Twitch, the popular streaming site owned by Amazon, is expanding marketing partnership opportunities beyond its competitive esports channel, Twitch Rivals. The gaming platform’s new Official Marketing Partner program creates branding opportunities for /twitchgaming, a Twitch channel dedicated to non-competitive gaming. Already Chipotle and Ally Financial have signed up. Does it make sense for your brand to join the party? Read on.
How Twitch Has Grown during the Pandemic — and Who Likes Twitch
Twitch has definitely enjoyed a growth spurt. The platform exploded in popularity during the pandemic, as gaming and streaming became reliable sources of entertainment in a world locked down against the virus. According to Ad Age, “Twitch has nearly doubled its daily visitors and minutes watched since the pandemic began.” That translates into an average of 30 million visitors daily — up from 17.5 million in 2020. This growth is good news for brands who want exposure. In January alone, according to Modern Retail, Twitch users devoured more than two billion hours of content.
Who are these viewers? Ad Age reports that almost half of Twitch users are 18 to 34 years old; 21 percent fall into the 13-to-17-year-old demographic. That’s a big piece of the Gen Z/Millennial pie. Lou Garate, the head of global sponsorship sales at Twitch, also notes that Twitch followers tend to be online loyalists who seek nearly all their entertainment online, making them hard to reach via more traditional advertising channels.
Twitch Expands Marketing Opportunities
Given the elusive nature of that demographic, perhaps it was inevitable that Twitch would grow as a branding destination. At first, only brands with a clearly defined tie to gaming tested the waters: headphone companies like Hyper X, for example, and energy drink brands like Red Bull and Monster tested out promotion with campaigns that proved popular. Doritos also was in this vanguard, in 2018 sponsoring a Twitch competition called the Doritos Bowl.
But while headphones and snacks make perfect sense when it comes to partnering with a gaming platform, brands in other arenas are starting to explore how they might connect with Twitch users. Understanding that Twitch actually supports an increasingly diverse array of niche communities has been key. Chess, for example, is popular on the platform. So is anime.
As a result, any number of brands are starting to think about partnering with Twitch. Consider Lexus, which in January recruited the Twitch community to create a custom version of its 2021 IS sedan. Twitch streamer Fuslie hosted a livestream in which viewers could vote on modifications to the car, including gaming consoles and car wrap; more than half a million viewers showed up. A second livestream on February 17 disclosed the car’s design.
Brands like Chipotle have certainly seemed to do their homework in order to find a home on Twitch. According to a 60,000-person user panel called the Twitch Research Power Group, a whopping 97 percent of Twitch users eat at quick service restaurants — 57 percent of them on a weekly basis. In addition, arbiters like McKinsey & Company have identified Gen Z (a significant percentage of the Twitch audience, as noted above) as the “True Gen,” a generation dedicated to, among other things, ethical concerns. Chipotle speaks to these factors in a Twitch campaign that reaches out to Gen Z in particular in a meaningful way. As Ad Age reports, Chipotle will in coming months sponsor custom segments in /twitchgaming show The Weekly, including a “Chipotle Build Your Own PC” segment in which guests build their own PCs —much as customers build custom burritos at Chipotle. After the segment, Twitch and Chipotle will give the equipment to a nonprofit.
Twitch’s expanded Marketing Partners Program
Let’s take a closer look at the new Official Marketing Partner program. The Chipotle campaign is part of this effort, which essentially has meant Twitch opening up sponsorship opportunities on its /twitchgaming channel. “With the launch of this new Official Marketing Partner program, we’re taking a unique approach in sponsoring non-competitive content, to reach a new audience of elusive gaming enthusiasts on /twitchgaming,” Garate explains. The new program demonstrates Twitch’s desire to work with brands and connect them with gamers across the platform — not just those interested in Twitch Rivals’ esports content.
What Brands Should Do
Interested in exploring opportunities to partner with Twitch? We recommend the following:
- Understand your audience. As noted above, the demographic skews young, and they don’t necessarily respond to traditional advertising. Take a page from Chipotle’s book and get to know the Twitch audience — and how to speak their language.
- Understand the nuances of Twitch. As Jamin Warren, the founder of the gaming-focused consultancy Twofivesix, notes, “Of all the platforms that we look at, Twitch is really one of the most interesting, and it’s the most complicated as well.” One reason? Part of Twitch’s draw stems directly from the appeal of its streamers. Brands launching channels must find authentic, identifiable streamers to run their accounts. Otherwise, they may find themselves speaking into the void.
Brands also need to get comfortable with the nature of this beast: livestreams are by definition hard to script, and the best content tends to be spontaneous. Maintaining that spontaneity while keeping things from going off the rails can be an art — and one that brands need to learn in order to thrive on Twitch.
Contact True Interactive
Does it make sense for your brand to reach out to the Twitch audience? Contact us. We can advise.