Nobody could have predicted the sudden boom of the esports (electronic sports) industry over the last few years. Long gone are the days when “basement-dwelling” gamers were looked down upon as societal outcasts, as many of them have built entire careers (some even empires) by playing video games. Not only have the likes of Clement Ivanov (Puppey), Lee Sang-Hyeok (Faker), and hundreds more made a name for themselves in the growing esports industry, but many have even earned themselves the titles of living legends. And with such widespread fame, it shouldn’t be surprising that many brands were quick to jump on the esports advertising train.
Like regular sports competitions and celebrities, professional esports players and esports events quickly proved a real gold mine for advertisers worldwide. Part of the reason for that was the rapidly growing esports audience, particularly among the Millennials and Gen-Z generations.
As you can see from the graph above, the total esports audience sits near a whopping half a billion people as of 2020. Nearly half of those are viewers who follow esports events regularly! Even if you take just the regular viewers into account, it’s easy to realize how big potential audience advertisers have in esports.
One of the primary reasons advertisers are flocking toward the esports industry is its unprecedented growth. Although esports has been around since the early 70s, it started gaining traction in the 2010s, especially after the first few huge League of Legends world championships held by Riot Games. Just to put things into perspective, the League of Legends Season 2 World Championship had over 8.2 million people tune in, with around 1.1 million concurrent viewers at the peak of the competition. The championship also rented the famous Galen Center arena in California as its venue of choice and sold out!
Esports isn’t related solely to PC gaming anymore, though! Nowadays, the mobile gaming industry has been on the rise too. Clash of Clans is the first mobile game that entered the highly-competitive esports industry. The game has had exceptional reception in the esports world, which makes us confident that more mobile titles will soon follow. But what does that mean for advertisers? It means that their potential market is even larger! And let’s not mention that the mobile advertising market has never been bigger. As of 2020, mobile ad spend is at an all-time high of around $200 million. We believe this market is also something esports advertisers should keep an eye on.
But how valuable is the esports industry anyways? Today, the esports market revenue is estimated at $973 million, according to Statista. However, experts predict that the number will reach $1.5 billion by 2023. That is around a 50% growth in just three years! Astonishing, isn’t it?
Now that we’ve put things into perspective with the information above, let’s see all the tangible reasons esports advertising has so much potential.
Esports advertising is an incredibly safe investment. Why? It’s pretty straightforward — esports is closely connected to live streaming, which is also a rapidly growing industry.
According to Tech Jury, 63% of people aged 18–34 watch live streams regularly. Also, live streaming consumption skyrocketed since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. And no, that will not just be a passing trend. It’s safe to assume that live streaming will maintain most of its traction even post-pandemic since many people will have gotten used to the new, more digitalized way of life.
Live streaming is so affordable that almost anyone can do it, it’s incredibly accessible, and it is also the primary distribution medium for esports events. Unfortunately, most live sports events worldwide had to be canceled once the pandemic started. But do you know what didn’t get canceled? Esports!
This reason is pretty evident with all the data we mentioned above. However, what we didn’t elaborate on is why.
The reason esports is destined to grow even further is because of its target demographic. More and more younger generations are born and raised in a growingly digital world in which watching esports comes as natural to them as traditional sports to avid sports fans. By catering to such a growing audience, esports might even overtake conventional sports in a few years. Many have pointed out the strengths of esports over its traditional counterpart. Take this quote as an example that perfectly illustrates what esports has on its primary competitor:
“Gaming is what every traditional sports league is desperate to become: Young, global, digital, and increasingly diverse.”ESPN
If you don’t believe us, let’s talk in numbers. In 2019, League of Legends esports events boasted higher viewerships than some of the most famous U.S. sports leagues like the NBA, MLB, and NHL. If that isn’t a surefire indicator esports is a worthy investment for advertisers, we don’t know what is!
Many brands have already jumped at the opportunity to advertise in esports, so you should follow suit! There are more and more interested parties by the day, and that isn’t going unnoticed. Not only are more people investing in esports marketing, but more and more are recognizing esports as an official sport.
Multiple universities and other educational institutions in the U.S. have already introduced various scholarships or even undergraduate degree programs for esports enthusiasts. And let’s not even mention that esports has been recognized as a national sport in some countries like South Korea.
Such overwhelming support that the industry is gaining from governmental bodies should be a surefire sign that it is here to stay.
So how can brands take advantage of this lucrative esports landscape and build a name for themselves? There are multiple effective ways to do that, so let’s check them out in detail:
Sponsorships are undoubtedly one of the most effective esports advertising methods out there. With the incredible popularity of live streaming both on and off esports events, reaching out to prominent content creators or professional esports teams and sponsoring them is one of the best ways to get your brand in front of millions of eyes. Many brands like G-Fuel, Mountain Dew, Razer, or Logitech G have found immense success using this very method. Here’s an example of how a live stream sponsorship usually looks:
Getting your brand’s logo on a broadcast with dozens of thousands of daily viewers is an excellent way of building your brand awareness.
Here’s a different take on sponsorships by G-Fuel, this time in collaboration with a popular gaming content creator Dr. Disrespect.
As you can see, even outside the esports scene, there are plenty of advertising opportunities in the vast online gaming world.
However, you shouldn’t restrict yourself only to live stream sponsorships. Live events, particularly esports events, have incredibly high attendance too! There were 885 large-scale esports events in 2019 alone, which generated around $56.3 million in ticket sales. So sprinkling in a bit of traditional venue advertising via billboards, banners, and branded gifts is also a wise advertising move.
Influencer marketing is huge nowadays, and the same applies to esports influencers. Did you know that 91% of millennials trust the reviews they find online as much as first-hand recommendations? That’s right — influencer marketing is one of the most effective marketing methods for targeting younger generations. And since the global esports audience predominantly comprises Millennials and Gen-Z generations, it makes influencer marketing an incredibly potent tool for targeting this market.
OK, but why is that? The reason is best summed up in this statement by Matt Wolf, the Head of Global Gaming at Coca Cola.
The key to reaching esports fans is to “really understand them and, in a way, be one of them [so that marketing] is organic and natural.”Matt Wolf
Influencer marketing is that very secret ingredient to natural marketing. That is because it comes from a place of trust, i.e., the influencer, and immediately creates a sense of familiarity for the user. That familiarity and trust are crucial for converting leads into paying customers.
Due to most of the action in the esports world happening over live streams, both on and off live events, one of the most effective ways of promoting your brand is through video advertising, primarily programmatic video advertising. OK, but what does that entail?
Promoting your brand through programmatic video advertising means you will distribute your brand’s video ads as pre-, mid-, or post-roll advertisements on some of the many live streams out there. Considering how big viewerships esports events (and video game streaming in general) have, this promotion has a huge ROI.
You’d be surprised how many brands are already doing this. In 2018, the third-biggest source of revenue in the esports industry came from live streaming advertising. And considering the potential of this advertising method, that number is sure to rise even more!
You too can start advertising as early as today with Brid.TV. Are you an esports organization or a streamer looking to monetize your gaming and esports live streams? We at Brid.TV can help you do just that! Our state-of-the-art video monetization platform can help you monetize your live streams to your heart’s content.
Brid.TV already has a history of working with various esports personas and organizations, so if you’d like to learn more about how we can help you monetize your esports events and live streams, send us an email and let’s talk!