Amazon has ended ad-free streaming on Twitch. Starting on September 14, even paying subscribers to the gameplay streaming service will have to watch ads. While viewers might be disappointed, the move creates an opportunity for brands.
Launched in 2011, Twitch was nearly acquired by Google three years later before Amazon swooped in with a competitive all-cash bid. The platform currently has more than 15 million daily active viewers who spend an average of 95 minutes on it every day. At any given moment in January, an average 962,000 viewers watched content on Twitch, using both desktop and mobile devices as well as gaming consoles.
Twitch has become so big that celebrities and public figures want in on the fun. In March, Twitch hit its most concurrent views for one video at 628,000 views when content creator Ninja played Fortnite with Drake and Travis Scott. In July, the Washington Post kicked off its own Twitch channel with a series called “Playing Games with Politicians,” where prominent politicians are interviewed as they play video games.
As the platform continues to grow, brands would be wise to take advantage of Twitch’s merchandising opportunities, which don’t always look like straightforward pre-roll and in-stream video spots. For example, Samsung is tapping into the popularity of Fortnite (the most popular game on Twitch) by giving free in-game money to anyone who buys a Galaxy. Brands can also create content with popular streamers, promote products under their videos on hyperlinked preferred gear lists, or even create their own channels.
For brands seeking a visibility boost, Twitch’s reach is nearly unparalleled. Between Q2 2017 and Q1 2018, the site drove desktop site traffic for a quarter of brands analyzed in Gartner L2’s Digital IQ Index: Consumer Electronics. Nine percent of Acer’s site traffic originated from Twitch, the largest share among analyzed brands. PlayStation drew in over 500,000 visitors from Twitch, accounting for 1.3% of the brand’s referral traffic.
Brands outside the consumer electronics realm can also use Twitch to raise brand awareness and drive site traffic. In 2015, Proctor & Gamble’s Old Spice became the first non-gaming brand to create branded content for the platform. The Old Spice Nature Adventure campaign featured a live stream of a real man venturing through a forest for three days and invited Twitch viewers to control his actions through commands in the chat bar. Similarly, Geico develops content for its own channel in addition to advertising on popular content creator channels. As a result, Twitch was the tenth-largest referrer to Geico’s brand site between Q2 2017 and Q1 2018, driving 1.89% of referral traffic.