A little under a year after its launch, gaming and esports influencer platform Ampverse claims its first-half revenues have increased about 150% over last year and it is on track to double its topline this year.
Charlie Baillie, the company's co-founder and chief commercial officer, told Campaign Asia-Pacific that the firm is considering both organic means and acquisitions to grow its Southeast Asia-centric business into other markets in the region, especially Japan, Korea, Taiwan and India.
At a time when businesses are struggling for traction, he says that Ampverse has benefited from having a clearly defined audience in its focus region. While the sports market has traditionally focused on sponsorships in Europe and North America, Ampverse is content-led in Southeast Asia. "We allow brands to attach themselves to viable content," he adds.
In April this year, the company had tied up with adtech firm Unruly to better target the growing esports and gaming universe, having previously launched a creators fund to aid esports and gaming talent. Then, in July, the company tied up with digital network POPS to create a 50-episode piece of original content centered on its esports team Bacon Time.
This strategy seems to be working well for Ampverse. According to Baillie, as marketers seek to more viably spend their marketing budget, they are seeking to uncover more well-defined audiences that relate to their brand. While labels in segments such as electronics, hardware and telecoms have always invested a portion of their marketing budgets in gaming and esports, his firm has more recently seen interest from automobile, insurance, finance and beauty and health companies.
For example, Oishi, a green tea brand in Japan, worked with the multiplayer online arena game ROV to give away 50,000 in game prizes and a chance to win the jackpot prize of five Japanese-themed game 'skins'. Ampverse enlisted five leading influencers to create video content to promote the campaign from mid-November 2019, and reported that the campaign drove strong engagement.
In addition, Chupa Chups, a lollipop brand sold in over 150 countries globally, was looking to promote its Mega Lollipops in the Philippines. Ampverse paired the brand with leading streamer Alodia. She promoted the brand during her two hour livestream, whilst playing Mobile Legends & announcing giveaways.
As a third example, Baillie spoke of an engagement with Garnier, where the firm worked with gaming creator Pojzplaza to showcase Garnier's Acno Fight product. The product was integrated into Pojzplaza's Free Fire gameplay video, where he kept the brand messaging light-hearted and informed his fans that although he was talented at the game, he struggled to attract the attention of girls due to his face acne.
As brands chase after this new opportunity, Baillie admits that they will likely do so with some hesitation as they get to grips with returns on their investments in new platforms such as Ampverse and the challenges of operating in this influencer ecoonomy. Initially, many brands prefer to try smaller pilot projects with these esports teams and influencers (Ampverse works with three teams and 35 influencers, or what the company calls 'talents'), before they scale up their engagements.
Baillie also contends that brands are looking at influencers because they can address two pain points they have struggled with. First, gaming and esports is a much more gender diversified audience than previously imagined and second it gives marketers a new way to target Gen Z audiences, who may be immune to traditional marketing plans.
"Gen Z doesn't respond well to traditional social media," he says. "They have become adept at not responding to digital advertising."
As the company seeks to expand its reach, it is focusing on markets where there is a mature of rapidly developing gaming and esports ecosystem. While Japan, Korea and Taiwan fit the bill for the first part, countries such as India are also becoming interesting as its ecosystem matures quickly.