A Look at the Gaming Industry’s Influencer Marketing Challenges

YouTube and Twitch sponsorships are becoming an integral part of any meaningful video-game-marketing campaign

Advertisers are moving away from interruption advertising and toward interactive means of getting their messages seen and heard. Nowhere is that trend more visible than in the growing popularity of influencer marketing.

According to Launchmetrics’ 2017 State of Influencer Marketing Report, 62 percent of the marketing, public relations and communications professionals queried said their companies launched at least one influencer marketing campaign in 2016. Over the past two years, influencer marketing has steadily grown in popularity and has just closed the gap with video advertising.

Comparing “influencer marketing” and “video advertising” on Google Trends illustrates the steady increase in popularity of influencer marketing. Note (see above) that the gap is now closed.

This is especially true for the gaming industry. YouTube and Twitch sponsorships are becoming an integral part of any meaningful video-game-marketing campaign due to a massive following by engaged audiences. And this is why: 90 percent of gamers turn to YouTube at least weekly for a gaming advice, while 64 percent of gamers download games after seeing them on YouTube.

We recently spoke with marketing experts from leading game publishers and independent studios to identify the top challenges they face with influencer marketing on YouTube. You’ll find value in their experiences, even if the vertical you serve isn’t the gaming industry. Let’s get started:

How can you find the right influencers?

Although YouTube influencer marketing has significantly matured since its early days, there’s still a long way to go for its full automation and optimization. With the ever-growing number of YouTube channels and limited targeting options provided by the platform, finding the right talent can be difficult.

InsomniacGames chief brand manager Ryan Schneider said:

There’s a lot of leg work that goes into finding the right influencer; the information isn’t readily available. If I were a PR person, and I was trying to find the right reporter at The Wall Street Journal, I could do that … probably within one Google search or two mouse clicks. Targeting the right influencers can be a lot more complex.

There are third-party tools available to assist with talent selection, but they’re rather generic. When promoting a video game, publishers are looking for the most relevant niche audiences. Finding an influencer for a specific game platform, genre or theme can make you feel like the farmer tasked with finding a needle in a haystack.

Along with the channel’s relevance, publishers need to evaluate its historical performance and conversion metrics. Given the lack of available data, that, too, is problematic.

Here’s one example of a creative way to analyze campaign results, from NCSoft public relations and influencer marketing manager Eleni Sagredos:

We look at the previously sponsored videos by that influencer and, if there are any bit.ly links in the description, look to see how many clicks they’ve received. You can put a bit.ly link into the Google search bar, add a plus sign at the end of the link and it will tell you how many people have clicked on that link.

How can you engage and recruit the right influencers?

Gaming influencers often play hard-to-get. As their popularity increases, there’s no easy way for publishers to get noticed within the barrage of opportunities popular gamers receive. Schneider said:

Influencers don’t necessarily make it easy for us to reach them. Maybe they offer an email address you find through either a general web search or through the platform, but they may not be checking that address often. Even if you find the right person, getting to speak with them and having a productive conversation is still not a given.

Another challenge with YouTube influencers engagement is the cutthroat pricing competition for popular talent. With the lack of transparency in pricing and no guarantee of a successful outcome, it’s often impossible for a marketer to justify those eye-watering budgets.