Understanding esports fans at MRI-Simmons’ annual client breakfast

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At its first major client event as a joint venture, MRI-Simmons celebrated the wealth of insights it is already bringing to clients – and previewed some of the products and services we will focus on in the immediate future.

Meeting just a few blocks from New York City’s Herald Square, over 120 clients and partners enjoyed a great breakfast while hearing from MRI-Simmons leaders. President Anna Welch started things off, highlighting four key elements of the JV’s focus for 2020 and beyond – Methodology, Cultural Relevance, Thought Leadership, and Innovation.

Welch also encouraged attendees to share their thoughts and suggestions about how the combined MRI-Simmons offerings can best meet their needs over the next year or more. Current products and capabilities will remain essentially the same throughout 2020, she said, with full integration of the two entities scheduled for 2021.


Understanding the esports fan

The centerpiece of the program was a deep dive on the emerging phenomenon of esports, which now counts 39 million Americans as fans. With multi-million-dollar purses and sold-out arena events, esports is drawing interest from dozens of major brands – and learning from the successes and challenges of traditional sports marketing.

Ben Paro (Director, Emerging Business/Sports Specialist) used the MRI-Simmons annual Sports Fan Study to provide a rich introduction to esports fans, then moderated a panel discussion on the topic with:

  • Nico Amantia – AE, Esports/Gaming Leagues at Scout Sports and Entertainment (a division of Horizon Media)
  • Chris Blivin – Commercial Partnerships in Esports at Genius Sports
  • Paul Brewer – SVP, Brand Partnerships at ESL Gaming

In a lively discussion, these experts on the frontlines of esports adoption and marketing revealed that

  • esports fans are uniquely engaged and passionate, spending 10 or more viewing hours in just one sitting
  • stereotypes about esports followers – who are generally well educated, ambitious, and financially secure – make MRI-Simmons'
  • study essential for leveraging esports wisely
  • marketing esports on the same models as traditional leagues, like the NFL or NBA, may be largely unsuccessful
  • streaming platforms such as Twitch and YouTube are the natural habitat for esports – while conventional sports networks have trouble adapting

You can watch a replay of the panel discussion below


Cord cutters and cannabis consumers

The program also included deeper looks at MRI-Simmons' latest products and partnerships. Maureen Doherty (VP, Partnerships) reviewed the range of collaborations and partnerships that the combined entities have launched or plan to roll out. Working with over 40 companies, MRI-Simmons leverages its rich, top-quality consumer data to deepen and activate segmentations, enhance analytics and planning systems, support advanced TV platforms, and more.

Doherty shared greater detail on three key MRI-Simmons partnerships:

  • a fusion with Engagement Labs, leveraging their Total Social measurement of brand-related conversations,
  • a suite of products with Ethnifacts, focusing on cultural insights and personality trends, and
  • a collaboration with Analytics IQ called Spendex, which explores discretionary spending in 16 categories

Karen Ramspacher (SVP, Innovation & Insights) provided a broader view of MRI-Simmons' Focus Studies, which cover everything from podcast listening to “Tvideo” viewing to cannabis consumption. She took deeper dives into three of the studies:

  • Cord Evolution – providing in-depth profiles of key viewer segments, including Cord Cutters and Cord Nevers
  • Content Drivers – a cluster analysis of motivations for Tvideo viewing
  • Smart Home – a collaboration with GfK’s commercial team, exploring ownership of and attitudes toward today’s most-wanted (or most-hyped) “smart” technologies
Matt Cumello
Matt Cumello
Matt Cumello is Senior Director of Marketing for MRI-Simmons, responsible for marketing strategy and execution. Matt has over 19 years of B2B marketing experience, having worked with both start-ups and established companies in market research and technology.