Gaming influencers are becoming hard to ignore, even for non-gaming brands. That might sound strange, so let’s explain why.
It’s not only numbers that are exciting for non-gaming brands, but the diverse ecosystem around gaming. Diversity creates opportunities to present your brand in different ways and reach audiences you’ve previously struggled to engage with. Video game livestreamer ranks as one of kids’ dream jobs, with the livestreaming market expected to reach 920.3 million people in 2024. The rise of esports is also significant; it’s expected to reach 577.2 million people by the same year.
With nearly 40% of media value being driven by non-gaming brands, marketing to gamers is inevitable. First-mover advantage is crucial in order to learn and understand gaming marketing before your competitors. But first, you need to understand exactly what gaming looks like in 2021.
Gaming Audience Explained
You may think gaming is dominated by teenage boys with unlimited free time—but this couldn’t be further from the truth. 83% of women and 88% of men can be classified as gamers. And while it's true gaming is most popular among young people, 71% of 55-64 year-olds play too. When it comes to location, gaming is global. 45% of Danes claim to play games vs. 82% of Thais, but the world’s biggest economies are consistent in having strong engagement, which is vital for marketers. Gaming interests and preferences also vary across life stages, ethnicity, and sexual orientation.
With this level of diversity in gaming, it’s clear traditional stereotypes don’t hold up. But how does this benefit your non-gaming brand? It means you’re certain to find gaming influencers which are a natural fit for you.
The Value Of Gaming Influencers To Non-Gaming Brands
Gaming influencers naturally understand the industry and—crucially—gaming culture. Their audiences are die-hard fans, heavily engaged and similarly enveloped in all things gaming. Gaming is digital; gamers are active, sophisticated media consumers. Campaign tactics that worked for you traditionally may not work here, especially if you don’t tweak them. It’s a conversation of Twitch or YouTube, not TV or social media. Advertising in games has to make cultural sense or you’ll alienate your audience, and influencers are a perfect way to promote your brand endemically.
What does partnering with gaming influencers give you access to? Diverse audiences which may not be found elsewhere—particularly on the same scale. Twitch streams are usually hours long, with its live chat feature enabling constant communication between streamer and audience. YouTube Gaming hit over 100 billion watch time hours in 2020, an almost unfathomable number. But it’s not all about size.
It’s the authenticity of gaming influencers that resonates with their audiences, creating a highly-engaged relationship. In September 2020, the gaming industry saw the highest average engagement rate of 9% from nano influencers (1,000-10,000). Mega influencers (1 million or more followers) had the second highest rate at 5.24%, suggesting even the biggest gaming celebrities are able to consistently command their audience’s attention. Gaming content feels real to people, and native tools such as Twitch chat are designed to amplify that.
How Your Brand Can Collaborate With Gaming Influencers
There are various ways of collaborating with gaming influencers. Below are the primary methods we recommend to non-gaming brands.
- Sponsored Integrations – Brand mentions are positive shoutouts of your product or service integrated into an influencer’s content. Cloutboost ran a campaign for Hotspot Shield VPN to increase brand awareness and drive product downloads, sponsoring Twitch influencers. This Twitch sponsorship involved communicating their personal struggles the product solved, as well as discussing the benefits of the product generally. The sponsorship featured giveaways, the inclusion of Hotspot Shield on ad banners and logos, and utilized regular chatbot call to actions.
A competitor VPN brand, NordVPN, focuses heavily on influencer marketing—largely on YouTube. You’ll find their brand across the entire gaming scene, from smaller gaming influencers to PewDiePie. NordVPN emphasizes the long-term benefits of YouTube; audiences will watch a video from months or years prior as the platform’s algorithm and user interface don’t focus exclusively on new uploads. In comparison, platforms like Twitch and Instagram are focused on current content.
LG shows another example of a non-gaming brand targeting gamers. The company has a history of partnering with gaming YouTubers, highlighting how an LG TV can be a great option for gamers. Daz Games created an LG-sponsored video that presents the product in a natural way, offering up a great example of how non-gaming brands can pull off authentic integrations and reach new audiences.
- Influencer Giveaways – Giveaways are always a great way to generate engagement around your brand. KFC ran a gaming partnership with Twitch streamers to offer audience giveaways for brand merchandise and gift cards when they won a game. Users entered by typing a KFC emote (Twitch-specific emoticons) in Twitch chat, and prizes were custom-designed according to the game being played. Having your brand release a product tailored to the game is a great way to naturally integrate it.
- Gaming Events – Hershey’s leveraged one of gaming’s largest annual events, TwitchCon 2018, to promote their new Reese’s Pieces chocolate bar. Since TwitchCon brought the platform’s biggest streamers together under one roof, Hershey’s sponsored Ninja and DrLupo for a collaborative livestream. This activation capitalized on the unique opportunity of having access to streamers together in person, with the collaboration playing on the idea of Ninja and DrLupo being an amazing duo—just like Hershey’s and Reese’s.
If you consider your brand far-removed from gaming, look no further than MAC Cosmetics for inspiration. MAC sponsored TwitchCon in 2019, running giveaways, offering makeup application services, and recruiting successful female streamers such as Pokimane to play games at their booth. MAC SVP Philippe Pinatel emphasized how Twitch encourages individuality and self-expression in its community, features that define MAC as a brand.
- Esports – Esports is a specific area of professional gaming in which brands can get involved in. Aldi and Lidl partnered with professional esports organizations to sponsor jerseys and create content via joint activations. Aldi and Team Vitality partnered to promote Aldi’s core brand messaging around the importance of a healthy diet, tying it to Vitality’s permanent search for performance.
- Meet and Greets – Like gaming events, meet and greets offer a way to leverage gaming influencers outside of the digital world. For example, check out Shroud’s meet and greet at Zumiez. In-person interactions with premiere gaming creators create huge value and bring dedicated communities together.
The Reach Of Gaming
The gaming industry is no longer the exclusive subgroup it once was. Gaming is global, and it represents legions of fans across ages, genders, and ethnicities. While gaming brands are unsurprisingly entrenched in gaming marketing already, there’s a huge opportunity for non-gaming brands to capitalize on a previously untapped audience.
Gaming influencers represent the standout method to access gaming audiences. There’s a variety of ways to get creative and generate brand awareness and sales around your brand. Remember to keep in mind that gamers are sophisticated consumers. It’s critical your gaming influencer campaigns are tailored to the industry and the specific influencers you select.