Everything You Need To Know About Esports Marketing Campaigns

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Written By Milica Kostic

More and more brands turn to esports marketing campaigns every year — According to the latest statistics, the global esports market, currently valued at $1.08 billion, is likely to reach $1.62 billion in 2024, and the largest part of that revenue will come from sport sponsorships and advertising.

Entering the world of gaming may be easy for giants such as Mercedes-Benz and Coca-Cola, but smaller businesses without any previous ties to virtual sports will likely have a much harder time doing so.

But it is not impossible – keep reading to learn more about the essential details that anyone contemplating launching an esports marketing campaign should know.

Esports 101

Esports is a form of competition that entails playing video games. These competitions are held among professional gamers who either play individually or in teams. The most popular video game genres include:

Esports Marketing 101: Everything You Need To Know

Multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA): MOBA games are a subgenre of the real-time strategy genre. The objective for players in MOBAs is to destroy the opposing team’s main structure while, at the same time, defending their own. Best known examples: League of Legends, Dota 2, and Smite.

First-person shooter (FPS): FPSs focus on weapon-based combat, in which players view everything around them through the eyes of their chosen character. Best known examples: Overwatch, Call of Duty, and Counter-Strike

Digital collectable card game (DCCG): DCCGs are also known as online collectable card games (OCCG). The goal of most DCCGs is to beat one’s opponent by creating a deck in which the special characteristics of the cards complement one another. Best known examples: Legends of Runeterra, Magic: The Gathering, and Pokemon Trading Card Game.

Fighting: Fighting games are games in which two characters battle each other. Most commonly, the characters are unarmed. Best known examples: Super Smash Bros, Street Fighter, and Mortal Kombat

Battle Royale: In battle royale games, multiple players are placed on a large map, and they fight among each other until there is only one person or squad left. These games can involve hundreds of participants. Best known examples: Fortnite, Apex Legends, and Rules of Survival

To create content that will captivate your audience, you have to know what the audience wants. That is why you need to be familiar with details such as these. You must identify the team your audience will like and align yourself with the product they care about.

What Makes Esports Campaigns Attractive to Marketers? 

Aside from the enormous amounts of money involved, several additional factors draw marketers toward investing in esports campaigns.

The games we’ve listed above attract thousands of amateur and professional gamers and spectators from all over the world. Tournaments are also a big part of the industry. For instance, at one point during the competition, The International 2019 Dota 2 tournament had 1.97 million concurrent viewers.

These viewers are predominantly Gen-Zers and Millennials, meaning they are young and that if you get them to love your brand, you’ll gain a consumer base for many years to come. 

It is also important to note that esports fans are exceptionally loyal and engaged. According to Statista’s esports viewer analysis, by 2023, 15.5 per cent of internet users will be watching virtual sports events at least once per month. The numbers just keep rising.

Lastly, the best way to sell something is by offering a compelling narrative to go with it. And what better environment to tell a story than a video game that’s already built on imagination and gripping tails?

What Makes Esports Campaigns Attractive to Marketers?

Where To Look

Now that you’ve gotten to know your target audience a little better, let’s discuss where you can find them.

One such place is video game streaming platforms. Here, esports enthusiasts will either be competing themselves or watching their favourite gamers conquer levels and develop new strategies. 

The most popular platforms for gaming are:

  • YouTube
  • Twitch
  • InstaGib TV
  • Mixer
  • Hitbox
  • Azubu
  • BigoLive
  • GosuGamers
  • Dlive
  • DiscoMelee

To accurately predict on which platform your marketing efforts would be most successful, you should do your research. Look at the number of users for each of the mentioned streaming services and find those where your competitors have yet to arrive.

For additional information on your audience, visit these websites and watch the videos they find so engaging. Understand that many esports fans don’t visit video gaming platforms purely seeking entertainment – they are often looking to join a community.

Esports Marketing 101: Everything You Need To Know

How To Get Involved in Esports Marketing Campaigns

Your aim is to have your company’s name on websites, flyers, social media, and more, but how do you get there? Here are some esports marketing strategies to consider.

1. In-Game Ads

Blended in-game advertising is becoming increasingly common. Advertisers can place ads on maps, players’ uniforms, billboards, or any other fitting in-game location. The ideal games for this kind of marketing strategy are those that mimic traditional sports.

After all, brand logos are present at every real-life stadium and field.

2. Partnerships

A novel and exceptional concept in esports advertising involve partnering with game developers to actually put a part of your company inside these virtual realms. They could, for instance, design an exact replica of one of your stores and allow players to explore and make real-world purchases in it.

3. Merchandise 

Gamers love gadgets. If your company is in the tech industry, you could think about developing a series of products targeted toward gamers, such as light-up mouse pads or surround sound gaming headsets. 

Brands that can’t produce such merchandise can focus on creating e-sports-themed decorations, board games, clothes, and the like. 

4. Sponsorships

As we’ve already mentioned, sponsorship is one of the main revenue streams in the esports business. Sponsoring the right player or team can significantly boost your brand awareness. 

To choose who to sponsor, evaluate your budget and marketing goals. One of the most cost-effective options would be to look for opportunities within the High School and College gaming leagues. 

You might be surprised to know that forming your own team is an affordable solution as well. There are many players out there eager to join forces with a brand, even if it’s a smaller one.

Having gamers themselves vouch for your services or products will build trust between you and the community. Whenever your company’s name appears in their stream, or they mention it while interacting with their viewers, you’ll be one step closer to getting the consumer base you desire.

Another form of sponsorship you might want to look into is hosting esports events. These don’t have to be grand-scale: With the help of the internet, you could get your message across even if you organize a small tournament or record a weekly podcast.

5. Original Content

By “original content,” we don’t mean that you should begin filming your own employees playing video games; we mean that you could start your own blog dedicated to all kinds of gaming information.

However, it is not enough to simply write engaging and accurate articles; you need to ensure that your targeted readers know the blog exists, so don’t forget to promote it on your social media accounts, website, and anywhere else appropriate.

What Not To Do In Esports Marketing Campaigns

What Not To Do In Esports Marketing Campaigns

While planning your esports marketing campaign, you must remember that esports fans are exceptionally protective of their community, which is why making the wrong moves could cause you more harm than good.

Avoid making these esports marketing mistakes in your campaigns:

1. Breaking immersion

If you wish to place your ads inside a game, you have to do it with tact, or in other words, the ad placements have to make sense within the virtual world. Being too aggressive and distracting the players from the gameplay can only irritate them.

2. Inserting non-authentic content

Maintaining the authenticity of the virtual environment requires two things.

Firstly, your ads have to match the design of everything else around them – you simply can’t have a brand-new sign sticking out in the middle of a post-apocalyptic adventure game.

Secondly, your services or products have to follow the game’s story. A good way to go about this would be to examine the existing elements of the game and add to them instead of creating entirely new concepts that may or may not fit.

3. Lacking value

Having your logo on a banner or a character’s outfit is perfectly fine but if you want to go one step further, consider coming up with an idea that gets the players even more involved.

Perhaps you could devise a new character that in some manner represents your brand or an item that mirrors the product you actually produce, that players can buy and use inside the game.

Whatever you invent has to be useful for the gamers or at least entertaining.

A Creative Approach to Esports Marketing Campaigns Yields the Best Results

Esports marketing can be very lucrative, but, as you can probably tell, it requires quite a bit of creativity and research. If you are serious about it, make sure that you adhere to the advice we’ve given you, but don’t be afraid to think outside the box. 

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