Twitch Once Again Trips Over Its Own Tongue Messaging Ad Policy Change To Creators
from the here-we-go-again dept
How does simple communication and the rollout of new polices remain so very, very difficult for Amazon’s Twitch platform? Over the past several years, we have written up many posts of all the ways that Twitch has sucked out loud when it comes to communicating with its creators, particularly when it comes to policy changes the platform decides to make. It changed how it responds to DMCA takedown requests without bothering to tell anyone about it, for instance. Then it turned its vaunted affiliate program into essentially a pay-to-play scheme. All the while, creators have been subject to DMCA abuse, Twitch started playing silent games demonitizing some creator content, and it failed to promptly inform creators that it had banned as to the reason for those bans.
Has it gotten better? Not really, no. The most recent news is that Twitch decided to change up its rules and policies on how streamers can partner with advertisers on the platform in a manner that has the potential to have massive effects, before quickly retreating from its own announcement.
On June 6, popular streaming service Twitch rolled out a set of new advertisement rules that spell trouble for streamers large and small. The rules are directly related to branded content streamers add into their streams, which are a crucial source of revenue for creators, and the new set of rules could very well mean major consequences for your favorite streamers.
In the aftermath of the announcement, streamers took to Twitter and Twitch to lament the changes, with big names like Asmongold threatening to leave Twitch entirely. Twitch released some clarifications via Twitter, but it’s unclear what rules will actually be in place come July 1.
Here, again, we have an example of Twitch being so inept when it comes to basic communication to its own community that nobody knows how to react other than to be completely pissed off. So what was in the new rule changes? Several things! On-stream logos of advertising partners were restricted to less than 3% of what’s on the screen, for instance. But that only applied to a digital logo, leading to some hilarious, albeit frustrating, workarounds.
Sort of defeats the entire purpose, no? But that wasn’t the only change. Another change was the enforcement of a ban on embedded pre-recorded ads within the stream itself, including embedded banners from advertisers. And that really was the bigger deal.
Branded content is a major source of income for streamers, as the controversial 50/50 revenue split of September 2022 left them feeling exploited by the Amazon-owned company. Contracts with gamer-marketed soft drinks or gaming peripherals allow them to manually place banners into their streams, with the money from that partnership going directly into their pocket—not being split down the middle like the revenue from ads that play through Twitch.
“The big creators are the ones who get fucked by this almost exclusively,” CEO of Ping Labs and former Twitch employee Theo Browne told Kotaku over the phone. “And that’s what’s scary—the top 100 streamers on Twitch just got told they’re not allowed to make 80 percent of their revenue the way they’re used to making it. This is gonna have repercussions.”
But it’s not just the biggest streamers this would hit. There are plenty of unintended consequences that would come to be by this policy change. The best example of that are events and charity streams. Events are typically done so infrequently that the ability to make good revenue from advertising partners instead of primarily from viewer subs will be impossible under these new rules. So events will just… go away from the platform?
As for charity streams, streamers may not be able to embed content or show information on the screen for the charities the stream is intended to benefit. After all, such content could be considered advertising for the charity, right? So do charity streams, and all the benefit that occurs from those streams, also just simply go away?
And, as seems to always be the case, the problem is once again how Twitch communicates, or not, with its own greatest resource: its creative community.
“I think what this signifies more than anything is that if Twitch is talking to creatives, they’re only doing enough to feel good about making bad decisions, not to prevent them from making bad decisions,” Browne suggested. “Even if this was done for legal reasons or like external pressure from the ad team—the ad team has been trying really hard to make it easier for Twitch to sell ads…if some advertiser goes to Twitch, and they see their ad play on top of the streamer playing another ad, they’re not going to be happy. So I can see why they’d be motivated to make these changes, but they did not do any of the necessary homework or effort to do this in a way that doesn’t directly harm creators and their perception of Twitch.”
As I mentioned, Twitch beat a hasty retreat from its own announcement the very next day. Just as the backlash to all of this hit its crescendo, Twitch attempted to shake the etch a sketch.
Meaning that the only real result of Twitch’s policy announcements is to have reputational egg all over its face. Policies generally won’t change, creators get what they want while still being pissed that the platform thought any of this was a good idea, and Twitch got to be embarrassed out in full view the public.
All because it can’t be bothered to do communicate with its own community properly.
Filed Under: branded content, embedded ads, policies, sponsorship, streaming, ugc
Companies: amazon, twitch