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eSports advertising: how paid media can help you get better results

Millennials, Gen Z members and influencers are delving into the world of eSports, an emerging industry that brings together competitive online gaming and sports.

With most sporting events around the world cancelled due to COVID-19, operators and sporting bodies have been forced to look elsewhere for alternatives to keep their audience entertained. With a large and engaged community at their fingertips, eSports is fast becoming an explosive opportunity for endemic and non-endemic brands to build strong relations with millions of users.

However, the eSports market is relatively new, especially for the UK. Those in it are unlikely to be so familiar with how to navigate promotion and advertising. Read on to find out how you could advertise in this space with the help of paid media.

what is eSports

eSports is short for electronic sports, built around tournament-based video games streamed online such as Fortnite, League of Legends and DOTA. Delivering another form of entertainment, betting on eSports is much the same as betting on any other live event.

a growing industry

Going back four or five years, eSports was just a novelty. Only endemic brands selling products such as headphones, gaming chairs or PCs were interested in advertising. But things have since changed. In fact, this year, the industry is expected to surpass £850bn. The industry has a highly engaged audience, boasting 223 million enthusiasts who watch online streaming more than once a month.

Although China and North America remain dominant markets, Europe is expected to grow rapidly. Combine this with the current cancellation or postponement of sporting events and many brands are shifting their budgets to eSports, which is only going to further accelerate growth in the long-term. For example, La Liga in Spain has attracted over one million viewers for its FIFA 2020 eSports tournament. eSports audience insights The eSports audience is scattered across a variety of regions, countries and time zones. Characteristics typically include:

  • Highly engaged and dedicated fans, also known as enthusiasts, who often follow the lifestyles of their favourite players on social media

  • Primarily young, digitally native males from a variety of backgrounds

  • Working professionals with spending power

No longer the market for gaming brands alone, non-endemic brands are beginning to place their budget into eSports in the hopes of attracting this demographic. These include some big names such as Toyota, Mastercard, Audi, Coca-Cola and Spotify. But the opportunities are also emerging for other industries such as food delivery and finance brands for example, who are looking to reach the at-home gaming audience.

The global popularity of eSports means the gaming professionals and viewers are often accessible and relatable. Unlike traditional athletes and sportspeople who live glamorous and expensive lifestyles, eSport players come from a variety of backgrounds with varying spending power.

But, the real beauty of this market lies in the fact that these people are digitally savvy and able to keep up with the fast-paced nature of technology. Whether they’re streaming gameplay on YouTube or sharing highlight reels on Instagram, the eSports audience has online influence, using their passion to share interests with other likeminded individuals. If you typically target those between 18 – 35 years old, eSports represents a lucrative opportunity.

understanding the complexities of the eSports ecosystem

Since the eSports market is relatively new, industry experts believe that fans reward brands for entering the eSports ecosystem by backing teams and tournaments to help it grow. This has created a typical fan base that responds best to brands that advertise in the ‘right’ way. In other words, you need to get it right to do it well in this industry.

With a long list of big players, constantly moving parts and different platforms to consider, eSports can be confusing to understand and even harder to get into as an advertising channel. But that’s where we can help.

how can you reach eSports players and viewers?

This young, loyal and digitally-minded audience means brands who strategically advertise in original and creative ways, and across relevant platforms, are likely to see themselves flourish. Imagination and credibility are key, so think outside of the traditional marketing box when considering your strategy. Using an integrated eSports marketing strategy, you will have the potential to reach and connect with loyal Gen Zs and millennials too.

choose the right channels

The advertising opportunities for eSports gambling vary widely. Taking the primary audience of a young, engaged and predominantly male audience, it’s crucial to target the correct advertisement channels to reach these users.

social media

Twitter and Instagram are the typical channels of choice for the eSports community. Rife with the target demographic, these platforms can be used to promote your brand messaging with appropriate ads. Invest in blog writing to boost your credibility further. These articles can be used to amplify your social posts, encouraging users to visit your website, collect information and take participants further down the marketing funnel. Using affiliates and fan-based content, in particular, is great for driving traffic.

youtube advertising

Video has quickly risen to the top of content marketing with 90 percent of customers saying video helps them make buying decisions. There has also been a recent shift in viewing habits with YouTube becoming more popular among 18-49-year olds than traditional TV. This age cohort is notably close to the typical audience of eSports enthusiasts making it an advertising platform full of opportunity.

There are significant benefits of getting involved with YouTube’s advertising capabilities:

  • A large and growing audience: Accessing YouTube is quick and easy through the likes of mobile, Apple TV and smart TV, resulting in the amount of time spent on the platform doubling in the last year alone. This increased viewership across different devices represents an opportunity to reach your target audience through a variety of channels. If you’re trying to communicate your business’ message to the largest possible range of users, YouTube is an effective platform. Although ad content must be hosted on YouTube, ads can also appear across other websites and apps which run on Google video partners, further extending your reach.

  • Lower cost available compared to other channels: Although 88 percent of marketers are satisfied with the ROI of their video marketing efforts, the biggest roadblock to video ads is usually budget. So, YouTube created a free Video Builder in Beta to help businesses easily create content for their YouTube ads. With such a wide range of advertising options available, you can determine your ideal budget.

  • Advanced targeting capabilities: Viewers can be targeted on YouTube based on demographics, keywords, topics, interest targeting and remarketing. Affinity audiences are also offered allowing you to reach people who have already demonstrated an interest in specific topics linked to your business. You can target in-market audiences which include people actively researching products and services like the ones your brand offers. YouTube also offers contextual placement which involves placing your ads where it will most likely attract an audience with high conversion potential.

  • Real-time reporting: YouTube provides accurate measurement on every aspect of your ad campaign. Google AdWords provides data on views, costs, and budget, while the analytics of your YouTube account provides more in-depth information on viewers.

    You can also track video viewership which shows how often an ad is watched and to what length.


Pay-per-click ads gain exposure over competitors and help drive relevant traffic to your website. Every time a user clicks your ad, the search engine is paid a small fee. Google rewards advertisers for relevant ads that effectively target their audience and meet the user’s search queries. By creating relevant campaigns, the search engine will charge you less per click. This CPC is determined by the competition of the keyword, the bidding strategy and the quality score for the keyword. Here are just some of the benefits of using PPC ads:

  • Fast results: PPC is one of the fastest platforms for running ad campaigns and gaining immediate website traffic to generate qualified results.

  • Strategic targeting capabilities: Display your ads to the right audience at the right time with the right messaging. Using precise targeting through keywords, interests and demographics, you can strategically target consumers who are most likely interested in your offering.

  • Improved brand recognition: Not every user will click on your ad in the SERPs but the more your ads appear the more your target audience will be exposed to your brand. As eSports is a relatively new market, this is the time to capitalise on brand opportunity by becoming a first mover, or potentially even becoming a legacy brand. PPC can help with this by increasing trust, credibility and brand recall.

  • Flexibility to optimise: Every aspect of PPC can be controlled including keywords, ad copy, ad extensions and landing pages. This creates countless opportunities to continue optimising campaign performance.

ensure credibility

There are many regulations that must be followed in eSports advertising. One market experiencing growth is eSports betting. If your brand fits into this category, it’s necessary to take regulations into account and be mindful of them during all advertising activities. Gambling-related ads are allowed only if advertisers comply with specific policies and have received the proper Google Ads certification.

Google supports responsible gambling advertising as long as brands abide by local gambling laws and industry standards. This includes country approval, never targeting minors and providing a landing page that displays clear information on responsible gambling.

the importance of cro

As a relatively new market, it’s important to take every opportunity you can get to create a positive and memorable brand image. By making the most of the traffic you have landing on your site, you can help engage and create loyal customers. Your landing pages are key to this, forming a part of your Quality Score which can help in lowering your CPC. If you’ve ever advertised on Google Ads, you’ll be familiar with the grading system of Quality Score which is determined by:

  • The CTR of your ad

  • The relevance of each keyword to its ad group

  • Landing page quality

  • The relevance of ad copy

First impressions matter making landing pages crucial to your campaigns. These pages are the first opportunity you have to introduce your brand and your service. An effective landing page can encourage a user to convert on their first visit, while a poor one can form a negative impression that may put the user off returning again. Google aims to show ads to users who are more likely to take action. A landing page can help with this by including tailored and relevant messaging and links to encourage your audience to convert, or at least take the next step. Using CRO, personalised landing pages can be created that are tailored to your site and your target audience. Considering ad copy, design and user journey, landing pages can be tested and improved to optimise performance.

revolutionising the sports ecosystem

eSports is revolutionising the traditional sports ecosystem by creating a digital environment for fans to get their fix. With the industry set to attract over 380 million enthusiasts this year, it’s the perfect time to get your brand involved in the engaged audience entering this arena.

Want to discover how you can become part of the eSports rise before it becomes an overly saturated and competitive space? We’re paid media specialists who have experience navigating new markets and we can help you engage with the eSports community. Contact our team of experts to learn more about how you can cement your brand’s position in this growing industry.