We’ve all heard the stats about how ads are dead. Internet users have become immune to the constant stream of advertising. And that effect is even more felt through Gen Z audiences who grew up with digital experience – and make up the largest portion of eSports fans. According to Morning Consultant, eSports are more popular among Gen Z than MLB, NASCAR and the NHL, with 35% identifying as fans.
So what can eSports companies do to get their audiences engaged with ads?
In this blog post, we will share with you how eSports companies are creating engaging ads to interact with fans along with examples.
Traditional ads have been losing their effectiveness for years now. The internet has given audiences access to an unlimited amount of resources and information to use in their research before becoming consumers.
This means brands have a lot more work to do to convince their audiences that they should choose them. The same applies to eSports. Companies have to work hard to show that their brand, games, and teams are the ones audiences should be engaging with.
In addition, traditional ads are disruptive in nature. Whether it's TV, radio, or even sometimes on social media, audiences feel that being advertised interrupts their entertainment, and this interaction can even create a negative feeling between the viewer and the advertiser. According to HubSpot’s Global Interruptive, Ads Survey, 94% of all consumers actually skip television ads completely.
So, what other options are out there for eSports brands? Well, one option that is seeing a lot of success is playable ads.
Playable ads are exactly what they sound like – they are ads that users can play and interact with.
Often playable ads offer users the chance to play with a small snippet of gameplay from a company's game.
The games or playable ads overcome one of the big challenges of other ad formats – their disruptive nature. Playable ads are often completely opt-in, under one minute in length (sometimes as short as 15 seconds) and the engaging format that requires audience input is well received.
For example, the American branch of Korea's largest mobile gaming company Nexon were using video ads for their game Battlejack but the ads were underperforming.
Instead, they chose to create a playable ad that included true-to-life gameplay for Battlejack, which led to a 50% increase in IPM.
But it's not only gaming brands that can use playable ads. eSports and other brands can benefit from them too. For example, Burger King was one of the first non-gaming companies to try playable ads. It developed its Angriest Whopper game in 2015 which was hugely successful.
Twitch pre-roll and mid-roll ads are other relatively new ad formats that eSports brands can use.
The issue that eSports brands have seen with Twitch ads is that in gaming streams there are no natural breaks. Streams, unlike sporting events, don't have half times or other moments when gameplay stops and it's logical to insert an ad. This makes ads appear interruptive to users and can frustrate them.
A new alternative to this is picture-in-picture services. This allows eSports advertisers to run their ads without ever cutting away to mid-rolls. Audiences prefer this type of ad as they are unfazed by the ads as they are presented in a box on the side. The gameplay and the stream are never interrupted.
Traditional ads don’t work for eSports brands. The majority of Gen Z audiences interact online in different ways than the generations that came before. eSports brands have to get creative with their ad formats. They need to find ways to minimise disruptions to audiences' online experiences and two of the best way to do this are picture-in-picture ads and playable ads. If these ad formats aren't being used by your eSports brand, now is the time to start experimenting and watch your engagement go up.
See inspirations here: