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Why gaming firms are going big on IPL?

Industry experts say increased ad spends will help gaming companies achieve substantial growth this season of IPL

e4m by Shantanu David
Published: May 11, 2022 11:48 AM  | 5 min read
Gaming

Brands across sectors and categories have made sure that they do not miss being part of the IPL bandwagon, given the eyeballs the tournament gets. However, this comes with premium prices for advertising slots and sponsorships.

A chat with industry experts on the viability of this association reveals that those expecting the most ROI on their associations and campaigns are gaming companies, fantasy sports platforms, game hardware brands, and mobile gaming companies that dominate the mobile-first Indian market.

According to Ramsai Panchapakesan, Senior Vice President & National Head - Integrated Media Buying at Zenith - The ROI Agency, while gaming companies, especially esports brands and platforms, like to associate with any major sporting event, the IPL is like no other. “In India, the population of smartphone users is still growing rapidly, especially in semi-rural and far flung areas. Gaming brands have realized that for last-mile messaging, especially with potential customers who may not be completely adept at navigating discovery platforms on the internet just yet, more traditional media is key. IPL is all over TV, radio, and every other form of media, and the vast majority of Indians are engaged with it. Investing in associating with the team franchises and broadcasting channels is the most sure-fire way of getting your brand in front and center of audience attention.”

Amit Bhardwaj, Founder & CMO, Fantasy Akhada, agrees with the sentiment. This is the first year that Fantasy Akhada has done TVCs for their campaign #KhelTumharaAkhadaHumara. The company has also significantly increased its spending on digital marketing, and is seeing much better conversions thanks to the multi-media campaign.

“As per our plans, we are targeting 100% growth on the back of this IPL; and thanks to our ad spends during the league, we are on track to achieve the same. This growth will be both in terms of user acquisition and also increased spends on the app by existing users,” says Bhardwaj. “In Fantasy Sports, users tend to spread their spending across different platforms. The campaign has helped us increase the share of wallet towards Fantasy Akhada for our users. We can safely say that the campaign is about getting a good mix of increased user base and higher engagement by existing users.”

Dream11, My11Circle, Mobile Players League, and WinZO are other gaming platforms and associations which are among principal sponsors this season. Social gaming platform WinZO is one of the bigger advertisers during this season of the IPL, having onboarded Mahendra Singh Dhoni as their brand ambassador, apart from becoming the Principal Sponsors of Kolkata Knight Riders.

Speaking to e4m, a spokesperson for WinZO said, “With this season’s IPL campaign, we have increased our brand spending by multiple folds, and we understand this is required to build WinZO as a much-trusted household brand in the country as we are a microtransaction-based platform. As many as 550 million people watch and follow the Indian Premier League, and are expecting the league to boost our user acquisition as well. We are recording over 5 lac installs per day.  Our user base as of date stands at 80+ Million, by the end of this season we are expecting the same to hit 100+ million users, thereby resulting in a 25% increase.”

And while IPL may be king of the hill when it comes to marquee events, it’s far from alone, with gaming companies looking to a multitude of different sports across India, across seasons. So, IPL may not be the only game in town but it certainly is the biggest.

Bhardwaj explains, “Due to the nature of business, IPL is, by a significant margin, the biggest platform for marketing in the Fantasy Sports space. While major ICC tournaments like the T20 World Cup come close in terms of the engagement – the ROI on advertising and marketing is the highest during the IPL. Brands, however, need to be wary of the clutter in the space during the league and thus need to think of ideas that stand out from the clutter – something that we tried to do with our campaign.”

Mitesh Kothari, Co-founder and CCO, White Rivers Media points out that, in campaigns by gaming companies, ROIs vary and depend on the timing and duration of the campaigns. He says acquisition campaigns to be working well right before or at the beginning of the season, and the remarketing or revenue-generating campaigns during mid-season.

“Platforms like MPL and My11Circle have achieved 100% more installs and players by tapping the IPL rush. Through our targeted regional marketing campaigns and strategies with the fantasy league platform Dream11, the brand surpassed 100 million registered users during the season," he notes.

And it’s not just cricket that has gamers and gaming companies hooked. Panchapakesan points out that thanks to the diverse geographies and cultures mobile gaming transcends across the country, a growing user base has more diverse interests, with international games like football and car racing tournaments as well as more domestic sports seeing a lot of traction.

WinZO, for instance, was the Principal Sponsor for two teams in the Pro-Kabaddi League and Associate Sponsor for one. In terms of numbers, PKL is not far away from the IPL. As per reports, approximately 450 million Indians follow the league.

Their spokesperson concludes, “This collaboration is also close to our hearts at WinZO as we truly believe in Bharat and Kabaddi being a sport that India has championed for decades, making this collaboration natural. When it comes to other holidays, we do not think they can be compared to international leagues like the PKL and IPL which are spread out over two-three months depending on the schedule.”   

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