Boom time: part two

22 February 2019

In the second part of his feature on how affiliates can best tap into the exploding esports market, Nick Pateman looks at market developments, generating value from engagements, data, content, hiiring and where to start

Market developments
Something unique to esports is the market’s rate of change. Whether it’s the replacement of a team’s entire roster, a dramatic change to a game’s mechanics or the launch of a new title, it’s hard to keep pace with all that’s going on. But keeping up with market trends and changes can prove useful for driving engagement.

For example, spotting a potential new esports title early can give a brand time to position themselves for its impending launch. Valve’s announcement of its new card trading game Artifact back in 2017 led a few affiliates to speculate on the game’s potential as a new esport. A year later Valve announced the launch of a $1m tournament to take place at the start of 2019, dramatically increasing the likelihood that this title will make its way to the bookies.

Generating value from esports engagement
Too many affiliates spend too little time focused on offering real value and instead opt for quicker wins that typically do not correlate with long-term organic growth. Any brand looking to generate meaningful revenues from organic channels must think carefully about how they plan to engage their esports traffic, ultimately with a goal of generating links and brand citations.

Esports data
The esports market is awash with data and, unlike in the traditional sports market, much of it is open to the public for free. For that reason, any content strategy in this space should seriously consider how data can be used to enrich new or existing ideas, whether it’s for a one-off marketing campaign or as the fundamental framework for a website’s content plan.

In the case of SickOdds, our focus has always been in the use of match-odds data to enhance the user experience and ultimately drive more traffic and more conversions. But odds data not only allows us to draw up comparisons, it enriches our match previews, betting tips, news articles and social posts. Data can also be used to establish trust among visitors: being able to provide Fnatic’s win rate on Dust2 vs NiP, for example, would be a hugely valuable insight to any prospective bettor and adds a vast amount of credibility to the brand.

The sports affiliate market is awash with competitors and in the years to come the esports space will be no different. The use of well-executed data is one of the most cost-effective ways to elevate your brand above the noise and to establish a level of trust that will be a boon to SEO, social and commercial endeavours over the long term.

Building content
In order to scale up the quantity and quality of content on a website, the brand needs to have a team of writers who know their topic inside out. Creating an engaging brand that appeals to the swathe of young and passionate esports writers in the industry is essential for the hiring process. Esports writers will typically be players themselves and they’ll want to work with brands who share the same level of passion. At SickOdds, we have built a team of writers who believe in our mission and share the same love for competitive gaming.

Hiring in esports
The enthusiasm shown by young esports fans is unlike any other market. Writers and amateur journalists are available by the hundreds and are capable of writing on a wide range of topics, from match previews to technical game mechanics, with a deep level of understanding. Those looking to break into this type of freelance work aren’t heading to the traditional job outlets but instead to esports-focused job listing sites such as Hitmarker and Rekt Jobs.

From our experience, these writers have a deeper knowledge about esports and the competitive scene than writers from more traditional platforms. As an esports brand, whether you’re looking for social media content, landing pages, match tips or previews, these writers can deliver. Hiring freelancers across a range of esports titles can have all bases covered in no time.

Where to start in esports
If you don’t already have a natural passion for competitive gaming then the first step would be to try and find one. Esports have pulled in hundreds of millions of players, many of whom were not necessarily gamers before, and if you’ve read this far then you may well have an affinity to the sector that you didn’t know you had. 

On the other hand, if esports still isn’t your thing, then it is essential that whoever leads your project is neck-deep in the scene and is hiring like-minded team members. Then, with a team in place ready to make waves in the world of esports, consider what opportunities there are to enrich your content strategy through esports data – and scout out partnerships that could prove useful in engaging this exciting new fanbase.

Nick Pateman co-founded an SEO consultancy in 2010, leaving six years later to build an affiliate network that now generates over half a million unique users each month through content marketing and SEO. Nick also has a keen interest in emerging markets and successfully developed one of the most popular web apps for the cryptocurrency Ethereum in 2016. He co-founded esports betting platform SickOdds.com in the same year.