Twitch expands brand sponsorships on non-esports content
As Twitch has grown in content, viewers and brand partners, the Amazon-owned streaming platform popular with gamers is expanding its brand sponsorship opportunities to more content outside of competitive esports streams.
A new Official Marketing Partner program will start working with brands to create custom activations around non-competitive content on Twitch’s own dedicated gaming channel /twitchgaming. Chipotle and Ally Financial are the first brands testing out new sponsorship opportunities to reach the platform’s primarily Gen Z and millennial audiences who visit the channel for gaming news, interviews and events.
“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,” says Lou Garate, head of global sponsorship sales at Twitch, who joined Twitch in November 2019 after a 12-year stint in partnership marketing at Nascar. “These viewers may or may not follow esports but are tapped into what's next and new in the gaming space.”
Twitch first began experimenting with brand partnerships through the platform’s existing Official Marketing Partner program for Twitch Rivals, a platform designed for online competitions for Twitch streamers. Since Rivals began in 2018, brands across verticals, like Samsung, Dunkin’ and State Farm, have worked with the platform to launch custom marketing programs like sponsored livestreams and gaming challenges.
The new program reflects Twitch’s growth and the desires of its partner brands to raise awareness and loyalty among all gamers on the platform, and not just ones interested in Rivals’ esports content. It's also indicative that Twitch wants to grow its own channels and work with brands directly.
Twitch ballooned in popularity during the pandemic as gaming and streaming emerged as favorite activities. Twitch has nearly doubled its daily visitors and minutes watched since the pandemic began. The platform now sees an average of 30 million daily visitors—up from 17.5 million in 2020. Visitors watched over 1 trillion minutes in 2020, up from 600 billion minutes in 2019.
Nearly half of Twitch users are 18 to 34 years old, and 21% are aged 13 to 17. Twitch creators are also gaining followings off the platform. Creators are being treated more like traditional athletes, signing on with talent agencies and appearing in ad campaigns.
All this is bringing in more interest from brand partners. In the first quarter of 2021, Twitch says the average campaign size for sponsorships increased by 82% year-over-year.
“As gaming continues to push to the forefront of mainstream entertainment and brands pick up on the unique value of reaching gamers, we’re expanding the array of sponsorship opportunities available to help brands engage with our community,” says Garate.
Garate describes /twitchgaming as “built by gamers for gamers.” First launched in May 2020, the channel currently has 458,000 followers, made up of people who Garate says consume nearly all entertainment online and are difficult to reach through traditional advertising.
Visitors to Twitch’s /twitchgaming page are met with a video that describes what streamers can expect on the channel. It promises to be a place for gamers to find original programming around game releases, industry events and interviews with plenty of the platform’s most viral gamers like Techniq (57,000 followers), SanchoWest (142,000 followers), Storymodebae (27,000 followers) and invited creators and celebrities such as chicken nugget lover DeeNugLife (2,800 followers) and Chess Grandmaster Garry Kasparov.
The channel is currently hosting a summer “Gathering” event series, which began on June 10, where developers and publishers such as Xbox and Bethesda reveal new games coming out in the coming year. All content on /twitchgaming is an interactive experience for viewers. The platform’s Chat Decoder surfaces viewers’ questions and comments for the hosts to react and respond.
Brands will be able to receive category exclusivity, branded content integrations, branded segments and product placement in /twitchgaming shows such as The Weekly, Twitch’s Gaming Purple Carpet and industry event simulcasts. New marketing partners will also have rights to /twitchgaming IP to use their sponsorships in marketing campaigns off the platform. Twitch did not reveal the pricing for the new sponsorship opportunities.
Chipotle has signed on for a category exclusive as /twitchgaming’s official fast-casual restaurant and quick-service restaurant to drive conversation around the importance of sustainability and real ingredients. In the coming months, Chipotle will have branded features and custom segments in The Weekly programming, such as “Chipotle Build Your Own PC” segment, where guests will build their own PCs similar to how customers build their own burritos at Chipotle. Following the segment, Chipotle and Twitch will donate the equipment to a non-profit. Twitch draws community insights from a 60,000-person user panel, called the Twitch Research Power Group, and found that 97% of Twitch users eat at quick service restaurants and 57% do so on a weekly basis, according to Garate.
“Being an inaugural partner of /twitchgaming will allow us to deepen our relationship with the gaming community with exciting new content and highlight our own esports initiatives, such as the Chipotle Challenger Series,” says Stephanie Perdue, vice president of brand marketing at Chipotle.
Ally Financial, parent company to Ally Bank, meanwhile, has signed on to hold category exclusivity as the official financial services partner. Ally will be the presenting partner of Game Changers, a limited-run series on /twitchgaming, which spotlights gaming creators from underrepresented groups. Ally first worked with Twitch on sponsored influencer streams to support its Ally Island on Animal Crossing: New Horizons and through videos ads. The platform’s Twitch Research Power Group revealed that 88% of Twitch users have a checking account and 75% of users have at least one savings account.
“Ally has been an early and consistent mover in the gaming space,” says Andrea Brimmer, chief marketing and public relations officer at Ally Financial Inc. “Expanding our relationship with Twitch solidifies our position by making a stronger commitment to a young, diverse audience that isn’t viewing traditional media. The opportunity to be the Presenting Partner of Game Changers, spotlighting and celebrating creators within underrepresented groups in the gaming industry, is a great fit with our ‘Do It Right’ brand mantra and helps us round out our D&I strategy in an authentic way.”