Everything you need to know about esports marketing

Insights / 29-10-2021


Esports and gaming hold the keys to the coveted 18-34 demographic.  If global brands are going to connect with them, they will need to continue expanding beyond conventional marketing models.  It’s critical to understand the vital relationship between brands and talent within esports to make a long term impact.  How can brands thrive in this complex ecosystem to achieve ROI?  How can brands incorporate content creators into the planning process?  How do you know if your content creation will resonate with the community?

Esports today is an immensely growing industry. In 2017 its audience reached 335 million, and it is predicted that by 2021 that number will almost double with 600 million consumers globally. In the US alone, 62% esports viewers are aged 18-34, which means that this age group is your key to understanding the world of esports. But why? They know all the tournaments, how they work, the major teams, the indie teams, and more. So how are brands ensuring they reach this demographic? And what is the benefit behind it?

A few luxury designer brands have collaborated with esports teams in the past, such as Louis Vuitton who collaborated with League of Legends (LoL).The French fashion brand not only constructed a trophy coffer for Worlds 2019, they also went on to design exclusive Prestige Skins for LoL Champions, Qiyana and Senna, and a clothing collection that sold out in record time.

Another iconic example is a collaboration that shocked esports fans was McDonalds for the BLAST Pro Series: Copenhagen Counter-Strike tournament. McDonald’s had lined a street with posters showing its menu items matched to CS:GO terms, which very quickly went viral throughout the eSports world.

Pepsi’s Mountain Dew sponsored esports teams such as Team Diginitas and Splyce and SK gaming. The ESL pro-gaming league appointed Mountain Dew as its official global beverage partner for all major events. And because of that, it is referred to as the ‘gamer fuel’ in the esport industry, with a net worth of $100 Billion. The potential a collaboration or a sponsorship could have on a brands growth  is endless and it shows just how important the esports industry is for advertising today. The most successful larger companies understand that to connect with this younger esports audience, they need to add value to the space if they want to receive it.

Seven out of ten esports fans are males that range from 18 to 34 years of age.  The esports industry is relatively young and primarily takes place online. Most esports fans are early tech adopters, active on social media channels like Twitter and YouTube, and grew up online or with heavy tech-related interests (video games, media, computers, mobile apps, and IoT). However, this is changing now, we are seeing a widely more diverse audience being interested in the sport which is driving brands’ curiosity in the sector and campaigns of different sizes across multiple channels.

Nowadays, anyone can be an esports fan, the esports expansion can be linked to the mobile-based esports scene’s growth. Other factors such as investments from traditional sports leagues and a higher number of broadcast deals are also driving the industry. As an example, at last weekend’s DOTA 2 tournament, one of the participant teams, OG, has as a main sponsor the energy drink manufacturer, RedBull.

All of the previous examples show the wide variety of brands that are currently in the world of esports, to say a few. However, those are not the only ways your brand can take part in this massive sport. It just requires a good understanding of this amazingly complex ecosystem. Who understands this environment better than the players? No one, so a great starting point is to partner with content creators who are experts in the matter. And we have put together 5 main points that will help you brainstorm your next esports campaign:


Twitch is your best friend.

You need to be in the same ecosystem as your target audience to understand their language, behaviour and culture. Twitch is where the vast majority of gamers connect with each other, so spending time on Twitch, as a brand, is essential. By watching live streams, you’ll have the chance to experience other brands advertisements and the community’s responses to them. It allows you to figure out what tactics are used, what ones work and what appeals to a specific audience.

Crucially, Twitch (a platform that Edge technology can track performance of) allows for the talent and audience to chat directly with each other. This means, your brand can directly access an audience via a creator during a stream. The content is engaging and provides for unique interactive experiences that are not possible on other platforms.


Get in the game.

The key to reaching the esports audience is to really understand them and, near enough, become one of them. The marketing produced will more likely be organic and natural, which is praised by the esports audience and most likely resonate with them. Brands are more respected this way, and their campaigns will reach much further.


Be ready for anything.

Like traditional sports, anything can happen in the esports arena. A brand must be knowledgeable on each game’s specific community to prepare for their sentiment and guide their strategy. You must be prepared for all possible outcomes to stay ahead of competitors.


Get influencers on the plan.

It’s essential to speak the esports community’s language and keep your audience engaged. Influencers have vast amounts of loyal followers, who see them as a source of valuable information about their favourite esport. What better way than to let these trusted creators do some of the talking for your brand? By leveraging the rapport between content creators and content consumers, branding messages become significantly more effective and no doubt grow your reach.

Sponsoring a team or gaming event can be expensive but can get a brand established in the community and have a more likely chance of influencers agreeing to work for the brand. Team Sponsors can get a logo presence on a team jersey, website, social media and extra visibility through publications when the team performs well.


Be picky with your influencers!

It’s a great move for brands to incorporate popular content creators in their plan to market. A brand’s most successful gaming influencers are those whose followers perfectly match the brands target audience demographic. A company must analyse the influencer’s audience’s gender and age breakdown to ensure they will be reaching a relevant demographic. It’s a must to look into content to ensure they’re aligned with the brands values and check their performance metrics to make sure they’re a worthwhile investment.


Create influencer content to suit your goals.

If raising product awareness is one of your main focuses, giveaways are a great tool to use. Live unboxing videos create anticipation and allow the audience to learn a lot about the product in real-time, making them a highly successful content format for gaming influencers.

Promo codes or affiliate campaigns can be run to drive the sales of a brand. By influencers sharing their code with their audience during games or in live chats, the creators can promote the brand in a relatable way to the viewers. All of this helps with the build of a positive and trusted brand sentiment and offers the audience an easier way to purchase.

For a brand it’s all about learning and getting involved in the esport industry. eSports are on the rise and if you can get your foot in the door now you can really build yourself an expanding loyal fanbase. At Edge, we can help you build outstanding influencer campaigns for the esports world. All our insights come from first-party data and automatic validation of influencers’ deliverables.

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