Is it Time for Twitch to Re-Think Their Ad Strategy?


Twitch has long dominated the area of the web reserved for video game streaming. While its primary competitor, YouTube, boasts healthy numbers and a long list of valued creators, Twitch continues to dominate the rankings and see millions of viewers tune in each day from across the globe.

Of course, plenty have tried to mimic the success of the site. Most recently, Facebook Gaming has honed their offerings in order to appeal more to gamers, streamers, and viewers alike.

Why? Because of the incredibly profit housed within these sites. With the average viewer investing more than an hour and a half into the platform each day, there are innumerable opportunities for the site to make money via advertisements that slip seamlessly into the content being streamed.

The trouble is, Twitch has just recently encountered a number of issues pertaining to its ad strategy – both in terms of the creators ‘showcasing’ the ads, and the viewers who have no other choice but to watch them, or pay the site directly for membership.

Read more below.

Further Loss of Control for Creators

In the summer of 2020, Twitch began to experiment with unskippable, midroll advertisements that would pop up and dominate the viewer’s screen – against the wishes of both the viewer, and the streamer – predictably, at the most inopportune moments.

This represented a significant break from Twitch’s previous policy for ads. Until them, midroll ads remained in the hands of the creators themselves. While the viewer’s screen could indeed be dominated by an advertisement, it was highly unlikely that creators would want to roll an ad at an exciting or pivotal moment in their gameplay. Doing so would have lost viewers and, in turn, make the advertisements far less lucrative.

This comes at a time when creators feel they are losing a great deal of sway within the Twitch creator community, with changes coming from all angles. Consider the fact that Twitch has now managed to generate a profit from growing channels, by fast tracking them to affiliate status – a rite of passage which once determined the inherent value of a creator’s channel.

Already, creators get the rough end of the stick in terms of ad revenue, with earnings of around $3.50 for 1,000 views on each ad. With Twitch adopting new measures which remove even more control from Twitch streamers, frustrations are likely to continue mounting, and to alter the ways in which content finds its way onto the site.

No Longer a Milestone for Creators, or a Yardstick for Viewers

We have already mentioned Twitch’s decision to make ‘affiliate status’ – or, in other words, the ability to play and make money from ads – a level to which creators can subscribe, rather than strive to reach.

What this means is that new creators are bypassing a few vital stages. The early stages of channel growth, refining one’s content for real life audiences, and ensuring that the charisma is there and polished enough to a growing viewership are all tricky and, at times, long drawn out ‘levels’ that come before the opportunity to generate a profit – even a meagre one – from one’s channel.

For creators who have navigated this world, it is extremely frustrating to see the milestone of monetisation be, itself, monetised.

For viewers, it makes it increasingly difficult to sort valuable channels that have honed themselves enough to be worth of time, attention and subscription fees from those that still need plenty of work before they are fit for large audiences.

Of course, this move offers a new incentive to new creators – but many are wondering whether or not these creators are the ones we really want to see growing. The staying power and tenacity needed to improve and appeal to advertisers and viewers is what sets true creatives apart from those looking to make ‘easy’ money and, with a fast track scheme, this is lost.

Furthermore, it sheds new light on Twitch’s money-driven goals. Creatives who would subscribe in order to reach affiliate status are unlikely to appreciate the enormity of the task at hand. They can advertise on their creator page, but that will not bring viewers, fame, or regard.

Twitch holds an enviable position within the digital entertainment industry, with very few competitors able to compete with the site’s standing within the gaming community. Unfortunately, however, it could soon run into significant difficulties if it does not settle on an ad strategy that supports its creators – the real asset for the site – and its casual viewers, who cannot be expected to sit through ad content when it interrupts pivotal moments in a live stream.