The U.S. Navy Will Spend its Advertising Dollars in Esports and YouTube, Dumps Super Bowl

Mentioned in this article

  • The United States Navy has divested from television advertising and will see 97% of its budget allocated to digital.
  • Esports and YouTube will be the two main focuses of its advertising dollars.
  • The reason for the course correction is that the age demographic of online viewership are people between 17 and 28.

The U.S. Navy has decided to issue a course correction and will see its advertising budget be redirected towards esports and YouTube, while going away from traditional television. A report from USNI News states that the maritime branch of the armed forces will spend 97% of its advertising budget on online advertising. The other 3% will be spent on billboards and radio advertisements.

For reasons that shouldn’t surprise anyone, the Navy is transitioning to an online advertising strategy to reach those people between the ages of 17 and 28. According to USNI News, research was conducted by the Navy that shows that its target audience is mostly in the digital arena.

“One thing we did learn, is paying for a lot of TV ads in the middle of Super Bowl games,” Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Robert Burke said during a recent appearance at the Military Reporters and Editors annual conference.  “[The] target audience is not watching that.”

Since 2018, the Navy took notice that even though it had spent less money on television advertising, there were no adverse effects on its recruiting numbers. In fact, the Navy still met its recruiting goals, despite the reduction.

Esports will be a primary focus of the Navy in 2020, not only for recruitment, but morale as well. February will see this new strategy put into place as it begins to advertise in esports. Additionally, the Navy will look to become a major sponsor of esports events and field an esports team recruited from the service’s active-duty recruiters. Where and in what esports the Navy plans to advertise was not disclosed at the time of writing. 

According to a 2018 Syracuse University study, which the Navy used to create its online advertising strategy, esports viewership is expected to be around the 84M people mark, which if true should surpass all other professional sports leagues except NFL viewers. What has the Navy perhaps even more excited is that the same report says just about 61% of esports viewers are under the age of 25.

The Navy isn’t the only branch of the United States Armed Forces that sees esports as a larger recruiting base. The U.S. Air Force signed a partnership with ELEAGUE in 2018, which included the collaboration and production of content and being on stage to deliver championship trophies to winning teams. The U.S Air Force was the MVP sponsor the ELEAGUE Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Major in Boston. 

The U.S Army has its own esports team and actively competes in titles such as Call of Duty and others. It also partnered with Complexity earlier this year: In late-June Complexity players attended a bootcamp exercise at the U.S. Army’s Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas, where they participated in military-style drills alongside active-duty soldiers. Complexity players and staff later welcomed U.S. Army personnel to the team’s GameStop Performance Center at The Star in Frisco, Texas, where they engaged in a number of on-site activities including a tournament that was live-streamed via Twitch. 


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