This esports sponsors article will cover:
- Are you gathering and using all the data you can be?
- Connecting with tough-to-reach fans through activations
- Social media is key to engaging esports fans
- “Can I have your autograph?”
In February, esports market intelligence group Newzoo published their annual report, Global Esports Market Report.
Amongst some compelling data that backed up the hype surrounding the growth of this fledgling new sector, it became clear that sponsorship accounts for a vast amount of the revenue being generated in esports.
“Brands will invest $694 million in the esports industry, 77% of the total market,” states Newzoo’s CEO Peter Warman. “This will grow to $1.4 billion by 2021, representing 84% of total esports revenues.”
Brands like Coca-Cola, Mercedes, Mountain Dew, Intel, Adidas, Bud Light, and Geico have all identified the growing event sector as being an excellent opportunity to connect with the notoriously elusive mid-to-late 20s male demographic.
But esports fans are fiercely protective of their community and its non-traditional structure, making it a challenging space that is prone to backfiring if brands don’t do their homework.
“Many advertisers worry about how to reach gamers effectively,” writes Forbes contributor Deep Patel. “It can be an incredibly difficult task given that these folks can be unforgiving, and even nasty, if an outsider tries to infiltrate their culture solely for monetary gain. That’s why an authentic approach is imperative. Instead of trying to sell to the gamer, learn to sell with them.”
It’s in the best interests of the esports event organizers to ensure that partnering brands and agencies are being onboarded in a way that genuinely benefits the community and doesn’t come off as tone deaf or exploitative.
In this article, we’ll look at some key ways that event organizers can support their sponsors’ entry into this exciting new event vertical, while giving them the measurable ROI that they expect from experiential marketing partnerships.
Are you gathering and using all the data you can be?
As anyone that has been running any kind of sophisticated event in the past five years will attest, data is one of the most valuable assets in an event producers’ arsenal.
Brands look to data to determine if the money they spend on an activation or presenting partnership will be valuable, and the events that can give brands the most detailed data will have a considerable edge over the competition.
Theoretically, esports should be a considerably more straightforward audience to gather data on because of its natural digital footprint. But at the live events themselves, tools like RFID can close that loop and allow for seamless data collection onsite.
TI: DOTA 2 is one event that harnessed RFID to great effect. The organizers developed an RFID solution that could be easily integrated with the audience’s Steam accounts, allowing them to deliver giveaways—or “drops”—and offer exclusive incentives for fans to link their profiles. This kind of integration incentivizes the audience to create profiles, which gives event organizers a richer pool of data to offer to their partnering brands.
Connecting with tough-to-reach fans through activations
The esports demographic is notoriously tough-to-reach, often attributed to their widespread use of ad blockers and aversion towards brands aiming to capitalize on their community without contributing.
Experiential at esports live events marks a rare opportunity for a brand to get some face time with their prospects, and develop the much needed goodwill with the community.
One of the most exciting RFID experiential concepts was at ELEAGUE Major in Boston, where the organizers created a scavenger hunt and put RFID readers inside little plush chickens and dropped them around the entire event site. Guests would tap their badges on each chicken and collect points towards various prizes. The more chickens you found, the better your chances were at winning the grand prize.
See ELEAGUE’s scavenger hunt activation in action and hear how it was implemented from Intellitix’s esports Customer Success Manager Sean Coates in our video case study below:
Shaving company Gillette integrated themselves nicely into the Intel® Extreme Masters (IEM) World Championship in 2017 by partnering with ESL and pro gamer Enrique “xPeke” Cedeño. Gillette was 3D printing custom razor handles for fans, while also providing grooming service to the LoL players, and autograph session sponsorship.
At the Call of Duty XP back in 2011, LA-based experiential marketing agency NCompass International created a vast a live paintball course that replicated “Nuketown” from the Call of Duty: Black Ops title. With a physical footprint of more than 500,000 sq. ft, the activation set a high bar for esports activations and won several major marketing awards, including the prestigious Grand Ex Award.
Social media is key to engaging esports fans
A 2016 report from Adobe found that esports has a higher social following than the NFL, NHL and MLB, and is growing faster than almost any other traditional sport. Twitter reported that same year that esports had seen more than 250 billion tweet impressions.
Couple this fact with the ad blocking traits of their core demo, and we can see that social amplification is essential to reaching the esports fan base.
Aside from streaming the event on Twitch and being as active and authentic as possible across all relevant social channels, esports event organizers should be looking to make fan engagement onsite as easy as possible.
RFID integration can incentivize fans to create profiles and link their social and Steam accounts, enabling organic amplification around any activation or partnership.
“Can I have your autograph?”
One area of esports live events that savvy brands should be looking to get in on is the autograph sessions.
Hugely popular and extremely high engagement, these prominent activations are perfect for brands looking for a safe entry into the esports experiential space. They are also bolstered in value by having influencers—the esports players—built into the experience.
This aspect of the esports live experience is being streamlined by RFID, which is significantly reducing wait times and generating data in a way that improves the guest experience.