Last week, I covered the shift towards experiential marketing in the UK market concluding that wondrously creative campaigns, tugging at their heartstrings are what Britain’s gamblers can expect to witness in the future.
Backache and windswept hair, and a half-read URL are about the height of experience a resident or visitor may enjoy as they hurtle past the zenith of New Jersey online gambling advertising along the Garden State Parkway in the discomfort of the driver’s seat of a beaten-up open top—or at least that was my experience on a recent visit.
Millions of marketing dollars have been splashed out on billboard advertising across the Garden State since November last year as the gold rush for players began in earnest. The trusty billboard, most popularized by iGaming operators in the UK by Paddy Power and its jibes at Fernando Torres or David Moyes of late, is the most visible form of advertising of online gambling across all three regulated states and supposedly carries most bang for your buck.
In the UK, studies have proven that a €1,000 marketing spend, Outdoor Advertising provides approximately 748,100 impressions, compared with 584,800 on radio, 358,700 for our beloved internet, 230,400 for TV and 159,600 for daily press.
(Source: United Kingdom Magna Forecasts, JCDecaux).
New Jersey operators, perhaps fuelled by competition, have sought to flood the radio airwaves to complement the billboard campaigns and wrap buses in Borgata or Caesars livery in an attempt to completely immerse one’s driving experience with the thought of having a punt.
Whilst a per capita case can be made for the conjoined nature of this sort of campaign, the major fault I notice is surely pretty obvious. It’s kind of tricky to act on such advertising there, and then unless one is fortunate enough to be driven around in a 21st Century upgrade of Jackie Chan’s Mitsubishi Starion from Cannonball Run 2, equipped with a variety of goodies to battle through the rigorous registration and geo-location processes.
What’s more, there is evidently a sharp increase in online gambling billboard advertising in Atlantic County over the rest of the state—it was somewhat fleeting on my journey down from New York City, save a couple of glimpses as I passed Newark. Why advertise so heavily so close to the casinos’ home? I was heading there anyway and didn’t happen to notice too much as I made my way to Atlantic City Airport on the way out.
There have been forays into TV too; with Caesars, in particular, buying up ad space on New Jersey, New York and Philadelphia networks with a reasonably catchy theme.
Another effort to build public awareness came with bwin.party/Borgata’s sponsorship deals with the New Jersey Devils and the Philadelphia 76ers to a combined tune of around $10 million—the equivalent of their quarterly net profit if you’re a cynic.
So we’re looking at some attempted big splashes in New Jersey, where regulated online casino games don’t carry the same barrier to spend that the tiny microenvironment of potential online poker players in Nevada prohibits. But in my eyes, these guys are swerving the two key areas that could make their marketing efforts successful.
First off, knowing all too well the purely commercial benefits an affiliate program can bring to an iGaming business, one underestimated merit the trusty affiliate brings to the party is education of an audience. The intrusive nature of the licensing process, now much documented, has seen many .com affiliates maintain relationships with unregulated international operators. A recent clampdown by the DGE in New Jersey looks to have put pay to unlicensed affiliates running reviews of regulated brands alongside those operating from grey markets—but that is only likely to serve as another turn off for affiliates, who stand to make more from the grey market sites, at least for the foreseeable future. Whilst making the most of what Google has to offer is very tricky on a state-by-state level, display advertising is a solid option and not nearly as prevalent as it ought to be given the overall budgets operators are working with, and nor is social media for acquisition’s sake.
Even more crucially though, what the execs ought to have all done before hitting their corporate boxes at a Sixers game is to get their own houses in order. Cross-marketing is the biggest strength they have over grey-market operators, and indeed global counterparts, if they intend on becoming a shining light for this form of gambling too.
Very few gaming groups can compare to the footfall received by Caesars and the group’s various iterations, but carrying precisely zero casino floor marketing of WSOP.com over March Madness weekend at their Planet Hollywood casino in Las Vegas—which coincided with the iGaming North America conference—is preposterous, no matter what the overall profit contribution their online division is set to make in the next year or two. Whether it’ll be simplicities such as branded-beer mats to the more complex no-deposit bonus codes on cashout vouchers and receipts, Planet Hollywood had precisely nothing on their second busiest week of the year. Mad men.