Twitch Is Hot: Here’s Why

Twitch Is Hot: Here’s Why

Marketing

As the COVID-19 pandemic roared across the globe in 2o2o, social distancing guidelines closed down stadiums and theaters everywhere. Suddenly Amazon-owned Twitch, already popular, took on an even greater resonance: the streaming platform represented a way to connect and experience, virtually, events and the sense of community that had been eradicated by the virus. Savvy brands understand the opportunities inherent in Twitch—a platform that’s currently filling a need, even as it continues to grow. Curious? Read on to learn more.

What Is Twitch?

Twitch is an online platform for livestreams, on which users can broadcast a livestream or watch other streamers. The platform was introduced in 2011, and while the focus has traditionally been on video games, Twitch is constantly evolving. It currently features music and lifestyle content, as well: Twitch users can watch anything from video gaming to music festivals, cooking shows, live tutorials of artists drawing (a la Bob Ross!) or professional sports. According to Ad Age, Twitch’s Just Chatting channel—essentially streamers chatting with the audience—has been the platform’s most-watched category in the second quarter. Sean Horvath, the chief revenue officer at StreamElements, notes, “We are starting to see a rise of streaming stars who don’t game at all . . . [T]hink of it like any talk show you watch on TV, but the difference is viewers can also make comments directly to the hosts.”

That’s right. Twitch’s interactive nature is supported by chat features; spectators can interact with one another and with the broadcasters (streamers), too. The platform has been described as a sort of virtual return to the social experience of arcade gaming. In the arcades, crowds would form around someone playing a certain game well, and people would talk about the game while they waited for their turn—and possibly pick up some tips and tricks from the player. Livestreaming on Twitch brings this interactive experience online, regardless of whether the point of discussion is a game—or a new recipe for chili.

Who Uses Twitch?

As Ad Age recently reported, Twitch hit a new milestone in spring 2020: Twitch exceeded 3 billion streaming hours in the first quarter of the year.

The audience skews younger. Kayla Carmicheal’s recent post on the Hubspot blog identifies users as teen gamers, with the largest group (22 percent) coming from the United States. Of the 28 million unique users per month in the U.S., she says, 80 percent are teen males. According to brand24.com, Millennial gamers also make up a significant portion of the Twitch audience. To be specific, Twitch reaches 50 percent of Millennial males in America.

Furthermore, Twitch users have been described as socially conscious and passionate about important causes. This year, the platform made headlines when it became a hub for social activism, with users creating Twitch channels for the express purpose of livestreaming Black Lives Matter protests. As Brielle Villablanca, a Twitch spokeswoman, told the New York Times, “[W]e’ve seen creators livestreaming content from the protests and engaging their communities in open conversations around race, inequality and how to effect change.”

And the platform attracts an audience open to advertising. According to brand24.com, 82 percent of Twitch users believe sponsorships benefit gaming. And 80 percent are receptive to brands sponsoring gamers and teams.

Advertising Options on Twitch

In short, the platform provides fertile ground for advertisers who want to connect with passionate, driven consumers. Marketing exposure on Twitch can take several forms, including:

  • Partnering with an influencer. A streamer might include a brand in a sponsored stream title or on a tile on their channel page.
  • Brand placement on the stream itself, or behind the streamer on their webcam.
  • Branded emotes, like the “DoritoChip,” which between November 2, 2017, and January 8, 2018, was used by viewers an average of 17,330 times a day.
  • Pre-roll ads, which can run before a stream.

What Brands Use Twitch?

Some savvy brands have already recognized the potential Twitch offers to connect with a young, engaged audience. And they’ve done so in creative ways. For example:

  • Totino’s Pizza Rolls created an attention-grabbing game within the game during a sponsored stream. After each win, streamers rewarded themselves by eating pizza rolls live.
  • Monster Energy Drinks sponsored Jaryd “Summit1G” Lazar, who streams with a stocked Monster mini fridge situated right behind him. During streams, viewers have asked him about his favorite drink flavors, and new flavor releases, calling even more attention to the brand.
  • 1,000 Dreams Fund (1DF), a non-profit dedicated to providing 1,000 university women with grants, partnered with Twitch to give financial assistance to female streamers currently attending college. The aid could be applied to conventions like TwitchCon, or even new hardware, and the campaign introduced the non-profit to a completely new audience (the campaign also highlighted that Twitch doesn’t exclusively draw a male demographic).
  • Nissin Foods partnered with influencer Pokimane, who demonstrated how noodles are a clear fit to the gaming lifestyle when she made Nissin instant noodles during a stream. Pokimane, who draws more than four million followers to her channel, added a layer of whimsy by incorporating a “Slurp Meter” graphic onscreen to measure how loudly she ate her meal.
  • Career search engine Indeed used a pre-roll ad to demonstrate how a Twitch streamer and a digital artist used Indeed to connect—and ultimately collaborate.

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Gaming: a Golden Marketing Frontier

Gaming: a Golden Marketing Frontier

Marketing

As reported by VentureBeat, a new Consumer Technology Association (CTA) study indicates 70 percent of Americans aged 13 to 64 play games. That’s a whopping 192 million U.S. consumers, a number that reflects the way gaming has been informed in recent years by social phenomena like increased smartphone use. Brands who understand this demographic shift can only benefit.

Gamers: Who Are They?

The 2019 Future of Gaming study defines gamers as anyone who played video games for at least one hour in the past three months. And according to the study, the aforementioned 192 million gamers—playing on consoles like Xbox One or PlayStation 4; smartphones or tablets; and PCs—embrace gameplay as entertainment, but also as an active social channel. Perhaps because of this, the classic stereotype of the typical gamer—young male—no longer applies. Games are drawing a much bigger demographic.

“Not only is the classic teenage-boy-gamer stereotype untrue today, but it’s even less accurate when it comes to mobile games,” notes Tom Simpson, vice president, brand and exchange, APAC, AdColony. “More than one billion Asian consumers of all ages and genders play games every day on their smartphones. In fact, across many markets in APAC we see a larger number of female gamers than male.” Consider games like Candy Crush and its successor, Candy Crush Soda Saga: the archetypal player is a woman aged 25 to 45.

What Gaming Means to You

Because the gaming demographic is so large and varied, gaming represents a golden opportunity for brands. According to The Drum, projections indicate the global mobile gaming market will be worth $174 billion by 2021, for example. Advertisers can target a niche audience in that market, or deliver brand awareness at scale. It’s ultimately up to the brand, its budget, and advertising objectives.

Examples of Brands Killing It with Gamers

So who’s already doing it right? Look no further than Coca-Cola, which rolled out a mobile game app targeting teens and young adults. In the Crabs & Penguins game, developed by Coca-Cola’s Content Factory in partnership with McDonald’s, users guide a crab character through races and dangers, coming into contact with other animals, such as polar bears, along the way. The ultimate goal? Returning a soccer ball to a cast of penguin characters. The stated goal of the game is to “spread happiness,” which also happens to be Coke’s tag line; characters and products in the game are also branded with the Coca-Cola logo. Bottom line: the Coke brand is on the user’s mind as they play the game.

Meanwhile, brands like Gatorade and Asos are succeeding by matching product to game. In a digital recreation of how the sports drink fuels real-life activity, Gatorade offered players a digital “electrolyte boost” via energy refills in EA’s Madden NFL Mobile; gamers could then play longer. Clothing brand Asos, in turn, paired with The Sims Mobile game, introducing branded clothing and timed quests to Sims players. The real-world experience of shopping for clothing online proved a good match to the customization options within the game.

Three Key Takeaways

So what does this mean for your brand? Consider these takeaways:

  1. Gamers are a diverse audience. Identify your demographic; chances are that group plays games in some form. What games does your target market like to play? Understanding what games your customers enjoy helps you know where (and how) to reach them. Are you targeting busy moms who relax over a game of Candy Crush? Teens likely to be snacking (or craving a snack) while playing Fruit Ninja?
  2. Consider what games might be a good one-on-one match for your actual product. Are there games that digitally recreate the universe your product occupies in real life?
  3. Finally, consider whether your brand (and budget) are best served by targeted outreach, or more of a universal awareness blitz.

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Photo by SCREEN POST on Unsplash

Why Sneakerheads Matter to Advertising

Why Sneakerheads Matter to Advertising

Advertising

Like gamers, sneakerheads constitute a passionate fan base. Much more than a passive audience, sneakerheads—who collect, trade, and/or develop an exhaustive knowledge of sneakers as a hobby—represent a culture that dates back decades. Sneakerhead culture can in fact be traced back to the 1980s, when the popularity of Michael Jordan and his line of Air Jordan shoes, as well as the explosion of hip hop music, made the idea of collecting shoes not only possible, but cool.

Sneakerhead culture overlaps with other cultures such as hip hop and fashion, making sneakerheads as an audience especially culturally relevant. Even if they are not your audience, understanding how brands court sneakerheads can be instructive to you. That’s because understanding the innovative ways brands have reached out to this group can inspire you as you reach out to your own market—and tap into a culture to make your brand more relevant.

Here are a few interesting and effective ways in which brands have recently reached out to sneakerhead culture:

Empowering Consumers to Be Retailers

In August 2019, Adidas announced a partnership with the social commerce app Storr. Storr, which allows consumers to open a store from their phone in three clicks, is now part of a campaign in which individuals who are part of the Adidas Creators Club can literally become “social sellers” of Adidas goods. The Creators Club membership program was launched in 2018 as a way for the most passionate Adidas fan base to enjoy early access to products and special events.

Now about 10,000 Creators Club members will have an opportunity to become sellers and share their love of Adidas product. Sellers will receive a six percent commission from each sale, with an option to donate to Girls on the Run, an Adidas partner organization dedicated to helping young women reach their full potential. Chris Murphy, Adidas’ senior director of digital activation, said to Fast Company, “If you think about where our consumers go to get advice or ideas, it’s their friends, it’s sneakerheads, it’s people in their social sphere already, so why not let those people sell on our behalf?”

Celebrating the Culture

Also in August, Foot Locker announced a “We Live Sneakers” digital campaign in conjunction with the launch of Nike’s “Evolution of the Swoosh” shoe and apparel collection. Content for “We Live Sneakers,” which rolled out online and on Foot Locker social platforms, is meant to resonate with die-hard sneaker fans of all ages. As Patrick Walsh, Foot Locker’s vice president of marketing, North America, explained to Total Retail, “We want to authentically connect with those who have made Foot Locker a part of their sneaker-obsessed journey. ‘We Live Sneakers’ is a glimpse at what it means to be a sneakerhead, and the ways in which it impacts the most meaningful moments of everyday life.”

The campaign underlines the fundamental respect Foot Locker holds for its sneaker fans. As Walsh notes, “Sneakerheads are . . . very well-informed consumers and have a variety of interests, including art, music, photography, sports, etc. . . . Foot Locker strives to be that intersection between sneakers and all of their other passion points, as well as serve and empower sneaker culture and all of its members.” By partnering with Nike, Foot Locker hopes to create a win/win scenario in which both brands attract attention and engagement.

Providing an Experience

This isn’t the first time Foot Locker and Nike have teamed up. In 2018, sneakerheads joined Foot Locker’s first “The Hunt” augmented reality (AR) scavenger hunt. Players ranged across Los Angeles, smartphones in hand, unlocking geo-targeted AR clues in a bid to be among the first to acquire Nike’s limited-edition LeBron 16 King “Court Purple” sneakers. The game, which involved the “collection” of objects in AR, and completion of three game levels, began at 11:00 p.m. local time after the end of the Los Angeles Lakers’s first home game of the NBA season. Completing all three game levels unlocked an access card to acquire the shoes. The treasure hunt, which imparted a fresh, fun vibe to the sneaker release, underscored a key role that an experience can play in the consumer process. As Ron Faris, GM of Nike’s NYC digital studio and the SNKRS app, shared with Highsnobiety, “For many of the most fanatical sneakerheads, how they cop the shoe is almost as important as the shoe itself.”

What Advertisers Should Do

The lessons here are clear. When reaching out to your ideal demographic, don’t forget to:

  • Tap into a group’s passion and make it work for you—even as you empower individuals to benefit financially or, as in the case of the Girls on the Run donations, do good. It’s especially instructive that Adidas empowered sneakerheads to become social sellers. You don’t need to use a native app to do so; consider platforms such as Instagram depending on where your audience likes to hang out.
  • Respect and celebrate your audience. Tell their story and connect with their passion points in authentic ways. When you do those things, you turn customers into loyal tribes.
  • Leverage technology to provide an experience that will resonate along with your brand. The Foot Locker AR experience tapped into sneakerheads’ love of sports and play. Foot Locker did not apply AR just because it’s a cool technology; Foot Locker understood that AR when used as a game would engage sneakerheads specifically.

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Photo by Lefteris kallergis on Unsplash