SINGAPORE – E-sports is not as big as what others think it is. But basing it on how it sold out the Key Arena and Staples Center in Los Angeles in five minutes and how the League of Legends World Championships had more people tuned in than the NBA Finals gives us an idea about the scale and value of this industry, and why brands should be taking more advantage of it.
To help us understand more about e-sports, we caught up with Twitch APAC Director Raiford Cockfield after one of his sessions at the Spikes Asia Festival of Creativity.
In your opinion, what hinders brands from going into e-sports?
It’s [e-sports] is not just understood. Right now, I’m not sure the people understand the demographics that are in e-sports. I think they’re struggling to understand things like: is it really that popular? All of this is new people so I think brands are saying that I don’t kind of understand the stories yet, I don’t understand the method or the teams. So as they get more into that, I think they’ll start to really understand and put more money towards it.
What are the usual concerns of clients who are looking at the possibility of investing in e-sports?
I don’t hear many of the concerns because by the time they get done with the numbers, they’re kind of like, I don’t why this isn’t more expensive. It’s generally what I get. It’s more of they haven’t reached out, they don’t understand the platform. Twitch is one of them where they can actually get in to the opportunities. They don’t know how to reach out and that’s one of the issues they’re having. Once they do and they understand the economics of this, the fact that we can pretty much guarantee the targeting, we can tell them who they’re reaching and we can tell them how to reach those folks, meaning 18-34 year olds.
Over 265 million people are on Twitch. Over 10 million unique visitors a day, watching channels on Twitch live. These are the things that they don’t understand yet but once they do, it’s always pretty much automatic. [They say] “yes, where do I sign up.”
If a lot of brands have not tapped e-sports as a marketing venue, where does all the money come from?
For those that do understand, these are mostly endemics, it’s going to be your gaming companies, your gaming accessory companies, your tech companies and then the products that are always consumed–meaning the energy drinks, the softdrinks, food companies–they understand that these are the people they want to reach and they’re always going to be on the cutting edge of advertising to those folks.
Other brands, the more non-endemic brands, are worried. They’ll hear things that are the old way. You know, “oh but it’s a bunch of people shooting each other in the face. If you don’t look at the games, if you don’t understand, how broad the offering, you’ll never know where you’re going to put your advertising. Right now, you have games that absolutely could not offend anyone so even your more conservative brands can think about e-sports opportunities, live streaming opportunities and tie the brands to them very safely.
Influencer programs at Twitch that match a brand to a broadcaster are great ways to reach as well where there is semi-controlled environment. You can’t do anything about the chat, how the audience interacts and speak about it, that’s live but the influencer themselves are brand-friendly. We know we can train them to say the right messages and make sure they represent your brand in the right way.
Won’t in-game ads seem intrusive to the audience?
We are a community-based company. We are community first. We are about our broadcasters and our viewers. We don’t match broadcasters with brands they don’t use. We don’t match broadcasters with brands they don’t want to endorse. It is a full agreement between the company and the broadcaster.
What’s the best thing that e-sports has to offer?
Track and engagement. When you’re thinking about a traditional spot. Whether it be satellite radio, TV, etc., You’re looking at things where you have a really short time to drive home whatever core message you want to send. In live streaming and e-sports, you have a sustained block of time where you can finally start thinking about how you want to have a conversation with people.