What insights can help businesses to ride on the increasing success of e-commerce and e-sports? The Digiconasia team finds out from an insider.

E-sports and e-commerce have already become part of our consciousness. This November sees that awareness growing even more with well-known events such as Singles’ Day and the Southeast Asian Games.

Singles’ Day happened on November 11 (11/11) – with the “1”s representing singles—a shopping holiday that originated in China. Alibaba, a global e-commerce platform, has seen its sales reach US$13 billion in the first hour of Singles’ Day.

This November also marks the first time that e-sports will be a medal sport in the biennial regional event, the SEAGames. Even before this, the finals of a world championship tournament named “LoL Worlds” had already taken place in Paris, where teams adept at League of Legends (LoL) battled it out for a total prize pool of US$6.5 million

According to Newzoo, a gaming industry analytics firm, e-sports revenues are expected to reach US$1.1. billion globally by the end of this year. To gather more trend insights, DigiconAsia exchanged ideas with Steve Miller-Jones, Vice President of Product Strategy of Limelight Networks, a company that supports content and video delivery, on how one can be a player in the arenas of e-sports and e-commerce.

We touched on hot-button topics such as advertising in online videos, how SMEs can compete globally, and trends in the e-sports phenomenon:  

Is there no such thing as bombarding the customer? A case in point is a ride-hailing company that lets passengers watch ad materials while inside the vehicle. Is there such a thing as too much exposure on products or services?

Miller-Jones: Traditional ads are making way for more interactive and authentic means of increasing brand exposure; particularly as social media becomes increasingly entrenched as a sales channel. Engaging with customers is about connecting over high-quality content that is entertaining, meaningful and informative, and then inserting your brand into the conversation. Equally important is choosing the right customer segment, on the right platform, at the right time. 

Our global survey, ‘The State of Online Video 2019’, revealed that this year’s viewers are more accepting of advertising in online videos as long as the content is free, especially if the ad is short or can be skipped. 

Is it also advisable for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to take advantage of what e-commerce offers? Does a start-up company need broad Points of Presence (PoPs) or are these more suited to retail companies with established clientele?

Miller-Jones: SMEs may be operating on a smaller scale, but latency is a different matter. A responsive and reliable digital engagement experience relies on the sort of low-latency connection that Limelight provides. Many businesses, SMEs or otherwise, will have to deliver content or data of some sort to their customers. Especially for businesses in the online gaming or e-commerce industries that rely on near-instantaneous delivery of real-time information, a low-latency edge processing with an accessible Point of Presence is absolutely crucial to maintaining a competitive edge against industry giants with more resources at their disposal. 

Conversely, a high degree of latency can be frustrating enough to turn customers away. SMEs cannot afford to skimp on their content delivery workflow. 

E-commerce encompasses such a broad spectrum of products. How do you foresee its growth in Asia, and then globally?

Miller-Jones: Despite a vast disparity in infrastructural maturity, APAC is digitalizing rapidly, with broadband penetration estimated to reach 19.6% and the number of internet users estimated to reach 3.2 billion by the end of 2024.

While e-sports was indeed predicted to make it big in 2019, many people are still wary — or possibly misinformed — about the monetization of game assets. Ultimately, how do you view those doubts?

Miller-Jones: There is never been a better time to monetize this exploding market, particularly for the 18-to-35 age group. Our global survey, ‘The State of Online Gaming 2019’, indicates that gaming rose more than 19% this past year, and more than 25% among those aged 26 to 35.  What is more, e-sports is starting to encroach on broadcast sports, with gamers aged 18 to 25 spending 77% more time watching other people playing online than they do watching broadcast sports, while those aged 26 to 35 spend nearly the same amount of time.

Even more tellingly, more than 57% of male gamers aged 18 to 35 want to become professional gamers. E-sports has made it big, and the market is ripe with opportunity. Harnessing this market requires the right technology for real-time distribution and fan engagement on a global scale.