Twitch is flying under the radar in the U.K. as it prepares to push its ad business into Europe.
Despite the brand’s European headquarters in London being more than four years old, little is known about the team behind the site people go to to watch other people play games live. VP Steve Ford is the face of Twitch’s commercial operation in Europe, overseeing a sales team that doubled in size last year and “nearly doubled” revenue in the same period versus 2016. Like its commercial operation, Twitch keeps its commercial figures under wraps. But there are signs to suggest it is starting to gain traction on media plans outside of the U.S.
Searches are currently underway for commercial executives to join the team in London, including a director for a team that will broker deals with high-profile creators and creator networks across EMEA. Furthermore, it is building a sales team for its office in Hamburg, Germany, ahead of an office in Helsinki, Finland, later in the year. The Nordic region, according to Ford, represents “tremendous scale” for the business as a collective market rather than as individual countries.
Plans are also advancing to grow the headcount at the company’s content studio over the coming months following work with non-gaming brands like Kellogg’s. While non-gaming brands have been the bulk of Twitch’s ad revenue in the U.K. for some time, it is still seen as a platform with a niche audience by many. And yet, Macquarie Capital analyst Ben Schachter said 962,000 was the average viewership on Twitch last month, putting it on a par with the likes of MSNBC, CNN, Fox News and ESPN, per Business Insider.
Twitch’s perception problem — at least in Europe — stems from limited coverage of sectors outside those directly linked to gaming such as food and film. It is, however, trying to broaden its content range to include fitness, creative, music and others. Agencies anticipate more budget moving over as those content streams solidify and its sales team become more accessible.
The Twitch team is “very proactive” these days, said James Thomas, managing partner at Wavemaker. The team at Wavemaker no longer needs to seek out Twitch sales executives, continued Thomas, since they are regular visitors to the agency’s offices in London, “talking about upcoming releases before any brief comes through.” The pitch from those executives, Thomas continued, has moved away from selling large volumes of quality video inventory to delivering innovative solutions.
The prevailing wisdom among advertisers is Twitch is brand play, due to the high desktop focus and large player size. Newer advertisers to the platform are content to experiment, while the more experienced brands like Netflix and Activision go big and look to innovate.