To promote the launch of its video gaming-focused channel Waypoint, Vice Media hosted a 72-hour gaming marathon on Twitch over this past weekend. Starting Friday at noon, the Waypoint live stream ran on Twitch’s front page and featured gamers, musicians, and other guests playing 72 games over three straight days. Notably, the live stream also included live sketches sponsored by Carl’s Jr. as its brand mascot “Happy Star” interacted with the guests, handed out burgers, and performed funny stunts during breaks.
Although this marks the first time Vice Media tried live advertising on Twitch, Carl’s Jr is no stranger when it comes to sponsoring live broadcasts on Twitch. The quick-service restaurant chain hosted a 2-hour event on Twitch as part of its #UltimateCarePackage campaign, where guests played Call of Duty Black Ops III with in-game brand integrations and ate some Carl’s Jr burgers.
What Brands Should Do
Such experiments show how brands can leverage this type of in-stream branded content to reach the growing number of viewers on eSports streaming sites. In recent years, the competitive gaming industry has grown into a media opportunity that brands should not ignore. Some early-adopting brands, such as Coca-Cola and Geico, have been sponsoring eSports events to reach its young, male-skewing audience. More brands should consider leveraging the massive reach of eSports events to reach consumers via sponsorships or, as in Carl’s Jr.’s case, in-stream content integration.
Header image is a screen capture from Waypoint’s Twitch Livestream
As an increasing number of viewers become accustomed to the ad-free experience offered by OTT streaming services such as Netflix, some traditional media owners have started to deal with the growing intolerance of ads by trying out new forms of advertising. NBC is set to swap out some ad spots airing during its primetime shows this week with AmEx-sponsored content, which includes extra scenes and interviews with the shows’ stars, all with American Express mentioned before and after each segment.
Similarly, Viceland, the new TV channel from Vice Media in partnership with A+E Networks, officially launched on Monday. The channel plans to carry only half of the normal 18 minutes of ads per hour, while also pledging to make around half of the remainder native ads designed to look like Vice’s editorial content. A number of brands, including Unilever, Mailchimp, Toyota, and Bank of America, have signed on as advertisers on Viceland.
What Brands Need To Do
Both NBC and Vice are commendable for their attempts to deal with consumers’ growing aversion to ads and experiments with new types of ads. At a time when ad blockers and subscription-based streaming services are helping millions of viewers actively avoid ads, it is important for brands and media owners to take measures in response and come up with new ways, such as sponsored content and native ads, to engage with their audience.
For more information on how brands should leverage interesting branded content to earn consumer eyeballs, check out the Ad Avoidance section of our Outlook 2016.
Sources: Bloomberg Business & Wall Street Journal