New figures released by Stockholm-based media consultants Mediavision show gambling companies accounted for 10% of all Swedish television ad buys in the first half of 2016, up from just 3% as recently as 2013.
A total of 31 gambling companies, both international and domestic, advertised on Swedish TV in H1 2016, up from 24 in the same period last year and from 20 in H1 2014. International gambling firms account for 75% of current gambling advertising spending, up from 64% in 2013, according to Sweden’s gambling regulator, which helps explain why international operators are growing faster than domestic firms.
Gambling’s increased presence on Swedish telly is all the more impressive given that the Institute for Advertising and Media Statistics believes total TV advertising spending is down by SEK 100m (US $11.8m) over the first seven months of 2016, and the prediction is for a further SEK 100m decline before 2016 is done.
Mediavision says Malta-licensed Unibet has surpassed the Svenska Spel state betting monopoly as the market’s top TV advertiser. Not coincidentally, Unibet has also outdone Svenska Spel in terms of the number of Swedes who are active customers in online sports betting, casino and poker (although, to be fair, Svenska Spel doesn’t currently offer casino products).
The news won’t come as a surprise to Svenska Spel, which has long protested having its clock cleaned by the likes of Unibet and other internationally-licensed online gambling sites. The state monopoly has also fought a protracted war of words with Swedish media outlets over their willingness to accept gambling adverts from international operators.
Sweden is in the process of liberalizing its online gambling market, which includes plans to privatize Svenska Spel. The regime change will also include new advertising rules, making it mandatory for operators to hold a Swedish license if they wish to advertise with Swedish media outlets. However, Swedish media have indicated they won’t accept these new rules without a fight.
Mediavision CEO Marie Nilsson says the current uptick in gambling spending is a direct result of the market’s pending liberalization, saying there was “an intense customer acquisition run going on.” While broadcasters are clearly enjoying this run, Nilsson warns that this surplus could dry up once the new rules are in place.