According to ENGINE’s youth and culture experts at Cassandra, 79% of U.S. youth say gaming is important to their lives. Online gaming and esports (i.e. competitive video gaming) has quickly restructured the digital marketing landscape. And with the gaming industry expected to grow most significantly between 2018 and 2023, for brands, surviving the future of digital marketing will mean investing in this ever-changing and growing market.
Esports as Sports
Think of competitive gaming as a sport. Gamers not only play and spend money within the game, but purchase subscriptions to watch professional players via streaming networks, as well as interact with others in the community via popular message boards. In fact, according to Cassandra, 74% of U.S. youth currently consider esports a real sport. For marketers, this means opportunity.
Premier ad placements in traditional sports are expensive and, at times, difficult to confirm you’re reaching your audience. On the other hand, esports marketing is a buyer’s market. This allows smaller brands with less budget the opportunity to reach consumers typically not in their budget. And with technological advances in digital ad placement, marketers can now confirm they’re engaging with the exact, hard-to-reach cord cutter audience they want. Together, the inexpensive quality and technological advancements have leveled the playing field. Brands of all shapes and sizes now have the ability to succeed by creating sponsorships, partnerships, and co-branding opportunities, while ensuring to engage wisely.
Where They’re Gaming
In a recent study conducted by ENGINE’s omnibus survey CARAVAN, we asked 1,004 gamers about their streaming service preferences. Between popular streaming services, YouTube Gaming emerged as the clear winner, garnering a massive 79% following compared to Amazon Twitch’s 15%. However, Amazon’s recent acquisition of ad technology company Sizmek indicates that they are preparing to take on Google for brand marketing dollars, further benefitting the media buyer.
While gaming consoles are the widely chosen preference for males (39%), mobile platforms are more appealing for females (60%). This big divide expands the potential for precision targeting when gender-specific marketing tactics are employed. Apart from these splits, gamers are decidedly unbiased as to advertising favorites, leaving more room for ingenuity on the digital marketing creative front. Raised in the digital age, the millennial gamer market accepts that ad exposure is both foundational to their experience and an implicit cost to pioneer new territory. Playable ads, games by email, branded skins, and social influencer endorsements are just a few ad consumption devices that users are prepared to, and already do, entertain.
What’s This Mean for Marketers?
Sporting fans have always been known for passion and undying support of their team. And with the gaming frontier rapidly expanding its customer base, the prospects for success are endless—if brands engage this passionate and knowledgeable audience correctly. At Engine, we believe the customer experience starts with the very first interaction a consumer has with your brand. To achieve continued success in this market, brands should focus on seamless integration within the gaming experience from day one. This means listening and engaging with players throughout their journey in order to anticipate their needs, meet, and exceed their expectations.
Let’s future-proof your business. To learn how ENGINE can help you navigate esports and the future of digital marketing contact us today.