How Twitch is growing its brand and creator base with diversity in mind
The deadline for Ad Age’s annual 40 Under 40 feature is just a few weeks away. Ahead of its publication on Oct. 4, we are asking former honorees to share career advice, including how they got to where they are today. Don’t forget to nominate your own rising stars for this year’s list ahead of the July 15 deadline. You can do so at AdAge.com/40u40.
It’s been a year since we last spoke with Ryan Avery, senior program activation manager at Twitch. He was finishing out his fourth year in his position, connecting advertisers to content creators through the world of esports and gaming. Avery, a former co-leader of Twitch’s The Black Guild, an organization for Black Twitch employees and creators to advocate for an inclusive, thoughtful environment at the company, helps craft campaigns for brands like Miller and Coca-Cola. After a tumultuous year of pandemic life, Twitch, and Avery, have both evolved and adapted to the COVID world. We caught up with Avery to hear what he’s learned, achieved, and what advice he’d give to his younger self.
Twitch has seen so much movement and growth in the past couple of years. What are you the proudest of, and what are your goals moving forward?
It's difficult to pick one thing, but I would say the increase in the number of creators making a living on Twitch is something that I am incredibly proud to see. Today, more than 850,000 creators each month earn revenue from either Commerce or Ads on Twitch, and that number more than doubled last year. All Twitch employees are united under this one mission, and our teams are delivering—from new commerce updates, to sponsorship opportunities, to ad revenue, and creator development resources, the list goes on. The success in all these areas have given creators the opportunity to become more successful on Twitch, and will help Twitch to become an even stronger live streaming service.
We last spoke with you a year ago when you were featured on our 40 under 40 list. What have you learned in the past year?
I've learned that it’s not just about my own personal growth, when it comes to making an impact on the business. As the business grows, so must the size and capability of its workforce. It’s all about the team. That means taking time to hire and develop talent to elevate the bar across the board. As our team grows, I’ve recognized the opportunities where I can help my colleagues grow, and vice versa.
What’s been the biggest change in your role due to the pandemic?
My role requires connecting with internal teams, external partners, and talent (think: creators, athletes, celebrities, and the like). Without being able to meet in-person, I had to change the way I connect with colleagues and partners. Part of that includes being more empathetic and mindful of everyone’s work-life harmony. I had to learn how to keep my correspondence efficient with some colleagues, and for others, I may need to do a friendly check-in and offer extra support. Across our team, we’ve learned how to best work together, to get the best results for our creators and for the brands looking to connect with the Twitch community.
What should the industry do to encourage more diversity in its ranks?
This is an important question. Within the advertising industry, we’re creating campaigns that speak to a global cast, so every person involved—from inspiration to execution—should reflect that same diversity. Every advertising executive should understand the importance of elevating diverse creatives and creators as it relates to the success of their business. We should all be challenging ourselves to improve hiring practices that foster a diverse candidate pool. Getting diverse candidates through the door is only half of the solution: we need to cultivate inclusive and supportive working environments to retain those employees. Workplaces have to promote diverse ideas, backgrounds, and perspectives to get there.
What piece of advice do you wish you could give your younger self?
Buy GME. Joking aside, I would tell myself to be more vocal. It took time for me to get comfortable enough to voice my perspective, concerns, and ideas. When your intention is to support the team to reach business goals, you don't need to wait to be comfortable or know you're 100% right. As a team you will find the answer together. You'll also find that oftentimes your intuition was spot on, so just trust yourself. Any time that you speak up is a potential learning experience and opportunity to push yourself further professionally. Take that chance.
What do you find most surprising about where you are now?
I'm always surprised that there is still so much to learn. There's an infinite number of possibilities for growth, if you are ever vigilant to find them. You can look into coaching or mentorship programs, connect with other teams in other areas of the business, or take on a stretch project and challenge yourself. Whatever you do, never stop learning.
Correction: Ryan Avery is no longer a co-leader of Twitch’s The Black Guild. An earlier version of this article misstated that fact.