The third session from the second day of the LA Games Conference 2020 was a panel discussion on the strategies and campaigns taking place during the pandemic. My key takeaways from this discussion are set out below. 

The panel started by discussing how gaming solves many challenges we face today - it is an opportunity to connect to strangers with whom you have a common interest. Games present opportunities for brand involvement and provide a format for helping brands break into this space. The challenge is now how to help brands become comfortable moving into this space. Many brands are not used to the context of live experiences. The Fortnite concert with Travis Scott is a useful case study - brave brands and artists are needed to create success stories, which will encourage other brands to get involved.  

Coronavirus has offered brands an opportunity to adapt and venture into markets they wouldn't normally consider. Fortnite has shown brands that crossover events in games can be very successful - YouTube reported 100 million views for the Travis Scott Fortnite concerts. It will be interesting to see how this space develops. 

The panel discussed how streamers are starting to consider more diverse monetisation methods. Most streamers enable ads on YouTube, but CPMs (the cost of an ad to a brand per thousand impressions), and therefore the revenue generated by the ad for the streamer, are down post coronavirus. This is despite triple digit increases in watch time during this period. Viewers can also become paid members of streamers' YouTube channels, or purchase Super Chats and Super Stickers. However, many streamers are still experiencing reduced revenues. 

Nintendo have shifted how they perceived social media. Historically they saw games as a place to interact with their IP and social media as a place for gamers to talk about themselves. They are starting to embrace social media as a place for gamers to share their in-game experiences. The boundaries between games and social media are becoming more porous. American fast food chain Wendy's created their eponymous Wendy character within Animal Crossing, and allowed players to interact with the character in-game. This is an example of how brands can use games to interact and engage with their customers. 

Streamer audiences are becoming more accepting of branding deals. Audiences know streamers are now earning less than they have done historically. More streamers are now turning to Discord to manage their interactions with their audiences, including creating paid private channels to boost interaction and engagement. We may see new media formats and creative convergence between streamers and brands post-coronavirus.

The panel also discussed how diversification is critical for brands, who are having to think about new ways to engage. Brands are becoming more lenient with creators' content. This is a tripartite relationship between the brand, the content creator and the audience, which often requires the creator to have creative freedom in order to be successful, since the audience comes to the creator to view their content. 

Historically, Red Bull has shown how to push the boundaries in terms of finding new ways of integrating with creators. For example, hey partnered with Ninja to create the ultimate streaming room. Ninja has also released an album of music to game to with Astralwerks, which also granted him a licence to use the music in his live streams. Brands need to use a scattergun approach across different platforms and influencers. This involves trust, sacrificing some of the brand message to let the creator integrate it into their content more organically. 

For our reports on the other sessions from LAGC 2020, please click here.