic athlete and team pages.
  • The Olympics had full open graph integration with celebrate and support buttons on its website. 200,000 users logged in with their Facebook credentials with 1.4% clickthroughs from their posts back to
  • LOCOG provided an experimental feed into Facebook so 100 athletes could feed their results onto their pages.


  • LOCOG had 1.9m Twitter followers and received 150m tweets about the Games.
  • The team ran 48 Twitter accounts including 36 sport accounts with live feeds, two mascot accounts and six twitter cameras.
  • During each of the opening ceremony rehearsals there were around 16,000 tweets related to the event, 25% using #savethesurprise.
  • During the Games there were live tweets from across 40 venues and medal ceremonies.
  • The hashtag #supportyourteam was used in 1.55m tweets for 204 teams during the Olympics, and 50,000 tweets for the Paralympics.
  • And the team that topped the #supportyourteam Twitter leader board? Mongolia!

Google+ and YouTube

  • The Games clocked up 818,000 Google+ followers.
  • More than 5,000 people took part in global Google+ events for the opening and closing ceremonies.
  • There were 1.1m views of “Rock the Games” on which included live performances and Q&As from Rizzle Kicks, Mika, Noisettes, Lawson, Conor Maynard and several other acts.


  • The official Tumblr blog, which gave live backstage updates during the opening and closing ceremonies, achieved 500,000 visits.
  • More than 2m people watched the backstage videos across various channels


  • There were 100,764 Foursquare check-ins during the Games. 
  • Visitors from 120 countries checked-in to special Olympic and Torch Relay badges.
  • There were 627,000 Facebook check-ins to 40 different venues.
  • More than 10m location-based push mobile messages were sent to ticketholders in the stadia, including exclusive ceremony photos, spectator surveys and information.
  • These messages achieved around 60% open rates and around 60% of app users had location enabled.
  • 4,000 spectators completed surveys on their smartphones.


  • 83m emails were sent to 200 countries, with 17 different daily editions.
  • 13m emails were opened and 5m links were clicked.
  • Email segments included 150 different permutations based on GB and non-GB editorial iterations, medal table and start times highlighted based on country, supported/favourite sports, and daily regional event listings based on the user’s UK postcode.
  • LOCOG’s email marketing also featured a number of accessibility options, including large text, high visibility and dyslexia friendly versions.


  • The official London Olympics online shop received 1.4m unique visitors with an order volume well into six figures.
  • 5% of orders came from mobile devices.
  • This chart shows the most common ways that visitors found the site:

Ad performance

  • LOCOG ran 17 online campaigns during the Games, which achieved 5.9bn ad impressions.
  • Website CTRs were as high as 0.18%, while average the CTR on the mobile site and apps was 0.3% and 0.56% respectively.

David Moth

Published 15 October, 2012 by David Moth

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn

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Comments (10)

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Ben Goodwin, Email marketing manager at Personal

All that hard work and they still couldn't build a functioning ticket site...

almost 6 years ago


Gary Bembridge

Great to see all these stats, and for me the real test was that the way the Olympics used digital was amazing. The apps, content etc as a user was just brilliant. Hence the numbers! A real step change and learning!

almost 6 years ago

Adrian Bold

Adrian Bold, Director at Bold Internet Ltd

Some great stats. It would be good to know how many seats were left empty due to corporates taking allocations they didn't use or couldn't give away to celebs.

almost 6 years ago


Bob Wilson, Personal

"The official London Olympics online shop received 1.4m unique visitors with an order volume well into six figures." This conversion rate seems extraordinarily high (unless it somehow includes ticket sales). Wondering if there is there a mistake here, ie should that be 14m unique visitors or five figures? (which would be much more plausibe)

almost 6 years ago

Tim Aldiss

Tim Aldiss, Consultant/Director at ThinkSearch

RSS as the biggest traffic driver to the site (in the Ecommerce graph)? ...I presume this is because of syndicated content?

almost 6 years ago

James Gurd

James Gurd, Owner at Digital JugglerSmall Business Multi-user

Hi David,

Thanks for sharing.

For me the most interesting stat is "Around 5% of traffic came from the doodles and ‘knowledge panels’ that appear on the right-hand side of SERPs as part of Google’s Knowledge Graph".

First stat I've seen on traffic % from the new Knowledge Graph content.

I guess it's nice to look at the positive side of the Olympics e-commerce performance instead of dwelling on the intense nightmare of the ticketing site (which probably explains time on site as it took at least 5 mins to even find an event that had tickets!).


almost 6 years ago


Paul Coombs

Thanks David, great stats and insight, but one of the mobile points doesn't quite make sense:

60% of visits came from mobile devices. On weekdays 35% of visits came from mobile users, but this increased to more than 50% on weekends.

Perhaps you meant "40% of visits came from mobile devices..."?

almost 6 years ago

David Moth

David Moth, Managing Editor at Barclaycard

@Paul, the stats come from what was said in the presentation and his slides, which can be seen here:

The slides say 60%.

almost 6 years ago

Alex Balfour

Alex Balfour, Head of New Media at London 2012


35%/50% of visits on the website came from mobile devices

Across website and Apps inclusive 60% of all visits came from mobile devices

Alex (find me at

almost 6 years ago

David Moth

David Moth, Managing Editor at Barclaycard

@ Alex, thanks for clearing that up.

almost 6 years ago

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