Congratulations to Future, winner of this year’s Best Online Media Property or Brand: Consumer
The Elevator Pitch
2015 was the year that www.pcgamer.com went from being a specialist player in the gaming world with revenues under pressure from all angles (e.g. >50% of users ad blocking, the rise in competitors), to become arguably the most innovative, influential games site on the globe, developing a unique strategy to build its brand, grow its audience and develop a hugely successful business that saw revenues increase by 80% and key audience metrics increase >50%.
PC Gamer broke the 10m users landmark in Nov 2015 and delivered annual revenues that grew from £1.7m in 2014 to over £3m in 2015.
Set The Scene
The PC Gamer team are based in Bath, San Francisco and Sydney. Their simple remit was to develop an online proposition that positions them up as The Global Authority in PC Gaming. PC Gaming itself is in a buoyant period, driven by a huge growth in game quality, excitement around building personalised gaming systems, the rise of eSports and (arguably) the apathy that exists around the consoles.
However www.pcgamer.com also faces huge challenges, none less that the rise of Ad Blockers amongst its users (>50%), who want to actively and aggressively create the fastest, most friction-free online experience).
Tell Us The Story
PC Gamer decided to fight on two fronts.
1. Own the PC Gaming market
PC Gamer set out to achieve 3 clear goals.
In 2015, PC Gamer launched two new content channels. The first, the Pro Gaming channel, celebrated the explosion of interest in eSports. The second, the Hardware channel, became ultimate guide to building the best PC Gaming rig. PC Gamer promoted these channels through its phenomenal 4.5m strong social audience. Finally it took the unprecedented step of putting on the FIRST EVER PC Gaming conference at the global E3 Games conference.
2. Develop a business model that acknowledged the rise of Ad Blockers: PC Gamer had three clear goals, each focused on alternative revenue opportunities.
In 2015, PC Gamer launched a series of affiliate led Buying Guides that drove a 350% yoy increase in eComm revenue, at the same time it worked with a raft of publishers (and ebay) to monetise its social audience. However the real value came from encouraging its audience to attend or watch a series of branded games events, the pinnacle of which was the PC Gaming show at E3, which generated 1.5m views and had >220k concurrent viewers watching the show live online.
PC Gamer built an unassailable lead in its sector of the games market and started to eat into the market share of the broader console based sites. The site generated >200m sessions and 690m page views throughout the whole of 2015, up 30% and 50% yoy respectively.
However the real stand out achievement was how annual revenues grew from £1.7m in 2014 to over £3m in 2015 (a rise of 80%) through a strategy that used the value of the hugely engaged audience to drive eCommerce and event revenue.
The brand led strategy acknowledged the pressure that the sites business model was facing if it focused solely on display advertising and pivoted successfully towards providing its users with others way to pay to engage with the brand. This included a 350% rise in eCommerce revenue and the arrival of a globally recognised event franchise.