The Next Great Ad Platforms (Twitch & TikTok) have a Huge Barrier to Entry

2019 was heavily projected to be the first year that digital ad spend finally surpassed traditional print and TV ads. It’s a moment that says a lot about how ad dollars are allocated: ad dollars are slow to adopt new platforms.

In advertising, it’s not always best to be ahead of the curve and first to a new platform. But it is important to recognize the next opportunities so that you’re prepared when the wave starts to shift that direction.

Namely, I want to talk about Twitch and TikTok. These two platforms should be on everyone’s radar for future marketing opportunities just given their behavioral impact. Twitch users spend an average of 95 minutes on Twitch per day, which crushes Facebook at 41 minutes per day. In just a few years, TikTok exploded into a 1.5 billion person user base.

If you’re looking for practical new ad opportunities this year, then OTT would be my bet. If you’re a CPG or DTC company, then Amazon is the move. And if you want an unconventional, organic advertising option, then Unsplash is the place to be.

However as far as 2-4 year outlooks go, then Twitch and TikTok are it.

What’s so different about these two platforms is that they have large limitations on how you advertise there. The culture and format of the content are vastly different than any other entertainment experience. (Reddit is the same way.) Your ad will perform poorly if you don’t understand the culture of that community.

So here are a few tips for marketing on both platforms.

Twitch Ads

Twitch rolled out new features that make advertising in 30 second blocks easier to do. But unless you’re Hershey or an eSports Company (which are clearly aligned with the gamer demographic) then the traditional commercial probably isn’t well-suited to the platform.

The better ad opportunity is to actually do a stream yourself or brand an influencer stream. In this way, you’re not fighting for 30 seconds of someone’s time. Rather, you’re capturing a large chunk of that 95 daily minutes.

Just recently, Porsche teamed up with Twitch to unveil their entry into the electric racing league with their new electric Formula E car. Together, they created a Choose Your Own Adventure game where Twitch users had to solve a host of puzzles to break into the Porsche facility and unlock the Formula E car.

It costs a lot to run an ad like this… anywhere between $2 and $20 per 1,000 views… the experiment averaged around 28,000 viewers while it was live on Porsche’s channel, and Harris says there were “almost a million” people playing across those four hours. It was also the second-biggest stream on Twitch during the hours it was live.

Bijan Stephen, The Verge

Because the event was one of a kind, the media aftershock was quite large as well.

This is just one in a long line of Twitch’s new focus on creating interactive branded experiences. But this is a move that Old Spice pioneered on the platform four years ago.

Old Spice first shocked Twitch with a 3-day livestream in 2015 called the Old Spice Nature Adventure promoting a new nature scent of deodorant. The stream allowed Twitch viewers to control a “live human” via the chatbox as that person navigated the woods. Of course, all sorts of shenanigans and funny things unfold throughout the adventure. Old Spice went back for Round 2 a year later with a robotic squid that viewers could control.

Both events collected a total of more than 11 million Twitch viewers, making them one of the biggest brand presences on Twitch.

For more insight, Digiday interviewed the CRO of Twitch and this guide will give you a better understanding of the Twitch culture.

TikTok Ads

TikTok lacks a simple ad-buying portal, but through their Creator Marketplace you can collaborate directly with TikTok influencers on a campaign:

The more sustainable and long-term strategy, of course, is to build your own following:

  • Cheddar saw the greenfield opportunity and built a 1 million person following in under 8 months.
  • The Chicago Bulls found that they needed to enlist Benny the Bull – their mascot – in order to grow their presence there.

I’m particularly interested in TikTok because it’s such a compulsive platform. You’re sucked into these 15-second videos that are like watching commercial after commercial. Once TikTok figures out the in-app shopping features, it will be the future of eCommerce.

With 1.5 billion users and a platform designed entirely around algorithmic discovery, you actually stand a very good chance of building a good community there. However, that’s if you do your research and understand what works on TikTok.

Logical Finance (financial advice), The Bentist (orthodontist), and Dr. Leslie (general physician) all have built followings on TikTok over 100k. On paper, none of them “belong” there. But they understood the TikTok culture and thus found success.

Overall, that’s the key to both TikTok and Twitch. This isn’t television where you create your best and funniest 30-second advertisement and hope for the best. These are platforms where the user bases have grown up with the avoidance of ads. You need to be able to blend in and show that you’re one of them. That’s the key to success.