The seventh annual Online Bingo Summit 2012, the only conference dedicated to the online bingo industry, has just finished at the Hilton Paddington in London.
Attendance was strong as usual and delegates seemed pleased with most of the content. The fact that there were a lot less booths than in previous years did not seem to bother anyone, in fact exhibitor Lotto Network was delighted with the business and attention they received throughout the event.
Some operators expressed their desire to see more affiliates in attendance and when asked why this was the case, Daniel Flesch of Dragonfish cheekily replied, “the affiliates are not here because they cannot come for free”. Though funny, the more likely scenario is that the affiliate industry becoming less profitable due to UIGEA and other regulatory changes around the world, increased competition, poor economies, and decreased operator marketing budgets. However, life does go on and bingo affiliates have had to make some changes in order to survive in this market.
The affiliate marketing panelists touched upon some interesting topics, including Leigh Nissim’s question of how regulated markets have affected the affiliate industry. All panelists were in agreement that regulation is more of a threat to affiliates than an opportunity as revenues will be taxed which reduces the bottom line. Ben Starr of 15 Marketing brought up Spain specifically, a country that will require affiliates to apply for and pay for a license. He said, “We will wait on Spain- we want to see how things go for the operators first”.
Both affiliates on the panel, Starr and Roo Wright of Bingoport, have wandered into the operator side of the bingo business as well, using their experience on the other side of the fence to improve their affiliate marketing strategies. However, Starr pointed out to CalvinAyre.com in an exclusive interview that bingo affiliates do not have to offer white labels or start up their own real money bingo sites, its just one way- and a successful way- of doing things.
Another issue that is addressed each year is how the UK market is saturated with bingo brands and how UK operators can succeed in this environment. Mecca Bingo’s Angus Nisbet gave an engaging presentation on how his brand touches costumers keeps their loyalty. His main points included:
*Get your brand in front of the customer in as many ways as possible- mobile, social, online, TV.
*social gaming has the opposite model as real money gaming- rather than trying to get customers to deposit straight away, let them engage before monetizing.
*Coordinate offers- send out one piece of communication for an offer redeemable by online, mobile and land.
*Forus on the product and technology- brand recognition is important, but customers will stray if the product does not meet their expectations.
Its always interesting to see the player perspective on operators’ branding and marketing efforts and one everyone loves the player panel, this year arranged by OhMyBingo! and skillfully moderated by Leigh Nissim. The most interesting bits of information revealed during this panel were:
*These players play bingo for the social aspect, not to win money.
*Chat rooms are key and become the social life of bingo players, especially those who live in remote or isolated areas of the UK.
*None of the players cared about the jackpot size of slots.
*These players do not like playing bingo on mobile devices.
*Favorite brands include Paddy Power, Mecca Bingo, Jackpot Joy and Bet365.
Throughout the networking breaks and cocktail reception delegates commented on the fact that much of the conference sessions were dedicated to mobile and social gaming while the players on the panel didn’t seem to care about either. In fact, these players actually dislike playing bingo on mobile devices.
The disconnect between the player feedback and the session content leaves one to wonder if the industry is right in their predictions of where the online bingo industry is going in the future. I guess time will tell and the industry will have to regroup and evaluate at Online Bingo Summit 2013.
Check out pictures from the Online Bingo Summit 2012 at the CalvinAyre.com photo gallery!