Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Twitch: “We’re right on the cusp of trends”

Speaking to NDA as he stepped off stage at MAD//Fest London 2022, Paul Nesbitt, Director of International Insights & Measurement at Amazon’s Twitch streaming platform, shares some additional thoughts about Twitch’s ‘Generation Twitch’ audience, the attention economy, the future of digital advertising, and more.

In his speaking slot on MAD//Fest’s Hexagon stage, Nesbitt shared the results of Twitch’s latest research into what the streaming platform has dubbed ‘Generation Twitch’. Based on semiotic research, creative focus groups, and a global survey of 6,000 respondents, exploring live experiences, shared experiences, livestreaming, and gaming, Twitch found that there has been shift in the social codes influencing members of the Millennial, Gen Z, and Gen Alpha demographics.

Generation Twitch, compared to previous generations, can no longer be associated with the social codes of ‘curated’, ‘fixed’, ‘exclusive’, ‘passive’, and ‘disengaged’, instead shifting toward ‘authentic’, ‘fluid’, ‘inclusive’, ‘collaborative’, and ‘purposeful’.

“You can see that the behaviours that are associated with Generation Twitch are very different to the behaviours associated with their predecessors within Millennials and Generation X,” said Nesbitt. “What does this mean for brands? There are new rules to the game. You need to understand these audiences, these behaviours, to build a meaningful connection.”

Backstage, he later added: “We’ve called it ‘Generation Twitch’, because it spans young Millennials, it spans Gen Z, and we’re seeing the same sort of behaviours coming from Generation Alpha.

“I don’t think it’s about targeting people into segments. One of the reasons we came up with Generation Twitch is because it’s a set of behaviours. You might have people who are over 40 in that group as well. It’s about making sure you sit within the codes of that cohort, and don’t get tied up into the generations, because there is a bit of blurring between those lines.”

Brand success on Twitch

On stage, Nesbitt shared a recent Pringles campaign that ran on Twitch, in partnership with Microsoft’s Xbox, which played well into the authentic, fluid, and collaborative needs outlined by Twitch.

Partnerships of that nature are facilitated by Twitch’s brand partnership studio.

“They very much work with brands, whenever brands want to come into the livestreaming environment,” Nesbitt told NDA. “They’re really good at saying, ‘okay, this is how you show up. This is how you be authentic’. They know how to work with creators, and design the creative around it.”

With the audience it has, and the partnerships in place, Nesbitt believes that “Twitch is right on the edge of culture right now”, due to diverse nature of its audience that spans three generations and various interests.

“People are coming into livestreaming, and discovering what livestreaming is. It’s still evolving in many ways. It started off with livestreaming gaming many years ago, but now it’s sports, it’s music – it’s just building its way around it all,” Nesbitt said backstage.

“I don’t know what the future holds. But what I do know is that we’re right on the cusp of trends, and we’re reaching consumers wherever the consumers go.”

Twitchers share their full attention

Speaking to NDA, Nesbitt was also keen to mention the importance of the attention economy to Twitch, and looking at how the attention its platform drives can be use to benefit brands.

“It goes hand-in-hand with the creator economy,” he said. “We know that people are moving toward Twitch, because it’s a highly immersive experience. We know that it’s different to traditional advertising, and we know that we get high levels of attention to the advertising. So, I’m really keen to understand what that means, how brands and media companies can start to plan against it, and optimise for attention, not harvest attention, but optimise to make the most of attention you have on there.”

Alongside that, Twitch is interested in looking at the role of emotion in the attention economy, and is “doing some work around what emotions are most seen on Twitch”, with the aim of seeing how advertising can be optimised toward certain types of emotion on its platform.

Nonetheless, Nesbitt still sees a future for traditional digital advertising in combination with the more “dynamic and immersive” types of advertising that Generation Twitch is interested in.

“The future of digital advertising is probably a little bit closer to the entertainment business than the advertising business that we’re used to, but there are still opportunities for traditional advertising,” said Nesbitt. “If you really want to go deep and engage this audience, you’re going to have to balance traditional and some of the more interactive ads.”