An estimated 728.8 million people will watch live-streamed game video content (GVC), in 2021, according to Newzoo, a jump of 10% over 2020. Of them, 474 million will tune in to esports content. Mobile engagement ad platform Thece connects brands directly with this audience, an audience they refer to as the Game Viewing Audience, based on contextual behavior and engages them with fun minigames instead of intrusive ads. Thece Founder and CEO Zachary Rozga explains why this is important.
Esports Grizzly: What is the value of advertising on an ad network versus other channels such as working with teams or tournaments?
Zachary Rozga: I’d say the overall value can be seen in the lower cost per thousand impressions (CPM). Secondly, you get a more diverse audience so that you can spread your message across a broader range as opposed to fans of a single team.
One of the things we’ve become very aware of is that teams independently don’t do impression-based sales — they do time-based buys. It’s like, good luck if you get a good weekend versus a bad one. When you put together media-based versus sponsorship-based buys, there’s no guaranteed impression load you’re going to get as a sponsor. You could get fortunate and sponsor a fantastic tournament with a massive number of attendees and a sticky audience. Still, you can also get a real dog that has limited turnout and a transient audience. However, if you buy from us, you’re not buying a single event or a time-based thing. You’re buying an impression load.
If we have to stretch your campaign out to get those impressions that you want or need to find more sources ー more influencers or teams to partner with ー, we do that. You get a guaranteed impression load for what you’re looking for in the audience.
Esports Grizzly: Why is having the right creativity important when advertising in the esports and gaming space?
Zachary Rozga: I think the most important thing is authenticity. Plus, you need to partner with inventory that is connected to your brand. You can’t fake it in esports and gaming. There was a Burger King campaign about a year ago that was gamer-centric. It was not authentic to the Burger King brand, and it didn’t go over well.
It’s important to consider that, when advertising in Esports and Gaming, the advertiser is using contextual advertising, not behavioral. When you’re contextually targeting someone, you have to have a mass media message. You’re not reading their date of birth, the college they went to, who they dated, and the last movie they watched to serve them an ad, as behavioral targeting does. Frankly, I find that super creepy.
Contextual targeting is, “Hey, these people like to watch esports and gaming.” So, you have to have a message that is authentic toward those people. We’ve gone too far with behavioral targeting where we’re trying to micro-message, which does not work in this space.
Esports Grizzly: Why should brands consider influencer-produced esports and gaming content?
Zachary Rozga: People who watch live streams, those who make up the Game Viewing Audience, do not consider themselves fans — they consider themselves friends. We use the term “fan” for football. I like football; you like football, we're fans of football. We're not friends of football. Whereas my daughter is a “Simmer” (playing Sims 4). She has three other Simmers that she follows, watching their content. She considers herself a friend of those Simmers, not a fan.
That means that when they tell her to do something, she does it. It's a trusted source. It's the notion of influencer, in general, but I think it's even more so in the Livestream because they can engage and interact in real-time. The audience is different in the respect that if you want to target a fan of college football, you can pretty much throw a campaign up against any football college game, and you'll reach them. I might watch several college football games, but game viewers watch just one to three influencers in the space. If you want to get a diversified segment of the Game Viewing Audience, you have to split it across multiple people. You have to diversify your spending because the people who follow pro-League of Legends player Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok do not follow Sims content creator Kayla “lilsimsie”” Sims.
Esports Grizzly: How should brands measure influencer-produced content?
Zachary Rozga: We look at conversion metrics and use QR scans instead of clicks because clicks can be unintentional. Scans require you to pull out your phone, turn on your camera and click “yes.” That’s a very intentional action made by the audience to say they’re interested in what the influencer has on the stream. Yes, the number of scans will be smaller than clicks on a Facebook post, but it is a highly intentional action by the consumer.
The traditional metrics of influencers are notions of engagements — the “like,” the “thumbs up,” and the shares. Does it mean there was some emotional attachment or impression left for the brand? It takes less than a second to click the “like” button. You might always click the button — it doesn’t mean you liked what they said. They might say “Oh, I like Oreos,” and you click “like,” but that doesn’t mean you will do anything about it. It’s too low of a commitment and too far a distance between that level of engagement and profitable action. That’s one of the things we, as a company, are trying to change, particularly in the live stream, which is a unique medium for influencers.
In collaboration with HB Duran.