In recent years, the Amazon-owned livestreaming video platform Twitch has become an increasingly attractive option for both brands and media companies who want to engage with young audiences. A site that was largely built on gaming activities has now evolved and features all kinds of content, including video from media behemoths like The Washington Post, Sky News and Cheddar.
Burkhard Leimbrock, the Commercial Director at Twitch for the EMEA region, has been tasked with building relationships with brands in the DACH region and beyond.
At DIS 2020, he will be explaining how the platform works with its partners in Europe and how media companies have engaged with young demographics via livestreaming.
Here he talks about how some of those partnerships have worked and gives us a few clues as to the future direction of the platform.
What is your personal background? How did you end up at Twitch? And what is your role there?
My name is Burkhard Leimbrock and I’m the Commercial Director at Twitch for the EMEA region. I came to Twitch over three years ago to help them build a team in Germany and the DACH region more broadly. Over the past three years I have helped build business and advertising relationships not only in DACH but across Europe, particularly in France and the Nordics. I have also initialised partnerships with advertising resellers in countries like Turkey and Spain.
In Germany specifically our emphasis has been scaling our offer over the last two years. Our first adopters were, understandably, endemic advertisers such as game publishers, hardware manufacturers and film studios. Today, most of our advertisers come from non-endemic sectors, such as automotive, personal care, telco, beverages and sports. That has come from a growing recognition that our community is not a niche and that there is a huge opportunity for advertisers of all shapes and sizes.
Previously, I worked for 20 years in the digital media industry for publishers, agencies and tech companies.
Twitch is largely known as a gaming platform. How successful do you think your repositioning of Twitch to cover other areas has been?
This is an interesting question but isn’t quite how we, or our community and advertisers, see Twitch. It’s not a repositioning, but rather a progressive evolution. Twitch is multiplayer entertainment. A live streaming experience which sees millions of people come together each and every day around shared interests to create unique, live and never to be repeated moments. Yes, gaming is an essential part of Twitch and part of our DNA. But you can’t play games on Twitch, you come to Twitch to create a totally unique form of entertainment around your passions and interests. Gaming - with associated activities - is certainly one of those passions. But our content has been far beyond gaming for years. Our growth in non-gaming content has been really organic. In the last two years, more and more streamers have been sharing their other passions with the community, such as music, sports, travel, cooking or comedy. Our role has been to support the community in creating the content they love by building programs and resources. Since this time last year, in fact, we’ve seen a 108% increase in hours watched per month of non-gaming content.
How important is Europe now as a market for Twitch?
Europe will continue to be a huge priority for us given to our incredible community here - both our streamers and viewers. But also our advertisers who are willing to make the most of the opportunities on Twitch.
And what commercial innovations excite European media companies?
The central proposition Twitch offers in both helping brands to connect with an audience that is almost impossible to reach via other media and the unique way the community interact with advertising is extremely attractive. In the era of ad blocking, content that is voluntarily engaged with and actively created by an audience - the majority of whom is aged 13 - 34 - in real time creates a powerful and rare new opportunity for brands. We call that opportunity ‘Community Created Content’. We provide the scope for brands of all sizes and scale to explore this opportunity. As a service providing live, never to be repeated experiences for our community, our advertising follows the same path - no two campaigns are ever the same. Moreover, we see more and more brands leaning in to the opportunity presented by community created content. And we have built a suit of products that mean all companies - regardless of size and scale - can create something truly unique to take advantage of the opportunity Twitch promises.
What would you say is the level of understanding from brands of Twitch? What misconceptions have there been in the past and how have you addressed these? And what are examples of campaigns that have been very successful?
For us, it is less about correcting misconceptions and more about just continuing to build both our relationships with brands and the innovative solutions we provide. We want all brands to recognise the potential of our service and the joys and benefits of engaging in a real-time environment. Brands from across the globe and from every sector are already starting to see the benefit of this engagement. Be that CPG, entertainment or automotive we are delighted with the success we have achieved in partnership with brands so far.
For example, we worked together with Porsche on an innovative unveiling of their first Formula E car. In a livestream the global Twitch community came together to complete a set of games, challenges and puzzles over four hours and revealed the vehicle for the world. Now, we're collaborating with Formula 1, for example by livestreaming the Mexican Grand Prix on Twitch. These are all great events that show us that more and more companies are recognizing and taking advantage of the opportunities that only Twitch offers them.
To avoid misunderstandings, there is us, the Twitch Team. We help creators, viewers and advertisers to reach their goals on Twitch and to enrich the community.
What do you see are the opportunities for media/magazine companies on Twitch? Building communities? Driving traffic? Brand awareness?
We are thrilled to see traditional publishers like The Washington Post, Cheddar, Sky News and Refinery 29 coming to Twitch to enjoy all that our community has to offer. Our community - who we know aren’t watching traditional television anymore and are hard to reach through any other format are ready to lean in to content which speaks to their interest and passions. That means there is a great opportunity for media and magazine companies to connect with a new and dynamic audience in a unique way.
And what do you think media companies can learn from Twitch?
I believe it is more important to think about what we - Twitch and media companies - can learn together. We are just at the tip of the iceberg in starting to see the potential for engagement through our service and we are excited for what the future holds.
And what does the future hold for the platform?
Our focus remains on the community and providing the best service for broadcasters to find and connect with an audience and earn a living. We believe that in creating multiplayer entertainment, supported by the community that shapes the direction of our service, we have found the secret sauce. We are continually developing tools and features to enable and support our community in expressing themselves and creating those never to be repeated, unique experiences they want to share and see.