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Twitch - a social media platform for gamers
May 27, 2021
STOCKHOLM


When a gamer usually plays, according to the prejudice, it can be a bit lonely, but the gaming platform Twitch solved this by offering the ability to share screen, sound and image when playing so that others can watch but also engage with the person who streams their gaming experience.

Twitch is a live streaming platform focused on video games. It was founded by Silicon Valley duo Emmett Shear and Justin Kan in 2011, originally as a spin-off of Justin.tv Streaming gaming was not as simple then as it has become today, when thanks to Twitch functionality is built into modern game consoles. This however, was a key area of focus for the nascent company, who accordingly hired a specialist streamer to help people set up video game streaming. This was a prescient move. The gambling category of Justin.tv quickly established itself as the most popular part on the site, leading to a decision to spin it off as Twitch.tv

As the COVID-19 pandemic raged throughout 2020, most people turned to different types of digital entertainment. That trend helped push Twitch to record growth numbers, with viewership growing even faster.

Time spent watching gaming content on Twitch increased by 50 percent between March and April 2020. But that trend didn’t stop growing throughout the rest of the year. In fact, gamers tuned in to watch over 1.7 billion hours of content on Twitch. That’s a 26.2 percent increase from the 32.9 million viewers reached in 2019. Gaming still makes up the bread and butter of Twitch content, but non-gaming content has grown too. With many live events being canceled, struggling artists took to the platform to try to earn a living online. In total, half a million users stream different types of content from their Twitch accounts to viewers all around the world on a daily basis.

So, how does Twitch actually work?

As we already have mentioned, Twitch is built around three levels. The first one being for its users and streamers, where the account can follow other accounts, participate in chat and publish their own videos for others to see. The next level that the account can be worked up to via various so-called achievements is the Affiliate level. Achievements can be, for example, having streamed at least a certain time daily, for the last 30 days, or that the account is having a certain number of viewers on average per stream for a specific amount of time. When those requirements have been met and the account has become an Affiliate account, a few more functionalities are added to the channel, but mainly a subscription button for fans so that they will receive notifications when the account is live and streaming. Partner is the highest level and not that many creators manage to achieve it, where a user needs to apply for something similar to what Twitter and Instagram have, that has verified users and is based on a certain number of followers.

The streamers can join Twitch, share their content from their mobile phones, computers or game consoles. The platform is strongly focused on user interaction through chats, which the streamer can customize through emotes customized to the streamer's channel, a bit like Linkedin or Facebook that have their different reactions. A system for celebrating and showing support has also been developed and is called bits, these you will be paying for and you will be able to show what degree of support you want to give to the channel by giving a certain number. What sets Twitch apart from many other social media is that some features are locked behind payments.

The target audience on Twitch

  • - 30 million visit Twitch.tv every day
  • - 1 billion hours were watched on Twitch during 2020
  • - 7 million people stream videos from their account every month
  • - 31 years is the average age at Twitch in Europe
  • - 73% are men and 23% are women on Twitch in Europe

Advertise on Twitch

On August 25, 2014, Twitch was acquired by Amazon.com for $970 million. Since that acquisition, there are some correlations to Amazon, such as that products can be linked directly to Amazon and that via Amazon Prime you also can get access to a premium login mode on Twitch.

Unlike many other social platforms, Twitch shares its advertising revenue with its creators. Where the two higher levels Affiliate and Partners can take part in it because they attract people to the platform with their streamed videos. As a channel owner, you decide yourself how often and how long the ads you will show on your video stream. But the account can not decide to whom the ad is going to be shown, because Twitch has a similar interest based recommendation advertising system similar to Amazon's approach. The ad formats that are supported on Twitch are:

  • - Twitch ad-700x419
  • - Homepage carousel Aims to show a livestream channel and is not as distinct as a typical ad unit. It is most commonly used with so-called Partner collaborations where a brand sponsors a stream.
  • - Homepage headliner. Retains your brand's visibility and surrounds Twitch's most premium inventory. This ad unit can scale seamlessly with carried screen resolution and display sizes without the risk of branding being compromised.
  • - Medium Rectangle. Here you can use partially moving elements that loop but for a maximum of 15 seconds for your ad.
  • - Super Leaderboard. This advertising space is located where the user searches and has the same premises as in the above mentioned format.
  • - Premium Video. Here, advertisers have up to 30 seconds of non-skippable video but even up to 60 seconds is possible.

The ad formats are mainly categorized based on where on the site they are placed and the bidding then controls to who the ad is displayed and of course based on the user's interests and previous behaviour. Until now, Twitch allows third-party tracking, but only from the technology accepted by them.

A channel to reach a potential target group

It is not unusual for an interest-based live video platform to gain a foothold in a digital landscape and go home with a more young target group at the start and then spread upwards between different generations. We have seen this happen with most social media, where Instagram is one that has shown its broad target group and maturity over the past years. In 2013, there were 100 million users worldwide and 15% of Europeans used the app. In 2020, Instagram had 1 billion users, where we have seen a marked increase of up to 71% usage in Europe and where pensioners account for the large increase with a whole 11 percentage points.

Whether Twitch will increase the number to more different age groups, the future will show, but that the target group is increased to not only be centered around the interest in gaming but get the majority of page categories on content can be a highly probable development.

Then it is also worth remembering that gamers also eat, sleep and have other interests or needs than just gaming, so not only game makers or developers are relevant on a channel like this. For example, a service that solves everyone's problems for dinner cooking can be a highly relevant advertiser to reach a certain segment of the target group on Twitch. It is of course important then that you adapt the nature of the communication to appeal to the target group both in design and tonality.