Brands seeking to enter the eSports space can draw on thinking from more traditional sports sponsorships as a useful guide to elements of their strategy.

Tatiana Tacca, director/eSports at Momentum Worldwide, an agency network that forms part of Interpublic Group, discussed this subject at the 2018 XLIVE Esports Summit.

“A lot of brands are really looking at eSports ... And they are always asking, ‘How can we test and learn? What are the different approaches?’” she said. (For more, read WARC’s in-depth report: How can brands tap into eSports? Momentum looks to real-world models for virtual gaming.)

The eSports category – where elite-level players of big name franchises compete for increasingly large cash prizes – has many nuances of its own, she added, but there are meaningful similarities with more established sponsorships, too.

“I really like the approach of a traditional sports mindset for eSports,” said Tacca, who is tasked with handling strategy, sponsorship and activation in this area for clients.

As a starting point, she suggested that the primary ways for marketers to enter into eSports involves partnering with entities such as leagues and teams, as they often do in physical sports.

“Teams have probably been one of the most used test-and-learn formats,” Tacca said, as shown by a tie-up between Dr Pepper and Team SoloMid.

Just as brands may hire athletes as spokespeople, they can leverage high-profile eSports players that specialise in certain gaming titles, both at in-person events and online.

“In particular, there also are a lot of pros streaming. And that gives you a real, unparalleled access that you don’t have in traditional sports to your favorite pros. They essentially act as influencers,” Tacca said.

Live events have a crucial role in eSports, too, and represent a “way to really engage with audiences in a physical, on-site experience,” Tacca said.

Among the distinct characteristics of the eSports landscape at present, she proposed, is fragmentation. “There are so many different leagues, and tournaments, and teams, and various opportunities,” she pointed out.

“People can look at that as a bit of a challenge. However, it’s ultimately a really strong opportunity, because brands can go in several different routes and methods,” Tacca argued.

“In particular, you’re looking at sponsorship platforms that are relatively less expensive [and] allow you to have an always-on play.”

Sourced from WARC