Screenvision, Mobcrush partner to create new ad blocker-proof inventory for esports
Movie theater media giant Screenvision and esports streaming platform Mobcrush have teamed to launch a first-of-its-kind type of advertising inventory, announcing today a new ad blocker-proof technology that aims to help brands reach a coveted but sometimes harder-to-access audience.
Designed for those who broadcast their live gameplay via Mobcrush, the ads will be initiated on an unscheduled basis by content creators themselves when they step away from their screens, such as when they take a bathroom break.
“In the simplest terms, what we did was took linear TV and moved it into the gaming space,” says Christine Martino, EVP, National Ad Sales at Screenvision. However, the in-stream commercial breaks are not “three minutes straight of ads like you’d have on linear TV.”
Available to advertisers in 15- and 30-second variants, the live-break spots will be interspersed with creator-curated clips, including game highlight reels compiled using artificial intelligence. The ads will enable brands to reach more than 40 million unique, Nielsen-rated monthly viewers in the United States, according to Screenvision.
Embedded directly within the users’ livestreams, the spots also have the ability to fly under the radar of ad blockers and produce more guaranteed impressions across Mobcrush’s multiplatform infrastructure, which includes Twitch, YouTube, Facebook and others.
“Obviously, folks in the gaming space are very tech savvy,” which can present a challenge in effectively delivering ads to those audiences, Martino says.
In recent years, excluding the uppermost echelon of pro gaming leagues, “esports sponsorships have been fairly ad hoc in nature,” says Mobcrush CEO Mike Wann, with most creators opting to “flip on a ‘be right back’ screen” when they have to step away. Now, those same creators will have the choice to opt-in to monetize their broadcasts on the platform, connecting cord-cutter (and increasingly, cord-never) audiences with brands.
An average esports stream can run from one-and-a-half to three hours long, and in that time, gamers typically take two or three breaks, he adds.
Best known for selling pre-show ad space in movie theaters, Screenvision has been pushing to diversify this year with many cinemas and sports stadiums—another key type of venue for the company’s inventory—shuttered in North America due to COVID-19.
Since March, the company has announced a handful of new deals to expand its pandemic-era media presence, which it has dubbed “Front + Center Everywhere,” including partnerships with Volta, which runs ads on electric vehicle charging stations, and health care provider Outcome Health, which runs digital ads in doctors’ waiting rooms.
Screenvision’s foray into the gaming space isn’t a knee-jerk reaction to theater closures, though; the idea to explore e-sports advertising has been germinating internally for the past few years, Martino says, with the company focusing on three core business pillars going forward: “Cinema, sports and gaming.”