The gaming industry is set to make $152 billion in universal earnings this year, providing marketers newfound opportunities to reach one of the most untapped audiences—streamers. Twitch streamers are becoming notable influencers in their own right and the popularity of Twitch has attracted influencer activations sponsored by gaming and non-gaming brands including Wendy’s, Gillette and KFC. The live streaming video platform, which Amazon acquired in 2018 for nearly a billion dollars, has more than 15 million daily active users who watch an average of 95 minutes daily.
The platform’s real-time content offers a community experience that helps deepen the connection between streamer and user, making it a strategic platform for product placement and campaigns. While it’s uncharted marketing territory, Twitch currently has 220,000 affiliates and 27,000 partners. Ahead we take a closer look at the current Twitch influencer landscape, how early adopters of Twitch influencer marketing are targeting audiences spanning a variety of categories on the platform and why it should no longer be considered a niche platform.
Twitch considers itself the world’s leading social video service and community for gamers. Historically, the platform has given gamers and gaming fans an avenue to share their enthusiasm. Eighty-one percent of Twitch users are male and 55 percent are between the ages of 18-34. Twitch runs ads just like other social media platforms, but its main differentiator is that influencer promotions appear in a live video format rather than a static image or video. Much like Instagram or YouTube, Twitch influencer marketing activations include shoutouts, giveaways and videos of streamers unboxing products.
What gives brands who utilize Twitch influencer marketing an added advantage is the fact that users are actively watching a streamer’s video with little to no interruption. Brands looking to try influencer marketing on Twitch should consider a streamer’s concurrent viewership (CCV) rather than follower count to determine the extent of their pull. Think of CCV as Twitch’s version of reach and impressions as the CCV shows exactly how many people a streamer is actively reaching on a daily basis.
The lengthy, unfiltered live streams that dominate Twitch generate engaging content and in turn, deeper connections. This gives brands an incentive to invest in Twitch influencer marketing, and the number of influencer partnerships appears to be rising. The number of revenue-earning American Twitch streamers grew 59 percent from 2016 to 2017.
“I think there’s a LOT of opportunity to drive ROI here, but I also believe it requires a thoughtful, nuanced and sensitive approach to these relationships that not every brand is able to manage. Blundering in and expecting to flash some cash to get a streamer to do exactly what you want (just as with other kinds of influencers), really won’t work well with the kinds of influencers a brand really wants to work with,” David Bloom, a writer and consultant on influencer marketing and related issues for Forbes and Tubefilter, tells AList.
The bulk of Twitch influencer marketing happens between brand and gamer. One notable influencer activation includes Guy Beahm’s partnership with Daybreak Games to market the brand’s H1Z1 Auto Royale game. During his three-hour live stream, Beahm was able to connect with his fans while answering their questions and providing a comprehensive demonstration of the game. To date, the video has garnered 39,346 views.
Gaming may have catapulted Twitch to where it stands on the influencer marketing totem pole today, but that’s slowly evolving. What started out as a platform that let people flaunt their gaming skills has turned into a place for non-gamers to also share their talents and interests with the world. Last year, Twitch introduced 10 new stream categories including art, hobbies and crafts, food and drink, music and performing arts, beauty and body art, science and technology, just chatting, travel and outdoor, sports and fitness special events, talk shows and podcasts, ASMR and tabletop role-playing (RPG) games.
Recently, a bevy of brands tested out Twitch influencer marketing. In March, Gillette announced the “Gillette Gaming Alliance,” a team of 11 Twitch streamers from 11 countries to represent the brand and support its Twitch campaign, “Bits for Blades.” The Gillette Gaming Alliance streamers gave fans the opportunity to earn Twitch Bits—virtual goods users can send in chat to support streamers financially—by buying select Gillette products displayed and talked about by Alliance team members. By clicking on a Gillette-branded banner, viewers could then purchase Gillette products through Amazon or a third-party vendor and earn at least 250 Twitch Bits in return. Streamers in the alliance included CourageJD from the US, Dendi from Russia and Yapyap30 from Korea, to name a few.
Last year, KFC also turned to a Twitch influencer to promote its chicken wings. The quick-service restaurant teamed up streamer Ben Lupo, who goes by DrLupo—a professional Destiny player and sponsored Fortnite streamer with 518,000 followers—for a two-day giveaway. Lupo and another Twitch influencer, Anthony Kongphan, played a game during which they ran an interactive livestream contest. Users were encouraged to comment “winner winner” every time the duo won a round of the game, which would produce a unique KFC emoji. They gave away free $5 gift cards along the way, marking a clever move on KFC’s part to organically tie its brand to the gaming community.
Recent data shows that Twitch outperforms live game streaming competitors including YouTube Gaming Live and Facebook Gaming in terms of viewership. According to StreamElements, Twitch viewers watched 2.7 billion hours, YouTube streaming viewers tuned in for 736 million and Facebook Gaming saw 198 million hours viewed.
Hours viewed aside, YouTube may be more profitable. “Though Twitch commands some big live audiences, relatively speaking, I’m told that Twitch influencers are monetizing better on YouTube. They typically take highlights (or someone else pulls them for them) and turn those into shorter, on-demand videos of “greatest hits” that may involve more than one streamer. Twitch dominates the live-streaming space for games, though Facebook Watch, IGTV, YouTube Live and Twitter’s Periscope all do quite well in live streaming other kinds of content,” Bloom notes.
A streamer named Nightblue3 has built a loyal fan base around playing League of Legends on both YouTube and Twitch. He averages more than four YouTube videos weekly and about 23 hours of streaming on Twitch. Though his Twitch live streams garner an average of 12,500 viewers, Nightblue3’s earned media value (EMV) on a YouTube video is more than 30 times higher.
For brands considering Twitch as an influencer marketing strategy, Bloom says there are first some important questions to ask: “Are the audiences connecting to a specific streamer a good overlap with your brand? What innovative or unique ways can you connect and leverage a relationship with that influencer that also brings value to your brand? You’re effectively renting their audience, which they’ve laboriously built for months or years. You should expect they’ll be intensely attentive to that audience, and messaging that is appropriate for their sense of their audience, and of who they are.”