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Esports Measurement Essentials

GMR's CSO says brands can—and should—be measuring their new esports sponsorships

by Dave Rosenberg, Chief Strategic Officer, San Francisco

Earlier this year we discussed the importance of esports research and measurement as the next area of development to watch in 2016. As the eSports industry continues to grow at a historic rate and companies begin to explore sponsorship opportunities, the need for quantitative and qualitative analytics and measurement are more important than ever.

Investments in this new platform must be held to similar ROI standards as traditional sports. Brand sponsorship of esports should and will be evaluated on its ability to engage the target consumer, achieve brand/company marketing and sales objectives, and address business and marketing challenges and opportunities.

Evaluating effectiveness

Like most other aspects of brand marketing, the overall effectiveness of an esports program is evaluated by two primary areas: Reach and Effect. Reach details the number of consumers who were impacted or touched by a program, and Effect outlines the changes (cognitive, attitudinal and behavioral) produced as a result of exposure to that program. 

But beyond that high-level view, we believe that the core of a successful esports measurement plan is the identification of the core areas (data) that provide an understanding of the esports’ fans and participants, combined with their content consumption and engagement habits. Additionally, the development of the brand and consumer experience within esports provides brands the ability to analyze data and realize the optimal integration for them within the esports ecosystem.

Utilizing and analyzing these data points will provide the basis for sponsorship and asset evaluation models—and the knowledge that the brand’s esports investments are both effective and efficient.

"Investments in this new platform must be held to similar ROI standards as traditional sports."

Developing an Esports Measurement Plan

The development of an esports measurement plan includes several core areas that each need to be analyzed:

  • Brand Relevance — The esports consumer is not only tech-savvy but also has an extremely low tolerance for brands using their mainstream marketing communications messaging and tactics. Building brand relevance and affinity in this unique psychographic-demographic segment necessitates a brand communication plan and messaging that resonates with their lifestyle. Brands entering into the esports ecosystem must develop a natural and credible point of differentiation. One of the reasons that more brands have not capitalized on this growth opportunity is the lack of a relevant and tested messaging strategy (including appropriate utilization of gaming lexicon). This point of difference can be identified through message testing against the target audience and delivered through on-line quantitative surveys.
  • Brand Impact — Relevance will deliver user acquisition, but maintaining that relevance is equally critical. Developing a plan with measureable tactics is where brands can improve brand impact and build customer lifetime value, thus maximizing their investments. Proprietary surveys that measure levels of consumer/fan engagement with various brand tactics allow for critical evaluation of partnership and sponsorships opportunities. Where endemic brands may find co-branded opportunities with professional teams receive positive brand impact results, other less intuitive categories must identify the appropriate marketing and sponsorship activations to secure an impactful space in this ecosystem that impacts the esports community.
  • Brand Integration — As the esports industry continues to mature, even more opportunities for brands to authentically reach millennials and find revenue growth have surfaced. As you read this article, publishers are partnering with brands to meet their mutual business objectives and collectively grow engaged and active communities around their titles/brands. The challenge is to understand the target consumers’ recall of the brand within the partnership and how the association impacted their perception.
  • Brand Engagement — esports competitions and viewers easily outweigh the volume of actual esports competitors. Properly targeted and engaged, these two groups could allow a brand to monetize their investment. It’s critical to understand whether the target knows how/why the brand is part of their landscape and whether that involvement enhances their experience and their motivation to like/buy. Research can identify whether, after identifying the brand involvement, the target is willing to take action—such as liking/following via social media, posting or sharing social content, and, ultimately, purchasing the brand.
"Brands entering the esports ecosystem must develop a natural and credible point of differentiation."

Fan data & analytics are key

While it’s critical to identify the relevant connection between a brand and the esports customer, a successful marketing strategy is ultimately measured by data and analytics that involve the esports target. These research and measurement plans are typically less than 10% of the total marketing budget and can provide an in-depth knowledge of the target’s understanding of the brand’s esports involvement by analyzing the fan, their participation, content consumption, engagement and preferences.

Research and measurement plans will help to not only enhance a brand’s message/communication but also target esports and gaming enthusiasts more effectively, thus maximizing the investment in the esports space.

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