Twitch is a young-skewing streaming platform, speaking in a coded internet language most adults can’t follow, but there is one area in which it's starting to grow up—advertising. As with any bleeding-edge internet community, with a raucous fanbase and a corporate parent like Amazon, there are bound to be some inter-generational skirmishes when the brands come knocking.
Amazon and Twitch are in the middle of what’s become a familiar dance, a large internet platform trying to nurture its hipper acquisition without ruining what its fanbase loves about the service in the first place. For years, Amazon kept its distance from Twitch, allowing it to explore marketing and advertising through its own ad sales team, and it still is. But as Twitch matures—and shows impressive growth—Amazon is starting to meddle. Amazon is assimilating Twitch into its ad platform.
From the perspective of marketers, the opportunities are exciting, even if they lead to some grumbling among Twitch’s vocal user base. Brands like Chipotle, Hershey and General Mills see the potential of working with Twitch to reach its audience of hardcore gaming fanatics, and now there is this new channel emerging that could tie major brand campaigns on Twitch to direct sales through the traditional online ad marketplace run by Amazon.
“We have made an announcement that we’ve joined together,” says Sarah Iooss, head of sales for the Americas at Twitch, referring to Amazon incorporating Twitch into its ad platform. “And we are going to be bringing our marketing partners the best of both worlds, and that will definitely impact how we go to market and what kind of ad products are available.”
Light the fires
In September, Amazon took its biggest steps since buying the company in 2014, bringing Twitch into the Amazon Ads Platform. So far, it’s a limited integration with marketers in Canada, Japan, Spain and Italy using the self-serve Amazon Ads Platform to place ads within Twitch.
It’s no wonder that Amazon would take a little more of a role in Twitch’s business; the video site is seeing a rush of new activity and there is always pressure to ramp up revenue. Now, there is a concerted effort to light the ad fires.
A recent advertising pitch deck (below) shows how Twitch has tried to motivate marketers with its attractive audience. It’s an audience of mainly young (70% of Twitch users are younger than 34 years old), male gamers, who are elusive and desirable for brands. The pitch deck describes all the ad formats available—including “first video impression takeover” ads that run the second a viewer opens a livestream channel (an ad format also being used by Snapchat) and the “premium video,” which are described as “ad block resistant” and “unskippable.” That kind of language could spell trouble for Twitch with its gamer audience, since it’s a community notorious for deploying ad blockers and recoiling at the site of brands.