Enlarge /. Ogilvy boasted the following claim about his advertising campaign. We edited it easily.
Ogilvy / Ars Technica
Earlier this week, an advertising agency came out with a video that boasted an advertising campaign concept: We're going to break into playful Twitch chat rooms and run ads for your brand cheaply. The attached video was exactly the kind of shock you'd expect from "Brand Engages in Video Game Culture", with nervous but innocuous quotes, footage of fake games, and digitally altered voices.
But what looked like a fake ad concept turned out to be very real – and after investigating how Twitch works, it looks like a possible FTC violation.
More like "King of Steam Crazy Twitch Users"
The advertising campaign, which was carried out by the Ogilvy agency on behalf of Burger King, relied on a joint donation from Twitch to game streaming hosts. Affiliate Twitch users are entitled to viewer cash, either in the form of flat-rate subscriptions or variable one-time donations, and hosts often encourage this by adding text-to-speech automation to the process. So when you pay a certain amount, a voice reads your statement aloud – and hosts usually react retrospectively to strange and offensive statements from these systems rather than pre-checking them. (After all, they're playing a game right now.)
Ogilvy's advertisement centered on the low cost of entry for these text-to-speech prompts. Their ads, written to promote a fast food chain, were tied to specific dollar amounts. An example, as explained by Twitch streamer Ross "RubberNinja" O & # 39; Donovan (not to be confused with the other ninja), read, "I just donated $ 5 to tell you that You can spend $ 5 and get (a combo meal for) our app. It seems like a twisted strategy. "O 'Donovan went on to post his disdain for American fast food, comparing it to what he ate while living in Australia, which led Ogilvy's "THE_KING_OF_STREAM" account to donate another $ 5 and make a joke about Australian food.
Ogilvy had described the ad campaign as being run by a "bot", which implies automation, but O & # 39; Donovan's example implies some form of human control and curation over responding to Twitch host pushback.
In a Thursday report, Nathan Grayson of Kotaku sniffed around and spotted many other examples of Ogilvy's ads running on real Twitch channels throughout the week – and the Kotaku report cited pretty much all of the hosts who deciphered the practice. "I assumed it was a viewer shit posting, so I didn't stop them," said O 'Donovan Kotaku of his immediate reaction at the time. "Viewers who use my streams for advertising are breaking the rules."
Many streamers pointed out that ad agreements are a crucial part of their income, whether it be from agreeing to video ads on their channel or other forms of consideration (banner advertising, product placement, collaboration at events). "I really despise it when companies use my live content to run their ads without me deleting it or offering what I should pay for marketing. That's more than $ 5, there I'm pretty sure, "said the streamer Anne Munitions posted on Twitter.
RubberNinja's breakdown of this week's Burger King ad campaign, in which it participated without his consent, included its own investigation to find the fake video game material that was being injected into the reactions of the real streamers.
More important to Ogilvy and Burger King, however, is how these ads appeared: as sneaky "fan" declarations in chat rooms. Although most of the campaign was run by the "THE_KING_OF_STREAM" account mentioned above and was displayed as such in Twitch chat rooms, it was in no way represented by Twitch as a sponsor account, nor were the posts identified as "#ad" or any other unambiguous Posts marked tags. As O & # 39; Donovan and other streamers have made clear, this type of transparency would have resulted in such chat instructions being deleted or modified immediately because they violated individual channel rules.
While the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has clear guidelines for "misleading" online advertising and requires channel hosts to adhere to FTC guidelines to ensure sponsored statements can be easily identified, Ogilvy may be through the current policy rifts FTC slipped. The question is whether the FTC would define a fan account that enters the chat room of a Twitch streamer as an "influencer". In that case, the lack of a clear identification of these $ 5 donations as ads would certainly be against the 2019 influencer guidelines. (According to the official FTC language, such a test jumps through the roof on a game-specific website: "Advertising for children poses particular problems," says the agency.)
When asked about possible action, Jay Mayfield, spokesman for the FTC Public Affairs Bureau, declined to comment on Ars Technica: "The FTC only comments on actions of certain companies as part of a law enforcement action," he wrote by E -Mail .
A Twitch spokesperson didn't immediately respond to Ars Technica's questions, but the company delivered a statement telling the press: "We're always looking for ways to create innovative campaigns with leading brands. We welcome creativity, but we weren't involved in This Burger King promotion. Our community is our priority and we are working to ensure that our streamers are number one with every brand we partner with. "