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Forbes India – IPL, Dream11: Gaming and Esports Brands Addicted to Ads


According to expert projections, the industry’s advertising spending (esports and gaming) is expected to reach more than Rs.1,000 billion in 2021. Image: Shutterstock


Gaming and esports platforms are emerging as big advertisers as they focus not only on customer acquisition but also on spreading awareness of mobile gaming and esports in India.

Brands like Junglee Rummy, Ace2three, NODWIN Gaming by Nazara Technologies and many others spend more than 80 percent of their marketing budget on advertising to generate excitement and get more people on board their platforms.

“The net investment in the gaming category alone in 2020 exceeded the total for 2016-2021,” said Shrenik Gandhi, co-founder and CEO of White Rivers Media. The agency works with India’s largest gaming platform Dream11, which is also the first Indian gaming company to become a unicorn.

Gandhi notes that another group of investors are willing to put money into the category: “Leading players in esports and gaming invest heavily in marketing and product research and development, while the smaller and medium-sized players are marketing solutions with a higher ROI in their category explore. “

Bringing TikTok super influencers into play
Brands like Dream11 that have advertised on television are also investing heavily in content creation. While celebrities such as cricketers Rohit Sharma, MS Dhoni, Shikhar Dhawan, Hardik Pandya and Shreyas Iyer are already promoting their offers on the platform, they recently brought the international social media sensation Khaby Lame on board.

Lame, the Senegalese TikToker who lives in Italy, is famous for his short, wordless comedy videos that point out how people unreasonably complicate simple tasks. The partnership with Dream11 is Lame’s first alliance with an Indian brand.

Dream11 got Lame to accelerate the fantasy sports platform’s IPL 2021 campaign # Dream11PeDimaagLagaNa during the second phase of the 14th division.

With big names comes big expenses
According to expert forecasts, the industry’s advertising spending (esports and gaming) is expected to reach more than 1,000 billion rupees in 2021.

“60-65 percent of our balance sheet goes into marketing expenses and marketing for us at the moment is nothing more than advertising. The content is designed to help us with both customer acquisition and brand building, ”says Deepak Gullapalli, founder and CEO of Head Digital Works (Ace2three).

In 2019, Ace2three spent nearly Rs 150 core on digital advertising, which is nearly 100 percent of its annual marketing budget, and advertising spending has only grown since then. Most of it is aimed at digital marketing, because that’s where the platforms have their offer. Esports and gaming enthusiasts between the ages of 18 and 40 spend their time here. These companies are now leveraging social media, streaming platforms, and in-stream ads, and partnering with influencers to create exclusive campaigns.

“75 percent of our advertising spend goes into proven digital offerings, including social media marketing, influencer marketing, and outreach programs, and the remaining 25 percent is blocked to experimental and traditional media,” says Akshay Paul, CMO and co-founder of Penta Esports, of 2021 founded eSports arm of Newgen Gaming.

“Experimental media,” says Paul, “include OTT platforms, music apps, or other new age offerings in which we have a young audience.”

Bindu Balakrishnan, Country Head India at DCMN, a digital media strategy and planning agency that works with gaming publishers in India and other global markets, told Storyboard, “Digital advertising spending will grow 200-300 percent next year – since the Indian The willingness of the players to spend has increased by 400 to 500 percent. “

What’s next for the pandemic exacerbated category
Online gaming and esports, like Edtech, got a huge boost when the world plunged into crisis and people were locked in their homes in sealed-off cities. They wanted comfort and entertainment in everything from gardening to play. Although esports and gaming are rapidly growing categories, the pandemic combined with an aggressive marketing spurt accelerated growth.

An EY-FICCI report dated June 2021, titled Esports in India, said the industry is expected to grow at a CAGR of 46 percent, more than quadrupling from Rs 2.5 billion in 2021 to Rs 11 billion by 2025 with the prize pool expected to reach one billion rupees by 2025.

The report also states that over Rs 600 million in ancillary income will be generated between FY 2021 and FY 2025.

It’s also largely a volume game. According to reports, India has the second largest online gaming base in the world after China. EY reports that India has 150,000 professional gamers generating 17 million viewers across 14 broadcast platforms. By the 2025 financial year, the number is expected to grow to 1.5 million professional players, 85 million viewers and over 20 channels.

Level up: Bring more players into the game
Of course, esports brands are ready to add to that number by onboarding lots of new users. The easiest way to do this is to invest in strategic marketing.

Nazara Technologies’ NODWIN Gaming, for example, is investing strategically in digital media. They are connected to the gaming community through Discord, a VoIP, instant messaging and digital distribution platform.

“We have a widespread contract with MTV – NODWIN streams an average of four hours of esports content on MTV every week. We use this platform to promote everything we do as it mainly has a young, digitally driven audience that is our main target group, ”says Sidharth Kedia, CEO of NODWIN Gaming.

In addition to these media, they also use several media carriers such as print, radio or digital space, depending on their needs and scope, to advertise a specific event or IP.

Recently, NODWIN Gaming announced a partnership with theatrical exhibition company PVR Limited. This will be India’s first in-cinema esports live tournament experience.

In addition to regular advertisements for their events, they also create content on challenges and other topics in the industry. Towards the end of 2020, the company put together a documentary series on esports events at a time when the world was standing still. The series was mostly about the company’s journey through lockdown.

“We want to set the bar for esports in India and we want everyone to know how we do it,” added Kedia.

While NODWIN did not disclose its advertising spend, the company said the spend increased in proportion to the company’s growth.

Poker face: Brands have to play it safe when advertising
While creating the “real buzz” is high on the agenda for esports brands, the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) has introduced guidelines to make real money gaming advertising safe and responsible.

In December 2020, the government asked all private television broadcasters to follow the ASCI guidelines on online gaming and fantasy sports. The policy requires all of these ads to include a mandatory warning message that says, “This game involves financial risk and can be addictive. Please play responsibly and at your own risk ”. The disclaimer according to the guidelines should also take up at least 20 percent of the advertising space.

The guidelines also state that game advertisements must not portray or imply that users under the age of 18 are involved in “online gambling for real money” or that such users can play those games.

The advertisements are not expected to suggest that online gaming is an income generation opportunity as an alternative to employment, nor is any person playing such games expected to be more successful than others.

The online gaming industry is definitely booming in India. It’ll be interesting to see where it – and advertising money – go from here.


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