Audience insight: Esports fans and out-of-home advertising

Hoang NguyenData Journalist
May 28, 2021, 4:43 PM UTC
There’s growing optimism in the United States and United Kingdom that life is returning to normal. In late May, 58% of Americans believe the worst of the pandemic is behind us – a jump of ten points in what they said from Economist/YouGov polling conducted earlier in the month and currently the highest level we’ve seen since the question was first asked a year ago.

Similarly, consumer confidence continues to rise in the UK reaches its highest rate in almost five years, according to the latest analysis from YouGov and the Centre for Economics and Business research (Cebr). Vaccine rollouts in both the US and UK have led to the inoculation of half of adult populations in each country, spurring greater interest and consideration for activities away from home. The return to normal will likely also see a rebound in advertising spend and out-of-home (OOH) advertising is poised as one of the media channels to benefit most from the recovery.

YouGov looked at OOH advertising – from the mediums people tend to notice outdoors to how consumers interact with these types of ads after seeing them – to find one audience segment proves especially receptive to OOH media: avid esports fans.  
 
Our research shows esports fans in the US (58% vs. 51% of US adults) and Great Britain (50% vs. 43% of GB adults) tend to distrust TV ads, leaving brands and publishers to explore other advertising possibilities.  
 
Brands looking to drive awareness in esports sponsorships or engage with esports fans (ie. young and engaged consumers) may find it effective to add outdoor media to their marketing strategy. YouGov’s audience research reveals that avid esports fans not only tend to notice and pay attention to OOH advertising at a higher rate than consumers overall, they are also more likely to take action on advertisements and talk about a brand after seeing an ad outdoors.  
 
Attention to OOH advertising 

 
As consumer appetite for outdoor experiences and out-of-home activities increase, OOH can be effective in catching the attention of key audience segments in the esports industry.  
 
Take avid esports fans in the US: while internet ads still rank as the top attention grabber among this group, they over-index in their likelihood to notice outdoor ads found while they’re on the move: trains, bus stops, airports and other forms of public transport. Specifically in the case of train stations and taxis, American esports fans are twice as likely to agree they notice ads found in these places compared with the overall population.


In Great Britain, OOH advertising found on trains (67%) draws roughly the same rate of attention as internet ads (65%) from avid esports fans. This specific esports audience is also twice as likely as British consumers overall to notice ads in taxis and they over index in the attention they pay to OOH ads found on bus stops, public transport and airports. 



The potential for activation  
 
Outdoor advertising can be a powerful way to connect with esports fans, not only because OOH draws their eyes, but because esports fans in the US and Great Britain are twice as likely as the general population in each country to trust what they see on posters or billboards (67% vs. 27% of US adults; 40% vs. 20% of GB adults). 
 
OOH ads are also effective in prompting esports fans to action, either in the form of searching for products on their phones as a result of seeing outdoor ad or discussing with friends and family about what they’ve seen.  
 
American esports fans, in particular, are especially receptive to OOH ads and are twice as likely as general population to reach for their phones and search for products or services after exposure to billboards (68% vs. 23% of US adults). - The same can be said about their likelihood to engage with others on the topic of an OOH ad.


Given that esports fans tend to skew younger, does this receptivity to OOH relate more to their affinity to esports or their age? Indeed, Americans aged 18-34 are significantly more likely than the general population to notice ads in airports, bus stops, taxis and train stations, and to search for a product or talk about it with friends after seeing an OOH ad. 
 
However, YouGov data shows being an avid esports fan lends itself to being that much more engaged with brands seen on posters and billboards. Esports fans (aged 18-34) prove more likely to search for a product, comment on a brand, or talk about it friends and family when compared against all US adults aged 18-34.  


Although COVID-19 accelerated many digital trends (including engagement with video games and related content), our analysis suggests there’s something uniquely powerful about OOH advertising and that esports fans are particularly in tune with. It will be important for brands and gaming properties to understand and measure the effectiveness of OOH activations. Avid esports fans prove to be receptive to outdoor ads, both in awareness and engagement; with more people venturing back to public life, physical messages in the real world can leave a powerful and lasting impression with this group especially.

For more insights into post-pandemic consumer behaviors and advertising trends, check out YouGov’s recent stories: 
 
Heavy podcast listeners aren't just tuning in to content—they're receptive to ads, too 
 
US: Top post-vaccine travel and vacation trends marketers should know


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MethodologyYouGov Profiles is based on continuously collected data and rolling surveys, rather than from a single limited questionnaire. Our profiling database holds more than 250,000 data variables about YouGov panelists, allowing for audience insights into brand use and perception, consumer behaviors, media habits and much more. 
 
Profiles data from the US is based on a sample size of 2,000+ US adults aged 18 and over who say esports is a top interest or that they are somewhat interested in esports (I.e., avid esports fans). Online interviews were conducted May 2020 – May 2021. Profiles data is nationally representative and weighted by age, gender, education, region, and race. 
 
Profiles data from Great Britain is based on the interviews of 1,000+ GB adults aged 18 and over who say esports is a top interest or that they are somewhat interested in esports (I.e., avid esports fans). Online interviews were conducted May 2020 – May 2021. Profiles data is nationally representative and weighted by age, gender, education, region, and race. Learn more about Profiles