Utilizing Emerging Media Channels: Twitch Advertising
Twitch Advertising: A New Frontier for Gamers & Marketers Alike
As social media and streaming continue to dominate the marketing and pop culture landscape, it’s more important than ever to be aware of the evolution and emergence of new media channels. Let’s talk about Twitch advertising.
We Live in a World of Sharing
Whether it’s on phones, tablets, or home computers, people all over the world are consuming media and content in ever-changing ways. With that in mind, one of the main forms of engaging content currently undergoing an unprecedented and meteoric rise in popularity and viewership rates is video game streaming.
To those of you not familiar with the concept, video game live streaming, more commonly known simply as ‘streaming’, involves people watching another person live-stream themselves playing a video game.
Now I know what you’re thinking…why would someone watch someone else play a video game instead of playing it themselves?
- Well, here are some statistics that might surprise you:
- Worldwide, young gamers (ages 18-25) spend an average of 3 hours and 25 minutes per week watching other people play video games.
- Amazon purchased the #1 video game streaming platform (Twitch.tv) in 2014 for a cool $970 million.
- As of January 2018, Twitch held a concurrent viewership (average viewers at any given time) of around 962,000 people. So, at any given time there are nearly 1 million people watching someone ‘stream’ on Twitch! That’s around 10% more viewers than MSNBC and CNN’s total daily viewership, and Twitch has that amount of traffic 24/7/365.
Oh, and average total unique viewers per day? Just under 15 million.
Let’s dive in and discuss how Twitch advertising can boost your promotion efforts, and explore best practices for beginning your adventure into marketing in the live-streaming industry.
Step Into the Arena: Understanding Who’s Watching
Many of you have seen either your kids or your friend’s kids doing ridiculous dances or shouting names like Ninja and Dr. Lupo over the past year. All these things can be attributed to the pop culture explosion of the hyper-popular game Fortnite.
Already a thriving platform, the completely unexpected phenomenon that Fortnite developed into over the past year brought a massive surge of awareness and interest toward online gaming and streaming.
Never before did Twitch have channels averaging nearly 80,000 concurrent viewers watching a single streamer, to the point where Ninja (the #1 streamer on Twitch) has been featured in commercials for Samsung, starred on The Ellen Show, and become the first ever video game player to be featured on the cover of ESPN.
That begs the question - who's watching?
According to Mediakix.com, the core demographic of Twitch viewers is 81.5% male, with an average age of 18-34.
Though heavily male-dominated in terms of percentage, an 18.5% femaleviewership chunk still equates to an average concurrent female viewer rate of 187,950.
This primarily Millennial demographic is young, tech-savvy, passionate, and most importantly, committed to their streamer.
Fame and Fortune: Popular Twitch Streamers Are the New Celebrity Class
Don’t be surprised if the next poster you see on your kid’s wall isn’t a 6’5” 250lb NFL player. Instead, it may feature some seemingly average guy or girl sitting before a glowing monitor. However, average is most certainly the wrong word to describe these new-media stars, because to their hordes of loyal viewers, they are anything but.
A key factor in understanding how to utilize Twitch advertising and engage with streamers is developing a general understanding and respect for the process of becoming a popular Twitch streamer.
Similar to how college sports are split into divisions in order of competitiveness and quality (D3/D2/D1), we can view Twitch’s three-tiered system for classifying channels. For marketer’s sake, we are only interested in the top-tier of channels, known as Partnered channels.
Twitch Partner Channel:
- Status granted by Twitch
- At least 12 unique broadcast days prior to applying for Partner status
- Average at least 75 concurrent viewers
- Channel Subscriptions/Cheering ‘Bits’ (Donations)
- Premium channel features for subscribers (emotes/cheers/access)
- Advertisements run on channel
- Brand/Corporate partnerships
As you can see, the path to becoming a Partnered channel on Twitch is no easy task. Meeting the above requirements only allows a streamer to apply for Partner status and is no guarantee of acceptance, which is the ultimate goal for aspiring Twitch streamers. Thus, those dedicated enough to reach the goal of becoming a partnered channel typically develop a very dedicated and loyal fan base along the way.
With over 3.3 million unique broadcasters on Twitch, it is extremely challenging for streamers to distinguish their channel and build a following, not dissimilar to the process marketers take to promote and differentiate their client’s product/service.
Those who make it to the top and garner high levels of concurrent views and subscribers understand how to build and maintain a brand, as well as the promotion and marketing tactics necessary to do so.
The Dream Team: Why Twitch Streamers and Brand Partnerships Are a Perfect Match
Remember Deadheads and Beliebers? Well, I raise you the Champion’s Club and The Tatman Army.
Similar to diehard fan groups of music artists, the hyper-loyal subscriber groups of prominent Twitch streamers like Dr. Disrespect (The Champion’s Club) and Tim The Tatman’s Tatman Army represent the evolution of the devoted fan base.
These fan groups are just two of hundreds of examples of streamers who have tirelessly developed a massively dedicated group of fans who pay upwards of $5 per month in order to ‘subscribe’ to their favorite streamer’s channel and become a part of their community.
Worth noting, both of the aforementioned channels boast well over 10,000 subscribers, bringing in well over $50,000 in revenue every month on a recurring basis.
Arguably the main upside to partnering your brand with a Twitch streamer, aside from the viewership rates, is the inherent credibility and influence these gaming icons hold over their viewers.
The vast majority of Twitch’s most popular streamers got to where they are either by being one of the best players at their respective game, by being extremely entertaining, or ideally a combination of both. Thus, their followers view them as not only a source of entertainment, but also expert advice and recommendations.
Viewers will often seek to know every piece of equipment the streamer is using, down to even their mouse pad in hopes of emulating their gaming dominance.
However, don’t think that Twitch advertising is limited to gaming accessories, considering brands as well-known as Red Bull, Gillette, and Adidas are all currently involved in ongoing partnerships with Twitch streamers.
Finding Your Match: How to Pick the Right Streamer to Partner With
Similar to partnering with social media influencers, pairing your brand with the correct Twitch streamer is crucial to the success and foundation of your Twitch advertising campaign.
Finding the perfect brand representative is always a challenging task, but these steps can help guide your team in the right direction.
Read the Streamer’s Channel Description and Biography Section
- This will often indicate their purpose for streaming, what kind of community they are hoping to build, and guidelines for participation in chat and community events. This will give you an idea of the age demographic and general vibe of the streamer’s community.
Level of Production Value
- Some streamers have near-Hollywood quality recording equipment, transitions, cut scenes, and even theme songs written by famous bands.
- If you are looking for a flashier and more engaging representative, these high-level production streams are typically more open to and readily equipped to handle large-brand partnerships.
The Game They Play Is Irrelevant
- Most subscribers and fans follow the streamer, not the game. Your product or brand should match with the style of the streamer themselves in order to seem relevant and organic.
Expertise vs. Entertainment
- Some top streamers like Shroud have built their following purely off of skill rather than showmanship. These ‘Expertise’ streamers are best suited for product demonstrations and rational-appeal oriented campaigns.
- Other streamers like Dr. Disrespect and Ninja have pro-quality graphics and cut scenes which they use to put on a show for their viewers while they play. Being more entertainment centered, creative and extravagant campaigns and promotion styles would be more effective with this type of streamer, and is where Twitch advertising is at its best.
- It’s simple to get into contact with most streamers either by directly messaging on Twitch, or by emailing them through the email account attached to their Twitch account (every streamer has one).
- The community these streamers have built was hard-earned, and thus they will be skeptical of partnerships with brands that could potentially make them appear inauthentic or “bought” to their viewers.
- Find a way to work your campaign into the flow and style of the streamer. This demonstrates to the streamer as well as their viewers that you did your homework before initiating the partnership.
In Sum, Twitch Advertising is Where It’s At
The massive audience pool of Twitch is highly engaged while using the platform, and more importantly, largely untapped.
As video gaming, live-streaming, and competitive eSports continue to grow rapidly in popularity, companies and agencies that can penetrate this market early will be positioning themselves for even greater success in the near future.
On top of that, Twitch is rife with charismatic and unique streamers who have the potential to serve as excellent influencers and brand representatives.
Plus, Twitch advertising allows you to target very specific demographics based on the community and style of the streamers you choose to partner with.