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What's Next for Esports

2015 was huge. Where do we go from here?

by Dave Rosenberg, Chief Strategic Officer (San Francisco)

The growth of esports is unique in a world of excessive content, rising sports rights values and increasing internet penetration. Few marketing communications opportunities offer the continuing potential found in esports, and we expect to see brand participation increase exponentially during 2016 and well beyond.

Where to focus: Strategy & Integration

A brand that builds an integrated plan with a long-term view, an authentic message/story and a community engagement strategy could find itself with a tremendous sales and marketing platform. But those brands that continue to over analyze esports—or question the evaluation of the platform's growth—are fundamentally missing the point.

This is a phenomenon unlike anything we as marketers have seen in several decades. It is a sport that is growing at internet speed—which just happens to be its primary mode for marketing communications. Given esports' constantly-evolving ecosystem and consumer, attempting to assess the totality of the sport is difficult.

What matters: at every marketing touchpoint esports is attracting huge audiences who are passionately engaged in the content. We believe that the brands that focus their attention and resources on defining strategic approaches around both the business and the culture of esports will be the brands that succeed in this space.

"Given esports' constant evolution, attempting to assess the totality of the sport is difficult."

What to watch: Research & Measurement

Research and measurement will be the most interesting and important areas to watch in 2016. Brands have a need for more quantitative and qualitative measurement in esports, so they can better evaluate this channel as a means to engage their target consumers and deliver against their business objectives.

Esports’ digital reach, consumption levels, and the breadth of its global footprint are great examples of the need for better access to data—the numbers are huge, but are not consistently aggregated by a central governing body, which can mean more legwork for individual entities such as sponsors and tournaments.

Again: brands that continue to over-analyize esports are fundamentally missing the point.

Something to note: while it's difficult to use traditional professional sports as the measuring stick for this relatively new and unique phenomenon, we strongly believe that these two sports entities don’t directly compete and should not be measured, analyzed or evaluated against each other.

As brand and consumer research in esports matures, so too will the engagement experience within the esports ecosystem. Together, these trends will allow brands to develop robust sponsorship and asset evaluation models, to ensure that they are investing effectively and efficiently.

In October of 2015, GMR established an esports practice to meet the demands of brands that want to reach young, digitally-minded consumers through integration into esports competitions, teams, media and game design. The practice will be headquartered in the U.S., with key hubs across the Americas, EMEA and Asia Pacific. Contact us to learn more!

Should your brand be in esports? We can help you navigate the ecosystem.
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