How consumers and fans engage in the e-sports space and the opportunities as well as strategies for brands to make successful investments in the category were the focus of panel titled “Exploring the E-Sports Brand, Media & Sponsorship Model” at the inaugural E-Sports Activation conference in New York on Tuesday.

Significant growth in e-sports, both financially and by the number of users, have caught door major brands’ attention. To them, putting money into e-sports is synonymous with reaching coveted millennial buyers. That demographic, who are in their early 20s to mid-30s, is more difficult to reach via traditional advertising. Much of that generation consumes most of their content outside of the linear model, making it even harder to reach them. However, this target demographic is readily available in the e-sports and gaming community, where loyalty can be the end result for the brands that exhibit the most creativity.

”I represent brands all the time and the challenge is trying out the best places to put their money,” said Dan Donnelly, executive vice president, managing director Publicis Media Sports & Entertainment, who moderated the session. “Certainly, there are a lot of brands that have already dived into e-sports, and more that are considering it right now, but I often wonder if there are any specific barriers holding off other brands from coming into the space.”

”Historically, the e-sports landscape had a lot of different players that made up different pieces of the value chain and that was somewhat intimidating and confusing for brands,” said Josh Cella, head of global partnerships at MLG, which is a division of Activision Blizzard.

“The landscape was not clear and was not necessarily what they were accustomed to. But what we are trying to do is to really clean this up and make it so that the leads are structured, and they have a beginning, a middle and an end.”

“There is more education needed on the mindset of the gamer,” said Wendy Lecot, head of strategic alliances and digital marketing innovation, HyperX. “Every community has its own characteristics and [those are] wrapped around the game. I think it can be very daunting, but knowing that mindset is going to reap a lot of rewards in every aspect of the value chain.”

The goal for Jim Ferris, managing director, CLTX Gaming at Boston Celtics, is to integrate the two worlds, virtual and real, to maximize opportunities for brands.

“We are exploring something new here, as we all are. And to engage with our existing Celtics fans in a very different way is a great opportunity for us,” he said. “We also love the idea that we know people, especially the younger demographics, are consuming media differently now. This is an opportunity for us to look to a different way to connect with the audience.”

”It might not be sitting at home watching TV the way the older generations do,” he added. “The goal is to also connect with them and bring them along.”

For Twitter and other social platforms, it’s about riding along with e-sports platforms, providing content that draws in e-sports players and gaming, and gives them forums to network and communicate with other fans and players.

”What we are trying to do is to provide good premium content that is going to be complimenting the conversation,” said Rishi Chadha, head of gaming content partnerships at Twitter. “We are also thinking about how we can do the things that push the envelope. We are thinking of new ways that we can leverage our existing tools that our partners have not thought of that the community will appreciate.”

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