The Thece team looks back
2023 has been a year marked by rapid change. From the rise of generative AI and the esports winter, there is a lot we can learn from this last year. As the Thece team looks back on 2023, we are still convinced of one thing: Thece brings a value that is deeply needed in the world of esports and advertising.
Here are our big takeaways from 2023:
AI changed the game, but maybe not the way we originally thought
Although much of the AI conversation has happened adjacent to the world of esports and gaming, every industry was affected by it. There is no doubt that AI has changed the way we understand content creation, including advertising. But some of the AI hype is proving to be just that – hype. As amazing as generative AI can be, what drives people to engage, particularly through gaming, is their ability to interact with real people.
2023 is a year that is exposing not only the opportunities in AI, but also its limitations.
Fraud in programmatic advertising is an even bigger problem than we feared
The recent report put out by the ANA earlier this year validated the decline many of us felt in the efficacy of programmatic advertising over the last few years. Billions of dollars are wasted every year on fraudulent advertising within the digital, programmatic ecosphere. Not only is this a problem for companies trying to improve their ROI in ad spend, this is a problem for companies trying to build trust with new advertising mediums.
The report is a reminder that the primary goal of advertising is to deliver ROI on ad spend, not to make ad spend more convenient. There is a reckoning coming for the waste and fraud evident in programmatic next year, but there is also an opportunity for new advertising media that connect real customers into direct experiences with real brands. This is especially true for esports and gaming.
This has been a mixed year for esports and gaming
Depending on where you live in the world of esports, this was either a really bad year or a really good year. There have always been concerns surrounding the ROI of the sponsorship model for esports teams, and this year has only confirmed those fears. Many teams either consolidated or shut their doors this year due to a lack of viable monetization, and brands and investors have pulled back on spending in the esports and gaming space.
At the same time, Microsoft’s $69 billion purchase of Activision studios proves that there is still significant interest and value in esports and gaming. For those able to pivot and respond to the market changes, the industry is primed for continued growth. We’ve seen this in our own growth this year.
A shift in the esports and gaming landscape does not mean a shift in interest and opportunity. We’re excited about the part we will get to play moving forward.\
Looking forward to 2024
As a company, we’ve grown and learned through this last year and are excited about what’s to come. Here are a few of the big things we anticipate in 2024.
Brands will lean into human interaction as a response to the rise of generative AI
As previously stated, AI has changed the game and will definitely play a part in how business is done next year. But given the rise of fraud in programmatic and the controversies surrounding the creator side of generative AI, we believe there will be a renewed interest in experiences that elevate real human relationship and creativity.
Esports and gaming is primed to be that place for people. The more brands and esports teams can leverage the human side of what they do, the more success they will have this year. This was one of the biggest drivers for our newest release, ThecePlay. We want to help brands create fun, real engagement directly with their customers. With the rise of AI, this is even more pressing.
Brands will be looking for alternatives to programmatic advertising
Brands are still looking to engage with real customers in a way that keeps their attention and drives them toward action. If they can’t trust programmatic advertising to do that, they will be looking for other ways to spend their money.
This provides a huge opportunity for direct ad placement and advertising that relies on first party data. The customers are still there, especially in esports and gaming. But connecting with them will mean garnering attention in meaningful and entertaining ways.
2024 will be the year to make the internet fun again
Do you remember when the internet was fun? Before the age of X-rants (formerly Twitter rants), deepfakes, and fake news, the internet was a place for real people to have fun with other real people. The continuing rise in popularity of esports and gaming shows that the dream of a fun internet has not died.
We are already seeing a shift in thinking around how brands interact with their audience through gaming. Whether it’s branded activations in games like Fortnite and Minecraft or the integrated sponsorships in FIFA and Rocket League, brands are finding natural ways to enter into the world of fun. We think this will only increase this next year, as people look to games more and more as an escape from the growing tensions they face in the world.
At Thece, we are particularly excited about this reality. Our goal is to help brands connect with audiences in a genuine way through gaming. ThecePlay, our newest offering, does just that. It leverages games already being played to create deeper interactions on a brand’s site.
Happy New Years from Thece
Our mission is to:
- Engage key audiences by understanding them more deeply and serving their needs.
- Entertain and reward attention through compelling interactive content.
- Keep the human experience first – technology supports this priority rather than overrides it.
We can’t wait to do this more next year. Happy new year from the team at Thece. We’re excited for what’s to come.