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The rise of eSports and how to grasp the opportunities

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Valerie Lalonde
Valerie Lalonde
Head of PR
10 October 2019

Esports, competitive video gaming watched by spectators, is big. It’s not only a sport, but it‌’s also the most popular – and profitable – form of entertainment today. An optimistic estimate places global revenues for eSports at 3.2 billion dollars by 2022. This means eSports could surpass the UEFA Champions League in terms of annual gross revenue. So, there is clearly an opportunity here, but many companies are not taking it. Why? Because many of us don’t take gaming seriously.

There’s a widespread myth that eSports is only popular among teens living in their parents’ basements and that these people are introverted and isolated. But this couldn’t be farther from the truth. The eSports demographic ranges from 18 to 34 years old and encompasses 30% women and 70% men. These people are passionate, social and highly-engaged across various platforms. These people also have jobs and are eager to spend money on their passion. As shown by the 31 million dollar prizepool, one of the biggest eSport events of the year, where 95% of it has been crowdfunded by individual gamers through their in-game purchases.

Thus, these fans are not afraid to take action and are more likely to notice, purchase, buy, and try brands that show support for their preferred league or player. So we need to start taking this target group seriously. Because eSports could allow brands to reach “the unreachables”: valuable, digital, high-income, passionate young people who are less accessible through traditional sponsorships and media buys.

So, how can you jump on this bandwagon and reach this audience? Companies could apply a Triple-A framework. In gaming, a Triple-A classification stands for ‘best in class’ games. Much like blockbuster movies, it costs a fortune to make a AAA game – just as it costs a fortune to make a new Marvel movie – but the anticipated returns make it worthwhile. Thus, by following a Triple-A framework, which stands for Audience, Attention and Authenticity, you can connect with your desired target group.


The eSports market is quite complex. There is a variety of game titles, platforms and fan interests. The biggest challenge for brands is to really understand these differences. So, first of all, it is crucial to understand your audience. For example, over 200 million viewers watched the League of Legend Championship final last year.

That is more viewers than the Super Bowl. But when you exclude Chinese viewers, this number decreases to just under two million. However, if you successfully reach 10% of that two million that’s still 200k motivated buyers. So it’s important to closely identify the cross-sections of your brand and your specific eSports audience.


Once you have identified your audience, the goal is to gain and retain their attention. Gamers care about brands that pay attention to them. This is an audience that really wants to connect – and play. So think of ways that help build the infrastructure of eSports and add value to the community rather than just trying to monetise the fan-base directly. For example, the telecommunication company UPC launched which, today, is the biggest news platform on eSports in Switzerland. UPC also co-created its first broadband product for gamers with the Swiss eSports community and established partnerships with major brands that will lead to joint product bundles this fall.

There is also Anzu, a startup that created a completely new advertising ecosystem where in-game ads can be booked in real-time. Ads are then integrated into the games as part of the gaming environment without interrupting the user experience. Long story short: standard media buys don’t work in this scenario. Your advertising content has to be very targeted and engaging.


Last but not least, just as in traditional sports marketing, your brand should be highly relevant and authentic. Brands who falter on authenticity will get hurt immediately, as eSports fans are used to spreading their opinions digitally. So how can a company or brand stay authentic? Don’t simply go about and advertise on all platforms.

Know your consumer, choose one clear message, make sure it fits your brand story and your audience, and broadcast it on the right channels. If you speak the same language as your target group and continuously do so this will build branding consistency and maintain consumer trust.

Grab the bull by its horns

There is tremendous money to be made in all facets of this industry, and more money to be made every year. The growth of eSports is undeniable. Now is the time for brands to figure out their eSports strategy. You still have a chance to get in early and maximise your opportunities. The time is now when it is still cheaper to sponsor a professional eSports team than a classic sports team.

The key is to find the right audience, get their attention in a clever way – show that you know them – and add something to their gaming experience, but do so in an authentic fashion. This world is not invisible anymore, enter it before everyone else does – and start the game.


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Senior Consultant Digital Marketing

Sarah Maria Messmer

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What digital agencies can learn from SoDa’s Global Digital Outlook 2017

Mellissa Flowerdew-Clarke
Mellissa Flowerdew-Clarke
Head of Marketing, Europe
29 June 2017

The annual Global Digital Outlook Study by SoDA and Forrester is live. As part of SoDA, the network of the hundred most innovative and award-winning digital agencies in the world, we will list the seven main results for you here.

1. 41% of marketers expect an increase in digital budgets

While it no longer qualifies as news, it feels good to conclude that 48% of marketers expect the digital budgets to increase in the coming year as well. This means that the overall total for marketing budgets will remain the same, but the majority (27%) expect to allocate a greater proportion of the budget to digital projects and campaigns. However, as high as 21% of the marketers expect to invest significantly less in online marketing. But that still is a lot, given that only 11% of the marketers surveyed last year said they expected to see a decrease in the digital marketing budget. What is the budget spent on then? Unfortunately, the report provides no answers.

2. We are going for programmatic, VR and voice

On what projects will this budget be spent then? Like last year, digital experiences (web and mobile), content, digital services and analytics top the list. When it comes to digital media spend, marketers expect the majority of spending to be on Video Advertising (49%) and Social Content (47%). Marketers expect new, short-term investments in Programmatic Advertising, VR/AR and Voice/Chatbots. When we put the same question to digital agencies, it appears that most — fortunately — have a pretty good idea of what customers want to invest in.

3. Innovation labs FTW

When it comes to the way in which marketers and agencies work together, a large number expect that real collaboration with multi-agency teams will be the spearhead of 2017. In addition, the majority of agencies consider talent attraction and continuous development of new services as the main strategy for success. The creation of an Innovation Lab — alas, you probably thought you were unique — is already a fact for 66% of the agencies, and it actually appears to be a fruitful approach to rolling out new services quickly.

4. Multiple, specialised agencies are preferred

It is interesting to see that half of the agencies believe in specialisation for growth, while the other half actually prefers combining multiple services. Marketers themselves (40%) prefer to use multiple, specialised digital agencies for their activities. Do you ever wonder why marketers stop working with an agency? Usually, this has to do with the lack of innovation or — what else? — the price.

5. Here come the consultancy firms…

Innovation. Where 66% of the marketers surveyed in 2015 thought they could organise this internally, just 14% still hold this expectation in 2017. The bad news for us as digital agencies is that consultancy firms like Accenture and Deloitte Digital are number one in bringing innovation to the market, ranking even higher than digital media partners like Google and Facebook. It may have to do with the fact that 49% of the marketers now say that C-level colleagues are overlooked in the selection of digital partners. The agencies themselves expect that, thanks to their ‘makers’ mindset, digital agencies will be able to stay in the top 3.

6. Talent attraction the biggest problem when insourcing digital teams

58% of the digital agencies expect that insourcing of digital teams will pose a threat to their activities. The corporate marketers are seemingly getting better at this, especially in the area of ​​social media, analytics and digital experiences. This year, their priorities are data, organisational culture and structure and customer insights. Interestingly, marketers have high expectations for insourcing, but a comparison of the current data to that of 2016 shows that they are just plans that never come to fruition. The reason? The search for talent appears to be more complicated for marketers on the customer side than for us as digital agencies.

7. Innovation? Creativity and data it is!

A good conclusion from the report is that marketers and digital agencies seem to be on different pages when it comes to digital innovation. 78% of the marketers believe that their organisation is ready to innovate, while only 23% of digital agencies agree with that. Too much business-as-usual and no innovation process are, according to digital agencies, the main reason why innovation cannot succeed. While the agencies seem to focus on innovation, marketers are very specific in what they want from agencies. Better designs and creativity (44%) and taking better advantage of data (43%) appear to be the key priorities.

The conclusion? As a digital agency, we will not be able to avoid insourcing, the major consultants and search for talent. But let’s all make sure that the marketers see the added-value of makers, a perspective from outsiders and digital natives who are used to today’s warp-speed world. Let’s practice what we preach!


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Head of Marketing, Europe

Mellissa Flowerdew-Clarke

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