Twitch's head of sales chats about the pandemic, partnerships—and poop?
The coronavirus pandemic has served as a boon for Amazon-owned Twitch, with users consuming more than 5 billion hours of content on the platform in the second quarter—a whopping 2,662 percent increase year-over-year.
“It has helped us grow our ad business,” says Sarah Iooss, head of sales for the Americas at Twitch. “It’s been an unbelievable time for us, not just with ad dollars but also with the depth of our partnerships.”
Ad Age caught up with Iooss and asked her what brands are getting right (and wrong) when advertising on the platform; who the most popular streamers are; and which categories are showing the most growth. This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.
What video games do you play?
I have two kids and I am a Nintendo fan. I dabble in Minecraft, but I like to play Mario Kart the most.
What’s something brands should think about before advertising on Twitch?
If you’re contemplating strategy and decide to go all-in on a game integration, you should know that a lot will ride on whether that game is successful. The same can be said with an esports team.
Give me a brand that’s doing a lot of things right on your platform.
I would say P&G.
Why is that?
They are doing the best creative work with us in terms of strategies that span for an entire year. They also speak to our audience in an authentic way.
Give me an example.
The Charmin brand has a custom game with us called Deuce Invaders. It’s Duck Hunt meets Space Invaders meets poop. It’s funny, but the game is also challenging. The Charmin bear also does this floss with it’s butt. It works because it expresses their brand in a way that is spot on. It’s also humorous, which captures the spirit of Twitch.
A poop-based version of Duck Hunt sounds hilarious. What else are they getting right?
Gillette awards Bits to viewers and they can use them on any Twitch channel.
On Twitch there is a currency called Bits. It’s part of our ecosystem. It’s how streamers earn money. When you give Bits you are cheering for a streamer and giving them money. When Gillette gives out Bits, they’re positioning themselves as an enabler of both community and creator success.
Tell me something that most brands get wrong when it comes to advertising on Twitch.
If you’re just running ads on Twitch, but aren’t on the platform, it doesn’t work well. Another thing is some people will say they must have a gaming strategy to be on Twitch. That is not true. Brands will often say, “I don’t have a gaming strategy,” and I’ll push back and say, “You have a millennial and Gen Z strategy. That is core to our audience.”
Ad Age recently reported that the most popular category on Twitch has nothing to do with gaming. What are some other trends?
Music has exploded on the platform. The rise of females on our platform is another amazing thing I’m proud to see. It’s also interesting to see brands reaching out and wanting to learn about our luxury and beauty category.
Tell me about brand safety. I’ve noticed sexist comments in chat when a woman is streaming on Twitch.
Brand safety is our biggest priority. We have a huge investment in it. Twitch is not a free-speech platform. We take action and that’s evident by the very prominent streamers we’ve banned who do not follow our guidelines. Our community also takes pride in enforcing our code; we call our moderators the “Guardians of Twitch.”
Let's switch gears. Twitch has seen a lot of growth thanks to the pandemic. What are some recent deals?
Doritos kicked off as an official marketing partner this May with Doritos Disruptors. It’s a multi-event competition that will run throughout 2020, where five high-profile creators run their own Call of Duty: Warzone tournaments for their community.
Bud Light Seltzer Charity Royale is another. It brought players from the NFL, MLB, NHL and NBA into a Call of Duty tournament to raise money for COVID-19 relief.
And earlier this week Verizon became the exclusive 5G partner of Twitch Rivals, which is a tournament series made for Twitch streamers.