Esports teams interested in signing a brand partnership deal for 2021 have much to consider before diving in. Here are some key metrics, sponsorship types, and other factors to know so that your esports team partnership can achieve the best results.
Why Esports Partnerships Matter
Financial partnerships are the lifeblood of the esports industry, producing 61% of its $950.3M income this year. Even as live events were canceled or moved online due to the global pandemic, investment in esports teams, leagues, and tournaments continued to rise in 2020. Many brands are eager to reach young audiences in an environment they are passionate about, which is good news for esports teams and organizations.
If a brand approaches your fledgling esports organization, it can be exciting — and tempting — to just take the money and hope for the best. As with any collaboration, Partnerships should be mutually beneficial, of course, but the benefits should be realistic. You will need to decide what kind of outcome both parties hope to achieve, then review appropriate metrics to determine the best course of action.
It’s also important to remember that a long-term partnership (jersey sponsor, “official XYZ of ABC Team”) will have different metrics to review vs. a short-term partnership, i.e., the presenting partner for a single event.
Metrics, including Return on Investment (ROI), also known as Return on Ad Spend (ROAS), are often used interchangeably in the marketing world. Both are vital for determining the value of specific marketing activations. ROAS captures how effective your media investment was in delivering positive value compared to how much you spent.
When entering an esports partnership agreement, ensure that both parties have a tangible ROI goal in mind, whether that be X amount of signups, X amount of revenue, or X amount of views for brand awareness. The latter is a bit harder to assign a monetary value to but is still a valid metric, especially as brands place their logos and products in front of online audiences.
Having these specific goals in mind, paired with the right metrics, will allow both parties to gauge short-term and long-term success. Seeing direct returns on initial spending helps esports organizations and brand marketers to plan, adjust in real-time as necessary, and determine whether a partnership should be extended. Combined with other metrics such as cost per click (CPC), cost per acquisition (CPA), and/or lifetime value (LTV) will give an overall picture of how profitable your esports partnership is.
It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of a potential partnership, especially if the brand/company is a household name or offers a lot of money. Make sure that you continually pay attention to sentiment about the partnership from your team, sponsor, audience, and even other partners.
Both the League of Legends European Championships (LEC) and BLAST experienced harsh backlash for partnering with a Saudi Arabian city development project called NEOM. Both partnerships were canceled, and Riot Games set up an ethics committee to prevent a repeat occurrence.
Total partner experience (TPE) is a strategy used by leading organizations to review their channel programs from the partner’s perspective. TPE is an ongoing process that collects feedback through surveys, advisory councils, and partner interviews. Rather than rely on an end-of-partnership satisfaction survey, the TPE ensures that satisfaction is achieved throughout the relationship. These metrics will allow esports organizations to create a strategy for streamlining deliverables and create common processes.
Esports partnerships, like any other, can go sour if customer satisfaction is low. Team Singularity recently ended its relationship with Dashthreads, alleging ‘unprofessionalism, lies, and mistreatment of the partnership.’
You should be able to track your partner’s profitability before and after the activation. Not only does this add fuel to an already successful relationship or create lessons learned for future activations, but these metrics can guide your mutual investments into the relationship.
Esports teams and organizations can invest resources to support and incentivize your partner’s growth. For partners that are just coming on board, help them identify problem areas so that efforts can be targeted and meaningful.
Pay attention to how engaged they are with your audience beyond the initial announcement. Inactive partners may not be as invested or know how to best engage. If the latter is a problem, you can help. If it’s a matter of disinterest or an attempt to make quick money off gamers, the partnership can be reexamined and potentially terminated.
Communicate with your partners to keep them informed of fan engagement and any helpful metrics you can share. As your partners grow, your organization does, too. Keep those financial friends close, and everyone succeeds. Plus, every success story is a selling point for future partners to come.
Written by HB Duran