Esports have grown exponentially in recent years both in terms of audience and profits as brands have found there an opportunity to massively reach their targets.
In 2020, the eSports audience reachedalmost 500 million , between players and viewers, and the trend is for it to continue growing (it is expected that by 2023 it will be close to 650 million).
Although the pandemic affected the industry by preventing the realization of live events, the activity did not stop and online events took over the eSports space. For example, the League of Legends Worlds final in 2020 was followed around the world by a total of four million people .
The boom was so great that in 2020 there were profits of more than 947.1 million dollars , with the United States leading the world audience and amounts of growth rebounds in Europe and Latin America.
Influencers in eSports
The growth and popularity of eSports has also increased the popularity of influencers in this industry.
Infuencers are people who have a direct influence on their followers and we are not only talking about the great gamers that exist around the world but also about players with fewer followers (micro), but very well positioned in their niche.
Brands, for their part, seeing the potential to reach a broad and engaged audience, are investing in eSports marketing, both directly (sponsorships and advertising) and indirectly (media rights and content licenses).
Esports influencers are one more category within influencer marketing characterized by the fact that their audience is usually under 35 years old (millennials and generation Z).
It is also true that it is a very competitive discipline, with many games in different categories and it is really difficult to become an eSports star, something that fans know. In eSports, as in the rest of digital marketing, influencers of all kinds, who have followers who blindly trust what these influencers transmit. This level of engagement for a brand means associating itself with values such as perseverance, competitiveness, fun and technological capacity.
Esports gained traction with the success of streaming services like Twitch, Mixer, and YouTube, resulting in gamers increasing in popularity thanks to live streaming of their video games. Popular video game streamers are considered influencers, as are many popular sports stars.
Twitch, probably today the most popular streaming platform with more than 15 million daily active users, emerged in order to boost the world of eSports and all kinds of live video game broadcasts . Although the main contents are still those related to the gaming environment, now the creations have been extended to other topics such as music, art or scientific and technological dissemination.
In my experience as an influencer marketing specialist, I have noticed that, although the world of eSports has its own rules, when campaigns are carried out on networks like Twitter with gamers, engagement is multiplied by three and, not to mention with Twitch, the level of Audience permanence on a broadcast is usually almost double that on YouTube, which is a great opportunity for brands that work with these influencers.
What should brands do?
A brand doesn’t have to be part of the eSports industry to take advantage of this growing sector. Brands can work with eSports influencers either with individual players or teams.
Ideally, the brand will find a way to create a connection and make sure its product fits naturally to the players.
Because this space is growing rapidly and its users are passionate, it is important to research and plan collaborations strategically to activate successful influencer campaigns.
It is important for the brand to find the influencers who share its values and who reach the audience they want to speak to.
Non-eSports brands such as Coca Cola, Gillete, RedBull are sponsoring both events such as tournaments, teams or individual players, but there are also small or entrepreneurial brands that dress players for a tournament.
Whether investing millions of dollars or supporting with t-shirts, in the eSports universe there is room for everyone, because we are all influencers.