Twitch’s “experimental” mid-stream ads are proving controversial

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September 18 Twitch confirms that the experiment “has concluded” and “will not appear to viewers” after taking feedback on board.

Popular streaming platform Twitch announced a trial of automated mid-roll ads for randomly selected viewers. These ads will be similar in length and content to pre-roll ads, but will appear randomly during streams instead of exclusively when viewers join.

The decision comes as a part of a “new ad experience” on the platform – if you can ever call a minute of watching Jack Ryan or Jeremy Clarkson an “experience”. Unsurprisingly, the decision to randomly throw the cold meat of Clarkson’s face into the middle of streams hasn’t gone down well with viewers or creators.

Some of the biggest streamers such as Tim ‘TimTheTatman‘ Betar and Nick ‘NICKMERCS’ Kolcheff have already tweeted asking to “opt-out” of the new experience, due to the random nature of the new ads. Adverts triggered by the streamers themselves can be timed to coincide with when they take a quick break or between matches, but that’s not the case with this automated system. The new experimental ads instead take inspiration from Adele and turn up out of the blue uninvited, meaning they could appear in the middle of a vital play or exciting win.

While Twitch describes the change as “new” and “innovative”, others think there needs to be more transparency for the mid-roll ads to work. Esports streamer Zach Bussey believes that the system could work with better rewards for creators and clear communication. He covered a few ways creators could benefit from the change in a comprehensive Twitter thread.

His most important point regards the length of ads: five to six seconds at the most. Most YouTube videos feature similar-length adverts and, although they’re intrusive, they are largely accepted.

He also argues that, as long as Twitch provides creators and viewers with an accurate countdown before the ad runs, it reduces the chances of viewers missing out on an exciting moment. However, whether the platform will respond to these suggestions remains to be seen.

As it currently stands, Twitch tells creators that running their own adverts is the best way to avoid subjecting their viewers to the automated experience: “viewers in your channel don’t see both your creator-run ad break, and this new ad we’re experimenting with.”