Marketers who had shifted from traditionally advertising spaces into digital platform strategies are now tasked with finding new innovative ways to promote their brand messaging. Such a solution is now available in gaming.
Those whose hobbies include gaming or esports will no doubt already be familiar with interactive live-streaming service Twitch. To help brands understand why they should expand their reach in this new playground — and just how to do it — Twitch’s brand partnership studio lead for APAC, Gemma Battenbough, hosted an enlightening presentation on “Gaming 101 for brands” at the 2022 Spikes Asia x Campaign festival. Here are the key takeaways.
The rise of mainstream gaming
Generating roughly half of the world’s gaming revenue (an estimated US$88.2 billion), the Asia-Pacific gaming market is the biggest and fastest-growing region in gaming, with revenue for the next two years forecast to compound at nine percent.
Once considered a subculture or niche hobby, gaming is now a mainstream pursuit, especially among the digital native demographic of millennials (25–34-year-olds) and Gen Z (16–24-year-olds). In fact, 87% of millennials and 91% of Gen Z surveyed by Newszoo play video games and identify as gamers. Within the APAC region, 1.62 billion people identify as gamers, which accounts for just over 60% of the online population.
Gaming is a lifestyle choice that is leading the attention economy, and live content in turn is driving the gaming industry. By tapping into the gaming market, brands can gain direct access to younger tech-savvy demographics and maintain brand relevance.
How should brands begin moving into gaming?
While Twitch offers many of the functions of mainstream social media, it has its own nuances, thanks to its nature as a live-streaming service and its strong roots in the gaming community. To help brands understand the key to success on the service, Twitch has designed a seven-step gaming-inspired tutorial to help marketers adapt and refine their communication strategies.
Level 1: Check your quest log
The first questions brands should ask are: Why does your brand want to enter gaming, and why has it identified gaming as an opportunity for the business? Determining a solid justification for entering the gaming domain is crucial as it ultimately dictates where and how brands show up, and what they should do whilst playing. It is also important to review business objectives, decide if and how gaming aligns with your marketing strategy, and be clear on what your brand is hoping for with returns.
Level 2: Highlight your special abilities
“Gamers are always thinking in terms of upgrades, special abilities, and boosts,” says Battenbough, “so what special abilities can your brand give to gamers to help them do what they love, but better?” Using Pringles as an example, Battenbough explained that the crisps’ non-greasy recipe and the brand’s positioning as a facilitator of shared experiences lent themselves perfectly to gamer audiences.
Level 3: Identify your experience and commitment level
Next, brands need to think about where they want to rank within the gaming universe. In gaming terms, are you at beginner, casual, armchair general, or esports pro level? Brands should also consider the length of time they would like to be present within games. For example, a short-term campaign would work to market a peripheral product to gaming, whereas fostering a strong brand alignment would be long-term, and building a brand that is endemic to the gaming universe would be an all-in project. Identifying your brand commitment to gaming will establish the parameters in which your brand will operate.
Returning to the Pringles case study, Battenbough pointed out that the brand laid its foundation in the gaming community by starting with short-term tactical campaigns through partnerships with Xbox. Over the years, the brand was able to build its credentials within the community, create more ambitious, engaging campaigns — such as its “Meet Frank
” zombie campaign — and partner with influential esports games such as League of Legends.
Level 4: Customise your character
If your brand could be embodied by a game character, how would its avatar look and sound? As with brand-building on social media, being authentic when deciding on presentation can go a long way in appealing to millennials and Gen Z, as these audiences demand authenticity from the brands they identify with. As Battenbough puts it, “In the meme culture that is gaming, you don’t have to be cool, but you do have to be real.”
Level 5: Select your genres
Consider what types of games your brand would play, and why. Deciding on a genre that makes sense for your brand can provide a basis for effective strategies, connecting you to a particular style of play or a moment in gaming history. This can then serve as an entry point into audiences that form the core foundations of gaming communities, streamers, and competitive gaming.
Level 6: Check your inventory
What is your brand going to give people in return for their most precious asset: their time? Celebrating and rewarding the community are vital in earning trust and fame with the gaming generation, and also encourages the voluntary participation that is so sought after by marketers. This is why Twitch recommends a community-first approach when marketing to gamers. What is in your brand’s inventory that can add value to your potential audience’s gaming experience?
Level 7: Turn on two-way chat
Live gaming operates in real time and is by nature participatory and interactive, so gaming audiences will expect no less from your brand should you choose to enter the field. Be prepared to invite the audience in and let them interact directly with your brand by utilising two-way chat whilst gaming.
With these valuable tips in their arsenal, brands can create efficient and strategic briefs to help achieve their goals within the gaming market — regardless of their existing affiliation to the industry. Speaking about the future of marketing within gaming, Battenbough notes that the types of brands stepping into the arena have become increasingly diverse.
“We’re already seeing the gamification of food, beauty, shopping, music, and sports on stream. So, for audiences that grew up gaming, it’s really natural that the ideas and mechanisms of play such as risk and reward or roleplaying will bridge out into other categories,” says Battenbough.
In short, there has never been a better time for brands to enter the gaming world and find new innovative ways to connect with audiences. After all, anything that increases interactivity has the potential to create a brilliant brand moment.