How Publisher Collective found the missing third of its audience

Based in Bath, England, Publisher Collective is a vertical ad network focused on helping PC and console gaming sites earn more by implementing programmatic, native and direct demand. Their team combines decades of experience in ad tech, games, and web development, and blends cutting-edge technology with a consultative approach to drive revenue growth.

Keeping up with the digital natives

Websites that focus on Video & Computer Games (IAB9-30) content routinely witness some of the highest adblock rates in the industry. This is because gamers tend to be power users and put a lot of time and effort into customizing their hardware and software. On the web, this translates into filtering their advertising experience to prioritize utility, speed, and ease of use.

“We’ve always been aware of the adblocking problem,” says Rob Brett, Director of Programmatic at Publisher Collective. “It’s a generational thing, our audience is primarily millennials and Gen-Z gamers, both of whom are considered to be digital pioneers and natives respectively. We explored a few different solutions, as finding the right technology and partner was crucial for us to get this right.”

PC gamers are a key audience group for Publisher Collective as well as the customers they serve, which includes brands like Amazon Games, Blizzard, Sega, Capcom, and Hasbro. These gamers typically have big, high-resolution screens with ample opportunity for display monetization, which made it all the more important to have a solution to adblocking.

On choosing the user-first approach

Publisher Collective puts new technology vendors through a rigorous vetting process before initiating a formal partnership. “Publisher Collective is not a run-of-the-mill network,” says Rob. “Our relationship with customers is not just around demand and revenue, we also have a consulting layer where we advise them on improving viewability, traffic growth, and design.”

“Blockthrough has provided us with a constant, hassle-free revenue stream.”

Adblock walls—which prompt users to disable their adblocker—were ruled out during evaluation due to their negative impact on UX. “We try our best not to go against the wishes of users and so we didn’t want to ask them to give up their adblocker,” adds Rob. An important feature on the wishlist for Publisher Collective was the ability to restore their existing demand partnerships.

Out-of-the-box, Blockthrough’s solution enabled Publisher Collective to serve a lighter advertising experience to opted-in adblock users, while restoring demand from their key SSP partners like TripleLift, Pubmatic, and OpenX. During the course of the partnership, Blockthrough also added additional demand from Google AdX and BT Exchange1, as well as activated our Engage2 feature—a mechanism for refreshing ads based on viewability and user engagement signals.

Finding the missing third of the audience

Publisher Collective’s network includes hundreds of websites, which includes a mix of O&O and customer properties. Their Account Manager at Blockthrough, with support from the Publisher Success and Solutions Engineering teams, scoped out the integration and onboarding plan.

By the third month of onboarding, Blockthrough was recovering over $50k/month in revenue for Publisher Collective—an average we have maintained over the course of the 2-year partnership, despite seasonal fluctuations in ad spend.

In cumulative terms, Publisher Collective has recovered upwards of $1.2 million in revenue, which they’re able to pass back to their partners and drive up their RPMs.

Cumulative revenue generated for Publisher Collective, Sep 2020 to Nov 2022

The analytics data collected over two years also reveals something interesting. As expected, Publisher Collective witnessed an above-average adblock rate of 32%. That’s almost a third of the total audience visiting their sites, who collectively generated 1.6 billion pageviews during the analysis period, which Blockthrough’s solution makes visible, measurable, and monetizable.

Today, Blockthrough services over 160 websites in the Publisher Collective portfolio, with our Revenue Operations, Data Science, and Product teams working together to monitor day-to-day revenue performance and roll out new features and optimizations. “Blockthrough has provided us with a constant, hassle-free revenue stream,” Rob says in conclusion. “At the same time, we’ve found the underlying technology to be robust, scalable, and seamless in its execution.”

1 BT Exchange: Blockthrough Exchange is a solution that connects publishers to the best monetization opportunities by curating Acceptable Ads compliant demand via direct partnerships with top-tier SSPs.

2 Blockthrough Engage: A nonintrusive version of ad refresh that factors in ad viewability and follows Acceptable Ads guidelines for in-view refresh, including refreshing no more than one unit per page.

While you're here...

Did you know that the average publisher loses 10-40% of their revenue to ad blocking? What you may not know is that ad blocking has largely shifted to ad-filtering, with over 350M users allowing a safer, less interruptive ad experience to be served to them—in turn supporting their favorite sites and creators.

Blockthrough's award-winning technology plugs into publishers' header bidding wrapper and ad server to scan ad creatives for compliance with the Acceptable Ads Standard to activate this "hidden" audience and generate incremental revenue, while respecting the choice and experience of ad-filtering users.

Want to learn more?