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Today's gamers ask brands to build tomorrow's collaborative experiences

By Ian Darby | journalist

November 22, 2022 | 7 min read

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The recent ‘Generation Twitch’ research outlines a series of new behaviors from emerging audiences. In the fourth of a five-part series, we focus on the benefits for brands in recognizing the shift from ‘passive to collaborative’ digital experiences.

74% of Twitch viewers agree that interaction with the community is everything

74% of Twitch viewers agree that interaction with the community is everything

Dystopian fiction frequently paints an incorrect picture of people feeling isolated and alienated by digital technology - but this isn’t the case. The reality can be far more positive.

Tech allows people to work, play and interact with each other in new ways. The adoption of collective connectivity is not a new concept, it’s just been accelerated and reframed differently due to the pandemic. In the gaming world, developments include Roblox launching its one-click Collaborate Button to help creators work together with others, and also in the growing levels of support for esports gamers from their fans.

This emphasis on the collective experience is especially important to a new generation which prizes the collaborative nature of interactive digital services above passively waiting for things to happen. ‘Generation Twitch’ is an audience that has only ever known a digital world, has always been connected, and who are now taking center stage. This generation embraces both gen Z (those born between 1997 and 2012) and those most swayed by their influence, namely millennials (those born between 1981 and 1996) and, soon to come of age, generation alpha (post-2012).

The emergence of this behavior features in the fourth in a series of five new behavioral trends identified in ‘Generation Twitch: Leading Cultural Change’ research from livestreaming service Twitch. It describes a shift in demand from “passive to collaborative” digital experiences among this emerging audience of young adults, following on from ”curated to authentic”, ”fixed to fluid”, and “exclusive to inclusive”.

There’s undoubtedly something here for brands to focus on because ‘Generation Twitch’ is predisposed towards building communities based on shared values and passions. Advertisers that adopt a forward-thinking, community-first approach will set themselves up for success and build lifetime value.

Interaction is everything

The report reveals how today's audiences understand that entertainment can deliver a more interactive experience that means they are not relegated to passively watching from afar. They instead favor forming a community, and building a real sense of unity. The extent to which the future involves active collaboration is uncovered in the finding that 74% of Twitch viewers agree that interaction with the community is everything.

In order to reach new audiences, brands should look to understand this behavior, and find proactive routes to communicate in relevant ways.

Adam Harris, global head of brand partnerships studio at Twitch, says that binge watching a favorite series on a streaming service, or attending a live concert, are among the more “passive” forms of entertainment. While these are at times still very enjoyable, based on the research, he argues that the emerging generation is looking for more. “Today, with technology – be it livestreaming, augmented reality (AR), online gaming or beyond – we are able to work, play and interact together like never before and take part in experiences together.”

A strong sense of this emerges from interviews Twitch conducted with its audience. As one viewer says: “Twitch encourages active attention. Many of my friends enjoy streaming, and it’s special to be able to support them and interact with their streams.”

This supports the notion that today’s audience wants a collective experience that generates a real sense of unity. Twitch has a role to play here because providing people with the support to make meaningful contributions is an inherent part of the Twitch service. Interactions are encouraged through chat features and interactive polls. As another viewer of the service says: “Twitch offers a lot of features to encourage collaboration, such as hosting other creators, which often leads to people finding and meeting people to network with more often.”

Active collaboration with brands

Forward-thinking advertisers have a great chance to build on the emergence of a more collaborative spirit among digital audiences.

“To really build loyalty, brands need to not only align their values but add value to a community. They should go beyond passive push interactions and actively encourage participation from a willing community,” says Harris.

The demand for this is clearly there among the Twitch audience. A third viewer featured in the research says: “Twitch advertisements have an opportunity to be more interactive. What makes Twitch unique is the ability of the streamers to play ads on their terms and for people to interact through emotes [icons similar to emojis that the Twitch community use to convey sentiments].”

WhatsApp is an example of a brand that has looked further than passive observation to encourage participation from a willing community. The brand sponsored a Twitch stream to showcase the multiple layers of security and privacy it offers. To make the experience more collaborative, WhatsApp replaced streamers' mid-stream breaks with mini-games, in which viewers worked together to win.

Twitch achieved this with an extension that allowed the viewers to use an integrated extension to click on the screen and target intruder enemies. Projectiles would then launch towards the majority voted areas, making it a truly democratic, collaborative experience. The shots were all registered and displayed on screen so that all viewers could see how they contributed to the group effort.

The future of digital experiences is collaborative, and the success of WhatsApp's activity shows that there is clear value for advertisers in fostering active co-operation based on shared values between a ‘virtuous triangle’ of creator, community and the brand.

For more insights on Generation Twitch, download Twitch’s ‘Generation Twitch: Leading Cultural Change – Advertising in an Emerging World’ report.

Modern Marketing Adtech Brand Purpose

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