"Building the Brand" is a regular feature from Ad Age Studio 30 that tells the story behind the journey from scrappy startup to thriving business. This excerpt from the second installment of the series examines how Twitch evolved from its beginnings as Justin.TV spinoff to gaming and esports mecca to all-purpose interactive livestreaming service. Click here to download the full article.
Why so many marketers are 'leaning in' to Twitch
Twitch turned 10 earlier this year, and its growth story may be just getting started. “We love being the leading interactive livestreaming service and we think the category has so much growth ahead of it,” says Twitch Chief Marketing Officer Doug Scott, who is joined by another former gaming industry executive, Chief Content Officer Michael Aragon, in building the Twitch brand. “We don’t see an end in sight for the potential market or experience of Twitch.”
Twitch is still primarily a venue for young men to participate in amateur gaming and professional esports competitions, but more diverse audiences and content creators are increasingly finding their way onto the platform. Just Chatting became the No. 1 non-gaming category on Twitch in 2020, with broadcasts growing 171% year-over-year, according to the company.
For marketers, it seems that the Twitch craze is here to stay. The company is attracting many more brands in mainstream categories like consumer packaged goods, quick-service restaurants and financial services. Automakers are among the most ubiquitous esports sponsors, and are now looking to expand their reach and engagement with the Twitch audience.
“We saw an opportunity to tap into one of the biggest passion points of younger consumers—gaming—in a way that allows them to get to know more about Lexus as a brand and our new IS,” says Vinay Shahani, VP of marketing at Lexus, referring to an early 2021 promotion in which Twitch viewers were encouraged to help design a mock version of its new IS sport sedan during a livestream with that drew more than a half-million unique viewers.
Twitch believes that many future content growth opportunities will come in “lifestyle” categories like fashion and food. It is also venturing further into the world of traditional sports. Sports talk is one of the fastest-growing categories on Twitch, particularly in Europe, where the Twitch platform provides a natural outlet for sports enthusiasts to digest the buzz around major news events like soccer superstar Lionel Messi’s switching teams earlier this year.
As an Amazon-owned company, Twitch uses a variety of data to determine which types of content viewers are most interested in and how much to invest in new categories. “We have a lot of data that we can use to figure out which segments are growing and what levers to pull,” says Aragon. “We look at the behavior of both viewers and creators in great depth,” adds Scott. “We have a robust CRM practice and invest heavily in our social support and customer experience team, which is a critical part of how we interact with our community.”
A lot of work to improve the site experience on Twitch takes place behind the scenes, including an ongoing effort by the company, which was the victim of a hack back in October, to update moderate tools and ensure brand safety. “Next year, safety is going to be one of our biggest, if not the biggest, areas of investment in terms of people, process and technology,” says Aragon.
Meanwhile, Twitch continues to cast an ever-wider net. More than 26 million channels went live last year, and total hours watched has increased every month so far in 2021. Scott says he is not concerned about Twitch straying too far from its gaming roots. “As long as we take care of our creators and their communities, everything will be fine,” he says.
For more of the inside story on how Twitch works with marketers to develop integrated programs and it builds its own brand through community outreach, social media and traditional campaigns, download the complete article.