User acquisition Olympics: Win gold at the 2024 summer games

By John Koetsier July 2, 2024

Let’s face facts: you’re not the best swimmer in the world. You’re not the best runner, the best discus thrower, or the best boxer. And you’re probably not even going to the super celebration of sport we call the Summer Olympics later this month in Paris. But you can be a world class user acquisition specialist, and you can use the Summer Olympics as a catalyst to kick-start your app’s growth.

Here’s how:

Start now

It’s going to be busy during the Olympics, and it’s only a couple weeks away. Start early and build your user base now to activate during the Olympics.

(Yes Karen, this would have been better advice 2 months ago. But it’s still better than trying to break through the avalanche of noise that will coincide with the Summer Olympics in just a few weeks.)

Update your app icon for the Olympics

Real-world performance marketing shows that having a topical or seasonal twist on your app icon can boost installs up to 40% during a major event. 

“We even have a case with a customer who changed the icon and increased their installs by 40% with just a minor change on an icon … adding snowflakes,” says Darya Radchykava, a Senior Account Executive at Splitmetrics.

What’s going on here? Big events in the world make big noise. That buzz vibrates around in the correlation/connection engines we all own called brains. And when we see something that visually connects to that noise and buzz … BOOM … attention kicks in.

There are few bigger, noisier, and buzzier events than the Olympics. Updating your app icon with a winner’s gold medal or a wreath, or with some relevant sporting equipment, or a connection to Paris, where the summer games will be held, could just be the thing that makes you stand out from the crowd of other apps.

And, crucially, makes you relevant right now: enough to hit the download button.

Extra bonus: it’s super-easy and quick to implement. No code required!

Segment your app users to find your Olympic influencers

If you haven’t already, segment your app users to find the ones who might be more interested in sports (and therefore the Olympics).


Segment your app users


Add more segmentation for those who are mostly likely to participate in events, and another for those who are likely to share. Correlate all these segments to find the Venn diagram of who your super influencers are most likely to be, and focus your in-app messaging on them.

Messaging about what, you ask?

Keep reading …

Create an in-app Olympics event

The one free way to get App Store exposure without being featured is to hold an in-app event, which Apple surfaces in the App Store. Same thing with what Google calls “Promotional Content.” You can use this to get free buzz while boosting engagement for existing users and giving new users a specific and timely reason to start using your app right now.

Start by creating an Olympic-themed event that coincides with the actual Olympics, while being careful about copyright and trademarks. 

Some examples:

  • Dating app: Olympics of the heart … 5 speed dates in 5 days
  • Fitness app: Walking games … walk the 5K or 10K together
  • Game: Gold-medal games … iIn-app tournament, with medals and rewards
  • Productivity app: Unofficial Olympics … get-er-done games
  • News or information app: Olympic Trivia … ask some questions

Provide personal and social rewards for actions, continued engagement, level achievement, and winning. Personal rewards could include in-game currency, special ships; social rewards include leaderboards, publicity, and so on.

According to Google, half of “high-quality” events result in statistically significant uplift, and the median uplift is a fairly nice 106%.

Over twice as many “Explore” acquisitions is nothing to sneeze at, especially if they’re essentially free.

Make an Olympic character/ship/award

If you have ships or characters in your game, consider making a sports or games or gold medal version that aligns with the Olympics. Perhaps players can win this ship when playing in the in-app Olympics event. 

Give it special powers … rings of doom? … and make it temporarily available so it’s more desirable.

Get your ASO in gear

If you’re doing a bunch of Olympics-themed stuff in your app, tell the world. That means ads, sure, and maybe other channels like social and owned channels, if you’ve built them up over time, but it also means the primary way your app tells the world what’s in it: your app listing page.

Update your app listing with a few key mentions of the Olympics, including any updates or events you’re doing to celebrate. Just don’t forget to remove it within a week or 2 of the end of the Olympics!

During the Olympics

If you’re advertising during the Olympics, remember that creating topical ads that are relevant to major world events boost attention, interest, and action. 

So add an Olympic flavor to your ad campaigns that matches with your activity in-app to celebrate the event as well as boost your click-through rate. 

(Bonus: if you’ve updated your app listing and maybe given your app icon a game flavor, you should also be boosting your conversion rate post-click.)

Take an Olympics influencer long shot

If you have a big enough app, you’re likely to have a few Olympic-associated individuals using your app. And if you have privileges and permissions to see their location, you might even notice a few who are usually in Arkansas who happen to be showing up in or around Paris, and might even be connected to the Olympics, or even an athlete.

Pop up a message asking them to share your Olympic event while they’re at the Olympics … and you just might get lucky.

PR for the Olympics win

Take it from me as a Forbes contributor and long-time journalist: reporters are looking for stories that connect to major events. We’ve seen several occasions where PR has resulted in tens of thousands of quality installs recently.

  1. Hannah Parvaz with Quit Social Media
  2. Sara Neill with Mys Tyler

So try it.

Showcase your Olympic winners in a press release with all the relevant information and a few pictures, and connect it to the news in the Olympic summer games. Maybe it’s the “Games For The Rest Of Us,” or the Festivus of Olympics, or Feats of Mobile Gamedom, or whatever.

Hint: give journalists everything they need to write a story with, including quotes, and you’ll get more uptake.

Hint #2: keep at it with updates, sending replies to your first email. Journalists get thousands of emails a week. You need to be persistent to get your signal through the noise.

Geotarget for the win

People in China want to know about Chinese athletes. People in Argentina want to know about Argentinians, and so on around the world.

Update timelines and schedules in your app for key geos, letting people know when their key events are on, and then time your internal events along with that so they can second-screen your app along with their TV or laptop showing the action.

So much more you can do

There’s so much more you can do to make any major world event, including the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris, an opportunity to make your app or game relevant. The only barrier is a slice of creativity and a serving of effort.
If you make something cool, let me know!

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