Twitch’s CMO: ‘As Long As It’s Done Right, Our Audience Is Ready To Engage With Brands’

Doug Scott, CMO, Twitch

Twitch is mainly known as a streaming platform for gamers. But what’s a gamer, actually?

“The truth is, close to 80% of Americans over the age of 13 self-identify as gamers, and so the term starts to lose some of its meaning,” said Twitch CMO Doug Scott. “People who are into games aren’t solely into games, they have multiple interests.”

Over the past three years, the amount of non-gaming content on Twitch has quadrupled, including everything from cooking, sports and music to fashion, politics and streams for inducing autonomous sensory meridian response or ASMR.

“This type of content started cropping up organically, and it’s something we’ve encouraged,” said Scott, who joined Twitch in Oct. 2019 after more than three years as CMO of Zynga.

Two of Scott’s favorite Twitch streamers are the gamer DrLupo and CA in LA, a music channel run by two female musicians and filmmakers who are also best friends.

“Twitch has a lot of power in our core community, but we also see a ton of growth ahead,” Scott said. “Our job is to keep on growing while making sure not to screw up the core brand.”

Scott spoke with AdExchanger.

twitchs cmo as long as its done right our audience is ready to engage with brands

AdExchanger: How does Twitch approach performance marketing?

DOUG SCOTT: We’re starting to run a limited number of performance campaigns across different channels and we’re measuring the value of the users they bring in. For us, a valuable user is defined by the concept of lifetime value.

This is particularly relevant when a product is free and where ad monetization is an option, like on Twitch. When we spend money, we want to make sure we’re finding the right people. That’s how we think about the value created by programmatic.

How has the pandemic impacted usage?

Our daily visitors have grown from about 17 million to 27 million since the beginning of the year.

Usually, when there’s a surge like that, retention tends to suffer. I’d certainly see that happen with mobile games. But our retention has actually increased during this period. Part of that has to do, I think, with the fact that there are a large number of people out there who never experienced live streaming before, and when they do, it’s very appealing to them.

Even so, Twitch is still deeply associated with gaming. How do you expand the scope of your audiences while also cultivating Twitch’s heritage?

We focus on super serving our core users, which is as important to us as it is to any marketer. We believe strongly that the most powerful top-of-the-funnel marketing channel is word of mouth. If we focus on our core then growth will mostly take care of itself.

For example, we host events like TwitchCon for our gaming community to get together, although this year we did something virtual that was more content-oriented and a nod to TwitchCon called GlitchCon. Normally, we do a lot of community meetups and help creators connect in the cities where they live.

Does Twitch partner with Amazon on any marketing initiatives?

We have a partnership, but Amazon is also very supportive of Twitch being independent and building an independent brand. You won’t see Amazon plastering Twitch campaigns all over the place. But we do get a lot of support in the broader Amazon ecosystem when it comes to amplifying some of our campaigns where it makes sense.

Are you getting more interest from non-endemic brands looking to partner?

Definitely. Twitch is home to a hard-to-reach audience. Nearly 40% of our users don’t even watch traditional TV, so this is an audience many marketers don’t reach through other channels.

But if brands want to reach our audience, they have to think about interaction. Most people don’t come to Twitch to sit back and watch, they come to interact. We have traditional video ad options, but the real power is in building more custom campaigns and acknowledging what makes the community unique.

One of my favorite examples is a Miller Lite program that celebrated moderators, or mods, on Twitch. Virtually every channel has an army of volunteer moderators whose job is to make sure that things stay positive and safe and that people are adhering to our community guidelines. Mods are beloved by viewers and streamers alike and they work really hard. Miller Lite helped a bunch of creators celebrate their mods and reward them for their service. It was a really successful campaign.

What about more day-to-day advertising innovations?

We’re always building things that brands can use to connect with creators and our users. One example is the Bounty Board, which advertisers can use to find creators to work with and sponsor.

We also recently launched multiplayer ads that allow viewers to interact with and vote on certain aspects of an ad, and in so doing, interact with key aspects of a brand’s message.

This is one of the ways we’ve been thinking differently about how brands can engage with our audience. Because that is what brands want, engagement. And as long as it’s done right, our audience is ready to engage with brands.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

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