Nielsen report demonstrates growing value of esports sponsorships

by Adam Fitch  ·  Updated 
Nielsen report demonstrates growing value of esports sponsorships

Marketing research firm Nielsen, in partnership with UK-based esports organization Fnatic, has released a report focusing on return on investment in esports that gave some insight into the current state of brand activations and engagement in the industry.

Digital content: Nielsen's latest report claims digital activations in esports can "drive brand awareness" better than what's seen in sports.

  • Sponsors being displayed on car decals in Rocket League is an example, though this also includes logo placements on broadcasts.
  • The report states that four out of five gamers, casual and competitive alike, have purchased downloadable content (DLC) in the past year. Having sponsors on such content, whether in Rocket League or FIFA, helps to drive a significant amount of eyeballs to brands.

Dive deeper: Rocket League embraces in-game branding for esports sponsors

The fans: Research on fans of competitive gaming suggests that they're a laidback demographic that has little preference over whether a sponsor is native or not.

  • 87% of esports fans can recall at least a single sponsor within esports.
  • Top mentions include Red Bull (36% of those polled recalled), Nike (34%), VISA (31%), Monster Energy (27%).
  • Nielsen's research found fans generally respond well towards sponsors, regardless of whether they're native to esports or not, which leads to positive results in purchase intent and recommendation.

Return on investment: It's claimed that the return on investment in the LEC, the premier League of Legends competition in Europe, is growing year-on-year for top teams.

  • It seems safe to assume that the information came from Fnatic, who partnered with Nielsen for the report and are one of the 10 partnered teams in the LEC.
  • Specifically, the return on investment went from 2.1x in 2019 to 3x in 2020 and is forecasted to have grown up to 4.4x in 2021 (despite significant event issues due to the global health situation).

Case study: Fnatic and BMW's partnership, under the United in Rivalry banner alongside multiple other prominent organizations, demonstrates the impact that authentic brand activations can have.

  • 36% increase in brand preference towards BMW following branded content.
  • Their collaborative, branded content received 1.14 million engagements across all social media platforms.
  • BMW-branded video content on YouTube is said to have received 4.95 million organic views on YouTube in 2020.
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