The Connected Fan: Esports

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In the advertising and sponsorships business, scale matters. Big brands are looking for reach and the opportunity for multi-channel engagement with a content owner’s audience.

At the surface level, Wix.com’s new esports partnership makes good sense. What took so long? Well, even though passionate digital citizens using Wix.com’s website building services are similar to gamers and gaming fans, esports had to mature. Wix.com has over 150 million users. In addition to running ads during the Super Bowl, Wix.com has sponsored major teams in other pro sports, including the New York Yankees. Since we live in a digital world, there is of course a significant overlap with so-called traditional sports, the digitally-engaged fans who follow baseball, football or hoops through online video content, news, social media and podcasts.

At the same time, esports has increased its exposure and become an arena sport, with TV broadcasts and competitions taking place at traditional sports venues.

The Wix.com deal is a global partnership with a specific esports team: they are the official website development and design partner for the FaZe Clan and their professional Fortnight team. Since its beginnings in 2010, FaZe Clan has turned into something like the Bronx Bombers of gaming, having accrued a worldwide following of over 210 million fans. These team members are also prolific content producers.

I recently spoke with Wix.com’s VP creative Eran Gefen about what attracted the brand to this partnership, and what to expect out of it. He told me that more than simply a brand logo on the website or a team jersey, this partnership is about FaZe Clan using Wix.com for digital support on player and team websites.

“Esports has seen enormous growth with engaging fans, so it’s really natural for Wix to partner with them,” Gefen said. “Community and fan engagement is what it’s all about. And when you think about Wix.com and about the online community, we support the ability to express any passion you have.”

He added, “Esports is a diverse audience, and mainly has a lot of power with millennials, which is a great target audience for us. And it’s not just an audience, but an engaged audience.”

According to Gefen, in addition to the similar brand audiences, there is also a relationship through technology that forges a stronger connection between the esports fan and a Wix.com user.

“If you think about a Wix user or audience, they are proactive online,” he stated. “They want to have a web presence, which could be a business or any kind of occupation. If you’re coming to Wix, you want to say something online. Those kinds of people are very similar to esports fans. These people are more active online and they participate, using technology as early adopters who like to try new things, explore new kinds of media. And Wix, from the product side, brings to the table newer and newer options to express yourself online. Our suite of products really enable people to participate. This makes a great connection.”

Wix.com will have a branded presence when FaZe Clan competes at The Fortnight World Cup Finals, at New York’s Arthur Ashe Stadium, July 26 to 28. Team members Funk, Dubs and Megga will be entered in the solo competition, and they’ll be joined by Nate Hill and Vorwenn to compete as a team in duos. The overall purse for the event is $30 million.

In addition to web design services for FaZe Clan’s site, Wix.com will also have tie-ins on their site, along with exposure on players’ social channels and livestreams.

“What’s exiting about esports,” Gefen explained, “is that many people think about esports as only existing on one medium, or one channel. Today, it’s like the real world. Wix is a canvas and esports is also a canvas for creativity. It makes for a really great opportunity to create.”

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