Livewire Co-founder and CEO Brad Manuel has been passionate about games his entire life. As a child, he played sports and video games in his free time, and as an adult, he found a way to make games a part of his career. Though he focused on sports for a spell, working as a business development manager for the Adelaide Football Club, he turned his attention to video games and the gaming influencer world.
“I found there was so much opportunity in gaming and the ability to really look at things in a different way and drive forward changes.”
After leading MMG as the Chief Commercial Officer (CCO) and founding Livewire Sports, Brad co-founded Livewire, which has its finger on the pulse of marketing in the gaming industry.
“We describe ourselves as a gametech and gaming marketing company. Gametech refers to any kind of technology that wraps around gaming, supports gaming builds, [and] builds marketing capability in gaming.”
How Livewire Does Marketing in the Gaming Industry
Livewire works with major brands who want to talk to the gaming audience through a myriad of marketing channels, driving revenue by promoting their brands in the gaming industry. The focus is on creating a gaming strategy that will work for each brand and the executing concepts to the audience. Sometimes that means the brand teams up with gaming influencers, esports teams, or even game publishers. But Livewire isn’t just helpful to brands in the short term — they also focus on long-term marketing strategies in the gaming world, even for brands that are not already a part of the gaming industry, as Brad shared.
“[Our] company’s vision is to be a leading company globally in gametech and gaming marketing. We want to drive forward and evolve these fields, especially non-endemic brands — so brands, you know, aren’t from the gaming sphere — work with gaming influencers [and] creators, but more so like understanding the gaming space.”
With 3 billion gamers worldwide, there’s clearly a huge market for brands to tap into. So, it makes sense for Livewire to take the initiative to examine and create different gaming outlets to help their clients make the most effective marketing decisions.
“We really position ourselves across all the gaming verticals and so we can be agnostic and advise brands on what the best strategy is. And then we execute it for them and with them across all of gaming.”
Why Brands Need to Focus on Gaming Marketing
Brad explained how significant the gaming audience is in clear terms: While older generations may have grown up worshipping movie stars and musicians, Generation Z idolizes streamers, esports stars and gaming work opportunities.
“The modern day generation grew up following esports stars. Whether it’s Faker in League of Legends, Shroud or content creators like MrBeast or others. The thing that’s really interesting is I don’t think brands quite yet understand the power of the gaming influencer.”
As Brad said, YouTuber MrBeast is an excellent example of a popular influencer in the digital space who commands tremendous influence. In October 2019, he launched #TeamTrees, a campaign designed to raise money in order to plant trees around the world, as The Verge reported. MrBeast hit his $20 million goal, the number a reflection of his then-new 20 million subscriber status, in two months. Obviously, his followers pay attention to what he promotes.
So, how can brands market their products or services to audiences like MrBeast’s?
“There’s basic obvious things like you can put in 30 to 60 second videos at the start of people’s YouTube videos to sell products. live streaming platform integrations, where you can run ads and also utilise links out of them through chat functions.”
What Makes Gaming Marketing Different Than Other Types of Marketing
Brad explained that gaming audiences are unique. While no audiences want an ad that feels awkward or overly staged, gamers, in particular, know what feels true to the gaming industry and, perhaps more importantly, what doesn’t. And they want something authentic and entertaining.
“They know good marketing and they know bad marketing. And I think the difference of the gaming audience, and we’ve seen this is, when brands enter wrong, the gaming audience will write on Reddit and Twitter and like @ tag them and respond to them and let them know that they’re not doing a good job. So I think marketing inside the gaming ecosystem requires you to be aware of the culture, subcultures, language and the norms.“
Brad Manuel on The Possibilities of Gaming Marketing
Through Livewire, brands can place integrated advertising in the universes of certain games across mobile, PC and console platforms. Think virtual in-game billboards with a real-life company’s products on display, instead of out of home marketing, as Brad explained. Brands can advertise to audiences during gamers’ streams or during breaks between games or matches on platforms like YouTube Gaming, Facebook Gaming or Twitch, as well as through product links in descriptions or chats and banner ads. And, of course, brands can partner with gaming influencers to promote their products or services on social media platforms like Instagram and Twitter.
Gaming influencers can have huge audiences, as apparel company Gymshark, for instance, now knows. YouTuber and gamer Corpse Husband’s fans helped him secure the most-liked comment on a Gymshark tweet that promised billboard space for the top performing response, as noted by Dextero. This earned him a billboard in Times Square promoting one of his songs.
“I think the really beautiful part for gaming creators is the engaged omnichannel opportunity to talk to fans on behalf of brands. This is a great approach instead of just doing separate Facebook, Instagram buyer or Twitter campaigns, you can actually reach a lot of different parts of the gaming audience, just with one creator or one set of creators.”
And while people may presume that technology brands are ideal for partnerships with gamers and game publishers — and they certainly are — a number of other industries are getting in on gaming marketing, including the fast food, automobile, and fashion industries, as well as colleges.
“The next generation loves gaming. So, if brands are trying to talk to that audience, they should be talking to them through their passion point of gaming.”
Still, brands have to find the right influencers for the job, as many will only collaborate with companies they believe are in line with their audience’s interests.
“The influencers, and particularly the bigger they get, definitely are very conscious of … what brands they want to work with. And they’re more than happy to say no.”
Livewire’s Major Marketing Campaigns
After the world went into lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic, people largely stopped attending sporting events, self-quarantining in their homes instead of gathering in arenas. So, in an effort to bring sports into people’s homes and to get audiences talking about sports again, the Australian Football League (AFL) worked with Livewire to plan a virtual event, collaborating with Epic Games’ Fortnite, sports stars, and gaming influencers. Brad shared that they pitted major gamers against professional athletes like AFL stars in a Fortnite tournament. There was even a $100,000 prize that would go to charity!
“There was a whole buildup to featuring the content of influencers talking about what they’re going to be doing and raising awareness for the event and then what it would look like. And then on the day of the event, everybody was obviously sharing on their socials, to swipe up here to follow the link.”
While the tournament was around four hours long, the promotion for the event and the PR and engagement lasted around three months.
What the Future of Gaming Marketing Looks Like
Brad expects the gaming marketing industry to expand going forward and believes that in-game advertising may even become crucial to gaming platforms.
“In the future it makes sense that games will mostly become free to play, which means they’ll be mostly monetized through advertising, opening up a new range of opportunities for influencers to have the ability to market and talk to people.”
With technology like augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) continuing to grow, and influencers continuing to adapt to these technologies, the opportunities of gaming marketing in the future are seemingly endless.