Videogaming has officially graduated from nerd status into the big leagues of cool kid popularity and big brands are beginning to leverage its notoriety with eSports marketing. Many people don't understand eSports or the mass appeal, and that's understandable. If you do not enjoy gaming, it's difficult to relate to a bunch of guys sitting behind computers with massive monitors broadcasting their collective gameplay. But a growing global demographic is recognizing the appeal and responding in unprecedented numbers. Male and female millennials alike are investing a rapidly growing amount of time and money watching professional video game tournaments. The emerging popularity of competitive gaming presents new avenues from which to extend the user experience and allows brands to engage a digital native generation of consumers that spend little time, if any, on traditional forms of entertainment. As the industry continues its momentum, there is much speculation that eSports advertising will present more advertising opportunity than the Super Bowl and here are a few reasons why.
1. eSports Consists of a Less Homogeneous, Digital Native Demographic
184 million Americans watched the 2015 Super Bowl. It has been reported that 46% of viewers claim that the actual game is the most important part of the event and 41% report watching for the commercials only. The Super Bowl has experienced a consistent decline among adults 18-49 over the past five years.
In October, 2015, the worldwide digital game market reached $5.5 billion. The worldwide eSports market reached 205 million viewers in 2014. And eSports enthusiasts are reported to be vastly different than the stereotypical expectation. Over half of American eSports fans are employed full time, 44% are parents and 38% are women. Just 28 percent are over 35 years old, which presents a unique selling point to brands endeavoring to reach the next generation of consumers.
Brands are beginning to understand that opportunities within the eSports industry offer multiple segments that are divided by different game titles or genres. The personas of fans and participants vary widely across these segments, providing brands the opportunity to drill down on the demographic they are trying to reach. To gain advertising success within this industry, brands need to understand the dynamics of the individual games, their ecosystems, and the personality of the gaming community.
Red Bull has achieved long term success by identifying the segments it plans to target and building organic relationships in order to gain access and acceptance from the eSports community. Red Bull's ability to connect with niche communities within the whole of the gaming community and their skill for connecting their product to millennials are the keys to their success and will allow for far greater reach than a Super Bowl ad. Red Bull understands the art of authentic storytelling within an environment where there is a need for their product and they are realizing results.
Even past the obvious energy drink sponsors and other gaming related brands (such as Razer, Logitech, Corsair, and Acer), many other brands are joining in to play that to some, have no connection to the world of tech and games but these companies have been smart in playing their cards right and thus, getting a nice head start among other brands similar to them in terms of marketing. SK Telecom, a telecommunications company from South Korea, for example, sponsor one of the best League of Legends teams in the world, winnings several tournaments as well as being crowned the 2015 World Champions. The pornography industry has also taken an interest in the world of eSports, with YouPorn creating Team YP who have teams in Dota 2, Super Smash Brothers, and Street Fighter (and yes, the teams are pretty legit and do well!)
2. Gamers Enjoy a Mix of Old and New Media
Just because gaming is a digital format does not mean that advertising is limited to a digital medium. Brands that have been successful within the eSports marketing world understand that by employing a mixture of tactics, meaningful experiences are created. Gaming is second only to music when considering YouTube categories, far surpassing traditional sports videos. A few of the advertising methods include:
With eSports revenues expected to exceed $1.9 billion by the year 2018, brands stand a lot to gain and brands such as Coke, Red Bull, and Nissan are marking their names as trailblazers.
3. Gaming is Categorized as a Community
eSports have historically been structured around their community of loyal fans and fellow gamers. Brands looking for opportunity within this industry must be cognizant of the needs and wants of the community of the whole and craft their marketing efforts accordingly. Thus far, the most successful and recognizable brands within eSports participate actively in community discussions and events in order to assimilate themselves as authentic components of the culture upon which community members can depend. In the passionate world of gaming, brands must demonstrate that they share the same passion for the game as the spectators and gamers themselves. When authentic relationships between brands and fans are realized, brand engagement is inherent. eSports fans are known to have a sort of sixth sense for disingenuous marketing and reject any false enthusiasm.
In an environment where Super Bowl ads are performing at below average rates, advertisers are not seeing the benefit for the price tag. The rapidly growing eSports industry promises opportunity to brands that can properly leverage the culture and attention of the millennials.
how big of a market eSports is, the brands who are already capitalizing on this marketing opportunity, and just overall talk about the success so far within eSports for big brands, especially in terms of reaching the gaming audience.
For some more fun facts and valuable information on the gaming industry as a whole, check out our infographic from earlier this year!