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Agencies in Asia Pacific build esports and gaming verticals to fuel advertisers' demand

Brands have been exploring online formats as they shift their marketing budgets from offline to online

Esports audiences have a high lifetime value for advertisers – so getting in ahead of this expanding sector is important. We explore how agencies are developing new marketing opportunities within the sector, away from the traditional sponsorship model.

With more people spending leisure time on gaming and esports, agencies in Asia Pacific are investing more resources into developing marketing opportunities in this vertical.

Professional esports organization Evos Esports, which is based in Jakarta, Indonesia, says there has been a steady flow of demand and inquiries from brands interested to get involved with esports, with most offline activities and traditional sports still at standstill.

Allan Phang, regional head of marketing and public relations at Evos Esports, says brands have been exploring online formats as they shift marketing budgets from offline to online. Phang notes that esports is an attractive proposition due to its young online audience, and evolving content formats.

“There is minimal impact to esports tournaments as they have mostly shifted from offline to online, with most esports tournament organizers and esports teams successfully pivoting during these challenging times,” he explains.

“For Visa, we ran an activation whereby Evos members who have a Visa credit card are eligible for up to 50% discounts on our merchandise; we produced an inspirational video for the next generation as part of our ’Unlock Your Dreams’ campaign. “

He adds: “With Lazada, our esports players shared tips and tricks on games such as Mobile Legends: Bang Bang and hosted esports community events inside Lazada’s livestreaming platform. Viewers stood a chance to win vouchers and participate in fun mini-competitions to win prizes. We also conducted a joint talent scouting programme to find next esports teammates.”

To tap into this trend, Omnicom’s DDB recently launched a local branch of its gaming agency, FTW (For The Win) in Hong Kong, to provide local and regional gaming solutions for clients, as well as marketing and advertising support for gaming brands.

DDB will work with Esports Association Hong Kong (ESAHK) and CGA Entertainment Limited (CGA) to jointly develop, promote and popularise the esports culture in Hong Kong and the wider APAC region.

Leo Tsui, the chief business officer at DDB Group Hong Kong explains that in 2022, esports will become an official medal event in the Asian Games and there will be an abundance of opportunities for brands in APAC to be involved in a variety of ways.

“Our team is constantly looking to push creative boundaries and we have a good reaction from clients where we have started to inject esports as part of integrated creative proposals,” says Tsui.

“Empowered by the global FTW hub support and our global partner, ESL, we are able to connect to the frontline of this space and recognise some big opportunities. The local partnership with ESA and CGA really enables us to provide a full-service esports marketing solution here in the region.”

Instead of simple event and tournament sponsorship opportunities, Tsui says DDB wants to embed brands in the culture whilst also enhancing the gaming experience by tapping into different areas of esports. He explains returns for brands will exist in building awareness and preference, as well as engagements and ultimately conversions.

“We are currently working closely with our partners to understand the extent of the opportunities for the Asian Games. These opportunities will include but not be limited to such opportunities as tournament sponsorship, integration with gaming platforms and payment platforms, partnerships with gaming gear brands, and activation schedules for the summer,” explains Tsui.

In India, S4 Capital’s MediaMonks is investing in a new office in New Delhi that will feature an 8,000 square feet studio with three smaller studios that will have sensor cameras, live tracking devices, and LED Panels for filmmaking. The studio will use developer Epic Games’ Unreal Engine to bring real-time filmmaking, visual effects, previsualization, virtual production and CG animation together.

It hopes that using software meant for esports and gaming can help improve brand marketers' agility to launch products, dynamic e-commerce assets, changing the way people consume products and their buying patterns.

Robbie Godinho, managing partner at MediaMonks India says the country has a rich talent market. He adds that India itself has a huge content consumption market; OTT grew 47% in subscriptions since April 2020.

“MediaMonks comes with a maker-first mindset and tools like Unreal Engine only release the boundless extents one’s creativity can go. We hope to partner with Epic in their journey as they continue to bring onboard great technology in the real-time content creation segment.

“With the consumption needs bursting at the seams it is imperative for content creators to step into such solutions to match the demand,” he explains.

“The build of this new studio opens up endless possibilities, right from using it to create virtual production to enhance shooting techniques and ease of use for talent and vernacular markets to including tech solutions like MoCap and real-time live streaming.”

The esports and gaming production capabilities that DDB and MediaMonks are building in Hong Kong and MediaMonks will mean brands have more marketing opportunities to tap into a young and captive audience in APAC.

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