Next up on Nielsen’s “need to measure” list: e-sports and video games, which are growing rapidly but aren’t necessarily yet being measured accurately for the purpose of advertising. That was the featured topic at a panel at the E-Sports Activate Conference in New York City on Tuesday titled “The Power of Data.”
“We are really trying to grow the e-sports space rapidly, while specifically looking at data as it relates to sponsorships and the fans,” opened moderator Nicole Pike, managing director of e-sports, Nielsen. “We are working to build data sets to help our clients active in e-sports, while giving those looking to get into it a better understanding of how to use data as a foundation.”
Featured alongside Nicole Pike was Manuel Neto, senior vice president, senior director of marketing science at Hearts & Science; Jon Gosier, CEO and founder, Southbox.io; Shi Deng, co-founder of MetaScouter; and Noah Kolodny, Octagon, VP, insights and strategy.
Like the current digital landscape, where any available audience data is rarely released and is generally a non-factor in the evolution of streaming platforms, the origins of e-sports and gaming is also rooted in an initial lack of concern about any metrics.
“I think that e-sports started on the brand side. Everyone wanted to get in because if was new and different,” said Octagon’s Kolodny. “Data wasn’t that important because you knew you were reaching a 30-something millennial male, affluent and well-educated. And we also saw we were reaching someone who was very different from a sports viewer, who traditionally was about age 53. So we knew we had to be there, and many clients jumped in.”
“Then the money started changing hands,” he continued. “We started seeing Twitch spend $45 million a year, among other platforms. With money comes the responsibility to justify your investment.”
Kolodny also cites the challenge of having to explain to media buyers why having a presence in e-sports will move product without data to support the claim.
”At the time, we were missing the extra information we needed to provide to clients,” said MetaScounter’s Deng. “So having clean data, and segmented data, and topical data to target this audience much more efficiently became extremely instrumental for us and the clients that we represented.”
”Basically the entire landscape of e-sports is being formed right now. And because it is all new and partnerships and ways of doing business are being formed, there is an opportunity to leapfrog the way other industries use data,” added Southbox’s Gosier. “In traditional sports, it took a long time for data to find its way into everyday usage. And now e-sports has an opportunity to start with data as a foundation.”
Data, of course, comes in all shapes and sizes, and the first layer for clients, according to Kolodny, is the size of the industry, what brands are in the industry, and what countries are playing games and watching e-sports.
“These are the basics that we can basically answer through SuperData, Newzoo, Nielsen — all great sources as a foundation,” he said. “Where it gets more complex is the individual viewer data — being able to look across platforms. Data for most of the key streaming platforms provides us with current views, peak views and unique views. But what we as an agency want to give to our clients is the ability to look demographically to understand the difference in ages and household incomes for the different gamers.”
”Those are the questions we are struggling to get answered that I think are important going forward,” he added.
“At Nielsen, the bread and butter of our products is obviously the TV ratings,” said Pike. “That is something we are looking at and working on for e-sports. We want to be able to give the equivalent of a TV rating to any e-sports event, with a focus on media buys and sponsorships. That is a priority for us.”