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The best time to enter any new marketing space is before the competition arrives, and that’s especially true in the gaming industry, where the recent popularity of gaming platforms like Twitch has completely caught many marketers off-guard. Did you know, for example, that Twitch (which Amazon acquired for more than $1 billion several years ago) now has more than 100 million monthly active users? Those numbers are starting to be comparable to what you’d find on traditional social media platforms like Instagram or LinkedIn.
Figuring out what Twitch is all about
At this point, you might be wondering what exactly Twitch is, and how it got to be so huge. 100 million MAUs is not a number to take lightly. The easy answer is that Twitch is a video streaming platform where gamers go to watch other gamers playing games. The gaming industry is now a $137.9 billion market opportunity, and Twitch is one place where people go to watch the very best gamers in the world. Instead of watching a 30-minute TV show, for example, young millennials would rather watch one of their favorite gamers racking up an incredibly high score in a videogame they love to play.
If that sounds a lot like the world of sports, where ten of millions of adults around the country tune in to pro and college sporting events every night of the week, embrace the very best athletes as cultural icons, and spend incredible sums of money cheering on their favorite teams in huge stadiums filled with tens of thousands of people, then you wouldn’t be wrong. In fact, the gaming industry refers to its competitive gaming events as e-sports, and around the world, people pack stadiums to watch their favorite gamers compete on teams to rack up high scores in well-known video games.
Coming up with new marketing options for Twitch
Once you begin to grasp this parallel between pro sports and e-sports, that’s when you can begin to grasp all the marketing opportunities that platforms like Twitch can deliver. For example, if you were a major national brand, who would you want to have as a national brand spokesperson? A famous pro athlete, right? Well, it’s the same logic with e-sports and Twitch – you’d want to make sure you were lining up the top gamers for marketing deals and promotions. And, just as pro sports competitions are filled end-to-end with promotional opportunities, so too, are e-sports competitions. (Just think of college football bowl games now named for pizza or insurance products or whatever else an advertiser is trying to sell)
It’s no wonder, then, that a number of top consumer brands – including Red Bull, Sephora, KFC and Kellogg’s – have all dipped their toes into the digital gaming waters. Kellogg’s, for example, worked with a European marketing agency to design a 3D animated character wearing a Twitch hoodie, who could appear in ads shown on Twitch. KFC has actively sponsored a top Twitch gamer who happens to excel at a specific videogame where one of the big catchphrases is “Winner Winner, Chicken Dinner.” And Old Spice has sponsored real-time events using the live chat functionality of Twitch.
Pitching the right products to the Twitch audience
The one big caveat to keep in mind, however, is that the gaming audience on Twitch skews very male and very young. More than 80% of the Twitch audience is comprised of male gamers, and just over half of all Twitch users (55%) are in the 18-to-34 category. That might be the perfect demographic to pitch KFC chicken dinners, but maybe not the best demographic for other products (like luxury cars).
It’s clear, though, that Twitch marketing is very much “a thing” these days, and some of the world’s most innovative brands are leading the way. The good news is that many of the same strategies and tactics used for YouTube – such as seeking out influencers and paying for ads before, during and after streams – seem to be directly applicable to the world of Twitch marketing.