The esports industry is continuing its explosive year-on-year growth, causing a surge of interest from businesses wanting to be part of the excitement. In this blog, we examine what makes marketing hard within the esports industry, and share a few suggestions on how businesses can get involved.
With esports expected to be worth $1.4 billion by 2020, it’s not surprising that everyone wants to get in on the action. The tactics involved can be tricky to master, however the results are worth the effort.
The approach needs to be well thought-out and strategic, as it has been widely acknowledged that fans of esports are value-focussed and prefer not to be sold to. This value is also not only for themselves but the industry as a whole, making it quite a tough brief to fit.
Why are esports fans demanding this added value?
Whilst examining the vast amounts of research, it becomes clear that the esports audience has been around for a while – a long time prior to the rest of the world getting involved. Therefore, they have watched it grow and feel protective of it being exploited and negatively impacted as a result.
The flipside to this is that if businesses are doing their groundwork and coming through with something of value, the fans are appreciative and have been found to be much more willing to engage with the brand as a result.
One example of this in action is when Old Spice teamed up with Twitch (a key platform for esport fans) to host a game for three days. During this campaign, ‘chatters’ could help dictate what the main character did next. This activity was so natural for esport fans that the product placements did not phase them and the campaign resulted in the fans adding value to one of their favourite platforms through the increase in visits and engagement.
During the three-day event, this collaboration achieved 2.65 million views, with approximately 57% of these being unique, ensuring that Old Spice was featured on the homepage for the entirety of the campaign.
What marketing options are available to target esport fans?
1. YouTube & Twitch
Video streaming is a significant component of esports and these two are the largest platforms for it. They both allow fans to communicate in real time with their stars, watch large scale events in the comfort of their home or on the go, and keep up with new tactics and techniques for their favourite games. Both platforms have a range of advertising options available that can fit all budgets and project sizes – from pre-roll ads to homepage takeovers, as well as display capabilities.
As the use of video is a strong medium for digital marketing in 2019, it should not be hard to identify how your company could integrate itself into these platforms.
The online esports arena is made up of a mix of teams, players, streamers and more. There are multiple opportunities for brands to tap into these platforms and engage with them for mutually-beneficial deals, so your product can be promoted. The beauty of influencers in esports is that they are online natives, and as a result, engaging with a wide audience across multiple platforms comes naturally to them.
If we look at product placement, a product could be featured within a Twitch stream, in a tweet and also highlighted on Instagram, all by the one connected community member. However, once again, it’s important for companies to be savvy with their offering and ensure it fits both the esports environment, as well as the profiles of the people you are wanting to promote through.
If your budget is bigger, there are plenty of larger scale opportunities. Team sponsorships or capitalising on the 100-minute viewing time by each spectator, are both viable options to expand your promotion – think Red Bull, IBM or Coca Cola, these opportunities exist and are well used!
In fact, if you watch an event either live or as a highlight reel, you will be able to note how commonplace sponsorships are in esports. The key to this is being mindful that whilst there is a range of teams and events, there will also be slight differences in audiences for each. For instance, a game with a younger fan base may be a better opportunity for a fast-moving consumer good, such as a drink, whereas an older audience would probably be a better fit for a higher cost good, such as a car.
4. Digital landing page
If undertaking any of the above then please don’t forget to have a landing page that keeps the experience linked and consistent for all esports fans.
Landing pages, when designed and linked, also provide a great opportunity to invite fans to explore other areas of your business, engage with offers and increase their trust in your brand. Essentially a landing page can be a hub that catches interest generated off the back of your other efforts and directs this interest appropriately.
5. Think outside the box
As the majority of elements of esports are undertaken in the digital world, there are a wealth of opportunities to take part in, so get creative! For example, cinemas recently started holding viewing events for live competitions, opening up another avenue to get your message out. By sponsoring these in-cinema events, your business is shared via the cinema’s channels, thus vastly increasing your reach to fans.
As the global IT infrastructure improves, the esports industry is only like to grow in popularity and size both within new and existing markets. The digital nature of the industry also means that greater access to untapped markets will increase as well.
Now’s the time to jump in and get involved within this space, as it’s a key example of being able to start small. Just don’t forget to be authentic.
To talk to us about your marketing options, or to find out more about Croud, get in touch.