Influencer Marketing Trends in Social Gaming

With social media platforms fighting to keep mobile users engaged, gaming presents the next big opportunity. Not only is the global games market set to reach $148.1 billion this year, but 50 percent of mobile users have opened up a gaming app in the past week, highlighting the enormous engagement opportunities for platforms, brands, and marketers tapping into this space. 

Additionally, gamers are a traditionally difficult group to reach with traditional advertising methods, so it’s no surprise that influencer marketing in gaming is a growing trend. With gamers’ audiences being highly engaged, advertisers are eager to build relationships with key gamers.  

The arms race for the gaming market is clearly on for devices, distribution, and streaming capabilities. Right now, gamers need expensive hardware and service support to graphically-intensive games, which are large in size and require real-time input from other players.

While Google-owned YouTube and Twitch are the primary platforms currently dominating the gaming space, several of the leading social media platforms have looked to join the space announcing key launches over the first quarter. Below we take a look at some of the biggest social gaming updates of 2019 and outline first-mover opportunities for your brand. 

  1. Facebook Launches Gaming Tab

Facebook says more than 700 million people engage with games or gaming content on the platform each month. In an effort to tap into the growing gaming market, Facebook is updating its mobile app with a dedicated gaming section where users can explore game content on Facebook. 

After clicking the new Gaming tab, users will see a feed of content that points to: instant games that they can play with friends; videos from top streamers, e-sports organizations, and gaming publishers; and updates from various gaming groups. Facebook says the goal of the new section is to help people to more easily find games, streamers, and gaming groups that they follow, as well as to discover new content based on their interests.

Within the last year alone, Facebook has added a Gaming Creator program to help provide more opportunities for game broadcasters, live-stream tipping to enable those broadcasters to monetize their streams, and has added Stars, an additional revenue option for game broadcasters who are part of its “Level Up” program.

Our Take: By Facebook essentially giving Gaming its own news feed (similar to how it first broke off Watch over a year ago), Facebook is able to test a new combination of content to better understand what increases time spent to better monetize that attention(i.e., games you can play with friends, gaming videos). 

Facebook’s advantage in the gaming space is the money that it feeds back to gamers who receive tips (Facebook’s cut is around 5-30 percent, compared to YouTube’s 30 percent and Twitch’s 50 percent). This, in addition to the sheer reach of the platform, makes Facebook an attractive option for streamers who want to diversify or reach a wider, mainstream audience.

If Facebook begins to prioritize gaming content in the news feed (similar to how it did with Watch content), marketers in relevant verticals (i.e,. Food and Beverage, Delivery Services, Tech, Home Goods) have a first-mover opportunity to partner with relevant gamers 

Given the $900 million value of the e-sports market, brands have the opportunity to partner with and co-host/sponsor e-sports championships on Facebook, and potentially expand that reach through Facebook Watch and Watch parties via groups, to further reach target audiences, test new advertising possibilities and fuel new sales channels on Facebook.

  1. Snapchat Launches In-App Gaming

In an effort to reverse declining user engagement and monetize a new potential revenue stream, Snapchat is also playing for the $137.9 billion gaming market. At its Partner Summit, Snapchat debuted its new, ad-supported gaming platform called Snap Games. Snap games focuses on multiplayer games that happen in real-time. There will be six games to start, including one created by Snap and others from developers. 

Our Take: Given the engagement within the gaming community, gaming could help Snapchat further improve its declining user engagement. Additionally, gaming presents multiple opportunities for monetization like revenue from sales of games, from advertisers looking to place ads inside of games and also from in-game purchases. 

  1. Google and Apple Release Gaming Platforms 

Google launched a gaming platform called Stadia. The Netflix-like streaming service just for video games will work on any TV with ChromeCast, computers running a Chrome browser and Google’s Pixel devices. The service allows people to play high-end games without purchasing expensive consoles or computers. Google is calling this a “gaming platform for everyone.” 

Apple, too, has unveiled a new game subscription service called Apple Arcade, which requires users to download games. Its angle is offering curated, original titles without in-app purchases, ads or sharing private data.

  1. Twitch Continues to Lead in Live-Streaming Video

Despite experiencing its first decline in hours watched in Q2 2019, Twitch had its second-biggest quarter to date, with more than 70% of the hours watched during the quarter.

According to a new report from StreamElements, Twitch viewers live-streamed a total of 2.72+ billion hours in Q2 (or 72.2% of all live hours watched) compared with 735.54 million hours on YouTube Live (19.5%), 197.76 million on Facebook Gaming (5.3%) and 112.29 million hours on Mixer (3%). 

Despite Twitch’s widespread popularity, the majority (75%) of Twitch’s viewership comes from people tuning into the top 5,000 channels. Out of the 2.7 billion hours watched in Q2, these top 5,000 channels drove 2 billion of those hours watched.

Our Take: Twitch is the leading live-streaming platform for gamers and video content creators. Viewers can watch their favorite streamers do anything live – from painting, cooking, podcasting, camping to esports. Users subscribe to a streamers channel, tune in during scheduled sessions and consume hours of content, making Twitch an ideal platform to sponsor creators on if your audience is on it. 

Time and time again, we continue to see that gaining creator preference is really two-sided: helping them gain an audience and helping them earn revenue. While Twitch currently owns the viewership, Facebook and YouTube carry the audience and creator support, even more so with their new offerings. In order to compete, Twitch needs to diversify its offerings beyond gaming and e-sports which, with its Prime Day Twitch Sells Out live-stream, is its first real test. 

For brands whose audiences are on Twitch (think: food/bev, CPG, gaming, sports), partnering with the platform’s top streamers/creators presents an opportunity to reach an increasingly difficult demographic in an environment that values loyalty, truth, and authentic connection. Where Twitch is centered around live interaction, marketers can partner with creators to host/co-host streaming events to answer questions and speak to product promotions (think: AMAs, Q&As), making product recommendations more authentic, interactive and in real-time.