For every high-profile brand that’s splashed over the front and back pages of your local media – there’s many other online gambling businesses that (while household names in their own territories) aren’t as well known on the world stage.
Some examples that come to mind here would include Unibet, Interwetten, Sports Interaction, Titan Poker, Casino Tropez. Low-key heavyweights across Sportsbook, Casino and Poker – and all online marketing experts.
Many of these businessses have quietly built exceptional online success stories by either being online marketing innovators, or delivering product or customer experience that is best in class. To do this, they have to recognise trends early, or commit to driving new trends that they believe in.
So, what have I seen in terms of online marketing trends that may have come out of some of the operators above – or in the space in general?
Real time delivery of marketing collateral based on transactional activity: Ok, so ad networks and some of the larger ecommerce sites have been doing this for years, but the rise of Live/In Play Betting (in particular) has allowed online gaming companies to identify new channels that customers haven’t accessed (or channels that they may have tried historically) and serve (or re-serve) these in real-time.
For example, if a customer is on the site, logged in, and betting in-play on a tennis match, a query can be run at the time of log in to see has the customer ever bet on a Casino game or played poker. If they’ve played Casino in the past, serving a banner that launches a “single click to play” game (eg: blackjack), is a low cost, medium impact message with a potentially solid financial upside.
Due to the fantastic functionality now available through using AJAX, multiple queries can be run on a single page – and then if a marketing message, isn’t working, another relevant message can be served. This is becoming more and more sophisticated, with companies that have core control over their own data and database, able to add custom fields to their databases which can allow greater micro-targeting (of the customer) with the most relevant marketing messages.
Great examples of solid in-play offerings include: BWIN, Sports Interaction and Betfair (but I’m not sure about Betfair’s new splash page, it’s reduces the consumer’s ability to see multiple options, on multiple markets, at a glance.)
The continued rise of the “long tail” of products: Internet technology has really driven the commoditisation of information. The delivery of the online betting experience has been augmented by service providers ability to deliver (historically) esoteric and hard to find information. For example, as I write this, BWIN has 8513 markets available to bet on, or would you like to bet on Paraguayan 3rd division football in real time at Paddy Power?
3rd party service providers like Bet Genius now shoulder most of the hard work in terms of aggregating content and delivering it to online betting operators. The more markets that they can provide, the more the operators will take – and I can assure you, that people will bet on them. In similar fashion, online casinos began with 30-40 games, and today, Playtech’s core download casino and Microgaming’s Quickfire platform – both have over 200 games. And they all get played. I can tell you that, again, from experience. That brings me on to…
The rise of branded game/content:
This has probably been one of the biggest growth areas in terms for egaming software providers, and by extension, their licensees and customers.
It’s actually quite a simple equation. How do you build confidence in a product that’s virtual, and (often) for a brand that has little market penetration? Or, how do you entice a casual sports-bettor to play Casino games, when they a have little interest?
Simple. Find a well-known and naturally trusted brand that resonates with a certain demographic – and use it as a theme for an already developed game. And then put that game in front of that demographic.
Biggest examples incude the first ever branded slot, Tomb Raider (from Microgaming in 2004), Gladiator (Playtech) and X-Men (Cryptologic). There’s a good showreel of Playtech’s branded slots here.
The trusted brand helps overcome some of the inherent mistrust of remote games presented by lesser brands – and it drives cross-sell and adoption for more established egaming operators, for a customer base that may have little interest in more traditional casino games. I can tell you from experience that it’s win/win for everyone.
Licensing deals with popular culture media rights owners (Marvel, Eidos, Paramount, etc) are where the software suppliers are concentrating much of their business and market product development focus.
There’s a struggle with social media:
The struggle is that a lot of online marketers are scratching their heads around the tipping point where COO’s etc, are looking for solid quantifiable returns from what some of them are seeing as a black hole that funds are being poured into with little of same KPI’s being hit, as more tried & trusted online marketing channels.
In simple terms, the more traditional metrics of click-through, conversion percentages, sign-ups, etc – are being used in the same way to validate social media spend. And the numbers aren’t looking good. The challenge is for management teams to take a longer term view, as social media seems (so far) to support increased brand engagement, consumer dialogue, brand recall and deeper level customer interactions.
It’s about extracting the value from these things, that proves more difficult to quantify, and thus more difficult put hard & fast numbers in front of people making budgetary decisions.
My next post will look at social media, online marketing and the egaming industry, in more detail.