The Evolution of Gaming Industry Growth from Influencers and Affiliates

With the rise of influencer and affiliate marketing in recent times, we wanted to dive deeper into its potential impact and opportunities, so we gathered five industry experts to talk about its evolution. Here, we highlight a few key takeaways from this roundtable event for gaming brands to consider for their marketing strategy.
Ashley Carrow
March 29, 2023

One of the things I love most about being at Everflow is our unique vantage point. We work so closely with businesses across vastly different verticals, yet all solving for the same core challenge: How to track their marketing efforts to see what is really driving results. 

With the rise of influencer and affiliate marketing in recent times, we wanted to dive deeper into its potential impact and opportunities.

We rallied five experts to talk about the evolution of the gaming industry as it relates to influencers and affiliates. Trent Knox, Founder & CEO of Esports Business Network (EBN), led a dynamic discussion spanning a wide range of relevant topics between: James Creech, Co-Founder & CEO of Paladin, Vincent Frechette, Head of Network Operations at PWNGames, Daron Melkonian, Head of Celebrity & Strategic Affiliate Partnerships at Skillz, and Evan Heby, Senior Manager Partner & Industry Marketing at Tipalti. 

Here are a few key takeaways for gaming brands to consider for their marketing strategy:

Offer Something Magical.

Having built a successful influencer marketing software company Paladin Software, James Creech really knows what it takes to help brands and agencies run more effective campaigns.

When the brand and the influencer can come together to create something that neither could create on their own is when James says the real magic happens: when the brand is bringing more than just money, and the influencer is bringing more than just followers.

A little intention goes a long way when it comes to an influencer marketing strategy, especially as the space becomes more and more saturated. Successful campaigns are typically sprinkled with memorable content, maybe educational or inspirational, that perhaps even adds value to fans’ lives. There is a unique opportunity for brands and influencers to work closely on creating something unique and strategize toward longer term initiatives, while really delighting their audiences along the way.

All Industries Benefit From Influencers

At Tipalti, they are also interested in genuine collaborations with influencers that offer real authenticity. B2B brands like Tipalti can leverage opportunities for influencers to expand their audience. For example, inviting them to attend or present at large industry events or other outlets in which their voice can be heard. Furthermore, these opportunities provide a unique opportunity for influencers to weave your brand’s message into their own. Concepts like these may be difficult to measure in terms of ROI, however timely upticks in traffic volume, engagement, and more specifically with SEO results are ample validation.

“Once we get the right people to start talking about Tipalti and gaming in the same breath, then we start to see an uptick of natural searches of keywords that we've been bidding on for a long time.” – Evan Heby, Senior Manager Partner & Industry Marketing at Tipalti

In the gaming space, it’s important to have built some foundation to speak from with a level of expertise in order to build an authentic feedback loop. Evan cited that at Tipalti they focus on expanding their presence in the gaming space alongside their gaming clients who are doing the same. Most influencers want to partner with companies that are relevant to their industry and reflect their values.

Be format-flexible. 

From the early days of blogging to the introduction of social media, formats of many kinds have had their 15 minutes of fame. From basic text to livestreams, there are myriad formats with a few star players that seem to dominate popular trends for a period of time. We had a moment with the short form fleeting story feature by way of several different platforms including Snapchat and Instagram. Now, we’re really digging the short form looping video, thanks to TikTok and IG Reels.

“We've gradually seen the evolution from basic text to images to carousels to video to livestreams, so we have a rich universe of possible formats today, all of which are popular to varying degrees.” - James Creech, Co-Founder & CEO of Paladin

Brands in the gaming space really need to consider the format their audiences engage with. There are so many options for short form content appealing to an esports audience: audio clips, video snippets, or even a well-designed site or app. Keep in mind who you’re trying to reach and how they typically engage with content online.

Evan reminded us of a great example when the fashion industry intersected with gaming, when designers like Louis Vuitton and Gucci started developing “skins” for gamers. Lo and behold, gamers started wanting to dress like the characters they were playing in their games, and voilà, a new niche market was born. The novel advertising format opened up new opportunities for introducing fashion influencers as a part of the marketing strategy for gaming brands.

It’s not all about the Benjamins, baby.

With 2.7B+ mobile gamers out there, the influencing power is vast. Many companies are embracing opportunities to implement a “give back” component to their marketing programs. Daron Melkonian, Head of Celebrity & Strategic Affiliate Partnerships at Skillz, indulged us briefly about how they’re kicking off their NFL partnership with a developer challenge, in which small shop devs compete to create a game for the NFL. The winner gets to use the NFL marks and logo, obviously providing quite a boost to their digital portfolio. 

Fostering community is a great tactic used by influencers, but gaming brands should also take note and help connect these like minds. Skillz brings players into the game in a very personal, yet community-based way: encouraging users to share scores, invite others to join or oppose them, and even watch replays of others’ matches. Rather than thinking about gaming as an activity for “loners,” brands have the opportunity to shift the general perspective to one that’s rooted in connection.

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