Live-streaming is the next frontier of influencer marketing – Edge

Live-streaming is the next frontier of influencer marketing

Brands have opted for traditional media or mainstream digital channels like Instagram when creating their social marketing strategy. However, that landscape is changing. Research shows that in 2021, 73% of marketers report that they were going to assign a larger part of their marketing budget to influencers.

Brands have opted for traditional media or mainstream digital channels like Instagram when creating their social marketing strategy. 

However, that landscape is changing. Research shows that in 2021, 73% of marketers report that they were going to assign a larger part of their marketing budget to influencers. Live streaming is the most disruptive part of the sector. Platforms like Twitch and YouTube are pulling older audiences away from television and keeping the younger generation engaged for longer than other social platforms.

Contemporary consumers crave authentic and interactive content that they can engage with. Simultaneously, influencers seek partnerships that give them a higher percentage of creative control. These complimentary market forces mean that gaming and live-streaming platforms like Twitch and YouTube attract swathes of viewers who can interact freely with engaging content. And wherever the viewers are – the brands soon follow.

Gaming as an industry is no longer a niche. Video games have increased in popularity to the point that the gaming industry is now even bigger than the movies and music industries combined. 

Yet, gaming still might be the most under-utilised mass medium – why are brands only just waking up to the opportunity more recently? 

What’s the big deal about live-streaming?

Consumers and marketers are now asking why live-streaming has become so popular, and why users spend their time watching another person playing video games? 

A common retort from those less familiar with the space is, “why would you want to watch other people play video games?” Watching someone playing video games is no different to watching other people playing golf or cooking. You are learning from skilled individuals, you are experiencing moments of brilliance and hilarity that you can relate to, and you are living your passion.

Live-streamed gaming has become so popular that even companies such as Netflix are competing for users against gaming brands, which are technically outside their industry. Gamers tend to stream between six and eight hours per day, while users have an average viewing session of more than 90 minutes. 

Netflix admitted in a recent shareholder letter that they are now competing with Fortnite for attention and screen time rather than traditional broadcasters. Millions of people are watching people play and comment on their favourite video games. It is crucial for marketers to understand these industry trends because they are shifting the content consumption paradigm rapidly. 

Audiences congregate around Twitch, Facebook and YouTube to watch their preferred gamer and simultaneously, interact with users through social features such as the chatbox. This is probably the biggest advantage that live streaming has compared to traditional media, as on these platforms, consumers can interact with the presenter and other users on the same channel simultaneously. Gamers are by no means a mono-culture; they vary in geographic location, age, gender, and they are interested in more than just gaming. 

Why is Twitch more powerful than ever?

With over five billion hours of content streamed, Twitch has become a giant in the live-streaming space. The reason why the platform is so unique is that 90% of the content and engagement is live. 

Globally, 15 million people access the platform every day.  In the United States alone, 44% of users are around 20-29 years old, and 31% of users between the ages of 30-39. Twitch has become so large that the Amazon-owned gaming platform is expanding outside gaming to areas such as news and entertainment. 

Recently, the Premier League and the NBA have experimented with streaming games live on Twitch. Indeed, Amazon recently announced that they would broadcast 20 Premier League matches with all 20 teams featuring on their platform. 

The reason for this explosive growth is its live and community-based content which drives higher engagement rates. The platform’s community allows users to produce and connect with a loyal audience – which is like hitting the jackpot in a marketing department. Marketers no longer have to rely on viral videos to get the attention of the consumer. 

These days, Twitch can almost act as a “bridge” between brands and a new generation of entertainment consumers. Due to the nature of live streaming and the long hours that gamers spend on Twitch, live breaks within the sessions are required opening an opportunity for unskippable advertising. Games like Hearthstone, Call of Duty, and Fortnite provides content creators with “breaks” where they can talk about their favourite products and services. 

We’ve seen great campaigns where Uber Eats delivers food to the creator’s door whilst on stream, and the fans order the food. We’ve seen Monster and Red Bull fridges that are on stream for every broadcast. We’ve seen creators in Minecraft, Roblox, and Fortnite create branded environments. The possibilities are endless. This platform brings brands closer to a new audience in a similar way to what companies used to do in traditional media. 

The blurred lines between online and offline

Twitch has become so popular online that it has expanded into experiential marketing. Twitch comes to life every year, hosting a convention in North America and another one in Europe, attracting over 30,000 attendees – TwitchCon. This presents an opportunity for brands, content creators and users to interact with the online community in real life. Influencers and users can try out new products and discover new experiences together. 

Another important event for gaming and the live-streaming industry is E3, one of the world’s biggest gaming conferences. E3 2021 was an online-only event where companies showcased their newest offerings with the gaming community on platforms such as Twitch, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Steam. Throughout the event, a variety of influencers were co-streaming the panels so users could watch their reactions and comment on the newest features together. With the popularity of influencers, brands can attract or lose customers based on their approach to it. 

Companies are reacting to influencers and live-streaming in different ways. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, E3 was entirely virtual, giving companies the liberty to create their own virtual panels. Microsoft, Xbox owners, took that as an opportunity to partner with streamers and acquire licenses for all music played in the event so influencers could co-stream it, without violating re-transmission rights. On the other hand, Nintendo asked their community to not include footage of their panel in their live streams. 

In solidarity with the content creators, Twitch decided to not stream Nintendo Direct. However, Nintendo encouraged consumers to share their reactions without any footage of the event. 

So how do I include live-streaming gaming influencers in my marketing campaign?

When it comes to gaming, industry strategies are as different as the demographics themselves. Although Microsoft and Nintendo take different approaches to influencers and live-streaming, both enjoy the benefits of the ongoing trends. So how do you advertise on something like Twitch? The easiest way to break it down would be between people that play video games and people who watch other users playing; however, individuals within those categories can be massively different from each other. 

The easiest way to look at advertising in the gaming industry is like advertising on TV. Advertisements are shown on different programs and at different times of the day so that they can reach different audiences with different demographics. Gaming and live-streaming are the same – the Rocket League audience is different to the World of Warcraft audience to the Cosplay audience to the Fighting Game audience. 

There are influencers for every category, live content being created as you read this, and an infinite amount of ways to approach it. Some brands like to have long and more explicit partnerships with influencers, whilst others enjoy subtle benefits like a product review as part of their content. 

If your brand wants awareness and affinity, go for larger influencers and longer partnerships – see Ninja with Bud Light and TimTheTatMan with Monster. If you are looking for conversions, then micro or nano influencers are the best options. In other words, you want to reach for awareness and engagement for sales. 

With Edge, we can help you navigate a difficult to understand industry.  We are here to help you join the dots between brand and performance marketing. 42% of consumers feel overwhelmed by the repetitive influencer content; our platform allows you to measure and track authentic influencer-brand relationships, so you’ll be able to tell what is working and what is not during campaigns. This allows you to be responsive to trends and do influencer marketing right rather than being reactive and hoping the crowd supports your cause. 

Want to know more about how you can start to think about how you make sense of analysing your live-streaming influencers as part of your marketing campaign? Book a demo here, and let’s chat. 

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