US Navy Swaps SuperBowl Ads for Esports and YouTube Campaigns

Navy officials have revealed plans to drop SuperBowl advertising, instead spending much of the US Navy’s advertising budget on online advertising including esports and YouTube coverage.

The US Navy plans to spend $33 million on digital campaigns with just $1 million on billboard advertisements and with local radio stations. Its 2020 planned spend on television campaigns is now zero, as per USNI News who were informed directly by US Navy officials.

US Army Esports Campaigns Youtube

© US Army Esports

As recently as two years ago, the US Navy was spending over $20 million of its $45 billion advertising budget on television advertising.

As per reporting, the Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Robert Burke, speaking at the Military Reporters and Editors annual conference, explained that the Navy is moving to online-mostly advertising as research says that’s where its target audience of 17 to 28-year olds is.

Burke ads that the “one thing we did learn” in paying for TV ads in the middle of Superbowl games was that the “target audience” was not watching them.

Read also: Why the US Army is getting serious about esports

US Navy to begin esports advertising and sponsorship and field an all-Navy esports team

A reduction of television advertising in 2018 has not adversely affected the US Navy’s recruitment drive. In February the Navy will begin esports advertising campaigns, becoming a “prominent sponsor of esports events,” as per USNI, as well as “fielding an all-Navy esports team pulled from the service’s current pool of active duty recruiters.” USNI writes:

“The move follows an ongoing Navy effort on YouTube showing scenarios where Navy personnel compete against social media influencers, such as William Osman, a mechanical and electrical engineer with more than 1.4 million subscribers, in various skill tests.”

Burke says, “predominantly digital,” is delivering better returns adding that:

“YouTube, five, ten, 15-second headers that repeat for the audience that shows interest in them, that turns into leads at call centers.”

USNI says the Navy Recruiting Command used a 2018 Syracuse University study in its online strategy research. The study predicts that esports viewers will reach 84 million by 2021, greater than all other professional sports leagues other than the NFL with an estimated 141 million viewers. It also estimates that 61% of esports viewers are under 25.

Sandra Muoio is a senior partner and group director for media at WM Global, part of a team of firms that look after US Navy marketing and advertising, who will be working with Navy officials to plan its esports move. She told USNI News:

“Now we’re focused on digital, and it’s just because a much younger cohort of people are consuming media online. And when we look at the sports, we see esports is very young.”

The Navy’s initial esports spending will be “modest” as per the USNI while it learns where to focus its efforts and which online games deliver the best results. Donna Raidt of WM Global adds that, “at this point, we’re not looking to be integrated in the game, but want to use it to be engaged.

The US force plans to hold auditions for its esports team in May 2020 open to a group of around 4,700 active duty recruiters. USNI writes:

“The sailors selected will be expected to participate in online gaming and use the platform as a way to connect with other players online at that time, telling them about their experiences in the Navy and encouraging the players to continue a conversation with Navy recruiters.”

The US Navy joins the US Army which already has the Army Esport Team and the US Air Force Academy which also has a competing esports team.

Advertising revenues are set to drive esports net worth and future growth. Increasingly traditional brands and organizations, like the US Navy, are moving towards the thriving new sector to reach their audiences.

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