If Youtube is the Empire State Building, Twitch is a small hot dog stand right next to it. However, it's a hot dog stand with a surprisingly long line.
As a seasoned marketer who works in one of the most monopolized consumer market (by Facebook and Google), I'm always on the lookout for new platforms to establish an audience on. After all, Tech Bound is all about generating quality traffic.
So, when Twitch grew, my first thought was "hey, a potential competitor to Youtube!". My second thought was "new platforms = first-mover advantage".
So, is Twitch that? A new platform that provides a first-mover advantage?
Youtube vs. Twitch
|1.1B monthly sessions||8.3M monthly sessions|
|915M non-branded sessions||3.1M non-branded sessions|
|567K video snippets on Google||26 video snippets on Google|
|45M top 10 keywords (July 2020)||128K top 19 keywords (July 2020)|
|Avg. visit duration: 36:15||Avg. visit duration: 24:45|
Traffic data from SEMrush
So, ya. Youtube is a beast and Twitch doesn't come close, yet. Except for when it comes to streaming.
Twitch has 61% streaming market share (as of December 2019, source). In marketing, streaming mostly happens on Facebook/Linkedin/Instagram and often in the context of live interviews and live-streams do get extended reach, to be fair.
But I also get the feeling that Marketers aren't making the most out of live-streaming. Where are the streamed site audits, copy writing processes, and ad campaign creations? I think watching someone work live is very interesting, no matter whether they're crafting a piece of art or work on a marketing campaign. Marketing is art anyway.
Some companies are trying, though. For example, Cloudflare TV. I'm not kidding:
[...] we started brainstorming whether there could be a way to let our team run experiments — let them even be zany, crazy ideas — but do it in a way that had some structure and a framework and where any missteps could be contained. And that’s how the idea for Cloudflare TV was born.
If you read the history, it's actually not that different from how MTV was born. It was an experiment. No one knew if the format would work. Early hosts were given a lot of leeway to try new things. And, out of it, many incredible things emerged. In the process, it brought a community and a generation together.https://blog.cloudflare.com/ladies-and-gentlemen-cloudflare-tv/
TV as the New Tech Conference. I think it's a smart play. An experiment, as the article says. We're not doing enough of that. In fact, one of the fastest-growing areas of Twitch is "just chatting". It also has a strong followership of ASMR, music, and art. But why aren't we marketers streaming live-conversations on Twitch?
Twitch vs. Youtube = Amazon vs. Google
Where there is gold, there are dragons. Like Facebook and Youtube. Twitch's streaming market share dropped from 67.1% in 2018. Facebook Gaming grew from 3.1% to 8.5% (same source).
When Microsoft bought Beam, a streaming startup, for an undisclosed sum in 2016, they rebranded it to "mixer" but shut it down a couple of weeks ago to partner with Facebook (source).
And, in fact, Youtube manages to pull streamers away from Twitch.
As viewers are moving to these platforms, so are some of Twitch’s top streamers. Last year saw the high-profile departures of Tyler ‘Ninja’ Blevins and Michael ‘Shroud’ Grzesiek, who left Twitch for Mixer. Jack ‘CouRage’ Dunlop, a high profile Fortnite streamer with over 2 million followers, decamped for YouTube.
When we speak about Twitch vs. Youtube, we're basically saying "Amazon vs. Google". And I'd never bet against Jeff Bezos. The giant is shooting back with exclusive soccer streaming rights for Twitch.
Twitch's Crown Channel launched in June to establish something that looks a bit more like a tv network channel with games, competitions, and .... "pop culture"? Besides the irony that Twitch Crown has a Youtube channel (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCth6uQoTrcx4GSElcY0DDxg), it could be a viable base for gamers. Geeks, nerds, and gamers are a big and loyal audience with strong preferences.
This is a newsletter about Traffic. I write about how to get traffic from platforms but also about how those platforms get their traffic. It’s a big meta, I know.
When looking at Twitch’s YoY development, which is decreasing in 2019 for the first time, I wonder if its SEO performance has anything to do with it. Since early 2019, twitch.tv’s rankings have been flat to declining.
Recruiting users just through brand marketing won't be enough. Twitch needs a better growth loop and organic traffic would be very suitable. Youtube is one of the largest sites on the planet, after all.
In Amazon's ecosystem of apps and sites, Twitch plays a similar role as audible (books) and IMDB (movies): the platform for games. Twitch fits into Amazon's platform confluence strategy by providing an opportunity to target gamers with ads - maybe Amazon marketplace ads? Gamers spend a lot of money on PCs, laptops, and gaming equipment after all.
But to come back to the original question "does Twitch provide a first-mover advantage?" My answer is: yes, if your opportunity cost are relatively low. If you haven't established a big audience, yet, I think Twitch could work out but be a long-term play. Youtube will give you better short-term benefits but also provide more competition. I see the biggest opportunity in trying new formats like live-audits, unscripted conversations with other marketers (or customers?), and live conferences.