Internet has changed the rules of advertising forever. It brought consumers and brands together in a common "space" and it also gave consumers the possibility to create our own consumption habits. This enhanced our demands as users and consumers, raising the level of expectation towards brands.
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As never seen before, this change made it more complicated for companies to reach new digital native generations that tend to be very elusive and have different standards of loyalty than previous age groups. This turns into a more complex situation for the advertising industry.
These audiences are reluctant to believe in promises made by brands.
So each opportunity that might lead to the match between both -customer and brand- is extremely valuable. Such is the situation with eSports today, the not so hidden treasure from advertising.
This niche has gained much notoriety in a short period of time because companies have found in the actors of this sector new allies to introduce their brand to a public naturally detached from traditional advertising.
What are eSports?
ESports are professional tournaments among gamers. They are organized in the form of national and international tournaments in which teams made up of professional "athletes" make a living out of playing their favourite video games.
ESports are considered genuine sports, so much so that some countries such as the US and Germany, have even recognized professional gamers as athletes; the Korean Olympic Committee has even granted the rank of Olympic Sport to this discipline.
They are so popular among young people that they are revolutionizing the entire entertainment industry. Today eSports are one of the biggest and most popular world events by audience: in 2018, a total of 380 million people watched these championships. The League of Legends Cup, one of the most traditional tournaments, reached an audience of 36 million people. More than the NBA finals or the Rugby World Cup.
For this same reason, they are capturing the attention of the advertising world and not only of brands interested in gaming, but also for investors. In 2016, the advertising industry for this niche reports total budgets of $ 493 millions, $ 655 millions in 2017 and a $ 1.6 billion investment forecast projected for 2021.
Source: Study conducted by Newzoo about the eSports' growth
ESports players are a kind of rockstars: they have thousands and thousands of followers that show loyalty through social media platforms; attending free events and even paying for tournament tickets. This multiplatform aspect of the industry results very appealing for brands and attracts large advertising budgets.
One of the most prominent characters is called Ninja and has 13 million Twitch followers (a very popular platform among gamers where you can watch their videos and live events). He also has 13.2 million followers on Instagram and about 21 million subscribers on YouTube. Ninja generates content sponsored by brands such as Samsung and Red Bull.
The bond generated with their audience is a very tight and loyal. Engagement is real, genuine and the content they offer is authentic, which translates into a real influence capacity.
Ninja has a rate of engagement of 4.21% on Instagram. According to a GlobalWebIndex study, eSports fans loyalty has a deep reason: influencers only collaborate with products or services that they really believe in and can relate to.
eSports athletes are the allies that brands have been waiting for to charm this digital generation. In fact, one of the factors that has made eSports grow as fast as it did, is having attracted non-endemic brands to the universe of video games and having them invest in ads during broadcasts or tournaments.
If brands have trusted athletes in the way they have done so far, it is because they have been able to verify that gamers have huge impact as content creators and can influence their followers in a much more appealing way.
The study conducted by Newzoo states that in 2021 the audience of eSports will be as large as 557 million people. Despite having its main demographic core in men between 13 and 40 years old in Asia, China and North America this industry is also growing at an unusual speed among other gender and ages worldwide.
eSports and the Influencer Traditional Marketing
One of the most important differences between content creators in eSports and ones in other verticals is the platform on which action occurs. While traditional influencers generate their content on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and other platforms, these athletes have massive audiences in spaces created especially for these events, such as Twitch.
Twitch is one of the most popular networks in the segment, but many of the athletes use YouTube to broadcast live at eSports events. Since most content is LIVE and longer that traditional posts they tend to have less followers in other networks, such as Instagram.
Twitter has opened its way into eSports conversation as well. A study by Pulsar shows that Twitter is the platform that talks about eSports the most: 42% of the survey said that they go to Twitter to search for news of the gaming industry.
Be aware brands, eSports are here and they are coming strong.
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