Promoting the brand through eSports
Since the first eSports tournament, until today, it has been about 50 years. During this time, a small group of enthusiasts who gathered to compete in the game “Spacewar” (it was the "Spacewar" competition held in the early 1970s that is considered to be the origin of eSports) has turned into a huge industry, with revenues of several billion dollars.
In 2017, for example, eSports had a market volume of more than $1 billion, a figure higher than the NBA's 2015/16 season.
ESports events are already overtaking “classic” sports, and the NBA itself (remember, basketball is the third most popular sport). The volume of advertising integrations in eSports already exceeds the figure of $1.6 billion!
As you can see, in recent years, eSports is developing at an explosive pace, and if until recently, eSports marketing was not taken seriously by the masses, but now it is a serious player, which has huge weight in the global market.
No wonder that more and more brands are looking into eSports marketing in order to promote their product to a multimillion audience.
Now we'll help you understand how to promote your product thanks to DOTA 2, CS:go, League of Legends, Overwatch and even the next FIFA numbered part...
Ways to promote your brand in eSports!
To start with, I suggest figuring out which ways of promoting your brand through eSports events would be the most appropriate for you by talking about the specifics of each one!
1) Buying direct advertising. Here we're talking about buying contextual advertising and inserting ad units during a broadcast. Both methods work similarly, give or take.
2) Channels. Advertising (mostly product placement) during the biggest eSports events, with an audience varying from 500 000 to a million viewers (for example, the first day of playoffs “The International” was watched by 853 000 viewers on average!)
3) Creating your own channel. This type of promotion allows you in the future not to depend directly on other broadcasting and advertising studios, but to integrate your own advertising into your own videos. As an example, it is Red Bull, but their case we will talk a little later!
4) Funding of eSports teams or full-fledged tournaments. Sponsorship contracts are the most common format of cooperation between advertisers and the eSports market (GG.BET for NaVi, etc.)
5) Full-fledged case. The deal includes joint promotions, team and organization branding, product release or tournament funding.
Promotion formats in eSports!
We have understood with the ways of promotion. Now move on to the formats that eSports can offer to a potential advertiser.
The entire format of cooperation can be divided into three areas:
1) cooperation with streamers, channels and live streaming services;
Cooperation with streamers is very similar to cooperation with video bloggers: traditional banners, referral links, constant drawings and, of course, product placement.
Due to the loyalty of the audience to the streamer they follow, tools such as product placement are the most effective in comparison with other communication channels.
2) Funding eSports teams and/or tournaments;
As we said above, sponsorship contracts are the most common way of cooperation in the eSports market. While previously the financing of tournaments or teams was used mainly by core brands, nowadays everyone from bookmakers to Aviasales wants to touch the world of eSports. It is quite understandable!
A sponsorship contract implies many options for product promotion. Players are constantly generating content on streaming platforms, which can be organically integrated into their product.
In addition, more often than not, the advertiser has their own channels, where the videos most beloved by the audience can be viewed hundreds of thousands of times. On the plus side of everything is the traditional promotion in social networks, branding, publications about the company in specialized (and not only) media and much more.
Approximately the same way cooperation with tournament organizers is concluded: live product placement and physical presence of the brand at the offline event are the key terms of these agreements!
3) Holding your own tournament or creating your own team.
Hosting a full-fledged tournament or creating your own team is the most complex format of brand collaboration in the world of eSports.
There are not many such examples, but of course Red Bull stands out among all of them (which we will talk more about a little later).
“Red Bull Flick”, the largest international 2v2 tournament on Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, has already become an annual eSports event held in different countries.
The brand, which for a long time was associated only with energy drinks and extreme sports, is now a household name for eSports! CS tournament under its own aegis, where the entire advertising slot (banners, integrations, product placement) will only be occupied by Red Bull.
We are also familiar with the promotion formats, which means that it's time to move on to the most interesting part, to the live examples of successful integrations!
Of course, speaking of examples of successful cases, the first that comes to mind are Red Bull and Coca-Cola.
Red Bull (in common parlance the “content king”) is one of the most (if not the most) deeply involved brands in eSports, and decided not to waste time and money on typical integrations, but became a content producer itself.
The brand created its own “Red Bull eSports” channels on all key platforms (Twitch, YouTube, Twitter, Google+) and began to produce high quality video content in cooperation with the world's leading players. For example, this is a five-part mini-series,
Cultivation: House of Snake Eyez, about Red Bull team cyber athlete and professional Street Fighter player Darryl Lewis (Snake Eyez). This is a series (“Rocky” from the world of eSports) that tells us about Darryl's travels across America and Japan, as well as his training system, to win the Capcom Cup title in 2015. As the saying goes – if you want to do something well, do it yourself!
Back in 2013, the maker of your favorite sodas announced a partnership with Riot Games, the developer of the world's most popular eSports discipline, League of Legends.
This allowed Coca-Cola to become the title sponsor of the Challenger Series, a relatively recent professional league and, after that, the LoL World Championship in 2014.
A year later, the parties went even further, announcing an expanded partnership. Now, in addition to increasing activity at events and on social media, Coca-Cola, along with its partner Cinemark Cinemas, has begun hosting broadcasts for fans of the game on big screens. The successful brand-developer alliance continues to this day. Coca-Cola has repeatedly served (and continues to serve) as the title sponsor of the South Korean LCK league, which is considered the strongest League of Legends in the world. This is the title sponsor of the strongest league in the world in a country where “League of Legends” is the most popular game. It’s good, isn’t it? Well, images with the champions of “League of Legends” more than once or twice decorated the bottles of everyone's favorite soda. Do not forget about the great case from “League of Legends” called “Live/Play”. “Live/Play” is a series of 20-minute documentaries on YouTube, telling us about the lives of the best players in LoL. For the first time, fans got a glimpse into the lives of their idols, outside of tournaments. This is a great motivational series, in the characters of which, each of us can recognize ourselves.
“They (LoL) don't know how much they've done for me and how much they've impacted my life. They gave me back the taste of life and became the sword with which I fight my demons,” one of the characters in the film tells us from the screen, and many will recognize themselves in him!
So, what about the brands that are not as big as Red Bull and Coca-Cola?
Here, too, everything is clear: small and medium-sized businesses can simply invest in not such large-scale events like conditional “The International”, and start with small local tournaments, gradually increasing the budget, etc.
In this case, do not forget about the agencies of eSports marketing, which develop strategies for advertising campaigns. Well-known brands (Coca Cola, Red Bull, Intel, Audi etc.) and even the newcomers actively use the services of such agencies!
As you may have already realized, team sponsorship, integration in broadcasts and branded events are some of the most effective tools for brand promotion in the eSports community. The successful cases of Red Bull and Coca-Cola are the best examples of how to promote your personal brand through eSports events!
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