Inside Entertainment Issue 2

Gaming Downloads Into Public Consciousness

Gaming’s moment has officially arrived. At the end of 2019, the gaming community already included more than 2.5 billion gamers worldwide who spent over $152 billion to enjoy their favorites across all platforms. That’s more than double the revenue the movie and music industries received combined over the same time period. Gaming-related entertainment has also skyrocketed. Twitch viewers live-streamed a total of 2.7+ billion hours in Q2 2020, while esports leagues began broadcasting content on ESPN.
(StreamElements)

Gaming influencers are often the best way to reach gaming audiences, but they have suffered from some of the same challenges as Hollywood celebrities and executives -- ranging from #MeToo callouts to offensive comments and content. How can brands navigate the rapidly growing yet complex gaming landscape to reach audiences in an authentic way?

ben digital issue 2
  • 70% of gamers are playing more games
  • 34% are spending more on games
  • 28% are spending more on in-game purchases
Source: BEN Gaming Study May 2020. *Compared to before COVID “stay at home” orders began
ben digital issue 2

Overnight Success, Years In The Making

As the world has stayed home over the past few months, more consumers than ever are turning to video games as a welcome source of entertainment and social connection. At an estimated $10 billion in digital spending in March alone, the gaming industry has set new records for usage, engagement and revenue. With 70% of gamers playing more than before the stay at home orders began, this trend has been seen across platforms and categories. (BEN; Nielsen SuperData)

For example, Nintendo’s Animal Crossing: New Horizons sold 5 million digital units in its first month; more digital sales than any other console game in history. What’s more, the launch occurred as demand outpaced production of the Nintendo Switch making the console nearly impossible to find. This fact limited the potential for even larger sales. During the same period, Doom Eternal sold 3 million units nearly tripling the May 2016 release of its predecessor, Doom. In the multiplayer space, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare added the free-to-play Warzone. As gamers looked for more ways to connect and interact with their friends and fellow enthusiasts, the game’s monthly active users ballooned 159% to 62.7 million users in March. (Nielsen SuperData)

These numbers should not be surprising to those who have followed gaming’s growth in recent years and understand its pervasiveness. With mobile game spending growing 10% in 2019, console spending growing 13% and PC spending growing 4%, it’s clear that the current climate has raised awareness of a trend already long in progress for an industry that’s already surpassed other entertainment mainstays. (Newzoo; ejinsight)

This growth has been enabled by a demographic shift in game players. What was once an arena dominated mainly by young men now includes nearly everyone. The Entertainment Software Association noted in their 2019 report that a full 46% of players are now female and the average age of gamers is 33 years old. With 57% of parents playing games with their children each week, gaming has become a way to bridge generational gaps and create family connections.

Perhaps there’s no greater recognition of the impact that gaming now has on our culture than the World Health Organization (WHO) using video games to promote proper safety measures during COVID-19. WHO’s Play Apart Together campaign has recognized the reach of the gaming community and focuses on people engaging on gaming platforms, rather than in person, to stay connected with friends and family while staying healthy.

ben digital issue 2

Sources: Nielsen SuperData; newzoo
Entertainment Software Association

  • 46% of gamers are female
  • 33 years old is the average age of gamers
  • 57% of parents game with their children

digital sales than any other console game in history. What’s more, the launch occurred as demand outpaced production of the Nintendo Switch making the console nearly impossible to find. This fact limited the potential for even larger sales. During the same period, Doom Eternal sold 3 million units nearly tripling the May 2016 release of its predecessor, Doom. In the multiplayer space, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare added the free-to-play Warzone. As gamers looked for more ways to connect and interact with their friends and fellow enthusiasts, the game’s monthly active users ballooned 159% to 62.7 million users in March. (Nielsen SuperData)

These numbers should not be surprising to those who have followed gaming’s growth in recent years and understand its pervasiveness. With mobile game spending growing 10% in 2019, console spending growing 13% and PC spending growing 4%, it’s clear that the current climate has raised awareness of a trend already long in progress for an industry that’s already surpassed other entertainment mainstays. (Newzoo; ejinsight)

This growth has been enabled by a demographic shift in game players. What was once an arena dominated mainly by young men now includes nearly everyone. The Entertainment Software Association noted in their 2019 report that a full 46% of players are now female and the average age of gamers is 33 years old. With 57% of parents playing games with their children each week, gaming has become a way to bridge generational gaps and create family connections.

Perhaps there’s no greater recognition of the impact that gaming now has on our culture than the World Health Organization (WHO) using video games to promote proper safety measures during COVID-19. WHO’s Play Apart Together campaign has recognized the reach of the gaming community and focuses on people engaging on gaming platforms, rather than in person, to stay connected with friends and family while staying healthy.

ben digital issue 2
AND

GAMING
INFLUENCERS
BRAND AUTHENTICITY

Gaming professionals and influencers have come forward in droves to provide the content that the industry’s 2.5 billion fans want. During only 2 weeks in March on Twitch, 26,000 gaming influencers produced 132,000 live segments providing 38 years of viewable content. (Tubular Labs)

The interest in gaming content is driving influencers to create literally decades worth of content each week. With so much being created, brands are struggling to find the most efficient and effective partners to work with in order to reach engaged consumers. Simply put, not all views are created equal, or will have the same impact for a brand. The key challenges include finding both authenticity and brand safety in the voices brands choose. Gamers are quick to react strongly to sponsorships they feel are overly promotional or a bad fit, and no brand wants to be aligned with a creator whose values or actions are at odds with their own.

ben digital issue 2

Brands should ideally approach creators with an understanding of why this campaign is important right now to help the creator fit that mission into their creative. Without clear goals (and without goals that are relevant to what’s happening around us) brands run the risk of sounding tone-deaf, turning a blind eye to the situation, or being insensitive in their marketing—all of which are going to lead to outspoken criticism from fan bases that lands both on the creator and the brand.

- Matthew Patrick (MatPat)
CEO of Theorist Media

In only 2
Weeks

  • 26k Gaming Creators
  • 132k Live Stream Segments
  • 38 Years of Twitch Content
Source: Tubular Labs | Live streaming data
Twitch | Gaming | March 12- 25 2020
ben digital issue 2 ben digital issue 2
ben digital issue 2

25
Twitch Streamers

2% Average
Click Through

ben digital issue 2

366,000
Influencer Generated
Engagements

3.5 Million
Views Across Social

Source: Branded Entertainment Network; ion.co

ben digital issue 2

Many of the voices dedicating more of their time to the creation of gaming content in the first half of 2020 come from areas outside of the traditional gaming world. Athletes and celebrities have picked up their controllers and headsets and have added significant amounts of game play content to their social streams. The Miami Heat’s Meyers Leonard had been active on Twitch even before the current pandemic but recently hosted a Call of Duty: Warzone tournament including many other NBA stars and even Lebron James’ son Bronny.

Brands outside of the category have begun to recognize the importance of getting involved with gaming. The question for these brands remains how they can stay authentic and relevant to the audiences they are trying to reach in this new arena. Kraken Spiced Rum proved exactly how to achieve success while recruiting fans into their League of Darkness during their #ReleaseTheKraken campaign. Hot Pockets has demonstrated similar success with a campaign utilizing gaming influencers that generated over 350,000 engagements and 250,000 sweepstakes entries. The results speak for themselves.

Similarly, Swagbucks was able to target the specific demographics of greatest interest to them. By understanding the different connections gaming influencers have with their followers they were able to achieve better conversions.

ben digital issue 2

We’ve experimented with a variety of gaming influencers and found that creators from League of Legends performed best. The gaming space is varied and diverse, but by tapping into channels that featured LoL or similar games, we were able to reach an older male audience on their desktop devices and drive valuable sign ups to Swagbucks. A nuanced and targeted approach around specific games is an important part of our growth strategy.”

- Andrew Robinson, VP Growth Marketing, Swagbucks

ben digital issue 2

Gamers are also protective of their brands and their audiences. Many have worked for years to build a following and are careful to only promote products that they believe in, will be embraced by their audience, or can be used in a fun and engaging way that fits in with the tone of their content.

ben digital issue 2

Everyone is a gamer now. From Odell Beckham Jr. and Mila Kunis to Ninja and Shroud, there are so many ways to connect with the gaming community. However, finding the right creators for your particular brand is critical to finding success in your campaign.” - Cameron Partridge
SVP of Strategy and Client Services, BEN

ben digital issue 2 ben digital issue 2
ben digital issue 2

ESPORTS OWN FIELD

Before COVID-19 brought outdoor sports to a standstill, esports were projected to grow nearly 12% in 2020 and draw audiences of nearly half a billion spectators. At these levels esports were expected to break the billion-dollar mark and grow almost 16% to $1.1 billion. While it must be noted that the global esports market has not been unaffected by the current disruptions, the minor short-term loss in revenue will be more than made up for by rising viewership and more scheduled tournaments in the

ben digital issue 2

Additionally, as traditional sports went dark, ESPN announced an agreement with Riot Games in early April to be the official linear and authenticated streaming platform of the 2020 League of Legends Championship Series (LCS) Spring Split Playoffs. The partnership brought one of the world’s most popular esports to a new audience of traditional sports fans during a month when captive audiences were looking for alternative content to their traditional favorites. (ESPN Press Room)

ben digital issue 2

More people are gaming, and watching others game during a formative moment in their lives, which will have a long term positive impact on already strong tailwinds.” - Tal Shachar, CDO IGC

Benefits of
Sponsoring…

ENTERTAINMENT-FOCUSED GAMING
CREATORS & STREAMERS


1. Sole sponsor
2. More control: owned messaging & moments
3. Can be always-on
4. Work with large set of diverse creators, including
influencers, celebrities, and pro or eSport athletes
5. Go beyond strict gameplay
6. Tap into massive engaged audiences
7. Viewers watch for personalities / entertainment

VS

AN OFFICIAL ESPORTS TEAM / LEAGUE

1. One brand among many
2. More traditional logo placement
3. Part of regularly scheduled, spread-out series
4. Uses existing teams and players
5. Gameplay only and title-specific
6. Social reach of players or specific titles can be limited
7. Viewers watch for achievement / performance

ben digital issue 2
ben digital issue 2

AI:
THE WINNING
FORMULA

In a crowded influencer space, how can brands guarantee the creators they partner with will be the best fit in order to deliver brand safety and organic results? BEN’s proprietary AI analyses a channel’s previous performance, the unstructured data within their actual content, and follower behavior to predict which personalities will motivate followers to take action on integrations.

With so much gaming content and so many variables affecting performance, an AI solution is critical to a brand’s success. Our proprietary AI takes the subjectivity out of the process by measuring both unstructured and structured data in order to predict the outcome of a campaign before any brand investment is made. AI provides influencer campaigns both predictability and scale, allowing human experts to refine the campaign from there.” - Ricky Ray Butler, CEO, BEN

ben digital issue 2

Unstructured data is essential in predicting the performance of different types of content within a gaming channel. Even small differences like the title of a video or the pitch of an influencer’s voice can impact results. Understanding these nuances allows BEN’s AI to predict metrics like campaign views, click through rates and even conversions with incredible accuracy.

What’s more, with every brand having different messaging, marketing goals and KPIs, customizing an AI solution specifically for each brand is key. Brands entering the gaming space that utilize an algorithm customized specifically for them will ensure their message remains authentic to their audience and that their campaign reaches optimal performance.

AI is also essential in ensuring brand safety. BEN uses deep learning algorithms to scan previous posts and public documents for controversial content, statements or legal records, helping brands make informed decisions about the gaming influencers who are both safe to work with and will deliver campaign results.

ben digital issue 2

Partnership Results

AI 99.58% accurate
in predicting campaign performance
over first 3 days

Influencer-only marketing launch

#1 GAME on Twitch and YouTube

746K Twitch concurrent viewers

60M video views over first week

25M players in first week

50M players in first month

ben digital issue 2

KEY
Takeaways

ben digital issue 2

1

At $152 billion and growing, gaming already has more than double the revenue of the movie and music business combined.

2

Gaming is for everyone. 46% of gamers are women. 57% of parents play games with their children each week.

3

Innovative non-gaming brands are finding incredible success in reaching gaming audiences through influencer content.

4

While esports’ audiences are growing, working with gaming influencers provides brands with deeper integration options and opportunities for higher engagement.

5

Authenticity and safety are paramount. AI is essential not only in identifying the gaming influencers that will reach a brand’s audience in an authentic way but also in predicting which influencers will best deliver on the campaign’s KPIs.

ben digital issue 2

Ready to Get Started?

Talk to BEN’s Influencer Marketing and Product Placement teams about how we can help you achieve your brand goals.
Media & Press
For all media & press inquiries please visit our press page.