Brand / esport influencer collaborations: can 1+1 = 3?

Insights / 29-10-2021


The world of videogames can be a complex and confusing area to explore and make sense of as a marketeer. However, the rise of esports has acted as a bridge between brands and the world of videogames and sports. Nowadays, brands can collaborate with esports influencers in unique and exciting ways to reach new audiences from a different perspective. This is enabling the creation of cutting edge, never before seen collaborations which are so much more than the sum of their parts.

It is not new news that esports is the fastest growing consumer market in the world, already eclipsing the global movie industry. In only the second quarter of 2020, 822.48 million hours of esports were watched on Facebook. Tournaments have viewerships in their millions, multi-million dollar prize funds and most importantly, multiple channels to build authentic connections with your audience have been created. These channels allow brands to engage with the community by blending into their experience rather than monetising and acting as an intruder at every turn.

There are estimated to be 450 million people watching esports this year with over 3 billion gamers worldwide, presenting brands with an opportunity to grow brand awareness, create a new pipeline of customers and ultimately increase revenues.

Similar to traditional sports, where the billboards shown in the NFL and the Premier League are different because of the different audiences that they command. It is important to understand the nuance of differing esports audiences, associated with specific games and developers.

Understanding these audiences and how they engage with particular franchises can help in the development of a switched on, culturally connected and effective marketing plan. You are positioning your brand (or in more simple terms logo) with teams and players with powerful audiences and it is essential that they can make sense of and relate to the way you have integrated your product or brand. Engagement and resonance are paramount.

But esports influencers go way beyond just tournaments in terms of engagement. Because of their high popularity, they are not only popular within their gaming-streaming community. They reach high engagement across all their platforms, which makes them a valuable asset for any type of brand. The popular Twitch streamer, Ninja, has 16.8 M followers on the platform while reaching over 10M in social channels like Instagram and YouTube. If you scroll through his Instagram or any other esports streamer, you will see that there is a mixture between gaming content and their personal life. Back to Ninja’s account, the streamer shares pictures with his dogs, his partner and his social life. This type of real-life, unfiltered, real content has led to brands outside the realm of video games to collaborate with them, such as Takis (crisps brand).

Source: Ninja’s Instgram Account

The popularity of these streamers has kept on attracting brands outside the gaming world, such as Samsung and RedBull. Redbull’s partnership with Ninja included a Red Bull bandana that the streamer had to wear during a Fortnite tournament. However, Red Bull took the idea beyond that and launched limited editions of their energy drink with Ninja’s face on it. Once again, showing us that whilst their main base might be video game oriented, esports influencers are able to reach a vast audience who have a myriad of interests across their different platforms.


Creating authentic interactions

A high numbers of followers is certainly not everything or the be all and end all in influencer marketing. The main difference that esports influencers have against the broader cross industry pool of influencers is that they have one of the most direct and visceral relationships with their community.

Platforms such as Twitch and Youtube gaming have streams running 24/7, with audiences constantly engaged in the content through the chat on each stream. Research shows that the average stream lasts between 3 and 6 hours, reaching over 9M active users in February 2021.

As the content is made live and users are able to use the chat box to interact with the influencer, a more natural relationship is created between them. They keep their community engaged by answering questions, sharing fun commentary and their top tips on video games. This builds a community that trusts each other, where the streamer and, if done correctly, the brand that supports the channel can engage with the user like in no other platform.

Streamers are in constant communication with their audiences, their long form content means they can spend time explaining products, why they like them, why their audience should consider using them etc. It is hard to create this level of authenticity in any other marketing channel, even in the wider influencer space. That is because it is rare for influencers on other platforms to spend hours speaking to their audience, esports influencers are a unique opportunity for brands.


So how do you do it?

First of all, it is important to understand the esports landscape. Although your brand might not be esports related, it is crucial that you recognise who is following these streamers and what type of content they are expecting from them.

Another important aspect is understanding which esports streamer has the audience that resonates the most with your brand personality so the influencer can create content that aligns with your brand and their community -without sounding like an invasive advert.

However, do not forget the power of micro and nano-influencers. They might not have the big followers numbers but they drive much better engagement and conversion rates as they tend to have more loyal audiences so you get better value for money. The nature of their small communities allows them to get to know their followers better as well as pay more attention to their partnership with your brand.

We have mentioned Twitch and YouTube as popular esports platforms. Across these platforms there are different types of content available. There are live streaming and videos available which are equally important in the world of gaming.

Here are Edge, we live and breathe the worlds of gamers, content creators and esports. We have created and designed products which enable you to better access these worlds with your marketing campaigns. Edge Analytics allows you to understand an influencer’s audience, what they are looking for and which channels they engage the most with. It also shows you the relevant KPIs for your campaigns in real-time so you can make real-time optimisations to course correct and maximise the impact of your campaigns, without wasting your time waiting for results to come through at the end. There is simply no point running influencer campaigns unless you can understand what is happening, how many people are seeing your brand, how many people are engaging with the content and if you can, how many conversions are driving. All in real-time.

Find out which influencers work best, with which content on what channel to drive the outcomes you need, and welcome to a world where influencer marketing and performance marketing meet.

Curious and want to know more? Check out the website, and book a demo. See for yourself.