How rampant esports publication Dexerto is playing a bigger role for brand partnerships

In recent years, esports and gaming website Dexerto has seen impressive growth in both readership and social following. Now it seeks to capitalize on its loyal following by acting as a bridge between brands and gamers.

Dexerto was founded in 2015 by Joshua Nino, Mike Kent, Nicolas Hulsmans and Chris Marsh. It’s been profitable since a seed round in 2016 – one of the few endemic esports publications to claim that honor, according to Nino. The publication’s audience grew rapidly in its early years, attracting native esports readers with a focus on social content focused on top gaming influencers and the community conversations around them, rather than the games themselves.

“I would say we’re actually trying to catch people who are on social media, and a lot of the content that people are interacting with on social media happens to be a game,” Nino said. “Conversely, I would say, a traditional gaming giant is more likely to come from a game quality perspective, reviews of a game. We’re much more interested in what people are saying about the game, not so much by the quality of the game.”

Although Dexerto’s traffic numbers have already increased before the pandemic, they have exploded since 2020. Between 2020 and 2021, Dexerto’s total number of views increased from around 1.5 billion to 2.3 billion, with revenue similarly rising 50% to 8 figures, according to data provided by Nino, although he declined to pinpoint a specific number. The company has also doubled its workforce over the past year, employing approximately 100 people spread across global time markets such as Australia, India, Argentina and the United States. “We offer dedicated language subdomains, with native writers for French and Spanish,” Nino said.

This growth has made Dexerto an attractive potential partner for brands and marketers looking to reach gamers rampantly, although ad revenue has been part of the company’s model since day one. Like many other rampant esports publications, Dexerto has no paying subscribers. Some of its current and former partners include major endemic and non-endemic brands such as Razer, Chipotle, Coca-Cola and Buffalo Wild Wings. The site offers both media production and creative strategy services to its partners, including sponsored content in the form of short and long videos and written articles. Dexerto is also able to incorporate trademarks into its pre-existing intellectual properties, such as the Dexerto Originals documentary series.

It was these services that led Huw Davies, Director of Communications and Campaigns at HIV/AIDS charity Red, to partner with Dexerto to host the first-ever ‘Creator Cup’ fundraising event. of the group in December 2021. In addition to producing sponsored content related to the event, Dexerto worked closely with Red on fundraising strategy, planning and production. He connected Red with digital creators to create a custom Minecraft world promoting the tournament, which ultimately raised over $127,000.

“They were instrumental in managing the process from start to finish,” Davies said. “We’re also grateful that their team has helped connect Red with major gaming organizations and creator managers, which means we’ve been able to build relationships that we hope will grow in the years to come.”

Despite healthy activations, Dexerto and its staff have been known to be the subject of legal controversy from time to time. Dexerto editor Richard Lewis, for example, is infamous for making abrasive comments on social media disparaging various esports communities and their members – in addition to his hard-hitting coverage of the esports industry. , which recently included an explosive report on TSM. dismissal of League of Legends coach Peter Zhang.

For Nino and his fellow Dexerto founders, these potential controversies are a feature, not a bug.

“It actually opened up a lot of business for us – not just Richard Lewis, but other journalists who openly said they were bold and optimistic in their reporting,” Nino said. “And it brings a lot of positive attention to Dexerto, maintaining integrity by having a wide variety of opinions and reporting styles.”

In any case, any controversy stirred up by Dexerto staffers is largely limited to the esports community, and the brands view the post as a safe and welcoming conduit into the gaming space.

“Dexerto is definitely seen as a safe platform, with its content and the way it talks about content,” said Frank Puma, chief investment officer at Mindshare.

Ultimately, Dexerto’s continued success in brand partnerships is further proof that the game is expanding into other areas of culture and society. By focusing its content on gaming influencers and the communities around them, the website has naturally expanded its footprint to include the many varied interests and passions gamers carry with them everywhere.

“When people talk about gaming, sometimes they just put it in a bucket, but that’s not the case – it’s about younger culture,” said Puma, who has worked with Dexerto on numerous partnerships. brand. “They’re moviegoers, they love music, it’s all those cultural things. Dexerto allows [Mindshare] customers like Volvo to stay in that environment, that conversation, in a unique way.

Jacob L. Thornton