Esports Awards' Michael Ashford Discusses the Success of Growing Brand

Anthony DiMoro
The Gamactica Podcast with Anthony DiMoro & Michael Ashford(Image: Gamactica)

The Esports Awards have become a staple in the esports industry, with it's annual awards event spotlighting talent from across the esports landscape, from esports teams to esports players, and the folks behind the scenes, including esports casters and now esports colleges.

Esports Awards CEO Michael Ashford talks about a chance meeting leading to their success today.

"I was introduced to the initial founder of the Esports Awards, Tom Mercy, in London" he explained, during an appearance on the Gamactica Podcast with Anthony DiMoro. "It was a chance meeting and for me at that point, I always considered that I would end up in gaming or esports, but I wanted to find a way of coming in, in a way that no one else had.

"At that point teams were done, tournament organizers were done, publishers were done, and a lot of industry and infrastructure was there, and I was looking at how to create value around the industry. What are the things in the industries that added value, that we haven't already done?

"Basically, in that chance encounter I got pitched what they were working on at that time, which was this esports industry awards dinner, and it clicked visually in five minutes. "And I know that this was something that I believed in and that I felt would work, and I said that this was a golden goose of an idea because you have this industry that is built off of segments that need some way of identifying with each other, and being grouped for the betterment of the industry, and presto an awards show is this holistic, all encompassing entity that you can all interface and interact with, and allows you to engage and be part of it, and have that overall identity of 'hey, esports has done some really cool stuff now, rather than League of Legends is doing cool stuff or CS:GO seems to be doing well' it's actually esports as a whole, and as a facet is doing well. I joined in 2016, originally joined as Marketing Director."

Ashford also talked about the obvious lack of SEO, particularly Esports SEO, within the industry.

"It's a very good question, and I guess where esports has been very pioneering there are also a lot of things that it can learn from other industries in the same vein" he said. "The big controversial one is the sports and esports gear compared a lot. I'm a big fan of it because sports do very well with media rights and distribution deals, they do very well with sponsorships, two things that are absolutely pivotal and critical to the future of esports. Those two things go hand-in-hand, they ensure everyone continues to be stable, everyone wins off the back of them, and esports as a term has really only been popular for 10 years. Before that you would just be optic gaming, people would just type in optic and their website would come up, their socials were there, everything was great and now there's probably 10,000 companies that all call themselves Esports something or another, and it's a very different problem. Doesn't matter to Optic, because Optic is still Optic and people still search for Optic and Optic stuff still comes up, but it does matter to new businesses coming in."

"There is three waves to esports" Ashford explains. "You have the wave 1 which is all the teams, the TOs, and the publishing companies. Wave 2, which is supporting services, people like ourselves, agencies, creative agencies, sales, talent, [etc]. Wave 3 which is all the supplementary services under that, and that's where that trickle down comes down with Publishers at the top and everyone in these waves underneath waiting to get paid, and that's where that Wave 3 is so pivotal and why you hear stories of these companies trying to get in now that are very challenged because they're not using proven techniques that work outside of the market to get into the market they're trying to conform to the market that already exists, and you can't take on an Esports Awards because we own that domain, we own that optimization, we have seven years of history working with even a Google, working with YouTube, we've worked with Amazon, we've worked with Lexus, and all these brands that have given us that domain authority that is very hard to purchase now.

So, if you were going to take us on as a competitor, you probably don't want to go against that unless you've got a big search engine budget to go against us realistically.

Ashford also talked about the competitive edge that marketing, such as SEO, can provide.

"That's where marketing gives you that advantage, when you do marketing you put yourself in the eye of the consumer, you look at their journey, you understand their peeves, you understand what they're doing" he said. "If you're a team that just got into this and you're saying 'I really want a big sponsorship to land on my doorstep' like you have to be in their consideration and that's where it comes down to if I'm buying for one of the biggest companies in the world and I have a budget and I type in 'esports teams' or 'succesful esports teams' or 'biggest esports teams' on Google, if you're not on that list you're already outliers from the consideration perspective because all of those other brands have that long term domain authority. The Optics, The FaZe, the DSMs have done it for years and they'll be the first stable thing that people see."

The Esports Awards will be live on December 13th from 8pm BDT on platforms like Twitter, Twitch. There is a lot planned for the show, and the weekend, and the week leading up, including events including their Celebrity ProAm gold tournament that Sunday, December 11th. You can vote here.

Listen, or watch, the entire interview on YouTube.

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CEO of Gamactica and Elite Rank Media. Contributor to Sports Rants, Fright Nerd and Search Engine Watch. Former contributor for Forbes and Huffington Post. Covers sports, internet marketing, gaming, entertainment, and the content creation industries.

Miami, FL

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