12 million in esports audience: ESforce and Nielsen held a joint conference “Esports marketing as is”

A joint conference of ESforce esports holding and Nielsen analytics company took place in Moscow. The event aimed to present Nielsen’s data on esports projects' effectiveness for brands, as well as new cases by international and Russian companies on esports territory. ESforce and Nielsen representatives were joined by invited speakers from major Russian companies with esports-related experience.

Among the speakers presented: Nikolay Petrosyan, ESforce media director and head of; Michael Heina, Head of Esports Europe at Nielsen Sports; Pavel Medvedev, ESforce business development manager; Ekaterina Goncharova, Head of MegaFon Internet Marketing, and Natalia Kulikova, Lead Brand Manager of “Goryachaya Shtuchka” trademark of ABI Product.

ESforce speakers highlighted product ecosystem that develops the esports holding. “In the last few years, ESforce was able to build a whole esports ecosystem in Russia. We hold EPICENTER series international tournaments, we have a leading broadcast studio RuHub, the largest news portal with three million unique visitors per month, famous and victorious club, as well as other strong industry partners,” — shared Nikolay Petrosyan.

He went on to reveal plans for the future: “Our esports broadcasting studio RuHub has been and will be the leader in the total volume of purchased and streamed content. Even at this moment, we are negotiating the purchase of rights for the upcoming 2020 tournaments highly anticipated by Russian audience. We also expect new victories from our stars in We have just finished all work for the first transfer of a top-tier Russian esports athlete from a popular discipline to a leading international team. With that, we have saved the team’s backbone, and are now recruiting the best player to fill the lineup. I am sure that both fans and sponsors will not be disappointed.”

In esports, the ROSI coefficient (Return of Sponsorship Investment — a complex sponsorship investment benchmark that includes multiple types of sponsorship rights) amounts to 1:3 on average. However, there is a case where a sponsorship integration reached a significantly higher investment return — 1:52.

According to Michael Heina, esports audience is loyal to sponsoring brands, but is harder to communicate with via traditional media channels. With that in mind, it is paramount for brands to “speak the audience’s language” to stay in touch with more than 12 million people in Russian esports community, which requires out-of-box integrations to realize that potential.

Ekaterina Goncharova from MegaFon and Natalia Kulikova of ABI Product shared their brands’ practice of esports investing. Ekaterina Goncharova highlighted that esports projects by the telecom operator helped to increase its standing among the youth audience by creating an association with the esports scene. Natalia Kulikova responded to the question “to play or not to play” by saying that even though, undoubtedly, much is still uncharted in the industry, it’s clear the game is certainly “worth the effort”. “Goryachaya Shtuchka” brand integration into various forms of esports and gaming activities throughout 2018-2019 resulted in growth of brand awareness, and increase of brand loyalty among its target audience.

Natalia Kulikova, ABI Product Lead Brand Manager shared:

“In the last couple of years, our media space (both professional and public) has been completely overwhelmed by a staggering amount of esports activations. Currently, we asses esports as one of the new interests of our audience on the same level as music, cinema, humor, and sports. However, there’s one important difference: esports was created in a digitized environment as opposed to being transferred here from a physical medium. Therefore, esports activations require an even higher sense of assimilation with digital technologies, and even more attention to transparent communications with the consumers in terms of planning and evaluation. This approach dramatically increases the return ratio of such investments.”