“You get what you measure.” It’s a sentiment that’s been communicated to generation after generation of marketing folks. Put differently, there are two ways to get a bullseye in darts: you can either hit the bullseye, or you can hit the wall and draw a bullseye around it. If you’re looking to be successful in business, you need to hit the bullseye where it was originally drawn. That’s where key performance indicators (KPI’s) come into play. When you’re looking at the world of esports, those KPI’s span both physical and digital realms, which adds a layer of complexity that isn’t there for other, non-digitally-focused businesses. This complexity offers up both challenges and opportunities, and – as always – we’re here to help you navigate both.
Video games have long been at the cutting edge of technological innovation, so it’s no surprise that esports are pushing the technological boundaries of what’s possible from a sponsorship perspective. “Until very recently, esports sponsorship efforts have been focused on gaining parity with traditional sports,” explains Greg Skasko, eGency Global’s Chief Operating Officer. “But IP owners, teams, event organizers, and sponsors are recognizing that the interactivity engendered in esports provides the opportunity to offer a more sophisticated approach to sponsorship. The sales funnel isn’t changing, but esports’ ability to provide a more accurate view into how fans are traveling that funnel certainly is,” he says.
From a sponsorship perspective, spends focused on generating awareness have been like throwing spaghetti at a wall to see what sticks. You can get some demographically-driven correlation between what succeeds and what doesn’t, but determining causality has always been the grayest of the sponsorship’s gray areas. “Does this person recognize my brand because he/she saw it at the venue? Or because they remember seeing it on TV / Facebook/ Instagram / etc. ?”
Knowing what your potential customers know is an invaluable asset, but determining that level of specificity has traditionally been difficult (at least at scale); but app-based ticketing is changing that. App-based ticketing is a win for consumers because it’s relatively seamless when compared with the traditional counterpart. But it’s also a win for sponsors, who can then get a snapshot of their potential consumers weeks – and sometimes many months – before an event actually occurs. When the ticketing app is enabled by social media, the customer level insight becomes unmatched. “One of the many reasons that esports represent such an amazing investment opportunity for sponsors is because of how many attendees/viewers use app-based ticketing,” Skasko explained. “The percentage of folks using apps to buy tickets for esports events versus pretty much any other kind of event is orders of magnitude higher, so the ability to gather insights from the audience is that much greater. Gathering statistically-significant data about awareness – among many other things – is a lot more efficient for esports than other kinds of events.”
Sponsors – particularly non-endemic sponsors – are in a particularly good spot with respect to measuring how their presence at an esports event influences consideration. The most basic method of measuring this influence is by having QR code-driven check ins enabled at sponsored locations, along with incentivized check outs (i.e., having a cosplay judging event at your booth; in order for participants to vote, they must first check in, look at the entrants, and then check out). For consumable-oriented businesses like QSR’s & CPG’s, there’s also a big opportunity around incentivized sampling (provided the venue’s food service contract allows for it). Rewarding people with samples in exchange for checking in via their event app adds an extra layer of understanding to the longitudinal knowledge gained from event participants. Budget provided, this capability can also be enabled for online participants, which could add further statistical significance to any data gathered at the physical event. Once gathered, this data can be compared to both statistical and actual prior behavior to determine if the experience increased the odds of consideration (or had the inverse impact).
“Competition is the name of the game, no pun intended,” said eGency’s Skasko. “With very few exceptions, there are fierce competitors fighting for the same customers’ dollars as you are. Esports events, by their nature, allow for these competitors to see what’s working – and what’s not working – to drive consideration among the folks they want consuming their product or service.”
Unless you’re a mom and pop shop, determining purchase attribution as a result of sponsoring an event has always been – at best – educated guess work. Not so with esports events.
This is where the rubber hits the road. You sponsor esports events – like any other events – to ultimately drive consideration, purchase, and retention. Traditionally, purchase-focused analytics have centered on correlating event attendee / viewer demographics with post-purchase demographic information. Getting information on who, exactly, wound up buying something after a sponsored event has been – until recently – almost impossible. Thanks to the technologically sophisticated esports audience, many of whom will attend events either in person or online via in-app registration, sponsors have a truly longitudinal view of esports enthusiasts.
“Retrofitting sales data to sponsorship spends is like drawing a bullseye around a dart you’ve thrown into the wall next to the dartboard,” Skasko says. “Esports allow sponsors to flip that model on its head, giving sponsors statistically significant data sets that can determine true causality. If you have 1,000 registered participants who go on to buy your product or service after a sponsorship, you can project those learnings onto overall sales trends,” Skasko continues. “So instead of saying ‘My product sold $1 million because I sponsored an event,’ you can say ‘My product sold $1 million because I targeted the exact correct demographic and a statistically significant portion of that demographic actually bought the product I wanted them to’,” he finishes.
One of the most tantalizing components of esports sponsorship is the prospect of its impact on retention / reacquisition. Because of the digitally-focused nature of esports attendance and because of the its high index with app-based ticketing, a sponsor’s relationship with attendees doesn’t stop with the end of an event. Provided that they’ve opted in to continue receiving communications, esports attendees offer up a great opportunity to A/B test offers to either convert or increase wallet share.
As eGency’s Skasko explains, “In addition to allowing for drip campaigns, esports attendees offer a unique opportunity to A/B test campaigns and landing pages that address your demographic’s sweet spot. There are few opportunities that will allow so clear a view into why people churn or convert; more importantly, though, engaging with the esports audience will afford you the opportunity to test the types of campaigns and messaging that could cause them to NOT churn. When you can project this intelligence onto the rest of your customer base, you’ll be hitting bullseyes all day long, instead of having to draw them around the darts you throw into walls.”
Historically, sponsorships have been difficult things to quantify. While there’s no doubt that – for example – fans will buy the kind of shoes their favorite athletes wear, it’s always been a “directional” rather than a “factual” truth. The advancement of esports and the technology that supports them are enabling an unprecedented clarity into how sponsorships influence actual consumer behavior. But – as is always the case – things aren’t quite as simple as they seem. In order to reap the full value of esports sponsorships, sponsors need to have a more sophisticated approach, in addition to a more sophisticated methodology for measuring results. The great news is that this sophistication is entirely possible and that companies like us, eGency Global, have a long history of navigating these increasingly complex waters to produce real, measurable results.
To learn how you or your organization can tap into opportunities in esports, please visit www.egencyglobal.com or call 972-323-6354 to speak with an eGency Global esports expert today.