The esports industry is growing fast, and brands are joining the race. With millions of viewers, esports offers a new realm of opportunity for brand partnerships and influencer marketing. Because the majority of esports takes place on streaming platforms, brands and advertisers are noticing the creative potential of the industry — and of streaming as a whole.
So how can brands use esports in their influencer strategies? Because esports are a growing part of influencer marketing, we focused on the industry early on and have created lasting relationships with brands that have offered valuable insights not only for us but for others as well. Here are a few key takeaways for brands looking to include esports in their influencer marketing strategies.
In some ways, the esports industry is very similar to physical sports. There are specially designated teams, players, influencers and more for a variety of different types of games. While physical sports include competitive games, such as basketball, baseball and football, esports involve competitive gaming titles, such as “Fortnite,” “Counter-Strike” and “PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds.” Each game has its own players and teams — resulting in very diverse but highly specialized groups of people.
Esports gained traction with the success of streaming services like Twitch, Mixer and YouTube, resulting in players rising in popularity from their video game livestreaming. Popular video game streamers are considered influencers, just as many popular sports stars are.
Esports also have a dedicated — and growing — audience. According to one report on the state of esports, in 2018, there were an estimated 380 million viewers, and the audience is expected to grow to 557 million by 2021.
With such a large audience that engages with players and their content, esports is an area of potential for brands (both those that are involved in the esports industry and those that aren’t). Younger generations, in particular, are watching esports. This presents a massive opportunity for brands to reach this demographic.
How Can Brands Use Esports?
Your brand doesn’t have to be associated with esports to have a successful partnership. Brands that aren’t otherwise involved in esports are finding creative ways to partner with teams and players, which results in thoughtful and engaging content. By leveraging esports audiences and brand values, partnerships are able to benefit both the influencers and the brands involved.
Two such examples of brands that have formed these symbiotic relationships are State Farm and Gillette. State Farm sponsors multiple “League of Legends” events, while Gillette partnered with Twitch to create a team of 11 streamers from 11 countries who were “selected to represent the brand and create content for viewers.”
These types of nonendemic partnerships create new opportunities for fans to connect with their favorite influencers while also giving brands the chance to advertise certain messages throughout the campaigns. This promotes brand awareness with younger demographics as well as esports viewers as a whole.
By creating a unique experience for esports fans, brands are able to form lasting connections with both players and fans, which can result in further brand loyalty or recognition in the future.
How To Create The Right Esports Partnerships
Finding the right esports influencer to partner with is key for creating a memorable experience for fans. To successfully build these relationships, be smart about who you partner with and clearly identify the goals of your campaigns.
Look for players who share the same goals and values as your brand. Are they currently fans or users of certain products or services that your brand provides? Have they mentioned your brand, product or service by name before? By learning more about your esports influencers before creating a partnership, your brand will be able to find the appropriate areas to connect on. This can lead to partnerships that are genuine and seamless and thus more meaningful engagements with your audience.
How To Measure The Success Of Your Campaigns
You can measure the success of your esports influencers by looking at the total number of views that their streams receive and the total number of people tuned in to their streams across a certain period of time. This data allows you to determine the return on investment you’re getting from your campaigns and gauge how effectively your streaming partners are promoting your product or service. Ultimately, the data can tell you whether streaming is a worthwhile way for your brand to reach more people.
The growth of esports has created more opportunities for brands to connect with influencers and consumers. By partnering with esports influencers, your brand can find creative ways to reach a large audience — and encourage that audience to engage with you in the future.