On the weekend of October the 26th, the San Jose Convention Center hosted TwitchCon 2018. For three full days, the livestreaming giant invited the most popular gamers, artists, and brands to share their expertise and experience. Attendees also had a chance to get a first look at new games and Twitch developments, plus valuable networking opportunities.
While the Twitch.tv platform is hugely influential in the video game niche, generating a quarter of one game’s total sales, Twitch influencer marketing extends beyond just gaming. Twitch users are receptive to sponsored ads from brands of all kinds, meaning it’s a level playing field for non-endemic, or non-gaming, brands. Several popular non-endemic brands have taken advantage of Twitch influencer partnerships, including Hershey’s, Doritos, Monster Energy, Nissin, and more.
Below we’ve detailed the five most important things marketers need to know about the newest games, biggest trends, and most exciting developments from TwitchCon 2018.
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Out of three full days of presentations, demos, and meet and greets, a few things about TwitchCon 2018 stood out from the crowd. Together, these top five exciting updates are changing the future of Twitch influencer marketing.
Interview with Twitch CEO and Co-Founder, Emmett Shear, at TwitchCon 2018.
Twitch Sings is arguably the biggest new development. Up until now, Twitch’s games have primarily attracted a young, male demographic. But partnered with Harmonix, the creator of Rock Band, Twitch Sings reigns in a new Twitch era.
You already stream your heart out. Soon, you can sing your heart out, too.
— Twitch (@Twitch) October 26, 2018
The game, which is currently in beta testing, allows concurrent viewers to broadcast their best karaoke performances on the virtual Twitch stage. While the song versions will be fake due to Twitch’s lack of major music licenses, the numerous fun features are likely to attract an impressive following. More importantly, it should reel in more female players and broader demographics in general. For marketers, this development predicts the potential for even more influencer partnership opportunities than currently available.
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Out of several notable brands present at the expo, World of Tanks boasted one of the largest booths. More impressively, they even showed up to TwitchCon with a real tank displayed by the food court for photo ops.
Yep, we heard right. pic.twitter.com/YIMAjlKGWO
— TwitchCon 2018 (@TwitchCon) October 28, 2018
Twitch sponsorships aren’t confined to only gaming brands—non-endemic brands have begun to sponsor tournaments, like the TwitchCon Doritos Black Ops tournament. Of all the partnerships we spotted, most were from Red Bull, 5-Hour Energy Drink, and Uber Eats.
— TwitchCon 2018 (@TwitchCon) October 27, 2018
Popular livestreamer “Ninja” addressed the effectiveness of non-endemic brand partnerships in his recent stream, stating, “My favorite partnerships and sponsors are the ones that are absolutely natural and the ones that I already enjoy using their product”.
— Gonzo Back Home (@SalsaGonzo) October 27, 2018
Non-endemic brands are slowly trickling in, but advertising within the Twitch ecosystem is still in its infancy. The main KPIs for sponsorships so far are mostly awareness and impressions. Cup Noodles and Hershey’s, for example, were just giving out product.
— TwitchCon 2018 (@TwitchCon) October 28, 2018
Shockingly, Morgan Stanley showed up with a booth, reportedly believing Activision Blizzard could reach $12.9 billion in revenue. Other non-endemic brands included Doritos, Hershey’s, Nissin, Skype, and Nerf.
As of today, the pricing for certain deliverables are not yet clear because streamers and brands have not established their value. Only a limited number of brands exist in the space, and the majority of brand activations are about a branding and awareness play. While no direct response campaigns were noticed, there’s more opportunity for conversion-driven campaigns as long as they’re natural integrations. Due to new developments announced at TwitchCon, these types of partnerships are on the horizon!
A TwitchCon update would not be complete without acknowledging the huge presence of esports events. This year, there were three main tournaments happening with enormous opportunities for players:
Similar to a traditional sports team, esports teams are beginning to strike exclusive endorsement deals where the brand logo is placed on the player’s jerseys.
Twitch unveiled a lineup of new and improved tools to help streamers expand their build their communities and monetize their channels.
New features include:
Viewers will soon be able to watch up to four livestreams in tandem both on desktop and mobile. With Squad Screen, the viewer will watch a primary streamer and see the viewpoints of three other members of the squad (which can be toggled). Currently, viewers must have multiple windows open to view multiple streams concurrently. This feature will be beta tested through the rest of the year.
Twitch Highlight Editor
The Twitch Highlight Editor is getting an upgrade. This tool allows Twitch creators to pull a clip from a livestream, usually a noteworthy moment from gameplay, and post it to their channel. By creating highlight clips, creators have content to showcase when they are offline, which can help them passively to build their following and attract more viewers. The newest version of this feature will drop in January 2019. Currently, streamers can only grab a single isolated clip – the new Highlight Editor will allow for piecing together multiple moments into best-of sequence of clips.
Twitch’s Bounty Board offer streamers the chance to find brand sponsorships that match with their personal style and community tastes. The Bounty Board will expand from a prior limited beta release, adding 30 more brands and allowing Twitch influencers from the US and Canada to obtain brand sponsorships.
Twitch Moderator Tools
Mods, you have our sword.
In January, you’ll be able to check a user’s chat, ban, and timeout history — AND leave secret notes for other mods. Prepare for Illuminati spam. pic.twitter.com/CAjoEvPYDw
— Twitch (@Twitch) October 26, 2018
Twitch is expanding their moderation toolkit for streamers, a crucial resource for managing their online community. Moderators, known as “mods,” can now view more detailed user information like the age of an account, previous bans and timeouts, and number of chat messages sent. Mods can also leave secret notes to other moderators, which can help to flag abusive behavior on the Twitch platform. Ultimately, Twitch moderators can use this pertinent user data to make better decisions about targetting troublemakers.
One of Mediakix’s very own attended TwitchCon 2018 and caught up with Twitch streamer Sam Sheffer to get his feedback on these Creator tools: “I’m really looking forward to Squad Streaming and the new mod tool—seeing specific stats that quickly (how long a user has been on Twitch, how long they’ve been following, etc.) is going to help [streamers] a ton with moderation.”
Since Twitch is traditionally known as a gaming community, we also set out to ask a gaming expert why Twitch is a go-to. Shaun McBride (Shonduras), owner of Spacestation Gaming, told us:
“Twitch is becoming one of the most popular social media platforms and I think the reason for this is the community. With Twitch, you aren’t getting a five-second impression or an eight-minute watch time on a YouTube video, you are getting hours of watch time, which in turn builds a stronger relationship with your community. For me, community is everything and that is why I see Twitch continuing to dominate the space.”
This is directly in line with CEO Emmett Shear’s keynote address at TwitchCon in which he highlighted the importance of community. These new tools will help moderators make truly informed decisions on how to keep their community running smoothly.
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One of the biggest indicators of Twitch’s current popularity is the remarkable TwitchCon turnout. In 2018, about 30,000 people were in attendance and the event sold out.
Gender Demographics At TwitchCon 2018
Of these attendees, there were decidedly more men than women; Mediakix roughly estimates around a 60% male majority. This lines up with Twitch user stats, which shows a strong leaning to a male audience. Although male gaming trends have led to complaints from female users, the possibility of new Twitch games welcoming a more balanced audience is promising.
Age Range Of TwitchCon 2018 Attendees
The overall demographic on Twitch is also quite young (teens to early 20s), which explains the section of the convention called the Museum of Emotes. Artists were commissioned to create amazing pieces of art around emotes and inside jokes within the Twitch community.
Snapchat, a social media platform that’s especially popular with Gen Z and Millenials, also made an appearance. Snapchat announced the integration of Snapchat lenses into livestreams using a custom Twitch extension, which allows streamers to use creative video filters.
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TwitchCon 2018 painted a promising picture of its marketing potential. While the platform is still in its early stages of growth, the recent announcements and developments demonstrate clear intent and opportunity to broaden Twitch’s reach to a wide range of brand sponsorships. The company announced that over one million users are watching Twitch content at any given time.
Twitch’s connection with Amazon can only fuel the platform’s growth. Since Twitch is actually a subsidiary, Amazon offers incentives to its Prime Members, including exclusive in-game loot and monthly free game downloads. Overall, Twitch streamers have made it loud and clear: they’ve entered the influencer marketing game, and they’re here to stay.