CES 2019: Credibility Is King In eSports Marketing

Striking the right tone can be as challenging as the game itself
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eSports marketers must tread a thin line, panelists cautioned.

eSports marketers must tread a thin line, panelists cautioned.

eSports provides a vast opportunity for marketers, but they need to understand its participants and its audience to achieve success. That was the message at Tuesday’s “eSports: The New Playground for Marketers” CES C Space session, which featured brand marketers who are well-versed in the ecosystem.

Panelists included Lester Chen, Head of Gaming, Americas, YouTube; Kristin Connelly, Director, Brand Marketing, Overwatch League; Daniel Kelley, Director, Corporate Marketing, HyperX Gaming; and Kristen Salvatore, VP Commercial Director of eSports, Twitch.tv.

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It was moderated by Damon Lau, Head of eSports, United Talent Agency.

What sets the category apart from other sports communities is that eSports is a “shared interactive experience, and when you have that level of investment, it creates a new level of attachment,” said Connelly. The panel also agreed that its accessibility makes it appealing to fans and players alike.

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The challenge, from a marketing perspective, becomes how to reach this valuable audience. Fortunately, they are not advertising adverse, according to Salvatore, who said, “This is an audience that is OK to market to if you tell them you are doing it. They know how it works — that money supports the thing they love. It is an opportunity for advertisers and brands to participate in what is happening here.”

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Although traditional advertising may not work here, marketers have instead found success creating content that brings the fans closer to the players and the teams they love. “Take chances with content because you can,” said Chen. “You get immediate feedback from the comments on what works or doesn’t. Track the data and analytics. The voice has to be genuine, and gamers are the first to be vocal about trust or distrust of a company. Understanding the voice is a precious commodity.”

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“For a marketer it is fun,” said Kelley. “The wheels should be turning. What is your voice? The community will sniff you out if you are here for the wrong reason. Simplify your strategy, pick a community, work with a partner. See what the tools are and use the metrics. If you see what is working and what is not, that can grow into a robust strategy.”

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