Advertisers pin hope on esports but with caution

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August 12, 2020 10:05 AM

According to industry estimates, the nascent esports industry has witnessed 300%-400% rise in advertising and sponsorship post lockdown

online gaming, esportsFrom sportswear brands such as Nike, Adidas, Puma, to beverage brands like Coca-Cola and RedBull, brands from across the segments are now looking to leverage the esports platform.

It’s not only people who have logged online to play games, thanks to the rising popularity of esports now brands have also joined the bandwagon. As per industry estimates, the online gaming segment has seen a rise of 300%-400% in advertising and sponsorship post lockdown. From sportswear brands such as Nike, Adidas, Puma, to beverage brands like Coca-Cola and RedBull, brands from across the segments are now looking to leverage the esports platform. For instance, telecom company Airtel partnered with NODWIN Games in May to launch Airtel India Esports Tour. Interestingly, luxury brands such as BMW are also throwing their advertising weight behind the emerging platform. “What has happened is that companies have allocated a lot of the marketing expenditure to the digital platforms, and form that a large chunk has been diverted towards esports now,” Abhinandan Balasubramanian, co-founder, X1 Racing, told BrandWagon Online. X1 Racing claims to have registered 30%-40% rise in advertising and sponsorship during covid.

Much like live tournaments, advertising in online gaming platforms encapsulates all the normal marketing tricks from tickers surrounding the playing field, brand’s name on the jersey and score card to special sponsorships such as ‘Man of the Match’. What separates esports from online gaming is the innovative technique every platform incorporates. For instance, live game streaming app Loco claims to offer brand visibility via multiple streamers available on the platform along with the normal brand integration as well as in their original tournaments. For Anirudh Pandita, founder, Pocket Aces, the combination of covid, and new marketing techniques in the esports arena have helped generate massive interest among brands. “The esports industry has been growing steadily for the last 1-1.5 years, covid has simply exacerbated its growth. As a streaming platform, which hosts its own original tournaments, we have been getting very good responses from brands who are now actively looking forward to partnering with us. For instance, we are looking at 15 more advertising deals by brands,” he added.

Previously skeptical of the platform, mainstream brands such as FMCG and educational institutions are now looking at esports as an opportunity to target mass audiences. However, industry experts question whether the platform can be as successful in providing brand visibility as live sports are. “With esports, advertising needs to be done in a very careful manner. It needs to be integrated seamlessly so as to become a part of the game, thereby providing adequate brand visibility while not hindering or jarring the user experience,” Ashish Pherwani, partner- media, EY India, stated.

In fact this is also the reason, marketers continue to evaluate the new format of sports, “Brands are trying to understand how to convert investment into a tangible return on investment (ROI)” Balasubramanian stated.

Read Also: IPL 2020: At 30-40% decline in sponsorship revenue, IPL franchises to clock Rs 300-350 crore

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