Esports: what are you missing out on, and how can you catch up?

Esports is earning its place in the sports betting world, as punters from an increasingly younger demographic choose to bet on something they see themselves playing. But onboarding these customers requires the correct terminology, understanding and outreach – with traditional marketing tactics flying out the window. Shikenso Analytics’ Benedikt Becker tells AGB exactly how corporations should be tapping into the multi-billion-dollar market.

We’re joined today by Benedikt Becker, the Director of Sales and Marketing for Shikenso Analytics. Now your company handles multiple avenues which are linked to gaming, including AI and Esports – an area where a lot of operators are now choosing to move in to. So I wanted to ask, why has Esports become so important?

Kelsey, thanks for having me on your show.

When it comes to Esports, maybe before we get into the gaming sector, I think why it has become popular, like speaking in general, is because brands struggle these days to reach Gen Z’s. I mean, a younger audience but now for betting would b a young but mature audience.

And if you think about it, so back in the day, there were avenues where you could reach people through, let’s say, TV advertisement, radio advertisement, and so on. But then these days, Gen Z’s don’t use these platforms and media anymore. So now the brands struggle to reach them. And then where are they spending their time? It’s obviously online. But even if you try to identify: ‘Okay, where do they spend their time the most?’, you will see that it’s not even like Netflix but instead they spend it on YouTube, playing games, and so on.

So there is a huge opportunity for brands in general to reach now this younger Gen Z audience through gaming, or sponsoring Esports events.

So speaking of KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) for example, how can a company know that they are getting a return on their investment for promoting an event or sponsoring a certain Esports team?

So there are different types of sponsorships in Esports? You have short-term commitments, long-term commitments. So you can, for example, sponsor a single event, you can host your own events, or you can sponsor tournaments, events, or teams in general. And when it comes to the sponsorships, there are different metrics that you should look at.

Obviously, now, most companies right away want to generate profits, or look at a positive return on investment, but that usually takes time. So, I would recommend to first focus  – when you get engaged in Esports – on the top funnel, when it comes to sponsorships, creating brand awareness. And these top funnel KPIs should be: you have impressions and viewership, but then also you would look into the media value that is calculated.

So, the media value is usually calculated by looking at how many people are watching, how visible was your sponsorship asset, and where did the people come from?

So then you will get an indicator, which is then typically the media value, to evaluate: do I reach a media value that is worth my investment’. So this is, I think, the golden KPI when it comes to evaluating sponsorship investments in Esports. But I think, even more important is: before you look at these KPIs, that you make sure that you reach the right audience. I think often too many brands forget to do like the research in the beginning before truly tapping into Esports.

So, you want to check: is the audience that is watching certain, let’s say, gaming titles or certain events, is it truly matching your target audience?  Are you focusing on people that are from 18 to 25? Or like 21 to 35, and so on. But then also:  what’s the origin country? From where are they tuning in? Is it, for example, CRS (Centralized Receivables Service) countries? Is it South America, Europe, or d o you want to focus on the Southeast Asia market?

So, when we analyzed some of the campaigns, sometimes we saw that betting operators, they didn’t even operate in some of the countries, but the majority was viewing from these countries. So they now already feel like there’s a huge missed out opportunity, and I think – to some extent – some of the brands are not even aware that these targetings are completely off to some extent. So, you should always be aware of the audience that you can reach through these sponsorships before you step in, or tap into sponsoring Esports events.

So looking at viewership versus the actual betting viewership, do you happen to have any breakdown of the amount of people who are watching versus those who are actually choosing to bet? There’s so many different types of games, different live game play, different betting options. Do you have any ideas: is it something like 20 percent of overall viewership which is going to be betting on Esports?

I think in general, I don’t have any number for you, like what’s the exact potential target audience that you can reach. But also, you can convert them throughout the time. That would be extremely interesting to really like close the loop when it comes to tracking.

What we are doing is like we track like the top funnel of things. That means like we make sure, or we give advice, or we just show the data of: ‘are you reaching the right audience? Do you generate the media value that you paid for that you want to generate during these events? Then later, let’s say I’m tracking more performance-orientated KPIs – such as signups, first deposits and stuff like this – this is still the job of the operators or the betting companies itself.

I think that would be amazing if you could, but that’s not the case, for example, have an impression pixel (an HTML code snippet which is loaded when a user visits a website or opens an email) on YouTube or Twitch. And then you can later also implement a conversion pixel when someone is signing up. So then it would be very easy to tell how many new acquisitions came from certain activation campaigns.

I mean, there are some tricks or hacks to it. Now in most cases, for example, if you sponsor an event, there will be exclusively one betting partner promoting during these events. Now, besides team sponsoring, there can be sometimes some changes. But then you can also work with for example, unique discount codes. If you know for sure we showed a certain discount code only during this event, during this time during this tournament, then you would be able to understand okay, truly, when it comes to the acquisition, how much acquisition did this sponsorship investment drive?

Now that should particularly important when they’re hosted at some of these integrated resorts, casino properties, bricks and mortar properties. Do you see that becoming more of the environment of the more old, traditional casino-style (properties) trying to build Esports arenas as non-gaming facilities and leverage that then for their casinos?

That might be interesting in the future. But for now, I haven’t seen any successful case study where this was truly proven, that you can convert these gamers or Esports fans into visiting them onsite, offline, like driving offline conversions.

Probably that can work to some extent but in general, also, I would recommend to all the companies that want to tap into Esports that you truly try to understand a gamer and an Esports fan. And typically, you would fail if you take something like a casino or offline things and transport it into the online world. And even when we talk about the online world, gamers and Esports fans, they speak a different language. I don’t know how well it would resonate with them visiting a casino. Maybe they feel more comfortable with friends at a LAN party or, it’s wrong to say, but in a basement.

But I think this should be more the goal: not to convert the gamers into something that maybe worked well with an audience that is maybe now from 35 to 45, or maybe even older than that. It’s I think more of: you have to crack the code when it comes to speaking the same language with these gamers. And also trying, trying to find truly something that they resonate with. And this is something that I see, to be very honest, more online than offline.

Looking at the gaming companies who are advertising in the Esports community, have you seen any companies which have stood out, which have managed to be resilient – continue to sponsor events and seem to be reaching those KPIs?

So, when it comes to truly making profits, cracking the code, like I’m not 100 percent of aware of companies that have cracked the code yet. But I would think that a lot of companies are actually on the right way, because some of these companies are committed already for more than 10 years when it comes to Esports. And the one company that always pops up in my mind is Pinnacle, for example.

When you do research and you check which industry tapped into Esports at what year? Actually, when I did the research, it was Pinnacle in year 2010 that made the first move tapping into Esports. And then also they had a very interesting approach to that they hired some Esports guys to have them on the team because they know how to speak the Esports language. And I think they’re doing many things right.

First off, it’s: you don’t speak the same language as a gamer or Esports fan. You truly have to figure that out first. So: how do you create a product that is attractive to a gamer or Esports fan And then also, how do you communicate with that fan? How do you structure your marketing plan? How do you reach out to them? So that’s number one.

And then number two is truly doing your research in terms of demographics. So, which gaming title would you like to sponsor? But also: where does the viewership come from? I think this is the second big thing.

And then: why you are invested in Esports? Which should typically be a long term investment and commitment, because there is no overnight success when it comes to that. Everything in marketing is always a lesson learned. You optimize the campaign and then once you see success, you scale where it shows the best numbers.

So then, when you are in Esports, then also you should have analytics to measure not just the bottom line—conversions, profits, or revenues, etc – but also the top funnel and marketing. You should know: Who do you reach? How many do you reach? What’s the media value that you generate? How visible was your brand? For how many seconds was the brand visible, and so on, and so on. So then you have many ways to maximize the campaigns along the way.

We see that Esports is a hugely growing industry, it’s (bringing in) multi-billion-dollars already. And AI is obviously on the tips of everyone’s tongues. I want to say thank you for your time. Benedikit Becker, Director of Sales and Marketing for Shikenso Analytics, thank you.

Thanks for having me, it was a pleasure. Thank you.