While no one loves ads, they are necessary to keep platforms like Twitch up and running. For a streamer, they can be a lucrative source of income and deliver a much needed break from the stream at the same time. Today we’ll talk about how to unlock ads on Twitch and then show you how to run them on your channel for maximum effectiveness.
How to Unlock Twitch Ads
Twitch ads are only available to affiliate and partner streamers. Furthermore, ads are required (you can turn them off for subs but that’s it). While it can be difficult to reach partner, becoming an affiliate on Twitch is absolutely possible for even very small streamers. Here are the criteria:
- Have at least 50 followers
- Have at least 7 unique broadcasts in the past 30 days
- Have at least 500 minutes of broadcast time in the past 30 days
- Have at least 3 average viewers in the past 30 days
Let’s break each of these down:
Having 50 followers is quite doable. The key is to network outside of Twitch through socials like Instagram, YouTube, or Twitter and websites like Reddit. If you have a specified niche, it can be easier to join communities and attract followers that way.
If we combine the next two points: 7 unique broadcasts and 500 minutes of broadcast time in the past 30 days, that would require you to stream for a little over eight hours for the entire month with around two streams per week. Since most streamers go live for several hours at a time, the 500 minute goal is easy to accomplish. If you work or go to school full time, it might be difficult for you to manage the seven unique streams, as a weekly stream won’t be enough. However, with a little planning and time management, this goal can definitely be achieved.
Arguably the hardest goal is 3 average viewers. It is not uncommon for streamers with over a million followers to have an average viewer count of less than one percent of their total following. Naturally, there are exceptions to this but it’s important to remember that 50 followers does not mean you will have 50 average viewers. All you can do is try to have entertaining, consistent streams where you engage with your followers. Eventually, your average viewer count will rise.
Check out our article on how to become an affiliate on Twitch to learn valuable tips on reaching this milestone.
How to Run Twitch Ads
There are two different ways to run ads on Twitch: automatically and manually. While manual ads require more work on the streamer’s part, you can significantly improve the ad-viewing experience for your followers. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each.
If you’ve ever been watching a stream and experienced an ad break right when an exciting moment is happening (or worse, when the streamer is speaking directly to you), you’re not alone. In these instances, it is likely that the streamer is using automatic ads through Twitch’s Ad Manager or a bot such as Moobot.
- “Set it and forget it” functionality enables the streamer to focus on the stream.
- Easier to disable pre-roll ads by automatically meeting the criteria.
- Viewers don’t know when an ad is coming.
- The streamer doesn’t know when viewers are seeing ads.
- Can occur during important moments unless the streamer presses the “snooze” function.
- Can feel more like a frustrating experience for the viewer rather than an opportunity to support the streamer for free.
While there are certainly some merits to running automatic ads, overall, you have less control over your viewers' ad experience. If you do decide to run automatic ads at timed intervals, Twitch’s best practices for ads recommends that you put this information somewhere on your page. For example, in your “About” section you could write “30 second ads every 30 minutes” along with a short explanation about how ads help your channel. You can verbally thank your viewers for watching ads for an extra special touch.
When a streamer (or a trusted mod) decides to run an ad directly through Twitch’s control panel, by typing in chat, or by pushing a button on a Stream Deck, the ad can be considered “manual.”
- Streamer can mentally prepare the viewers by letting them know an ad is coming.
- An opportunity to create a snack or stretch break for everyone.
- Viewers will know they aren’t missing out on anything exciting.
- Potentially a teachable moment for how viewing ads help keep the stream running.
- Streamer (or mod) has to perform a physical action.
- Easily forgettable if the streamer isn’t careful.
- High potential for pre-roll ads if the streamer doesn’t time them correctly.
Manually running ads puts the control in your hands. If done correctly, it may even be possible to make an ad break an enjoyable experience (gasp!) for both the streamer and the viewers. Running an ad manually provides the chance for everyone to stand up and stretch or take a much needed water, bathroom, or snack break. Not only does the viewer know they’re not going to be missing anything special, there’s comfort in knowing that everyone else is watching an ad too.
The downside is that if a streamer doesn’t pay attention to their ads, they risk allowing pre-roll ads (ads that run before a new viewer is allowed to see the stream). Studies have shown that viewers don’t like to wait and if met with an ad when popping into a new stream, they are likely to leave the stream.
If you decide to run manual ads, give your viewers ample warning. For example, tell them that you’re planning to run a two minute ad as soon as you finish a certain level. Be sure to mention what exciting things you’re planning on doing as soon as you get back from the ad break to encourage viewers to stick around. You may lose some viewers during the break, but your loyal followers will stick around to see what’s in store.
In the end, it will be up to you, the streamer, to decide whether automatic or manual ads are better suited for your channel. Ads are required by all affiliates and partners, so you can’t avoid them. The best you can do is inform your viewers that your stream will have ads, let them know what ad revenue does for your channel, and thank them for sticking around.