Won’t Someone Please Think of the Advertisers? 

twitch ad revenue farming twitch click impression farming fake engagement
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The Streamer Awards are returning for the third time on Feb. 17, celebrating creators who put themselves in front of a camera for hours a day for their audience’s enjoyment on platforms like Twitch. Created and hosted by Blaire “QTCinderella,” it’s one of the biggest events on Twitch.

Last year’s event, co-hosted by Rachel “Vaklyrae” Hofstetter, pulled in 580,000 peak viewers. This year, things are expected to get even wilder, with top personality Imane “Pokimane” Anys as co-host. 

But running an event with a red carpet at the historic Wiltern in Los Angeles isn’t cheap. Last year, QTCinderella told Passionfruit that the 2023 event cost triple the year prior, over $900,000, and she didn’t expect to earn her money back.

This year, the streamer wanted to try something new to help raise enough capital to make the awards show a profitable option. 

In a candid post on Twitter/X from Feb. 8, which now has over 2.6 million views, QTCinderella acknowledged that she didn’t “have enough sponsors to pay for the show this year.” So, instead, she would launch a channel on Twitch that would show reruns of her content 24/7. Fans should “consider opening a tab and helping farm ad rev here.”

In the original description, which has since been updated, she gave instructions not to “leave the stream open in another tab it will still count you towards ad runs, but please make sure to only mute THE TAB and NOT the stream.”

In a now-deleted response, the award show creator said that this is her “explicitly trying to pay for a massive show that I put on myself” but said that “the description is aggressive” and would be edited. The QTEvents channel is currently offline and only ran for about 28 hours after her initial tweet. (QTCinderella did not respond for comment by publication time). 

Using channels that farm old content isn’t all that controversial. Felix “PewDiePie” Kjellberg has a channel on Twitch that currently showing reruns of his old content. Also, having streams open in the background isn’t considered taboo, especially when Twitch Drops (which gives free items in video games for watching) are active. 

However, some people online disagree with the practice. “World of Warcraft” streamer and cockroach enthusiast Asmongold said on a weekend stream that “if everybody started doing this in the entirety of all the partners less money for ads what are advertisers paying for.” One Twitter thread critiquing the practice accumulated over 640,000 views.

Other creators seemed to be more aware of how innocuous this attempt at cancellation was. Pokemon YouTuber PhillyBeatzU tweeted in response to the aforementioned Twitter thread, saying, “This is the dumbest thread I’ve ever seen someone make.”

According to Twitch’s Help section, “whether you mute the video player on Twitch or the browser tab, you still count as a viewer so long as live video is playing.” So QTCinderella isn’t breaking Twitch’s Terms of Service, even though a few social media voices and bug farmers think it is. 

Ad revenue is what keeps the internet running, though nobody seems to enjoy the experience. Creators have been trying to find ways to game the system, bringing in ad revenue without having their audience blasted by promotions for Dollar Shave Club.

The idea of click farming is pretty simple: just have multiple streams or videos in tabs watching ads, with some people even going so far as to employ bots to inflate numbers. If that number is large enough, then creators could potentially earn revenue without having as many eyeballs tune in.

But click farming isn’t a sustainable business model since it essentially defrauds the advertiser. The advertisers are paying to have their Michelob Ultra and Grubhub spots in front of potential customers, not playing in the background or while it’s unwatchable.

Twitch has been accused of inflating viewership numbers by autoplaying embedded streams on wikis and other third-party websites to inflate views. At TwitchCon 2023, CEO Dan Clancy confirmed that Twitch will soon be “introducing a change to our embeds policy to prohibit autoplay when the Twitch stream is a substantive or a meaningful component of the page.”

The issue of click farming goes far beyond Twitch. YouTube doesn’t allow click farming and will ban accounts that try to farm revenue, but the problem persists. According to an Adalytics report from mid-2022, ads were “muted, out-stream, auto-playing or interstitial video ad units running on independent websites and mobile apps.” 

While click farming can undeniably hurt the ecosystem when taken too far, at the end of the day, Amazon is a multi-billion dollar corporation. Trying to lick the company’s boots because a woman wanted to earn some money to support the awards show she made for the community is just plain sad. To me, this is a non-issue blown up by drama farmers with little else to do.

And at least QT is taking it in stride, memeing on the haters.

“Just wanna say there are a TON of channels on twitch that only do vod content 24/7 TO MAKE MONEY,” QTCinderella tweeted. “I thought being transparent about why I’m doing it would be cool. But maybe shouldn’t have been soooo transparent cause that makes people mad.”

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