Is Esports an untapped market for Australian advertisers?

Jack Kennedy
August 11, 2021, 7:19 AM GMT+0

Esports has been a hot topic across the globe in the past few years. With COVID and all restrictions, people are forced to stay home more often, which has potentially grown the industry too. But what does it mean to Australian advertisers and how can they capture the opportunities arise from this market?

Data from YouGov, an international research data and analytics group, shows that it is possible for advertisers to target this specific group of audience and measure the impact of their campaigns. YouGov leverages its consumer profiling tool, Profiles, to segment, profile and target esports fans , and clearly demonstrates that esports fans are an untapped market for Australian marketers, especially when compared to conventional sports fans. Let’s do a comparison for esports fans and AFL & NRL fans, as sponsorship plays a large role in both sports and esports marketing.

According to YouGov data, there are 5.37 million Australians (18+) who have an interest in esports. This is already almost half of the 10.8 million Australians with the same level of interest in AFL and closing in on the 6.32 million Australian NRL fans. This is not a ‘niche’ group.

Significantly, esports fans represent a much younger demographic than their AFL & NRL counterparts. They also possess a higher disposable income. As they tend to be younger than conventional sports fans they have a lot of major spending milestones still to come. For example, 22% of esports fans (~ 1.2 million people) say they will buy a car within the next 12 months. This is considerably higher than conventional sports fans and the population as a whole.

Likewise, they are far more likely to be in the market for credit cards, loans and saving & investment accounts.

When it comes to advertising, esports fans are more likely to say that advertising plays a role in their purchasing decisoins.

They are also more likely to be influenced by celebrity endorsements and brands that make a stand on social issues. Esports fans have different values that marketers need to be aware of. For example, when it comes to purchasing clothes esports fans put a much higher emphasis on product quality.

So how to target them? Unfortunately for some marketers, esports fans are hard to reach on traditional media. A whopping 22% of them say they don’t watch any live TV. However, you will find them on streaming platforms such as Netflix.

The most obvious way to engage this audience is to sponsor a team or an event or a league. Esports fans are more likely to respond to sponsorship of their team.

YouGov data demonstrates that sponsoring an esports team, league or event is a fantastic way to engage this audience. Using YouGov’s brand tracking tool, BrandIndex, we can measure how effective different marketing campaigns and sponsorships are. Take a look at this example from 2019.

In 2019 JB Hi-Fi sponsored and presented the Melbourne Esports Open (MEO), which took place over the last weekend of August. This was the largest esports event in Australian history with over 17,000 spectators attending over the weekend. This had a huge and immediate impact on consideration and buzz, a metric that measures whether people have heard something positive or negative about the brand. In the aftermath of the MEO JB Hi-Fi’s net buzz score amongst esports fans (pink) shot up from -2 (hearing more negative than positive things about the brand) to 16 in just two weeks. This trend continued for another six weeks, finally peaking at 31 on the 30th of October, an overall increase of 33. Consideration (purple) also rose dramatically over the same time period. At the end of August 2019 34% esports fans said they would consider shopping at JB Hi-Fi. By the end of October this had increased to 46%. For the population as a whole, both metrics were largely unchanged.

A more recent example comes from just over a month ago.

On the 11th of June DoorDash announced that they would be sponsoring the Leage of Legends Circuit Oceania (LOC). Once again, this resulted in an instant and dramatic increase in buzz and consideration amongst esports fans. Buzz (pink) increased from 5 to 16 in just two weeks, consideration (dark green) increased from 7% to 17%. Once again, this represented a much higher shift in the metrics when compared to the population as a whole.

Jack Kennedy, Business Development Representative from YouGov Australia, concludes, “Based on YouGov data and my knowledge of the sector, Esports fans definitely represent an untapped marketing opportunity in Australia when you consider the amount of esports fans in Australia, their disposable income and their receptiveness to advertising that engages them. However, they can be successfully engaged only if you have the data to know to reach them. Engaging the right research insights partner would definitely help advertisers and marketers for the reach-out.”