Brands Find Innovative Ways to Reach their Audience through Twitch

April 10, 2019

Advertising on Twitch is nothing new. Viewers are very familiar with seeing rotating logos and cut-in ads on a streamer’s channels. Now, however, brands are seeking a deeper connection with their audience, and many are finding it by bypassing partnerships to create their own channels.

When Amazon purchased Twitch.tv in 2014 streaming was still in its infancy. Well, it was a toddler, at least. 

Streaming grew up fast, and Twitch is currently the most popular online service for watching and streaming digital video broadcasts. Today, Twitch has 140 million monthly unique viewers and 15 million daily active users. The average amount of time someone spends watching Twitch is 95 minutes a day and just under half of the viewers spend 20 hours a week at the site.

Twitch also has an audience that is very attractive to brands. More than 80 percent of the viewers are male, and 55 percent are between the ages of 18-34. It is also a group that has become notoriously difficult to reach through conventional advertising. They stream entertainment while blocking (or blocking out) commercials, use ad blocking software when searching online, and communicate and share news over social media.

This audience also tends to react negatively when they feel that brands are trying to sneak in advertising. That’s not to say they disapprove of ads. In fact, this audience usually reacts very positively to brands that sponsor streamers they like because it is supporting content they enjoy. 

Essentially, brands need to be upfront about their intentions. Which is why, when the brand itself is doing the streaming, it works. It’s entirely transparent, which makes it feel more authentic. However, there is one important caveat – and this is true for any Twitch channel – the content has to be engaging, or the audience will not appear. 

In 2014, Coca-Cola was becoming involved with Twitch sponsorships. The brand supported streamers and even hosted an event for charity on the site. The one area Coke was concerned about entering was creating its own channel.

“I’d like to have our own channel on Twitch, but the challenge that goes with that is having content over time,” Matt Wolf, Head of Global Gaming at Coca-Cola, said to AList. “They become hungry babies. When you hatch a chickling like that, it’s sweet, but you have to provide content like we do with Twitter. It needs to be fresh and authentic. We have to be careful about that because we want to grow these things into something special and something big. Twitter has done well because we’ve focused on just that over the past year.”

But that was 2014, and just as streaming has grown, advertising has grown as well. Brands are much more comfortable with experiential marketing today than they were five years ago, and creating a branded Twitch channel is essentially an experiential tactic.

The other aspect of Twitch that brands need to be aware of is the chat. Chat is an essential function of a Twitch experience, but it can also be a dangerous one for brands. This is, after all, the internet and that means trolls are lurking. Brands running a Twitch channel need to make moderation a primary concern. You need an employee monitoring the chat ready to expel any bad actors and delete offensive comments quickly.  

But that is a relatively minor aspect when weighed against the potential gain of a Twitch partnership. Let’s examine three different examples of how brands have utilized a Twitch channel. 

Wendy’s

Wendy’s is pretty well known for its social media presence. So, in December when Fortnite asked its players to choose between hamburgers and pizza, Wendy’s made a surprising choice and declared for #TeamPizza. Turns out, though, their reasoning was on brand. 

“We never joined #TeamBurger because Durrr Burger is full of freezers and we don’t clown around with the frozen beef,” read Wendy’s official Twitter account. “So now we’ll officially declare #TeamPizza and start the real fight, the war on frozen beef.”

The next day, Wendy’s was on Twitch attacking every freezer it saw. Durrr Burger is the in-game burger joint in Fortnite. Turns out what Wendy’s meant by “the real fight” was a 10-hour stream on Twitter where the player’s only goal was to destroy freezers in Durrr Burger. While its in-game avatar attacked the cold storage units, the real-life marketing team was managing the chat with the viewers. 

“We’ve been very intentional about making sure we are not turning into an overly branded experience,” Kurt Kane, Wendy’s Chief Concept and Marketing Officer, said to Adweek. “We wanted to bring the Wendy’s personality and the way we engage on social into gaming. Twitch is a very social gaming platform, so it was a natural fit for us.”

Since the success of its first foray into game streaming, Wendy’s has returned to Twitch for two other events. When Rocket League decided to call their winter-themed event “Frosty Fest,” Wendy’s jumped at the chance to promote its soft-serve dessert. The brand participated in a three-hour stream and offered a free frosty to anyone who placed an order through its app for a limited time. 

The next stream occurred when Overwatch announced a Year of the Pig event. This time the brand offered a Baconator burger at no cost (and free delivery) to everyone who made a $10 order through DoorDash. Naturally, Wendy’s returned to Twitch for a three-hour Overwatch stream.

Old Spice

Old Spice has done wonders reinventing its image from a product your grandpa uses to a product your hip, young nephew uses.

It makes sense that the brand was one of the first to use Twitch advertising for something other than pre-produced ad breaks. After all, Twitch viewers perfectly align with the Old Spice’s desired demographic.

Enter, the Old Spice Nature Adventure in 2015 where, for three days (10 hours each day), viewers could watch a man wander around a forest setting and give him commands through the chat. 

As the company explained, “This man we have placed in the bounteous grandeur of nature is contractually obligated to do everything you, and millions of other Internet users, tell him to do.”

Of course, the setting was cleared of dangers, and the only animals the man encountered were stuffed or people in costumes. After all, as the brand said, it would not want anything to distract “from the fact that this is a professional advertising stunt introducing the new Old Spice Fresher Collection, no matter how glorious the scenery is.”

Nike

Twitch has a significant “sneakerhead” community. To take advantage of this pre-existing demographic, Nike has debuted a number of shoes on the site. 

In 2015, it used a stream of NBA 2K to announce a new Kyrie Irving shoe style, where the in-game Kyrie Irving avatar was “wearing” the new footwear.

Then just this year, the brand used Twitch to introduce its first “smart” shoe – a self-lacing shoe that is “programmable” through the use of a smartphone app.

The announcement was made through a press conference livestreamed from Nike’s New York City headquarters. That was bookended by commentary from the hosts of FreshStock, which is an interactive weekly show about sneaker culture produced by Twitch Studios. Nike and FreshStock also allowed these streams to be co-streamed, meaning other channels could host the video while providing their own commentary. 

Twitch may just be the next great advertising opportunity, but brands have to have enough content to attract – and retain – viewers. For ideas creating a brand-specific Twitch channel or for other streaming and esports publicity options, give EGENCY a call at 972-323-6354.

Feature Image Photo by Caspar Camille Rubin on Unsplash