The traditional media landscape has experienced enormous changes in the past years. The emergence of social media and digital channels have contributed to the changes from the production to consumption.
The internet is the melting pot of all these new media technologies, revolutionising the whole world. As a result, the world as we know has become a ‘global village’, with internet access virtually bringing people together under one sphere.
The above brings us to the recent emergence of esport. So, what are esports? Esport is an electronic sport, loosely meaning online gaming; it is a sphere where gamers come together to play games online, unlike offline gaming where one plays without being connected to the internet. Esports are played through online connectivity thus gives people around the world the prospect to become spectators of those who are playing the game.
What is interesting about this new medium is that it allows for brands the opportunity to communicate and market to a wide range of eyeballs.
Global and local esports landscape
In Africa, and South Africa in particular, this medium is not visible or not yet recognised by brands and media communities as a viable advertising medium. Esport is huge in America, Europe, and Asia.
But it is just a matter of time before Middle East and Africa start using it wildly.
According to an article published by Ginx Esport TV, South Africa dropped from 47th to 64th place in the 2019 global rankings for esports earnings. Despite this drop in player earnings, there is still a ton of excitement about the South African esports scene in 2021 and beyond.
There’s a slow uptake of brands’ commercial involvement in the esports space. However, brands such as Telkom and Toyota have been instrumental in promoting esports through sponsorship of tournaments.
After all, it makes sense for brands to become involved in one way or the other. The sponsorship element is important for gamers’ remuneration. And for the brands to benefit from marketing and promoting themselves.
Although it is important to take advantage of all the online and digital platforms by brands, it is also imperative to note that while the popularity of digital media and marketing tactics continues to soar, brands must remember the importance of a media mix including ‘traditional’ channels.
Understand the channels
Not all consumers have the access, resources, or interests. With budgets slashed by the unforeseen events of 2020, brands should prioritise understanding what channels their specific target audience are consuming.
For example, many industry professionals are talking about how consumers are “cutting the cord” and moving away from traditional radio and TV consumption to streaming services, but this isn’t true for all audiences.
For brands targeting an older population, many of these individuals are not consuming content from social media or entertainment streaming services. Allocating restricted marketing funds to the digital resource would be a waste for this population when they are still consuming radio, TV, and print content.
Therefore, when a brand decides to venture into this new digital media realm, it is important to place target audience at the centre of their pivoting process.
As a closing-off statement, in 2021 we shall see more brands – especially lifestyle ones – becoming more actively engaged players in the esport space. The still much uncertainty about esport, but this should not deter any brand seeking to churn a new path in this space filled with new opportunities.
Rirhandzu Shingwenyana is a BA Communication Studies graduate from the University of Limpopo. As well as certified Brand and Marketing. He is passionate about marketing and advertising, communication, social media and digital strategy. He is currently the marketing co-ordinator for a small-medium enterprise.
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