eSport, or electronic sport, is attracting millions of spectators. This phenomenon has not escaped the notice of brands, who intend making it a new marketing playing field.
eSport has nothing to do with real sport, Or is it…? eSport refers to video game competitions, played alone or in a team. So it’s nothing new. But then again… Since such competitions started being broadcast on dedicated platforms on the Internet - Twitch, YouTube Gaming, Gamefly, MLG.tv etc. – spectators and players have been numbering the tens of millions. The final of the best known championship, the World Championship League of Legends , was witnessed by 32 million people. It’s no surprise that eSport represents the biggest community on the Internet! And it’s a community that represents an economy in their own right, one that brands have every intention of being a part of.
Greater visibility for a lower cost
eSport is a completely new area for marketers. They have taken a while to understand the potential of this fully-blown medium that brings together 15-30-year olds. But positioning itself in eSport offers greater visibility for a brand than with traditional sport, and it costs a lot less.
In an interview on website L’ADN, Mathieu Lacrouts, president of Hurrah, the leading French agency dedicated to eSport, thinks that “sponsoring an eSport team is of great interest in terms of KPIs [...] In terms of media buying, the rates here are far below those seen in other sports. Positioning a brand in a major French tournament costs between € 5,000 and € 30,000 – a laughable amount, especially compared to football.”
An as yet unexplored creative area
Marketing practices in this area are still in their infancy. This much is clear for the moment. The same methods do not apply to eSport as elsewhere. The language here is very specific and has to match the style of the community, or, frankly, be made up to reflect the game where the advertising message is to be placed. Different forms of communication are used for “League of Legends” than for “Fifa” or “Dota 2”! Nevertheless, you can reach an audience that is not necessarily found elsewhere and where there is an unequalled level of engagement…
There is much to do in this practically virgin territory. There are numerous creative opportunities, and the brands that manage to quickly make their mark here will become the benchmarks. The only obstacle to the creative flights of fancy of the brands is the publishers, according to Mathieu Lacrouts. The licence holders for these games are the ones who will decide whether or not to accept a brand’s marketing campaign.
That said, competitions and games are not the only marketing territory for the brands. There is also the option of sponsoring teams or players. Ten or so professional players have already surpassed the million dollar earnings mark, and have a large community of fans and an agent to manage their contracts. In short, anything is possible in eSport – to the extent that even traditional media are starting to rebroadcast competitions, as the BBC has.
Sources: L’ADN, Le Monde, Meta-Media