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

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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.

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.

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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Climate disinfo surges in denial, conspiracy comeback

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Climate disinfo surges in denial, conspiracy comeback

Activists of Extinction Rebellion hold a ‘die-in’ for climate action in Boston in July 2022 – Copyright AFP/File Joseph Prezioso

Roland LLOYD PARRY

False information about climate change flourished online over the past year, researchers say, with denialist social media posts and conspiracy theories surging after US environmental reforms and Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover.

“What really surprised us this year was to see a resurgence in language that is reminiscent of the 1980s: phrases like ‘climate hoax’ and ‘climate scam’ that deny the phenomenon of climate change,” said Jennie King, head of civic action at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, a London-based digital research group.

Popular topics included the false claims that CO2 does not cause climate change or that global warming is not caused by human activity, said Climate Action Against Disinformation (CAAD), a coalition of campaigners, in a report.

“Let me expose what the climate scam is actually all about,” read one of the most-shared tweets, cited in another survey by US non-profit Advance Democracy, Inc (ADI).

“It is a wealth transfer from you — to the global elite.”

– Twitter disinfo surge –

An analysis of Twitter messages — carried out for AFP by two computational social scientists at City, University of London — counted 1.1 million tweets or retweets using strong climate-sceptic terms in 2022.

Watchdogs are urging social media platforms to tackle climate disinformation – Copyright AFP Robyn Beck

That was nearly twice the figure for 2021, said researchers Max Falkenberg and Andrea Baronchelli. They found climate denial posts peaked in December, the month after Tesla billionaire Musk took over the platform.

Use of the denialist hashtag #ClimateScam surged on Twitter from July, according to analyses by CAAD and the US-based campaign group Center For Countering Digital Hate (CCDH).

For weeks it was the top suggested search term on the site for users typing “climate”.

CAAD said the reason for that was “unclear”, though one major user of the term appeared to be an automated account, possibly indicating that a malignant bot was churning it out.

ADI noted that July saw US President Joe Biden secure support for a major climate spending bill — subject of numerous “climate scam” tweets — plus a heatwave in the United States and Europe.

Climate denial posts also peaked during the COP27 climate summit in November.

– Blue-tick deniers –

A quarter of all the strongly climate-sceptic tweets came from just 10 accounts, including Canadian right-wing populist party leader Maxime Bernier and Paul Joseph Watson, editor of conspiracy-theory website InfoWars, the City research showed.

CCDH pointed the finger at Musk, who reinstated numerous banned Twitter accounts and allowed users to pay for a blue tick — a mark previously reserved for accredited “verified” users in the public eye.

“Elon Musk’s decision to open up his platform for hate and disinformation has led to an explosion in climate disinformation on the platform,” said Callum Hood, CCDH’s head of research.

Musk himself tweeted in August 2022: “I do think global warming is a major risk.”

Musk has also created a $100 million dollar prize for technology innovations shown to be effective in removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

But prolific climate change contrarians -– such as blogger Tony Heller and former coal executive Steve Milloy — have hailed him in their tweets.

– Conspiracy theories –

An analysis by Advance Democracy seen by AFP found the number of Twitter posts “using climate change denialism terms” more than tripled from 2021 to 2022, reaching over 900,000.

On TikTok, views of videos using hashtags associated with climate change denialism increased by 4.9 million, it said.

On YouTube, climate change denial videos got hundreds of thousands of views, with searches for them bringing up adverts for climate-denial products.

YouTube spokesperson Elena Hernandez told AFP that in response to the claim, certain climate-denial ads had been taken down.

TikTok and Twitter did not respond to requests for comment.

On Facebook, meanwhile, ADI found the number of such posts decreased compared to 2021, in line with overall climate change claims.

– Culture wars –

The CAAD report said climate content regularly features alongside other misleading claims on “electoral fraud, vaccinations, the COVID-19 pandemic, migration, and child trafficking rings run by so-called ‘elites’.”

Jennie King of ISD said: “We are definitely seeing a rise of out-and-out conspiracism. Climate is the latest vector in the culture wars.”

Given the reports by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change showing that human carbon emissions are heating the planet, raising the risk of floods, droughts and heatwaves, CCDH’s Hood emphasised the urgency of restricting the reach of misinformation.

“We would encourage platforms to think about the real harm that is caused by climate change,” Hood said, “so people who repeatedly spread demonstrably false information about climate are not granted the sort of reach that we see them getting.”

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Snap making changes to direct response advertising business

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Snap making changes to direct response advertising business

The company posted a net loss of $288.5 million, or 18 cents a share, including $34 million in charges from its workforce restructuring. That compared to a profit of $23 million, or one cent, a year earlier.

Snap ended the fourth quarter with 375 million daily users, a 17% increase. In the first three months of the year, the company estimates 382 million to 384 million people will use its platform daily.

Snap has become a bellwether for other digital advertising companies. Last year, it was the first to raise concerns about the slowdown in marketer spending online and to fire a significant number of employees—20% of its workforce—to cut costs in the face of falling revenue.

The company has spent the last two quarters refocusing the organization, cutting projects that don’t contribute to user and revenue growth.

In the first quarter, Snap expects the environment to “remain challenging as we expect the headwinds we have faced over the past year to persist.”

Investors will get additional information about the state of the digital ad market when Meta and Alphabet report earnings later this week.

—Bloomberg News

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Twitter Outlines New Platform Rules Which Emphasize Reduced Reach, as Opposed to Suspensions

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Twitter Outlines New Platform Rules Which Emphasize Reduced Reach, as Opposed to Suspensions

After reinstating thousands of previously suspended accounts, as part of new chief Elon Musk’s ‘amnesty’ initiative, Twitter has now outlined how it will be enforcing its rules from now on, which includes less restrictive measures for some violations.

As explained by Twitter:

“We have been proactively reinstating previously suspended accounts […] We did not reinstate accounts that engaged in illegal activity, threats of harm or violence, large-scale spam and platform manipulation, or when there was no recent appeal to have the account reinstated. Going forward, we will take less severe actions, such as limiting the reach of policy-violating Tweets or asking you to remove Tweets before you can continue using your account.”

This is in line with Musk’s previously stated ‘freedom of speech, not freedom of reach’ approach, which will see Twitter leaning more towards leaving content active in the app, but reducing its impact algorithmically, if it breaks any rules.

Which means a lot of tweets that would have previously been deemed violative will now remain in the app, and while Musk notes that no ads will be displayed against such content, that could be difficult to enforce, given the way the tweet timeline functions.

But it does align with Musk’s free speech approach, and reduces the onus on Twitter, to some degree, in moderating speech. It will still need to assess each instance, case-by-case, but users themselves will be less aware of penalties – though Musk has also flagged adding more notifications and explainers to outline any reach penalties as well.

“Account suspension will be reserved for severe or ongoing, repeat violations of our policies. Severe violations include but are not limited to: engaging in illegal content or activity, inciting or threatening violence or harm, privacy violations, platform manipulation or spam, and engaging in targeted harassment of our users.

Which still means that a lot of content that these users had been suspended for previously would still result in suspension now, and it leaves a lot up to Twitter management in allocating severity of impact in certain actions.

How do you definitively measure threats of violence or harm, for example? Former President Donald Trump was sanctioned under this policy, but many, including Musk, were critical of Twitter’s decision to do so, given that Trump is an elected representative.

In other nations, too, Twitter has been pressured to remove tweets under these policies, and it’ll be interesting to see how Twitter 2.0 handles such, given its stated more lax approach to moderation, despite its rules remaining largely the same.

Already, questions have been raised on this front – Twitter recently removed links to a BBC documentary that’s critical of the Indian Government, at the request of India’s PM. Twitter hasn’t offered any official explanation for the action, but with Musk also working with the Indian Government to secure partnerships for his other business, Tesla, questions have been raised as to how he will manage both impacts concurrently.

In essence, Twitter’s approach has changed when it chooses to do so, but the rules, as such, will effectively be governed by Musk himself. And as we’ve already seen, he will make drastic rules changes based on personal agendas and experience.

Twitter says that, starting February 1st, any previously suspended users will be able to appeal their suspension, and be evaluated under its new criteria for reinstatement.

It’s also targeting February for a launch of its new account penalties notifications.



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