Publication date: 25 Jan 2024
Digital technology and virtual entertainment culture are evolving every year. Esports events have already become a part of everyday life for millions of people. For example, according to the Esports Charts analytics service, the maximum number of viewers for Dota 2. The International 2023 was 1.44 million viewers. And that’s despite the fact that it’s the worst figure since 2018, because the prize money has decreased significantly* compared to previous years ($40 million in 2021 and $19 million in 2022 to $3 million in 2023).
*One of the reasons for the drop in prize money is that Valve has changed the format of the Compendium (an in-game item). Previously, you could buy skins, items, couriers, etc. for your character. Part of the money from the sale of the Compendium went into the prize pool.
As audiences watch online spectacles, companies are looking for ways to monetize their attention. Driving traffic to esports is an opportunity to create and profit from great advertising campaigns. New material from 3SNET looks at current strategies and provides the latest information on video game competitions. Let’s find out what’s affecting the industry and how to make the most of esport traffic.
How does esports differ from regular sports?
Traditional sports require you to be physically fit. Esports focus on intellectual skills, reactions, strategies and tactical thinking. Instead of a field or court, esport competitions are played in virtual worlds created for video games.
Regular sports can be individual or team sports. In esports, however, team competitions are more common. Teams are made up of players with unique roles and skills.
Roles in Dota 2 are:
- Hard Liners.
- Entry Fragger.
Esports competitions are widely broadcast on the Internet and can be viewed by millions of people around the world. Viewers can watch the game online, chat with players and other fans.
In this way, anyone can feel like a famous esportsman. As esports offers more ways to participate, socialize and watch, its audience is growing by the day. There is more participation, more betting and more interest in betting sites.
Esport audience: who watches competitions?
According to the Moscow Agency of Innovations (Russia), the size of the global e-sports audience will grow from 398 million in 2019 to 578 million in 2024. That’s an increase of 45.22%, or 9% per year.
About half of this audience is made up of fans and regular viewers of esports. The other half will be casual viewers who occasionally watch tournaments.
Mediascope research for 2022 shows that about 10% of Russians aged 12-64 are interested in esports in some way. Of these, 5% simply watch competitions without betting, 4% bet on esports and 1% participate in esports tournaments. Among those interested in esports, the vast majority are men (74%), mostly young.
China is leading the way. According to MIT Technology Review, almost the entire active population in China is attracted to esports:
- 97% of 18–24-year-olds, 90% of 25–35-year-olds and 90% of 31–35-year-olds are gamers;
- 80% of gamers watch live streaming;
- 70% of gamers play esports;
- 48% of gamers are female. Interestingly, there has also been strong growth in the female audience in traditional betting.
Nevertheless, the best way to get good results is to get a portrait of the player from the advertiser before you start working.
Which games are popular in esports?
Two disciplines lead by a wide margin in the CIS countries. These are the tactical shooter Counter-Strike 2 and the MOBA game Dota 2. Valve is the developer and owner of the franchises. These games regularly host major esports tournaments with millions of dollars in prize money.
League of Legends, the MOBA from Riot Games, is also very successful. According to Esports Charts, 3,710 tournaments have been held in the game. The game’s official release date is 27 October 2009.
Battle Royale is the basis of both Fortnite and PUBG. It is a different format of competition. Last man standing wins, just like in The Hunger Games.
The 2024 trend in the esports market is eFootball and eBasketball. These are fights in football and basketball simulators such as NBA 2K and FC 24.
What’s interesting is that from fighting games, the esport audience is starting to become more interested in specifically “sports” video games. Maybe this is a new trend where the audience wants new experiences. Or maybe the part of the audience that initially preferred “traditional” sports is manifesting itself.
How to choose a GEO for esports?
Players and teams come from all corners of the globe in the virtual world. Asian countries, especially South Korea and China, are known for their outstanding esports players in disciplines such as PUBG Mobile and Dota 2. European and American players excel in a variety of genres, including Counter-Strike and Valorant shooters.
Other countries can also attract active players. For example, Saudi Arabia will soon host the World Esports Championship. This is likely to boost the development of esports in the Middle East region.
However, GEO is less relevant to esports than it is to mainstream sports and betting. Fans of football, hockey or basketball tend to bet on teams from their own country, but esports fans – because of its multinational nature – can bet on the best or favourite team.
How to direct traffic to esports?
Choose an offer for esports
You can start with an offer with good conditions from the thematic selection or ask your affiliate network manager.
In any case, you should only work with a network that has a proven track record and reputation in the market: payments on time and under pre-agreed conditions.
The offer should also clearly state all KPIs: how much and for which players the advertiser is willing to pay. It is great if the advertiser helps prepare the creative: provides banners and landing pages for events.
Choosing a bookmaker is also important! The brand should be well known, if it operates in a regulated geo, it should have a local license and rights to official promotion. It should also have a functioning website where registration and all payments work.
Choosing an event for esports
Esport, like betting in general, is an event niche. You need to keep track of the dates of major tournaments or decisive matches, follow the intrigue and “be on topic”. It is better to plan all advertising in advance – from finding an offer to placing the creative in the source. This allows you to maximize profits quickly and efficiently!
How to choose an event for esports?
The discipline (game) should be popular and be widely represented in the bookmakers’ lines.
For example, there was a recent shift from Counter-Strike: Global Offensive to Counter-Strike 2. This is a very important fact that has affected the esports market and changed the rankings and strategies. The game is new, the balance of power is changing. Nobody is used to the new mechanics yet. Teams that were winning might start losing. Those who make the transition early will be more competitive because of the learning curve. This is an example of how to follow news and trends in the e-sports niche.
The average number of viewers in the final stage of an event or tournament also affects the prize pool. Also, the bigger the prize for winning – the more viewers watch the event.
The primary audience for the event. Different teams have different audiences. The rank of the team also plays a role. Here is an example of a ranking system in CS:
- Tier-1 – Top 6 Majors.
- Tier-2 – Top 7-12 Majors.
- Tier-3 – Top 13-16 Majors and all members of the Majors.
Fresh rankings can be found on sites with statistics: in the case of CS such a resource is hltv.org.
By the way, the material of 3SNET gives an overview of the main esport events in 2024: all major events in the disciplines of Dota 2, Counter-Strike 2, League of Legends.
Choice of source/platform
In order to drive quality traffic, you need to look at where your target audience is and what kind of content they consume.
The Discord community can be a source of traffic. It has always been particularly popular with gamers.
Donation services are also common among esportsmen and spectators. Most donations are made during live broadcasts. We recommend you check out Donationalerts, Boosty and Patreon.
Video content offers the greatest opportunities. Streaming services and social networks with vertical video are widespread in the e-sports environment: Twitch, Youtube, TikTok. Chinese streaming platform Trovo Live and Russian service Wasd.tv are also successful with viewers.
- TikTok can also be used to promote gambling: read the guide “How to use TikTok to direct traffic to gambling offers” on 3S.INFO.
Many services partially or completely prohibit the advertising of gambling. Nevertheless, by applying the skill of an unconventional approach to advertising, you can achieve a multiple increase in conversion.
Depending on the tournament, esports are broadcast in closed or open sources. Live broadcasts are great for promoting ads and building creatives.
The following tools can be used:
- Buying ads on specialized platforms;
- Buying ads on social networks targeting interest in esports;
- Creation of personalized fan sites for a team, discipline or ranking;
- Creation of video channels with stories, news, expert predictions;
- Streams with live or post-event discussions.
How to design creatives for esports?
Want to connect with your audience? Immerse yourself in the meme-rich culture of esports. With a large number of players and bettors being young people, the field is saturated with slang and dynamically changing.
General tips for creatives:
- Use bright and distinctive visuals so that the information stands out from the noise;
- Develop a quality text. Make it clear to everyone at once which esports match is being talked about;
- Test different creative for different audiences. The same material can produce different conversion rates;
- Keep an eye on timing and deliver traffic when the effect is maximised.
Esports will most likely continue to evolve, creating new opportunities and offers for sports fans. Understanding audience specifics, selecting effective tools and sources, and adapting strategies are key elements for success!
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