Tech Zone

Branding and Advertising Through Gaming Influencers and Live Streaming

Each year, live game streaming is capturing a larger share of the total gaming industry, and gaming influencers capture most of the views. Brands took notice and are advertising on sites like Twitch and YouTube Gaming in collaboration with the influencers.
— By Karen White

Live streaming platforms for games have taken on importance in the world of business branding. The reason is simple: Game influencers have tens of thousands or even millions of dedicated followers. It is the ideal setup for marketers who want to appeal to a particular market segment. Choosing the right live streaming gaming influencers requires finding those with a large following who follow the do’s and don’ts of streaming.

There are also do’s and don’ts of marketing on gaming sites. Like any branding effort, there is the risk of association with a game or gamer that does not meet business values or standards.

Two of the most popular game live streaming sites are Twitch and YouTube Gaming, so they can be used as good examples of the growing popularity of this social media forum and its role in branding.

Going to the Source of Influence
For those unfamiliar with live streaming gaming, sites like Twitch, YouTube Gaming, Beam, Hatbox, Facebook Gaming, and a dozen others are platforms for people who want to live broadcast original content games, view games, or participate in games. Game influencers are the people who are most successful in creating content and attracting players and viewers.

Game influencers are called that because each one accounts for a high percentage of views. It is estimated that 10 percent of 2 million Twitch content creators account for 95 percent of views. Targeting advertising to the channels of the 10 percent makes sense. Each platform has different features, but most analysts place Twitch and YouTube Gaming at or near the top of their lists.

Twitch is owned by Amazon, and in January 2020, analysts tracking the statistics reported that Twitch had more than 842 million hours of watch time. YouTube Gaming had 287 million hours of watch in January 2020, but the company is busy adding features and functionality that are clear moves to lure as many Twitch gamers as possible.

In a nutshell, on the various game sites, anyone can choose a game, start watching or begin playing. What is seen is the game in progress with a small inset box with the gamer talking about the game and others joining in the conversation and game. By creating a free account, a viewer can go beyond watching and engage with the live streamer or stream their own content.

Reaching Gamers
The popular live streaming video sites are ideal for brand advertising. The streamers need the income, and the business needs the marketing venue. Before the game begins on some Google YouTube Gaming channels, short advertising videos play.

YouTube offers three types of YouTube video ads. When video monetization is turned on, the ad format can be to the right of the video or a semi-transparent overlay ad appearing in the lower 20 percent portion of the video. It can be skippable or non-skippable. Other choices include bumper ads (non-skippable video ads that must be watched for at least 6 seconds) and sponsored cards. The sponsored cards display content relevant to the video, like featured products.

Twitch has elevated itself with brand advertising by offering a variety of dynamic options that include video, IAB displays and turnkey. For example, the Bounty Board lets advertisers fill in their marketing campaign information on a turnkey option. Influencers navigate the Bounty Board marketplace and choose the ones they believe best suits their audience interests. Video options include mobile video and desktop video. However, Cross Screen video enables a creative marketing video asset to be incorporated into live broadcasts across desktop, mobile, and tablet.

These are just some of the options brands can choose from to reach the people watching live game streaming on Twitch. Simple banner advertising is available also.

Make No Assumptions
To get maximum exposure, streaming game platforms allow streaming their videos on other popular social media sites. The one thing brands should not do is make assumptions about who is streaming, watching and playing games.

For example, gamers are often thought of as teenage boys or young males. In 2019, the games market analytics company Newzoo research found that 46 percent of gamers are women.

Gaming is global, so males and females can also connect with people around the world.
The research also found that female and male game enthusiasts have different habits. For example, more than a third of all female enthusiasts play games to fill time, compared to 9 percent of men. Another example is that 14 percent of female game enthusiasts watch more gaming content than playing games themselves. These are consumers easy to reach on gaming sites like Twitch and YouTube.

Advertisers should also be interested in knowing gaming is not an isolated behavior. People join games as spectators and players for the social experience. Google research found that female YouTube gamers watch the gaming videos when they want to connect with people to whom they can relate.

Gaming is global, so males and females can also connect with people around the world. This means the gamers have a broad global audience that advertisers can tap in to.

Careful Associations
There are some guidelines advertisers can use to increase their chances of success.

One is that it is important to carefully choose the game influencers. The brand must decide if the association is beneficial. For example, war games can be very violent or some gamers will swear.

The brand must decide what it is willing to be associated with. The marketing base targeted must respect the influencer or the number of game influencer followers will not matter to the brand. The influencer’s followers must be interested in what the company has to offer and gets interested because the influencer fits the brand.

Another strategy is to collaborate with the influencer to learn what kind of advertising content would work the best with followers. Game influencers know how to appeal to a certain market segment.

For example, Nike and Adidas include Twitch in their marketing mix because Twitch reaches approximately 50 percent of the millennial male population. The brands launch products, livestream unboxing new products, and host influencer-led giveaways.

Wendy’s took a different approach. The company launched its own Twitch channel, hosted the most popular games, and integrated branding into the broadcast, like giveaways using elements of gameplay.

Companies can use their creativity, reach younger generations of game players and create loyal customers with the help of game influencers.