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The Twitchification of marketing: Ed Craven, influencers and Stake.com

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Twitch

Photo by Caspar Camille Rubin on Unsplash

Opinions expressed by Digital Journal contributors are their own.

It is no secret that, as an industry, marketing has modernised over time. From simple word of mouth to magazine and newspaper spreads as well as online campaigns, techniques and practices have adapted and developed to make the most of changing technologies. In recent years, the growth of live streaming has caught the eyes of global businesses, offering a change to reach new audiences though a medium that is unparalleled at holding an audiences’ attention for long spells of time. 

Global live streaming platforms, including the world’s largest, Amazon’s Twitch, have grown exponentially over the last decade with some of the world’s most influential people flocking to them in brand deals often worth tens of millions of dollars. 

From Formula One drivers like McLaren’s Lando Norris to elite footballers such as Sergio Agüero, thousands of globally recognised brands have seen the potential of this new form of marketing on live streaming platforms. 

In 2021, Twitch alone had an estimated 2.84 million concurrent viewers with 9 million individual streams held on the site each month, resulting in over 18.6 billion hours of content viewed by an audience predominantly aged 16-34.

Fuelled by the pandemic era of stay-at-home mandates and growing internet usage by populations across the globe, live streaming reached an all-time high in terms of viewers and popularity during the past two years. For example, over 5.4 million people tuned in live to Twitch (a world record) to view an e-sports event in Singapore in 2021, a number beating many traditionally-broadcast sporting events.

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With the above growth of the live streaming industry in-mind, it should come as no surprise that major brands have sought to capitalise on major, dedicated audiences and modernise their branding strategies accordingly to include using major influencers on streaming platforms such as Twitch and YouTube. 

Recently, one of the world’s most recognised musicians and avid crypto supporter, Canadian rapper Drake, live streamed on Twitch with the world’s largest online crypto Casino, Stake.com. Watched live by tens of thousands, he streamed for hours playing games on the website and gave away over $1 million worth of Bitcoin to viewers from around the world.

Ed Craven, Stake’s Co-Founder has explained that a key part of Stake’s marketing strategy involves seeking influencers who are genuinely passionate for the product and who, in many cases including with Drake, have engaged with the product for some time. 

Craven himself live streams weekly discussing latest industry developments to his own audience and has called on the industry to follow Stake’s lead when it comes to influencer transparency. Moreover, he has shed some much-needed light on the likes of influencer odds and money provisions in ways likely to take observers and fans by surprise in a positive way.

Influencer odds, Craven has explained, are the same for everyone and are not able to be manipulated in any way by the company. Moreover, he went on to note that all money Stake give influencers is genuine.

Research has shown that advertising on platforms such as Twitch is strikingly more effective than on traditional YouTube videos or other forms of online advertising. For instance, one study illustrated that some campaigns on the likes of Twitch have proven to be over 250 percent more effective than traditional online marketing campaigns in terms of click-throughs and overall product conversion rates.

Considering that the average viewer on a multi-hour Twitch live stream tunes in for 95 minutes compared with just 50 percent of the total duration of much shorter traditional YouTube videos, such a viewer will by definition consume a greater amount of marketing content. 

Resulting in a higher percentage chance of click-throughs by viewers, the likes of in-stream advertising in incredibly effective.

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However, as with any industry seeing tremendous growth, government regulation is lagging behind when it comes to advertising and influencer policies on such platforms. It is therefore largely down to the platforms themselves to monitor, regulate and disseminate best practices for going about this to ensure that rules are adhered to, and viewers know if content is sponsored.

Estimated to now be a $20 billion industry in itself, influencer marketing is forecast to further grow in the years to come, with UK MPs calling for enhanced regulation in the industry when it comes to influencers clearly identifying paid endorsements to their audiences.

Global businesses engaging in such marketing should therefore be aware of the need to accurately and transparently inform viewers of the content they are watching, including if it is in any way a paid promotion. 

What is for certain, however, is that the world of influencer marketing is here to stay given its incredible growth over time, dedicated global audiences and instantaneous messaging. 

Influencer marketing, particularly through live streaming, is the latest development in the marketing space and has already seen globally recognised brands rush to engage in the practice. Regulation has to keep up with the industry, and corporate responsibility should be aligned with the rules and regulations in place with such platforms.  

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Instagram Expands NFT Display Options to More Than 100 Regions

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Instagram Expands NFT Display Options to More Than 100 Regions

While NFT sales continue to decline, and interest in the first wave of digital collectibles appears to be waning, Meta is expanding its support of digital collectibles, by making its NFT display option on Instagram available in more than 100 countries, meaning that the vast majority of IG users will now have the option to display their owned works in the app.

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg has posted his own signed baseball card, which will soon become an NFT, to announce the expansion.

Originally launched to selected creators in the US back in May, Instagram’s NFT display option enables users to showcase their NFTs within the main IG feed, in Stories or in Direct Messages.

As you can see in this example, NFTs on Instagram will be shown with a ‘digital collectibles’ tag, which, when tapped, will display information about the creator of the work, and the ownership of that digital item.

There’ll also be a new NFT tab added to participating accounts, with a tick in a hexagon to indicate verified NFTs.

Instagram NFTs

Instagram’s NFT process supports a range of connections to the top crypto payment tools, including Coinbase, Dapper, Ethereum, Polygon, and Flow. NFT owners are also able to connect their Rainbow, Trust Wallet and MetaMask accounts to verify NFT ownership.

The expansion could see NFTs become a bigger part of the Instagram eco-system, which, on one hand, seems a little ill-timed – because as noted, NFT sales are seeing a significant decline at the moment. But on the other, the integration will provide another way to support artists, with Meta specifically highlighting the benefits for creators from underrepresented communities to monetize their work.

If people keep buying them. According to a recent report from CoinTelegraph, NFT sales declined to their lowest levels in a year in June, bringing them back to, essentially, pre-NFT hype cycle levels.

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NFT sales in 2022

Of course, the broader downturn in the crypto market would also play a big role in this, but the overall consensus is that the air is coming out of the NFT market, as buyers continue to lose money – either to scams or market shifts – and the perceived value of NFT projects becomes less and less clear.

But still, this is likely only the first wave of digital collectibles.

A lot of Web3 folk like to talk about how ‘early’ they are to these trends, as if that’s a good thing, but the fact of the matter is that these early adopters are going to lose out, repeatedly, because these early projects will largely be worthless in the long run, while NFTs, as an offering, will change and morph into new areas that could see them hold value.

Just not as expensive cartoons that look like they’ve been stolen from the walls of an elementary school corridor.

The longer-term view for NFTs is that they’ll enable the trading of digital items in the metaverse, like clothing for your avatar or in-world items. This type of marketplace is already generating millions within game worlds, like Fortnite and Roblox, and Meta’s view is that NFTs are the first step towards facilitating the same on a broader scale.

As per Meta:

We’re exploring a wide range of web3 technologies because we believe they will expand access, reduce costs, and accelerate innovation, empowering people and creators around the world. We are excited to continue listening to feedback from creators and collectors as we continue to build in this space.”

Whether crypto remains a central peg in this, or it reverts to fiat currency, the potential is there for the NFT framework to facilitate this type of cross-platform trading. But not yet.

So, yes, current Web3 folk are early. But it may not be the flex that they think.

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On another front, Meta also notes that it’s working to reduce the emissions impact associated with the display of digital collectibles by purchasing renewable energy

There are various moving parts here, but the broader view is that this is not about displaying your monkey pictures within Instagram as the end, but it’s more of a stepping stone to enable Meta to integrate the trading of digital goods into its tools, in a way that aligns with current usage trends, and doesn’t feel as intrusive as, say, Meta building its own crytocurrency.

That would raise more questions, and open the door to increased regulation. But by integrating similar tools, and aligning with popular trends, that could be a more organic way to merge in digital items and payments, without raising as many eyebrows in the process.



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