Thece, founded in 2018 by CEO Zachary Rozga, aims to foster consumer engagement between brands and their audiences. Operating in the gaming and creator economy spaces, Thece has rolled out two products to connect brands with creators and fans.
TheceEsports, a livestream and creator brand product, was introduced three years ago. “It’s one of the most highly effective ways for brands to get in front of the game viewing audience, because it’s a part of the content, and it’s not interruptive,” Rozga stated. This live streaming advertising solution guarantees impressions for brands wanting to reach gaming viewers. Brands purchase TheceEsports like a TV ad campaign, indicating desired reach and timeframe. Thece then ensures brands hit those key performance indicators. “[Prior to TheceEsports,] the guarantee [of impressions] really didn’t exist [and brands had to] align with [multiple] creators or organizations [to get distribution at scale],” said Rozga.
Thece Bridges Brands To Creators Through Innovative Esports And Gaming Campaigns
Thece’s newest product, ThecePlay, launched in January 2024 in partnership with record-tracking organization Twin Galaxies. With ThecePlay, ” a brand like Aquaphor can say ‘I want people to learn about Aquaphor, but I don’t want to put an ad in front of them,'” detailed Rozga. Instead, brands can challenge users to play a mobile game well in exchange for a prize. For example, Aquaphor might challenge users to score 500 points in Flappy Bird for a free product sample. Twin Galaxies verifies users’ submission videos, confirming they legitimately beat the challenge’s criteria.
Rozga believes ThecePlay brings two key advantages. First, “we can use any game title in the world, any game type, so we’re not restricted to what you normally see in the streaming world.” This unlocks promotions possibilities beyond popular titles like Fortnite and Minecraft. Adidas, for instance, could challenge FIFA players despite few creators focusing solely on that game.
Secondly, “we are now putting the brand at the front of the gaming experience not as a copilot of the gaming experience,” noted Rozga. “Which is what happens when they sponsor a tournament, a league, an organization, an individual creator.” Instead, brands fully own the challenge and it resides on the brand’s website.
Some creators already run gaming challenges, but have limitations in scale and oversight. As smaller operations, they lack the staff and platforms to vet submissions at scale or enforce detailed contest rules and objectives. Prizing is also subject to the creator’s own Means.
For creators, ThecePlay centralizes campaigns onto a single platform. This simplifies promotion across their social channels. Instead of daily livestreams, creators can post various content types across multiple social platforms that all drive users to the challenge homepage. This consolidates attribution under the brand’s domain.
Thece aims to remove administrative burdens for creators running audience gaming campaigns, allowing them to focus on content. “You could run 12 contests, one a month and all you have to do is announce it. We do everything else,” said founder Zachary Rozga. “That’s on the administrative side.”
Thece handles contest mechanics, submissions review, winner selection, and more. The company also negotiates brand deals for creators. “We can help you get the top dollar that you want out of that activation, because you’re delivering [brands] hard first party data,” Rozga stated.
Working across game types
Rozga highlighted two differentiators from SDK-based in-game promotions. First, Thece campaigns work across titles. “Because we’re working with Twin Galaxies, who’s been judging videos since 1981, they are the recognized gold standard when it comes to video game records,” Rozga explained. “All the other platforms try to embed themselves inside the game itself. That means you have to play or create challenges that are available to you.” But Thece challenges can involve any game, notably expanding options.
Secondly, brands can target specific demographic groups based on game selection. “If you’re trying to reach older moms, you’re not going to put together a Call of Duty game,” said Rozga. Instead, Thece might suggest a Candy Crush promotion. This “reverse the design” approach starts with the target audience versus defaulting to the same mega-titles.
As for ideal creators, Rozga stated that “it’s really more about quality than quantity.” Creators must have actively engaged followings more so than raw subscriber numbers. The main qualification is having fans that respond to you. “If you don’t have an engaged audience, I can’t really help you,” Rozga admitted.
Creating value through engaging long tail creators and streamers
As online entertainment fragments across platforms, Rozga believes the era of exclusive streaming contracts is ending. “The idea of a creator having a singular platform that they stream on or engage their audience on is not possible anymore,” he remarked.
This shift comes amid a “professionalization of the market,” per Rozga. In the so-called eSports Winter, creators must offer quality productions rather than maximizing hours streamed. He pointed to detail-oriented creators like MrBeast as examples of enduring success who focus more on quality content than quantity of content..
For ThecePlay, the imperative is crafting compelling campaigns off the back of that loyal engagement. “My oldest daughter is a hardcore Sims 4 person…there’s a whole rabid community of followers of these [Sims creators],” described Rozga. “How do we help brands because there’s so many brands would make so much sense with a Sims 4 type of activation?”
ThecePlay aims to align appropriate sponsors with grassroots gaming communities, compensating creators in the process. The product also embraces a wider swath of casual titles through its flexible judging approach. “You don’t have to focus on a single game title,” said Rozga.
As gaming culture and audience habits evolve, Thece strives to connect consumer brands with authentic creator-fan relationships via audience challenges . “Our point is something that’s fun and interesting and exciting for your community,” summarized Rozga regarding ThecePlay campaigns.