Out with the fixed, in with the fluid – the changing demands of emerging audiences
In the second of a five-part series, we explore the need for brands to encourage interactions with fluid, rather than fixed, forms of content when it comes to engaging with ‘Generation Twitch’.
Generation Twitch expects content that is seamless, fluid and tailored to them
‘Generation Twitch’ is an audience that has only ever known a digital world and has always been connected. It embraces both generation Z (those born between 1997 and 2012) and those most swayed by their influence, namely millennials (those born between 1981 and 1996) and generation alpha (post-2012).
The first article in this series focused on the emergence of this generation, their influence over culture and how their emerging beliefs and behaviors are becoming dominant in culture. It explored the shift from audiences expecting and enjoying “curated” experiences towards a greater demand for the “authentic”.
Now, we take a look at the second significant shift – from “fixed to fluid”. This trend stems from the key finding that 'Generation Twitch’ values high levels of spontaneity and interactivity within their content. It describes a shift from passive entertainment to digitally-enabled active participation, especially in the form of a rising demand for interactive gaming.
Adam Harris, global head, brand partnership studio at livestreaming service Twitch, outlines an established, traditional media environment where audience consumption was mostly “fixed and one-way; an environment that provided minimal opportunity for spontaneity.”
He explains how this scenario has totally changed thanks to technology that breaks down distinctions between the virtual and in real life (IRL) worlds. Interactive movies such as Netflix's Escape the Undertaker film, created in partnership with World Wrestling Entertainment, provide a fluid experience to audiences by offering greater levels of spontaneity and involvement.
In the case of Escape the Undertaker, a 2021 Halloween special, by providing multiple endings based on decisions made by the viewer as the story evolves. The narrative places the emphasis firmly on discovery and exploration rather than making wrong or right choices, demonstrating clearly that seamless interactivity enhances consumer experience.
Fluid gaming stories
Gaming is a medium built for high levels of interactivity, which are being pushed further as technology and audience demand advances. The game Among Us, for instance, facilitates creation of fluid stories every single time it is played. Among Us achieves this as a multi-player party game, bringing people together online to work in teams (or betray one another) on a spaceship. Audiences are also assembling to watch players of the game via streaming channels – the Among Us page on Twitch has amassed more than 13 million followers.
But what does this deliver for advertisers? Twitch’s Harris says that the ability to interact with live content is unique, pointing to findings that it creates the fluidity that ‘Generation Twitch’ craves. Some 72% of Twitch viewers agree that interactive tools also make advertising more interesting on the service.
Adaptive narrative builds strong engagement
This means that brands should look to develop an understanding of how the emerging generation has grown up through a technologically advanced society, where nothing is seemingly impossible. It’s also this audience’s basic expectation that content is seamless, fluid and tailored to them.
Harris says: “Our advice is that, by integrating your brand in a way that takes advantage of the creative-led digital opportunities, and pulls the audience into a fluid and adaptive narrative, you can build strong brand engagement with your customers.”
Advertisers are already achieving this by working alongside Twitch. A prominent example is a collaboration with Deutsche Telekom in Germany to demonstrate the high streaming quality of its smartphones and the power of its 5G network.
The brand teamed up with popular German streamer Fishc0p, who streamed live on Twitch through one of the brand’s handsets. Twitch then added its own interactive twist, gamifying banal situations to make them more fun and engaging.
For example, Fishc0p created his own Capture the Flag game, throwing some bread into a lake to see which duck would eat first. After showing snippets of the footage to the community, Twitch offered the chance to vote on what would happen next. If the community voted correctly, Deutsche Telekom dropped Twitch Bits and gifted them to the viewers, emphasizing how much fun it is to stream the world live on their powerful 5G network. The livestream lasted a total of two hours and generated hundreds of thousands of views.
"This is a really strong example of a brand utilizing technology to tell a fluid story with an ever-evolving and unpredictable narrative, and being embraced as having compelling content by the audience,” explains Harris.
Advertisers that look towards this type of fluid experience for audiences will achieve greater stand out than those sticking to more static, scripted, types of product placement.
For more insights on Generation Twitch, download Twitch’s ‘Generation Twitch: Leading Cultural Change – Advertising in an Emerging World’ report.
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