Do the names shroud, tfue, dakotaz and ninja sound familiar?
Probably not, but they are some of the top 10 most-watched gamers on the Amazon-owned live-stream platform Twitch, and together they racked up over 10m in viewing hours in just the first week of this month.
Ninja in particular – a self-titled “professional Battle Royale player” – accounted for 4.8m of those hours alone, and recently surpassed landmark 10m Twitch followers who currently tune in to watch his skills on titles such as Fortnite; skills that won him a share of a $3m (£2.3m) prize this year at E3’s esports LA-based tournament Electronic Entertainment Expo.
Boasting such figures, it’s easy to see why the creepers of the influencer marketing bloom are now taking a firm hold on esports sector with platforms such as Twitch representing rich opportunities for brands to connect with a primarily male, millennial audience and, of course, for the companies looking to facilitate these relationships.
Enter PowerSpike, a “turnkey influencer marketing tool for Twitch influencers”, which yesterday announced combined funding of $500K (£389K) from a variety of investors including TechStars Atlanta, Innovation Lab Crafted by Kimball, Cox Enterprises and Dorm Room Fund.
Founded in 2015 by two former streamers themselves, AJ Damiano and Michael Paris, the platform utilises AI (artificial intelligence) and marketplace technology to connect influencers with matching brands, handling the added logistics, such as communication, agreements and payments.
“The barrier of entry for live streaming influencer marketing has remained high for years”, commented Damiano, PowerSpike’s CEO, who cut his teeth in esports sector amid the heady days of World of Warcraft streams, where his struggle to source sponsors as a content creator on Twitch led to the platform’s inception.
“PowerSpike’s platform makes live-streaming sponsorships measurable and verifiable. With the help of our new investors, we’re able to continue developing the technology that opens an entirely new growth channel for marketers and allows live streamers to make a living by doing what they love,” said Damiano.
According to group, since launching its beta early last year, the platform has onboarded over 8K content creators with a combined audience of over 10m viewers, and has worked with brands including Soylent, Camp Mobile and Creative Labs.
The aim now is growth and diversification. That includes taking on new developers to help expand and iterate its platform, taking its services beyond just technology to offer custom managed campaigns, as well as expanding beyond the realms of Twitch to “all major streaming platforms”, such as Instagram Live, YouTube Live and Mixer.
“We’re excited to invest in AJ Damiano and his talented management team,” said Seth Berger, managing director at Sixers Innovation Lab Crafted by Kimball. “As former streamers, they’re acutely aware of the challenges PowerSpike aims to solve, and they are on the right path.”
“Streaming is a rapidly growing space we believe will continue to explode,” he added.
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