When it comes to marketing, few industries face the challenges of the betting and gaming industry. Yes, operators famously throw a lot of money at advertising and promotional activity, but they must also work within the confines of legal and regulatory restriction. Moreover, there is often a grey area in terms of what can be said – or suggested – in an advertisement, and it’s often up to the operator to make the correct judgement call lest the hand of the regulator retrospectively come down upon them.
In short, it’s a minefield. However, many operators are adept in marketing their product in both an astute and responsible way. On the other hand, some marketing activities can come across as forced, garish and underwhelming. Here’s a look at what they do well, and what comes across badly.
Good: Letting Games Speak for Themselves
Software developers have really changed the casino landscape over the last few years, creating games with the kind of following seen for movies and video games; fandom, essentially. It means that operators can point to titles with name recognition in their advertising, and many have cottoned on that this is effective. They can point to having the latest release in the massive Kingdoms Rise series, or to some recommended Irish slots. Whatever it is that is popular and recognisable – Starburst, Age of the Gods, Mega Moolah – is going front and centre of the campaign, and that’s good.
It’s a bit like combining the release of a new Halo game for the latest Xbox console; the pull of the game enhances the desirability of the platform.
Bad: Focusing on Table and Card Games
Did you know you can play roulette at an online casino? Of course you do, as it has been the case for almost a quarter of a century now. Games like roulette and blackjack are incredibly popular, but one would argue that they no longer define the online casino experience; certainly not in the sense of getting players’ pulses races.
As per the above, letting games speak for themselves, there are so many creative innovations on the sites that they should be put front and centre of any marketing campaign.
Good: Responsible Gambling Advertising
Several major operators have campaigned not just on their products but on the range of tools offered to players to keep control of their time and money.
Touting your brand’s ethics and responsibility is a common marketing strategy, of course. Still, it goes a little bit further than, for example, those adverts warning you to keep detergents out of reach of children. These tools – timeout functions, deposit limits, spending limits etc. – are not thrust upon players who don’t want them; players desire them, high rollers and casual players alike, regardless of how they play and the means they have to do so.
Bad: Confusing Language Around Bonuses
Most people will agree that a casino bonus is a good thing for players. And, most would be aware that it won’t be a case of ‘free money’. Normally, the bonus comes in the form of a restricted cash amount. Describing the “restricted” part is where the problems of clarity come in, and one wonders whether online casino operators could do a better job of explaining these terms.
Typically, the restriction is that bonus money will need to be wagered several times before it becomes real cash. In addition, there might be a cap on the winnings from promotions like free spins. But if you look at casino review forums, you will see that this lack of clarity is the most common grievance coming from players. They are littered with posts from angry players who learned about some restriction, like a maximum win cap, after the fact.
Good: Social Media and Affiliate Marketing
We hinted earlier that there is perhaps an under-appreciation of how online casino games have evolved. But it’s not always easy to explain that to the uninitiated in a 30-second advert. Social media marketing solves that problem, especially on sites like YouTube and Twitch. Indeed, it might surprise you just how popular the channels of so-called ‘casino streamers’ have become on platforms like YouTube.
Viewers will watch the latest games being played (often for high stakes), interact with the streamers, ask for requests, and so on. Of course, these streamers are also affiliate marketers, and they drive traffic towards casinos and build up brand recognition for individual games and software developers. It’s very, very effective.
There are exceptions to all the examples above. Indeed, it’s not as if the entire iGaming industry follows a single blueprint for marketing. However, there are some common missteps like those we have highlighted above. As mentioned, the sector has constraints like few others. But, by and large, it has trod the line astutely.
In particular, the affiliate marketing on social media – even if casino operators do not directly manage it – looks like an effective way of messaging, and one that has room for future growth.