The main reason why companies are hesitant when doing advertisements and sponsorships is the uncertainty about what the return of their investment will be. When sponsoring an amount of money on, for example, an event, it often is unclear upfront what the outcome will be. The same goes for the eSports business; there is no certitude that a sponsorship will work out the way you planned. There are however plenty of examples where it was satisfactory. In this article we will take a closer look at some of these cases.
In the beginning of 2017 Nielsen launched a division to optimize eSports investment decisions. One of their first clients was RFRSH Entertainment on behalf of CS:GO team Astralis. Nielsen discovered that automotive brand Audi received a return more than ten times as high as their investment in sponsorship of the ELEAGUE finals and Dreamhack in Las Vegas this year. Streaming and television exposure made up most of the return, where approximately 40% came from non-broadcast exposure like mentions and images on RFRSH entertainment’s/Astralis’ social media platforms.
During the spring of 2016 beer company Bud Light decided to jump on the eSports bandwagon and entered the sponsorship market. Bud Light launched a marketing campaign targeting young gamers to get them interested and involved in their brand. Because of a lack of knowledge about the eSports market, the campaign was a complete failure. They asked people to vote for their favourite Bud Light All-Star gamer, however never made clear what the intention of the contest was. It turned out to be a huge let down for the few people that voted. Bud Light proves that an investment in eSports is not always a guarantee for a proper return on investment. It makes clear that, and especially for non-endemic brands, a decent knowledge and understanding of the market is necessary to be successful.
Another example of a positive sponsorship outcome is the case of Mobil1. Mobil1, a big lubricant producer, became one of the biggest partners of the Rocket League Championship (RLCS). The company invested in social media to create awareness of RLCS especially around the season one finals. It helped drive viewship and growth. In return this helped Mobil1 as well; they got increased traffic to their channels and bigger opportunities. Mobil1 listened to the demand of the target audience and funded the ‘Mobil1 High Performance Replay’ halftime replays. By adding content in favour of the fans Mobil1 successfully marketed themselves amongst the Rocket League community. They noticed great results. On average RLCS fans were up to 78% more likely to make a brand change in terms of purchase intent as a result of the sponsorship. Two-third of the audience was willing to change their brand loyalty to another product because of the sponsorship.
Now we’ve taken a closer look on these cases we can conclude one single thing: it needs dedication, passion and a strong marketing approach to be successful at the eSports sponsorship market. However, it can get really lucrative and be worthwhile if you make use of a well thought out business plan. Study your target audience, adapt your sponsorship to their demands and your business might flourish in the extraordinary world that’s called eSports.
Do you think investing in eSports can be worthwile?