Resonating with gamers across the globe
SteelSeries has been a leader in e-sports gear for 20 years, and its contribution to e-sports gear has changed the game forever. The brand can pride itself on trophy-like achievements such as creating the world’s first ever glass mousepad and designing the most awarded headset in gaming. Having cemented its position as an e-sports pioneer, SteelSeries turned to DEPT® to help tell its ‘Glory Story’ in celebration of the brand’s 20th anniversary.
Until 2021, SteelSeries’ rapid growth had mainly been driven organically by its unparalleled product performance. The successful brand hadn’t started exploring the golden opportunities connected to claiming its brand story and basing it on its unique history and the immense role the brand has played, and continues to play, as a challenger of the status quo in the world of e-sports gaming gear.
As SteelSeries reached its 20th anniversary in 2021, it became clear that there was no better time for the brand to tell the world its Glory Story. For two decades, SteelSeries had fuelled the gaming industry by creating innovative new products, designed specifically for e-sports and passionate gamers everywhere. With millions of new gamers around the world constantly entering the market, the brand wanted to find a compelling way to share this heritage. Together with SteelSeries, we crafted an innovative campaign that resonated with gamers across the globe and turned 20 years of brand history into a 20% increase in brand awareness.
The strategy: making ads that gamers want to share
It was clear to both SteelSeries and DEPT® that the brand’s rich legacy was an untapped goldmine of growth opportunities. However, as we ventured into this uncharted territory with a wealth of material to choose from, a number of challenges presented themselves. The main questions were:
- How do we turn this into a cool and engaging story rather than boring self-praise?
- How do we strategically pick the right stories or achievements from the SteelSeries legacy?
- How do we best communicate these awesome stories to gamers who do not tend to watch 30-60 second flow TV commercials?
First and foremost, we needed to find ways to connect with different types of games. It was clear that relevance was the key to success, so finding the right messages and choosing the right channels was crucial to driving and maintaining interest.
The solution: ad sequencing with tailored storylines
To craft compelling content that would appeal to the target audience, we focused on three elements: enlisting leading creatives; targeting two core target audiences; and using ad sequencing for tactical storytelling.
Ensuring that the campaign would feel just as cool as the digital realms in which gamers immerse themselves was paramount. SteelSeries enlisted top-notch creatives to portray the world that gamers know and love; the world of gaming.
Smart targeting for smarter story telling
We identified two core gamer groups and custom built the narratives of the brand story to match their specific characteristics:
- PC console gamers: We showed them that we understand them, that SteelSeries is, has always been, and will always be, a by-gamers-for-gamers brand. This was visualized through a series of gaming moments that make gamers feel glorious. We also showed them our long line of gaming innovations and how they’ve continued to elevate the performance of gamers everywhere.
- E-sports gamers: We showed them our huge involvement, support and commitment to the e-sports community, centred around the fact that e-sports pros have won more prize money with SteelSeries than any other brand.
Ad sequencing for tactical storytelling in the digital world where gamers live
Having outlined the big idea and how we wanted to customize this message to each of our audience types, we wanted to ensure that we not only met the gamers on their preferred platforms; we also wanted the campaign to stand out as the extraordinary story that it was. It had to be more than just another marketing campaign.
To achieve this, we made use of a number of tactical elements. With first-class visual content, strong storytelling and bold, attention-grabbing statements such as “if you suck, that’s a problem we can’t solve” in place, what we needed was to get gamers to start watching. Initial testing of non-skippable ads showed that these did not achieve the significant impact that we were looking for, so we needed to find a different tactic to pique the interest of our target audiences. Using ad sequencing on YouTube allowed us to divide storylines into shorter segments and craft them into sequences tailored to each target audience to increase the chance of catching the gamers’ attention.
Moreover, if a gamer skipped an ad, we used customised messaging based on the gamer’s previous interaction with the campaign with ad copy such as “we know you skipped our last ad, but you’re really missing out”. As results quickly showed, combining ad sequencing with this approach significantly increased the chance of catching the gamers’ attention and seeing them complete the remainder of the sequence.
The results: 85 million views and a 20% increase in brand awareness
Fast forward a year, and the campaign has been watched more than 85 million times across 30 countries. Moreover, gamers expressed their love for the campaign across social media with comments such as “the first ad I’ve watched in its entirety” and “this is the mother of advertisements”, among hundreds of others.
And the result? A 20% lift in brand awareness, significantly above YouTube and Facebook benchmarks. With the Glory Story campaign, SteelSeries has succeeded in claiming their brand history and harnessing it to boost brand awareness among their core audience. And it’s only the beginning, says SteelSeries CMO Kathryn Martinez:
“Ultimately, it’s been incredible to see that we have a story worth spreading. It took a leap of faith, but thanks to this campaign we know there’s an audience out there that really wants to hear from us. And we have so much more to say – there are many more levels to this game.”
Experience the website
Victor Marcus Lunde
A next-gen collaboration
SteelSeries has fueled the gaming industry by creating innovative new products, designed specifically for eSports and passionate gamers everywhere. However, SteelSeries had reached a point where further, substantial market share growth could no longer be achieved by simply investing more media budget into the lower funnel marketing activities. Together we’ve evolved SteelSeries’ media strategy to embrace the full customer journey, acknowledging the consumer path is a journey and the first step isn’t a purchase.
Implementing a full-funnel messaging and buying strategy to raise their brand awareness
Having built a sound lower-funnel marketing foundation, it was time for SteelSeries to start focussing on the brand’s long-term growth. Together, SteelSeries and DEPT® joined forces in rethinking the media investment and strategy, ultimately implementing a full-funnel messaging and buying strategy to hone in on raising brand awareness and, ultimately, meeting SteelSeries’s ambitious growth targets. A project that started with a structured KPI approach that gave us the possibility to measure the branding activities for each step of the customer journey.
By measuring success on each step of the customer journey, the marketing budget was optimised between lower-funnel marketing activities and upper-funnel branding focused activities. A keystone in the project was the company’s “tried & true” channels: Facebook and Instagram. We also took it a step further and introduced the brand to a new social platform: Snapchat. We tailored the messaging to better speak to new users who were unfamiliar with the brand. We prioritised video ads and tested new, engaging ad formats like Instagram Story polls and Snapchat Story ads. With humour and catchy slogans, we built a new tone of voice and brand story.
During the project, we continuously made improvements and gathered learnings along the way which ensured that the strategy only grew stronger as we progressed. This, together with smart bidding, real-time pricing strategies and ongoing analysis based on the KPIs we set from the outset, ensured that we outbid the competition and that SteelSeries maximised the impact of every dollar spent. By combining all assets in a knowledge bank SteelSeries is now equipped with best practices around creatives, formats, platforms, audiences and strategies. This will ensure the full-funnel messaging approach and strategy will only grow stronger throughout the year and into the next to come.
This is just the first step in implementing a full-fledged marketing strategy which will now be implemented widely across the full marketing strategy, including YouTube as well as other channels, now that SteelSeries have tested and proven a solid foundation for its long-term growth plans.
Mille Munk Sørensen
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