Marketing with professional sports teams is nothing new. Brands have been spending advertising dollars on multi-million-dollar Superbowl ads and extravagant athlete sponsorships for decades. And, in recent years, there has been a massive addition to the industry, Esports.
Esports is a serious steam of revenue and doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. Esports came onto the scene around 2012 and since then it has escalated to a 1-billion-dollar industry. Gaming has left the console and has taken the world by storm with the advent of streaming platforms, live events, tournaments and gaming influencers. Today we’re going to look at the rise of esports and how brands are capitalizing on the massive audience to market their products.
Esports describes the world of competitive, organized video gaming. Much like traditional sports, there are various leagues and teams that face-off against each other, playing the same games that are popular among recreational gamers. Some notable games are Fortnite, Call of Duty, Counter-Strike, League of Legends and Madden NFL.
These professional gamers have worldwide audiences that interact with them online or at live events. Gamers gained popularity on YouTube where they could upload their gameplay online for fans to consume. Since then, streaming services like Twitch have taken over, allowing fans to watch their favourite gamers play in real-time.
Here’s a better question. Who doesn’t watch esports? According to a recent study, 380 million people worldwide will watch esports this year, with the bulk of fans coming from North America, China and South Korea. It is projected that esports will have the second-highest sports viewership by 2021. Esports are competing for the same viewers that watch traditional sports with men ages 18-34 making up 73% of the audience.
The esports community is attracting major sponsors like Audi, Red Bull and Coca-Cola. But you don’t have to be a multinational company to get involved in esports marketing. Here are our top tips for getting your brand in the game.
Esports marketing operates much like any other marketing campaign. The first step is identifying who you are selling to. Like offline sports, there are different demographics and communities for different games. Depending on what you are selling you will want to market to different audiences in the esports community. Look for a league that aligns with your brand values and your business goals.
Once you identify who you want to market to, focus on where they are consuming their gaming content. Once you have figured out where they’re watching you can spend your valuable marketing dollars in those areas.
Teaming up with a mega-influencer can be pricey and out of reach for many brands. If you’re on a tight budget, consider partnering with a micro-influencer. These influencers have a small, tight-knit audience that makes them the perfect partner! They are genuine and real, making your partnership feel natural and authentic. Remember to focus on finding a micro-influencer that has created a strong connection with your target demographic!
Another way to get involved in esports marketing is by sponsoring a team. Professional gamers often associate with other gamers or broader gamer associations to create teams. These teams play together casually and in tournaments.
And their teams make their money through sponsorships. This is achieved through branded jerseys, in-steam promotional content and product collaborations and endorsements, much like traditional sports teams.
If you’re not familiar with the gaming world, this may all seem foreign and overwhelming. Working with an expert in the community will help you better understand the culture, values and behaviours of esports fans. You won’t have to look very hard to find a knowledgeable consultant; chances are there is someone on your team that can provide valuable insights.
Esports is still in its infancy, and it will continue to grow in the coming years. Stay ahead of the curve by getting involved now! After all, the buy-in is still much less than a multi-million-dollar Super Bowl ad.