CMO Insights

Innovator Insights: Five Key Things to Watch for in the Future of Media from TV to ESports

Media consumption has been shifting dramatically over the last couple of years and covid-19 has only accelerated digital adoption in everything from television to sports. As consumers have been spending more time at home they are consuming more digital media from television content and online streaming to video games and ESports competitions. 

The global ESports market is poised to grow by $1.4 billion from 2020-2024, increasing 18% each year. Brands that can connect to entertaining content will be better positioned to engage consumers. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings recently said that he is more afraid of Fortnite than HBO or Disney, understanding that competing for consumer attention goes across categories. 

Bose began exploring ESports a couple of years ago and is using the channel to target tech-savvy early adopters who are interested in gaming but also have other uses for good audio in their lives, such as for workouts or conference calls. Their approach is through partnerships with sports teams such as Madden Championship Series and Boston Uprising to make the messaging feel natural and less like advertising through strategic storytelling.

“Gamers are traditionally kind of finicky,”said Kyle Graham, Global Consumer Marketing, Demand Activation at Bose, at Brand Innovators' livecast called “Future of Media: TV to ESports,” presented by Barstool Sports. “They want brands to be involved but for the right reasons.” 

Bose is taking their time and being very cautious with how they approach this market. “We don’t want to jump in and throw banner after banner, video after video at them,” Graham said.  “We are trying to find ways to really benefit gamers in the content they are in.” 

For example, before the pandemic hit, players from Boston Uprising used the headphones while travelling on long flights, vlogging throughout the trip showcasing the product. Additionally, NFL player Russell Wilson dropped a waterproof speaker into a cup of water, demonstrating how the music continued to play while the speaker was submerged in a glass of water.

As more consumers are looking for shows to stream it is easy for a site like Hulu to pull in new customers by offering marquee and exclusive shows. The challenge is to keep them coming back and encourage them to explore their massive library of content once they have signed up. Hulu recently rolled out a new UI focused specifically on user experience that makes it easier to find content across the depth and breadth of their content portfolio.

“It could be the big name titles, whether it is The Handmaid’s Tale or Little Fires Everywhere, that are bringing people into the service, but we need to make sure that the experience and the UI is surfacing some of the library content that has hours and hours and hours of content for you to binge to keep you coming back for more and keep you highly engaged,” said Valerie Zapata, Director, Subscriber Growth & Partnerships at Hulu, at Brand Innovators' livecast called “Future of Media: TV to ESports,” presented by WPP.

Hulu is also working with advertisers and this creates an opportunity for direct-to-consumer brands to get in front of a large audience. DTC furniture startup Resident, which specializes in selling mattresses has added connected TV to its diverse marketing mix. The brand recently did a small test on Hulu and found a good audience there. 

The company is now working on the best ways to develop their presence in the channel, as part of their plan to scale up video. This will fit into the brand’s cross channel strategy. Interestingly, the challenger brand is also reevaluating television. 

“We want to look at TV more digitally considering the fact that a lot has changed in the ecosystem of TV,” said Junior Reyes, Head of Marketing, YouTube, TV, Programmatic and New Channels at Resident, at Brand Innovators' livecast called “Future of Media: TV to ESports,” presented by Stirista. “Now you have all of these different smart TV providers out there that are leveraging their data to make linear TV more addressable and more targetable so that you can actually measure the success without having to do too much of a probabilistic approach to TV.”

Here are five key takeaways from the livecast that can help guide advertisers on how to adapt to the future of media:

Focus on the customer experience. Consumers may not like banners and pop ups but that does not mean that they are entirely against advertising. Brands must be creative and figure out ways to engage the audience more organically, be it through influencer partners or native advertising. 

“Don't just jump right into it,” said Kyle Graham, Global Consumer Marketing, Demand Activation at  Bose. “Do the proper research. Understand who your target audience is, who you want to speak to and from there how you are going to speak to them. We know from our research that a significant number of gamers use ad blockers, so traditional advertising doesn’t necessarily work on them and that is both scary and exciting.”

Think about the lifestyle perspective. Brands should be thinking more about the big picture relationship with a customer than simply a single transaction. Once you have converted the customer, the brand should continue to offer benefits and value so that consumers keep coming back.

“One of the pros and cons of having a subscription business is that as a marketer, your job is never done,” said Valerie Zapata, Director, Subscriber Growth & Partnerships at Hulu. “Once we get them through the door, you are constantly trying to reinforce the value of the brand, the product and the experience. In essence, it’s reselling the brand experience over and over again.”

Diversify your marketing mix. As marketing channels like Twitter, TikTok, USPS and Facebook risk becoming politicized, marketers should ensure that they are not relying on one single channel to drive business forward. DTC home furnishings company Resident has a healthy marketing mix running everything from paid social to podcasts to direct mail to TV to CTV.

“We want to make sure that when a particular channel is affected by some out of the norm factor like a political election or a pandemic, that we are not hit too hard,” said Junior Reyes, Head of Marketing, YouTube, TV, Programmatic and New Channels at Resident. “For us it is about figuring out how to alter the message so that we are not caught up in the middle of the politics or the pandemic.”

Create strategic partnerships. Partners can help brands access new audiences and potential customers, building greater awareness and brand exposure while enhancing the value for consumers. “The ultimate strategic partner isn’t just serving a marketing or business purpose, but you are actually creating more value for your consumer where the sum of the two products or services is greater than just one,” Zapata said. 

For instance, Hulu partnered with Spotify for a university student bundle, a market they had not historically penetrated. The offer was valuable to these consumers as they had access to both streaming services for a bundled price. It benefitted Hulu by giving them exposure to a new audience.

Reach consumers where they are. Gaming is only increasing in popularity offering brands a great opportunity to reach consumers where they are already spending their time. The challenge is to not invade the space with annoying popups and banners. Instead brands should deliver messaging that benefits the consumers and adds value. 

Bose has found that working with athletes’ content teams is a great way to incorporate the product in a way that is native to their brand. “You have to remember that they are entertainers,” said Graham. “You are working with them for a reason.”

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