Twitch Ads: The Complete Guide to Twitch Advertising (2021)

Marketers: if it isn’t already, Twitch really needs to be on your radar right now.

“Twitch? Isn’t that just where people stream themselves playing video games?” 

Ok – once upon a time, the answer to that would have been ‘yes!’

But, for a company that was born in 2007, and was so successful it was acquired by Amazon in 2014 – let this sink in: the site has enjoyed its most seismic growth period *ever* in the last 18 months, and it’s still growing.

Twitch content consumption grew by 83% in 2020 alone – with an eye-watering 17 BILLION HOURS of content watched, vs. 9 billion in 2019. 

And what’s fascinating is this: a lot of this growth was fueled not by gaming streams: but by pandemic-hit artists, comedians, musicians and performers in search of a broadcast vehicle to replace lost revenue due to the closure of physical venues.

All the signs suggest that they plan to stick around as the world reopens.

And because they’ve brought new, diverse content – they’ve brought a new, diverse audience to the platform.

A vast, growing audience reflecting a variety of different demographics and interests? Didn’t we tell you Twitch was something to get excited about?!

Defining Twitch in 2021…

In 2021 we’d give Twitch a pretty broad definition: it’s a live platform for video content delivery, with rich features for creators to monetise their content. 

Twitch streams are broadcast live, with a chat window beside the player, where the audience can interact with the streamer and each other. 

Twitch stream

Streams can be viewed through the Twitch.tv website on desktop, laptop and mobile, with a mobile app available, as well as apps for streaming devices, Smart TV’s and games consoles.

Viewers can ‘subscribe’ to a channel – a paid upgrade which gives them access to (pretty modest) special privileges like exclusive emotes, while financially supporting the creator – as well as donating, gifting subscriptions, and more.

Data provided by Nielsen illustrates just how passionate, committed and generous the Twitch audience can be:

  • 62% of viewers engage with esports and gaming personalities daily 
  • 70% offer monetary support 
  • 64% purchase products recommended by them

What Twitch isn’t…

At the risk of repeating ourselves, it *isn’t* just a gaming site. It’s home to all sorts of weird and wonderful content and this is really important to understand.

Twitch offers 4 main ‘directories’ – games, IRL, music and esports – and within each of these, pretty much anything (within Twitch Terms of Service!) goes.

Twitch directories

This means essentially Twitch now hosts everything from stand up routines, to live podcasts, interviews, live music, live sporting fixtures and all sorts of other content. 

That’s a lot of content to lend your brand name to, and a lot of opportunities for exposure and engagement!

Why should marketers get excited?

As we stressed above, the audience is increasingly diverse, and growing at a phenomenal rate. It’s a highly engaged audience that tends to be very loyal to its favourite creators. 

And, as ever, where there’s an audience, there are ad options.

Put simply there are bountiful opportunities for marketers to leverage the incredible growth of Twitch, and Twitch’s creators, to help reach a new audience and achieve great results for their brands.

A word on Twitch’s demographics

Disclaimer – of course, it’s always important to take generalities around channel demographics with a pinch of salt.

The received wisdom is that the majority of Pinterest and Instagram users are female (most studies tend to cite 65-70% for Instagram, and 75-80% for Pinterest).

Why mention this? Well, as an interesting counterpoint, data suggests that Twitch’s core demographic consists of 65% male users – 73% of which are under 35.

According to Twitch’s own data, nearly half of their users are between the ages 18 to 34, and 21% are ages 13 to 17.

Twitch statistic

This obviously makes Twitch a super compelling option for brands looking to reach that younger, particularly male, demographic.

It’s also a key consideration when deciding whether to spend your ad budget with Twitch.

Types of ads available

Alrighty: let’s get into the real fun stuff and talk about the types of ad that you can run on Twitch.

We’ll start by looking at classic ads you can place through Twitch’s advertising platform, and then we’ll touch briefly on other, indirect ways you can promote beyond this.

1. Homepage carousel

Twitch ad - homepage carousel

Homepage carousel ads sit on the Twitch home page, and are basically a way for streamers to drive traffic to their channels. (i.e. they’re not really for brands.)

Viewers can scroll through content using the arrows to the right and left of the carousel area, and the ad display is essentially a combination of the live channel broadcast, with a maximum of 250 characters of descriptive ad text (highlighted below in a red box.)

Twitch ad

Ad specs: 250 words of text, max, plus a link to the channel is all that’s needed.

2. Homepage headliner 

Twitch ad - homepage headliner

Homepage headliner ads are graphic ads that sit ‘in the background’ – behind the carousel we just outlined – on the Twitch homepage, in the area highlighted pink/purple above.

Here are some examples of how this looks…

Twitch ad

Ad specs: These ads are made up of three elements, as highlighted below. A left graphic (450x350px) right graphic (also 450x350px) and a hex colour code for the area in the middle.

The max image size for the left and right graphics is 150kb each, and must be PNG or JPG – meaning they don’t support animated elements and must be static graphics.

Twitch ad specs

3. Medium rectangle

Twitch ad - medium rectangle

The medium rectangle ad option takes us away from the home page and onto pages where the user is browsing for content – as highlighted below.

Twitch ad - medium rectangle

This is another ‘graphic’ ad rather than video – but GIFs are supported which means animated elements are possible, as you can see in the example below.

Twitch animated GIF

Ad specs: The image size needs to be 300 x 250px, with a max length of 15 seconds or 3 ‘loops’ – whichever’s shorter. Max file size is 100kb and files can be GIF, JPG or PNG.

4. Super leaderboard

Twitch ad - super leaderboard

Super leaderboard ads are classic ‘banner’ ads which, again, appear while the user is browsing content.

Twitch ad - super leaderboard

Ad specs: 970x66px, max file size 100kb – with PNG, GIF and JPG file types supported meaning ads can be static or include animated elements (as in the second of the below examples.) 

Twitch ad - super leaderboard
Twitch ad - super leaderboard

The same animation rules apply – with length capped to the shortest between 15 seconds, or 3 loops.

5. Twitch premium video

Twitch premium video refers to both ‘pre-roll’ and ‘mid-roll’ ads (before and during streams). These ads are unskippable, above the fold and, clearly, highly visible. They’re also clickable – except for ads displayed on games consoles and OTT’s.

Twitch premium video
Twitch premium video

Ad specs: 

Pre-roll ads – which play before a stream begins – can be up to 30 seconds and are unskippable. There’s an extra charge for longer ads (up to 60 seconds) and these can only be played mid-roll (i.e. during a stream rather than before.)

Resolution for these videos is 1920×1080, with a minimum Bitrate of 2,000 kbps.

6. First impression takeover

Twitch - first impression takeover

First impression takeover ads play before a user’s very first Twitch broadcast experience of the day. (i.e. the first time they click on a stream – this is the pre-roll ad they’ll see.)

These ads are sold on a per day, per geographic basis and priced on a daily rate.

Twitch - first impression takeover

Ad specs: 30 secs long and unskippable.

Resolution requirement is 1920×1080, with a minimum Bitrate of 2,000 kbps.

How to get started with Twitch ads…

OK, this is where things differ from ad platforms like Google, Facebook, Twitter and co.

As of writing, Twitch doesn’t offer an ad ‘studio’ as such for you to set up and run your own campaigns.

Instead, they ask you to fill out the contact form at https://twitchadvertising.tv/contact/, provide some basic information and they get in touch with you to move things forward.

Twitch ads form

From there, the team at Amazon/Twitch can build out your creative, launch and set the campaign live. Of course this all takes time and input on their side…

“Build out creative: Eight working days (includes one round of standard client review), 15 business days if animated (with two rounds of client review) 

Launch and set the campaign live: three working days 

Screenshots of live campaign: Three working days”

And it all creates the air of an experience that’s pretty premium, and not something you’re going to be able to ‘dip your toe’ into – especially given the high cost per impression suggested above. 

But, even if you decide to leave traditional display ads to brands with mega buddugets, small businesses looking to leverage Twitch might find value in another idea…

Strategic partnerships

We’ve touched on it already but Twitch audiences are super-loyal to the channels and creators they engage with.

These people aren’t just content creators: they’re influencers, and in the age of influencer marketing, we all know how big a deal that can be.

Of course, creators are, by definition, in the business of monetising their profile and skills through Twitch anyway. 

Many are eager to consider further monetisation opportunities in the form of affiliate marketing, channel/stream sponsorship and more.

Twitch creators tend to be super accessible so actually going ‘outside’ the algorithmic, slightly regimented Twitch advertising channel can be a better way to dip your toe in and see how Twitch works for you.

It’s about being creative and identifying a great stream – with a good brand fit and audience crossover – and then being creative and open-minded about how you might be able to work together.

How much does it cost?

This is a tough one to answer quickly. 

There are so many variables to this that it’s difficult to hang your hat on the number. 

Not to mention that other types of ad – like creator partnerships – are much cheaper and more flexible than the classic ad models.

Top tips

Our top tips for advertising and promoting through Twitch would be:

  • Familiarise yourself with the platform first. Spend a bit of time browsing and watching streams, understand how ads play into the experience, and look for inspiration around partnerships.
  • Particularly try to identify channels that are followed and supported by people who might be interested in your brand.
  • Research the types of ad available and, if you do build your own creative, invest – as always – in creating a great ad experience. Don’t sell yourself short when the audience is so big!
  • As always with paid ads – start small if possible. It’s a young audience, literally and figuratively, and it’s so easy to lose money on paid ads! Test out what works and make sure you’re on solid ground before really doubling down on spend.
  • Build the right partnerships, track ROI if possible – and use techniques like attribution/discount codes to understand how much business comes back to you through your partnerships.

Thanks for reading

Twitch’s growing audience makes it a source of interest – if nothing else – for marketers.

Although it’s a little annoying that you can’t set up your own campaign and need to go through Twitch themselves, this shouldn’t stop you testing the water and seeing what kind of traction you can get through the platform.

The usual best practices apply here:  it’s SO easy to lose money with any paid advertising so be cautious, be positive, and invest in getting your message right.

Find the right partners; reach the right audience; and hit them with the right message. It sounds trite but, like with any platform, those are the 3 boxes to tick for really successful ads! Good luck!

While you’re here – it’d be remiss of us not to mention that our expert team can help you create the *perfect* animated video ad for Twitch.