Oct 2, 2014

Transparency in Sponsored Content and Promotion

[Edit for clarity: this policy pertains specifically to Twitch driven campaigns.]

[Edit 2: For sponsor relationships outside of Twitch driven campaigns, we encourage all broadcasters to follow FTC guidelines, as per section 11.g of our Terms of Service.]

We launched Twitch over three years ago, when the video ecosystem was a different industry than it is today. We’ve seen the continuing rise of gaming content on Web video platforms, a host of media companies which cater to that industry, and the increasingly big-dollar deals with major consumer brands who leverage gaming personalities to market their products and games.

All the while, the Twitch community has grown fast as more and more gamers embrace live video and the community it supports.

An increasingly large part of the Gamer/Platform/Media/Advertiser equation, particularly in the video game industry, is what we commonly call “Influencer Campaigns.” Influencer campaigns are one way for an advertiser to leverage the celebrity of a content creator on various video platforms to drive awareness and purchase intent for the advertiser’s brand or product.

For example, an influencer campaign will feature a well-known broadcaster playing a newly released (or sometimes pre-released) title. When done right, this is a win-win for everyone involved: Brands get their games out there, influencers make some money doing what they do best, and viewers are entertained and informed by great content.

Sometimes though, because of a lack of clear best practices and shifting regulatory guidelines, coupled with a sometimes less-than-transparent sponsor relationship, these kinds of campaigns have become a bit of a dark corner in the industry, and that’s bad for everyone. For some further context, read the FTC’s official Guidelines Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

For these reasons, gamers can tend to look skeptically on the ecosystem because they don’t know what is paid-for content and what is not. It also opens influencers to potential criticism.

While we have always encouraged our broadcasters to acknowledge if they are playing games as part of a promotional campaign, we are now establishing a much more transparent approach to all paid programs on our platform and hope that it sets a precedent for the broader industry. Simply put: We want complete transparency and unwavering authenticity with all content and promotions that have a sponsor relationship.

Here’s what you can expect from Twitch driven campaigns:

For Viewers You will know what is paid for and what is not. All copy and graphics attached to sponsored content — Twitch front page, social media, email promotions, etc. — will be clearly identified.

For Partners/Influencers We have never and will never require positive sentiment or suppress negative sentiment via any influencer in any campaign.

For Brands/Advertisers You will benefit from the trust afforded by completely transparent sponsorship campaigns, while engaging with the Twitch community in an entirely organic way.

Today, you’ll start seeing a new graphic on the front video carousel: a “sponsored” tag. This denotes when a stream is sponsored by a brand.

You’ll also see a new graphic in our content newsletters.

In addition, when part of a sponsored campaign, the relevant Twitter update will be clearly identified with appropriate “Brought to you by” language, or amended with ^SP, to denote a “sponsored tweet.”

Thank you to all of our partners and advertisers, and of course to the Twitch community!

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