- Activision Blizzard is using a cloud-based artificial intelligence technology to embed native advertising into esports videos. The video game giant is using technology developed by startup 4D Sight, whose content monetization platform integrates non-intrusive ads into livestreamed and pre-recorded sports and esports video programming, per a press release.
- Activision is using the technology for its Call of Duty League, a global esports group with 12 professional teams from cities in the U.S. and Europe, whose playoffs started on Aug. 18 and end on Aug. 23. Viewers can watch the playoffs on the league's channel on YouTube Gaming, the video-sharing platform's section dedicated to video games and livestreaming of gaming sessions.
- Forty-one percent of gamers who watch esports have bought something from a company after seeing the brand sponsor a game, streamer or gaming event, Reach3 Insights found in a study. An equal percentage of respondents had a better impression of a brand or company as a result of an sponsoring an esports event, the study of 311 gamers found.
Activision Blizzard's ad insertions in livestreams of its Call of Duty League likely will help the gaming giant to monetize that content with paid advertising. For 4D Sight, the esports event is a chance to showcase its technology. More than 140 esports teams use its platform in livestreams, while the traditional sports teams like the Washington Football Team are using 4D Sight's technology to boost their ad capacity. 4D Sight's technology is designed to identify exciting moments in gameplay based on body movements, and know when and where to place ads into the video, per 4D's announcement.
4D Sight claims its technology has several advantages that help content developers to monetize their viewership. Its platform resists ad blockers by encoding inserts into the video, also helping to prevent fraudulent activity that charges marketers for ads that may not have been seen by audiences. 4D Sight's platform also has contextual awareness to tag key moments to reach audience segments like Generation Z, which tends to prefer watching highlight reels instead of full games, according to 4D Sights. Brand safety controls help to prevent the transmission of objectionable content like profane language in livestreams, and marketers can monitor viewer sentiment with an analysis of conversations in chatboxes that accompany livestreams.
4D Sight's rollout of its platform comes as the global ad spending on esports increases 10% to $844 million this year, putting it on track to surpass $1 billion by 2022, per a forecast by researcher WARC. Esports sponsorships can lead to positive business outcomes for marketers, with gamers showing a high likelihood of favoring brands that advertise in esports events.
More than two out of five gamers who responded to Reach3 Inisghts' survey said they had looked up an advertiser after being exposed to an esports sponsorship. Only 12% of gamers said they had a worse impression of a brand, and an equal percentage said they had a more negative opinion about a game, streamer or event after seeing an ad. The generally favorable view of esports sponsors may indicate that the events haven't reached a saturation point that's off-putting to viewers, per Reach3.