Why Brands Should Partner With Gamers in the Wake of the Pandemic


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Brands In Video Games Have Been Getting Incredible ROI

One of the few entertainment sectors that has not been affected by the pandemic is the gaming industry. In fact, professional gamers have seen an increase in viewership and revenue as more people are staying home and entertaining themselves through online platforms. This means there are plenty of new marketing and product placement opportunities available in the gaming world.

If your brand isn't already participating in them... it is time for a deeper dive into what you may be missing out on. So how can companies get in on the action if they’ve never done an electronic sports, or “e-sports,” gaming partnership before? We'll answer that. In this blog, Hollywood Branded will dive into the benefits of partnering with the gaming industry, things to stay away from, and ways your brand can get started.

Why Brands Should Partner With Gamers in the Wake of the Pandemic

How The Gaming Industry Has Benefited From The Pandemic

Since the beginning of America’s nation-wide quarantine, many businesses have suffered. Movie theaters are facing bankruptcy, national sports leagues are losing money with the absence of live games, and many restaurants and bars are facing seasonal revenue losses due to outdoor dining ordinances.

One of the few industries that has not only dodged financial strain, but instead has benefited directly, is the gaming industry. From YouTubers to Twitch streamers, anyone in the industry saw firsthand how their viewership rose astronomically as a direct result of quarantine orders.

After schools and many businesses shut down for months at the beginning of quarantine, many young people had few outlets to occupy their time with, aside from gaming and social media.

Gaming partnerships, influencer partnerships, esports, nintendo switch, animal crossing

I can speak from experience; most of my time during the early weeks of quarantine was spent online. One of the biggest “quarantine trends,” was to purchase Nintendo’s Switch console and the game Animal Crossing to help fill time. Nintendo reported that Animal Crossing: New Horizons sold more than 13 million copies in its first six weeks of launch. 

On the streaming side; Twitch broke a record in the first quarter this year; reporting that viewers had watched over 3 billion hours of content collectively. This platform is normally quite popular, seeing an average of 15 million daily active users, but the viewership has never been nearly this high.

One of the most popular games that is live-streamed on Twitch is Fortnite, a popular multiplayer game that involves eliminating other players to be the last one standing. Fortnite has over 350 million users and saw 3.2 billion hours of playtime during the month of April alone.

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The gaming industry is extremely profitable and has a lot of marketing potential. Gaming is the 3rd most popular app category in the world. The industry is so large, that is it projected to be worth $300 Billion by 2025. While the gaming industry is already huge, it is still growing.

In the e-sports category alone, a Forbes article wrote; “A report on the state of esports, in 2018, reported there were an estimated 380 million viewers, and the audience is expected to grow to 557 million by 2021.” It is no secret that the gaming industry is profitable, but the question is; how can your brand get involved in those profits? The answer is simple: partner with the gamers themselves.

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The Benefits Of Partnering With Gaming Influencers

The gaming industry is an untapped market with extremely high potential. As of now, gamers and YouTubers are only really primarily working on brand deals with products specific to the gaming industry.

This is great for companies that sell gaming products and also for other brands that don’t fit so easily into the gaming world - there is immense opportunity considering the lack of competition.

Gamers are not your ordinary influencers; they are known for being more authentic and engaged with their audiences. They are popular and have high followings similar to many famous sports stars.

One of the most famous gaming YouTubers, PewDiePie, has held the title for the YouTuber with the most subscribers for 7 years straight, having almost 104 million subscribers as of March 2020. Another Twitch star, Ninja, holds two titles; the streamer with the most followers, and the most famous professional gamer in the world. He holds 14.7 million followers as of Fall 2019.

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Many gaming influencers also have a large following on their own social media pages where they post about their personal lives, and often engage in conversations with their followers about many different topics. PewDiePie has around 20.8 Million Followers on his Instagram, and Ninja has around 14.9 Million Followers.

Additionally, their engagement levels are much higher statistically than other types of influencers. Normal social media engagement is between 1% and 3%, and many of the top gaming influencers are around 2.5%, so it could be argued that “the eSports audience is much more engaged than the average consumer.” 

This is good news for brands that don’t fall into the gaming product arena. Not only is it possible for them to partner with these influencers who have high engagement, but their product will be easily distinguishable in a sea of other gaming brand promotions that the influencer may have. It is easy to make your product marketable to that audience and partner with a gaming influencer regardless of what industry your brand falls under. These gamers are real people - they do have other scenarios in their lives where they use every brand category under the sun.

Not only is this a beneficial partnership for non-gaming brands, it is good for the gamers as well. They are able to increase their partnerships and their own career success while also being introduced to new brands that may greatly benefit themselves and their followers. The gaming audience generally consists of younger people; Millennials and Generation Z, however the statistics skew older when considering the ages of the influencers.

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38% of gaming influencers in the United States are between the ages of 18 and 34, while 26% are 34-54, and few are below the age of 18. When looking at the audience, it skews younger: 41% are 16-24, and 32% are 25-34. It is important to acknowledge that when partnering with a gaming influencer you should be trying to target a much younger audience, maybe even younger than the influencer you are partnering with.

One last benefit to partnering with gamers is the active audience conversations. Using a gaming influencer can help you get feedback on your brand when the influencer engages in conversations with the audience about your product. Especially with streaming, gamers usually engage in conversation with their audience and may discuss the product they had a brand deal with.

What To Avoid When Partnering With Gamers

There are some things to take caution of when partnering with any type of influencer.

The first: Before partnering with a social influencer, you need to consider if their values align with your brand, if their audience aligns with your brand, and if their engagement is high enough to make the partnership worthwhile.

Partnering with an influencer that has the same values as you is essential to the success of the campaign. If your values don’t align you may run into problems getting your product promoted by the influencer, or you may be wasting your time advertising your brand to an audience that isn’t interested in your company at all.

That brings us to the second point: You should always make sure that an influencer’s followers resemble your target audience. Checking in on their followers and statistics about them is important in determining if your partnership will be worthwhile.

You can look at age range, interests, and employment as well as many other factors to determine if their audience would buy your product. While most gaming audiences skew younger, as stated earlier, you may come across an influencer whose audience is a little older. It is always important to check and determine the demographics of an influencer’s audience.

Additionally, you want to consider how often the influencer’s audience is engaging with their content. Don’t just pick influencers with a high following. It is crucial to consider the statistics of their engagement which you can see on a variety of influencer statistic websites. If your influencer’s engagement rate is between 1% and 5%, the partnership would be worthwhile. 

Lastly: Be aware of fake influencers and stay away from people who buy followers. Making the mistake of partnering with influencers like these will often guarantee failure in the partnership campaign.

In 2018 the New York Times exposed many well-known celebrities for buying social media followers using a company called Devumi. The company was shut down, but before that had celebrities spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on fake followers. You can read our blog 5 Ways To Spot Fake Instagram Followers

Thanks to Brand24.com, here are 5 Signs of fake influencers to watch out for:

  1. Someone who’s engagement rate is either way lower or way higher than it should be (should be between 1-5%)
  2. Sudden growth in followers or likes between days or weeks
  3. Excessive generic comments that may be created by paid bots
  4. A high following of fake accounts
  5. A suspiciously high number of followers


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Examples Of Successful Brand Partnerships In The Gaming World

There absolutely are non-gaming companies that have already successfully created gaming influencer partnerships. Let's take a look at a few:

Beats by Dre is a multi-billion-dollar audio technology company started by rapper Dr. Dre. In 2014 the company was acquired by Apple for $3 billion dollars. Since then, the company has moved into various different forms of influencers advertising.

Last year, Beats by Dre partnered with some of the top players in the NBA and showed commercial spots of the athletes training while using their Powerbeats Pro headphones. The partnership was put on hold during coronavirus due to National Sports leagues suspending their professional seasons.

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Beats by Dre decided to go in another direction and partner in with e-sports influencers to fill their partnership gap. This past May, the company partnered with FaZe Clan, a famous group of professional gamers who compete internationally and live in a house together. 

The partnership was announced on social media as the gamers filmed a drone dropping off the headphones in the yard of the FaZe Clan house in Los Angeles. The company says this form of delivery was intentional considering drones often drop off care packages in many of the games that the FaZe Clan often play. The company decided to mold their campaign to align with their influencers, which is a smart move considering their audience.

Followers are more likely to be interested in a partnership that is tailored to an influencer and feels special or exciting. Red Bull is another brand who successfully personalized their brand deal to work with a gaming influencer. In 2018, Red Bull partnered with Ninja and created customized cans to be sold in the United States. The can featured the gamer’s face and his gaming logo as well as his website.

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KFC began a much different partnership with Twitch streamer DrLupo, as well as streamers Sacriel, Sequisha, Anthony Kongphan. This partnership began in 2018 as a short-term competition of sorts. How did it work? Whenever one of the players won a game on a live-stream during the two days of the partnership, fans and viewers could reply to the live stream chat with a KFC emoticon to enter themselves in a drawing. Fans could win a KFC gift card along with other merchandise. 

Fans were also offered the opportunity to potentially win custom prizes that were KFC and PUBG items which often resembled items gamers could use within a video game. Some of the items included faux medical kits, a Colonel Sanders ghillie suit, and various other themed items.

Gaming partnerships, influencer partnerships, esports, twtich, Streaming, KFC, PUBG, DrLupo

This partnership was very strategic on KFC’s part considering a majority of the Twitch audience also fits within the KCF target audience. Additionally, the effort to customize prize items to be themed to popular video games worked well to draw in fans.

One last and very different example involves multiple brands, and one big group of influencers. Rooster Teeth is a large production company started in 2003 by friends and co-workers; Joel Heyman, Burnie Burns, Geoff Ramsey, Gus Sorola, and Matt Hullum.

Within the company they have another branch, dedicated to gaming, called Achievement Hunter. Achievement Hunter was named in relation to X-box achievements that gamers acquire by completing tasks within games.

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Both Achievement Hunter and its parent company, Rooster Teeth, have seen their share of sponsors and brand partnerships, but over the years they have secured a few consistent partners.

Audible, Blue Apron, and MeUndies are three of the top partners whose brands are constantly advertised on the company’s YouTube channel as well as their website and podcasts. Other Partners include; Casper, Warby Parker, Squarespace, and CocaCola. These brands and others are also widely used and praised by Rooster Teeth fans on the internet.

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How To Get Started

So where do you look for gaming influencers? They are mostly on YouTube, Twitch, and Mixer; a Microsoft streaming service that is gaining traction. These are platforms that allow them to put out their content easily and receive monetary compensation for their talents. According to Imagency, a digital marketing agency, around 40% of the top 23 YouTubers are gamers. 

Look through influencers on these platforms and try to determine which ones you’d like to work with. If you are having trouble, check to see if your competitors are working with any social-media influencers, and if they are, try to find similar influencers.

The next step is to make a list of your top choices for potential influencers and compare their strengths and weaknesses. As we discussed before, analyze their audience, their values, and their engagement rate.

You could choose to either reach out to the influencer directly or hire an agency to act as a middleman in the partnership. If you are choosing an influencer with a high following or if you have little experience working with social media influencers, it is best to work with an experienced agency to handle technicalities, negotations, contracts and specifics and make your life easier. There are actually a lot of ways you can derail the partnership.

If you are choosing to start smaller or ask for influencers to promote your brand for free, you should choose up and coming influencers or influencers who may already love your product. Start searching for those who have hashtagged your brand.


Learn To Use Product Placement To Benefit Your Brand

Now that you understand how to partner with a gaming influencer, you should dive into some social channels to find gamers that may fit well with your brand. Remember to always consider the audience that comes with the influencer you choose, and to check the statistics of that influencer’s engagement.

One last piece of advice; don’t be afraid to expand your brand or target audience by partnering with a gaming influencer. Brand24 said it best; “Video game streams attract a mainly young audience — Millennials and Gen Z. Implementing a video game influencer marketing strategy will help you reach audiences you might otherwise be unable to reach. Reaching your target audiences will help you increase your bottom line.”

Hollywood Branded has had extensive experience with building product placement since2007. We are available to answer questions or help should you want to use product placement to benefit your brand.

Interested in reading more about product placement? Check out some of our other blogs on advertising and product placement.

While you're at it, download our guide on all things product placement to learn more about how it could benefit your brand!

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