Gaming and esports brands are not just shopping ad inventories in marquee sports and entertainment IPs, they are also seizing sponsorship opportunities in a bid to create awareness, credibility and trust. Sponsorship deals from gaming brands have seen a 50 percent hike in the last two years said experts.
PokerBaazi for instance has partnered with Sony LIV for season 2 of Shark Tank India as co-powered by sponsor. Sources close to the development said the poker platform signed a nine figure deal with Sony LIV for the partnership.
Access to an overlapping TG is the most lucrative part of the deal says Varun Ganjoo, marketing director, Baazi Games.
“The show promotes entrepreneurship which is comparatively a new culture in the country, much like poker. The association will help us raise the overall buzz and the awareness around poker. We are looking to grab the maximum mind share of the gamer audience. Our agenda is not to just grab last mile convergence out of it. We are looking to create a movement in awareness and trickle it down to the top funnel for our brand,” Ganjoo adds.
As a part of the deal, the channel will be extending in show integrations opportunities and surround ad spots and inventories to amplify visibility.
Talking of amplifications, PokerBaazi will be launching a show on social platforms called Poker Tank.
However, the brand’s $20 million marketing budget for the year includes not just Shark Tank Season 2. PokerBaazi would also be seen collaborating with TVF Pitchers on the OTT side of things with the same objective of targeting overlapping TG, building trust, awareness and recall.
PokerBaazi is not an isolated example. Loco partnered with Dice Media for India's first-ever web series based on esports and gaming, Clutch, and it is looking at more such partnership announcements in 2023.
Changing mindsets with content
For Loco, these initiatives are a part of a larger plan to change perceptions through content marketing.
Anirudh Pandita, founder, Loco says, “We’ve always valued content because it’s a pillar that provides a message in an entertaining and engaging way. You can change mindsets with content. We use content to increase our reach and also build awareness which is very important at this stage especially with the government regulations coming in. It is the time for brands in the space to grow and there is no better way than to partner with titles that already have the extra mileage of reach and engagement.”
The overlapping TG for gaming brands and new-age reality shows, OTT content and marquee sports events is mostly the GenZ and millennial gaming audiences that almost every marketer across industries is targeting.
Finding an IP with this set of audience makes pure sense for brands looking at strengthening their reach, engagement and recall. Gaming and esports brands are catching up fast.
The past two years has seen the focus of gaming brands including important events in their marketing strategy across the globe.
Back in September, 2022, in Los Angeles Enthusiast Gaming Holdings Inc signed a media sponsorship deal with Hulu + Live TV as the first official media sponsor of NFL Tuesday Night Gaming.
While getting on TV and OTT platforms as a sponsor is a new trend that is catching on in the market, gaming brands are also going aggressive on sports content. Not just as advertisers but also partners and sponsors.
Gaming's sports pitch and building a consumer brand
Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) announced WinZO Sports as its principal sponsor for the next 3 seasons (2022-24) of the TATA Indian Premier League. Apart from featuring in WinZO Sports’ marketing campaign, the deal also included the team interacting with WinZO Sports’ users across social media platforms and participating in real time interactive tournaments.
The brand has also been partnering with Pro Kabaddi League and thinks the regulations coming in will make it easier for brands to partner with sports content and IPs.
“We are building a consumer brand and when it comes to building trust, mass media is still one of the most important platforms to build trust. These properties add to the credibility factor of the brand and are the best way to convey and assure the consumer that we are not a fly by night operator,” says Saumya Singh Rathore, co-founder at WinZO.
There are more examples. A23 is also strengthening their association with sports IPs to target audiences who appreciate and follow games of skill in order to increase brand awareness and engagement. This year too, like the past few years, A23 will be participating in popular sports events such as the Pro Kabbadi League, volleyball tournaments, and the Indian Premier League (IPL).
“By aligning our brand with these events, we tap into the excitement and enthusiasm of players and fans, and increase the relevance of our message to our existing and prospective customers who are interested in sports and gaming,” says Gunnidhi Singh Sareen, VP Marketing, Head Digital Work.
According to Sareen, their participation in these events not only helps them reach a larger audience but also establishes them as a company that understands and supports the interests of their target market.
Thanks to the growing number of sponsorship deals, some streaming platforms dedicated to gaming and esports platforms are planning to make the most of the trend.
“We are seeing how gaming companies are open to generous sponsorship deals in order to reach their TG. Since we have a dedicated gaming and esports TG on our streaming platform and IPs too we are targeting to close similar deals with brands in the space in the next twelve to eighteen months," says Piyush Kumar, founder & CEO, Rooter. He adds, "The advantage we’d provide over TV or any OTT platform is maximum reach with zero spillage,”