E-sports are capturing the attention of sports and gaming fans like never before. Worldwide, players are competing for cash prize pools topping US$24 million, and live e-sports competitions are now bringing in millions of unique online viewers and hundreds of thousands of live spectators. One of the biggest e-sports events of the year, the Intel Extreme Masters World Championship 2017 smashed previous records with 173,000 live audience members and 46 million watching online.
With the global e-sports market forecast to hit US$1.5 billion in the next three years, Singapore is in a unique position to be a hub for this rapidly growing ecosystem. More than 5 percent of the country’s online population now play e-sports and Singapore’s Online Gaming Association has just launched the first ever e-sports academy where ambitious gamers can train in the hopes of going professional. At the recent World Championships, Singapore became the only Asian country to reach the Counterstrike: Global Offensive quarterfinals.
Singapore’s burgeoning love for e-sports opens myriad opportunities for advertisers to reach a group of passionate, engaged consumers – but many have yet to truly capitalize on the trend.
E-sports are a unique avenue to reach fans both online and on-the-ground. Tournaments take place in gigantic stadiums and convention halls, where the sponsorship opportunities can be incredibly lucrative to advertisers. Brands can connect with a highly attentive, deeply engaged audience via posters, booths and branded freebie giveaways, as well as a new generation of augmented and virtual reality experiences that capitalize on e-sports fans’ love for digital entertainment to bring them into the world of the brand.
Of course, e-sports fans are also online. Singapore alone has around 2.8 million gamers; and worldwide, the e-sports audience is expected to reach 385 million in 2017. This represents a massive opportunity for brands to engage with a passionate audience of fans who are tuning in to play and watch e-sports games across a broad range of digital platforms. The biggest championships are broadcast on as many as 14 online platforms, giving brands the chance to deliver targeted campaigns to the most relevant audience, wherever they are.
With so many different channels to reach fans, brands can get the most value from e-sports advertising when they work with a partner who can tailor bespoke campaigns that reach from online to offline, across target consumers’ most important touchpoints. Many brands are just beginning to advertise via e-sports, but deep awareness and loyalty cannot be built without a campaign that spans the full gamut of the people and platforms involved in e-sports – from avid gamers who play via digital portals; to online spectators watching small-scale games and world-class events; to diehard fans who seek out user-generated e-sports content on social media; to those who travel to live events around the globe.
In fact, some brands are even looking at how they can reach consumers at the point where traditional sports and e-sports cross over. Traditional sports have long been a source of great value for advertising; connecting brands to a loyal audience who, even in the age of shortening attention spans, are deeply engaged in their favorite sports content. Now, e-sports is putting a similar audience in reach of advertisers; and with some traditional sports leagues signing up professional players to join e-sports teams, the opportunities for crossover advertising are set for major growth in the coming years.
The future of e-sports and e-sports advertising in Singapore, and beyond, is an exciting field for brands. Particularly with the Singapore government’s bold investments in technology and innovation, there’s no doubt that Singapore will become an increasingly conducive environment for e-sports – opening up even more opportunities for multi-channel, integrated marketing strategies that reach a growing audience of passionate, engaged e-sports fans.
The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect this publication's view, and this article is not edited by Singapore Business Review. The author was not remunerated for this article.
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As the Executive Vice President, Michael oversees advertising sales and content partnerships for FOX Networks Group Asia (FNG) throughout Asia Pacific and the Middle East.
Michael has more than 25 years of experience in the media, sports and entertainment industry. Working on both the client and agency side, as well as consulting for a multitude of rights owners, he has gained experience across a variety of major international projects in Europe and Asia. Prior to joining FNG, Michael was the Founder and Managing Director of Station12 Asia in 2014 and the Founder and President of Publicis Content Ventures (PCV) in 2015.
He previously held a role of CEO GroupM’s branded content division in Asia Pacific, growing of integrated content solutions for brands across the entire GroupM client portfolio.