Esports: How Brands Can Capitalize on the Gaming Phenomenon
As home to some of the nation’s largest sports franchises, the City of Arlington has long been proclaimed as the sports capitol of the world. And with the announcement of a new esports arena – the largest in the nation – Arlington looks to embrace the esports community, too.
What are esports? Basically, video games as spectator sport. It’s nothing new: Large-scale video game tournaments and televised esports events started as early as the 1980s, and broadband internet has helped grow the industry by leaps and bounds.
This new stadium further validates the explosion of esports over the past few years. The industry has seen an increase in total revenue – from $325 million in 2015 to $696 million in 2017 – and is expected to reach $1.4 billion in 2020.
What does this growth mean for brands?
The esports community poses a great opportunity for brands to reach arguably the most elusive audience: millennials. One of the best places to reach this audience is on Twitch.tv, an online platform that allows gamers to stream video games, while viewers comment in real time. Twitch reports a monthly audience of over 100 million people: 81.5 percent male, with 55 percent ages 18-34. Of course, there’s also a whole section of YouTube just for gaming.
How can we target this audience?
- Sponsorships. Many brands sponsor esports teams and tournaments. Coca-Cola, for instance, sponsors the League of Legends World Championship. T-Mobile sponsored a tournament hosted by Twitch at the STAPLES Center in Los Angeles 2017.
- Ads. YouTube and Twitch also allow advertisers to use pre-roll and display ads on their platforms – a good opportunity to deliver a longer message for a potentially more affordable price.
- Influencer marketing. Advertisers can partner with popular streamers to reach specific audiences. Tyler “Ninja” Blevins is one of the most popular streamers on Twitch, with a following of over 6 million people. He recently garnered a record-breaking 628,000 concurrent viewers during his livestream with Drake. Yes, I said Drake. These streams show that esports is becoming widely accepted in mainstream culture.
What’s next in esports advertising
The esports industry offers brands an opportunity to reach a niche audience, adapting forms of advertising long used by larger networks and opening up to modern digital techniques and influencer marketing through streamers. But with the industry expected to double in revenue over the next three years, there are still more opportunities to come. Discord, for example, is a blend of Skype and Slack rolled into one platform that is becoming the new standard for how gamers communicate online and offline. The platform has reached over 90 million users so far.
This goes to show that there is ample opportunity for brands and advertisers to get creative in how they approach this audience.
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