The Online Bingo and Slots Summit 2017 took place on June 21st at London’s Hippodrome Casino, a gathering of professionals focused on this niche but important iGaming vertical.
The conference agenda included a number of sessions covering topics such as data analytics, affiliate marketing, M&A and investment, SEO, bonusing strategies, innovation and more. Delegates were also treated to a number of networking breaks, lunch, post-event cocktails and the Which Bingo Awards later in the evening.
Today’s keynote speech featured Yaniv Sherman, SVP of Commercial Development at Dragonfish, during which he commented on the state of the bingo and slots industry.
Sherman emphasized how the growth in the online bingo vertical is subsiding because there are “only so many computers to connect to, only so many mobile devices to sell”. He said we’re starting to see the growth wind down and we’re on the shoulders of this trend. “You need to start eating someone else’s lunch, you need to take market share to maintain those growth rates that we’re used to”, he said.
When it comes to regulation, Sherman pointed out how countries are moving to regulation across the board but along with this comes more taxes and restrictions. In Europe, the regulated market is getting bigger, but its more fragmented.
Sherman explained how bingo players are more brand loyal than sports bettors who are searching for price, something that can present challenges for operators because they must figure out how to retain players and work harder to attract new players to their site. Customization and brand familiarity is of upmost importance in the online bingo industry.
Another challenge lies in mobile, the most popular platform for playing online bingo games, so operators must figure out how to make the most of a small screen and how to compete with popular gaming apps such as Candy Crush.
In three years’ time, Sherman said two trends he predicts are more activity in markets such as the US, Latin America and Africa and new technology including artificial intelligence and machine learning not only for precise segmented player promos but also for the back office and marketing tools.
Today’s M&A, Investment & Growth panel featured Elliot Berg of Stride Gaming Group, Jason Holden of Jackpotjoy PLC and David Shapton of Akur Capital.
Holden explained how Jackpotjoy’s focus is strictly online as opposed to land based and with 70% of customers as females, cross selling with a sportsbook product for example wouldn’t make any sense, but cross selling between brands is something we’ll see Jackpotjoy doing more of.
The issue of investing in or expanding into unregulated/unlicensed markets was discussed, with GVC’s profitable presence in such markets used as an example. Azur said investors and shareholders are usually comfortable with about 20% of revenues coming from unregulated markets and in fact, these markets could become regulated over time.
Today’s “Bingo and Slots Organic Search Landscape” session was led by Mike McDougall, Organic Search Director of Stickyeyes.
McDougall opened up by pointing out how the SEO landscape has changed since the “good old days” when buying a lot of links was the answer. “Google got smart”, he said. Functional Content, engaging content, brand authority, link profile quality…this is what’s important now.
We’re in a new world of convergence, he said, a brand that is really putting a customer at the heart of their proposition makes the chances of them succeeding from an SEO perspective much, much higher. “Engagement is the future. Google are rewarding sites with high player engagement”, he said.
McDougall also covered the way bingo customers search online and they tend to search by brand or non-branded keywords such as “online bingo”, so there is not a huge long tail.
At the end of the sessions McDougall left us with four takeaways:
1)go for the big generics
2)add depth & relevance where possible
3)make it fast on all devices
4)delight & engage your players
The “Life After the Bonus Bonanza” panel featured Tom Ustenel of News UK, Simone Dunne of Broadway Gaming, Elad Dvir of Dragonfish and Ohad Narkis of PlayOJO. Quite a bit of the panel was dedicated to the UK’s Point of Consumption Tax (POCT) and how online bingo companies will have to alter their marketing strategy to make up for the additional tax.
Ustenel pointed out how the government is laser focused on issues such as Brexit and increased terrorism so the new tax proposed for August will likely be pushed back until January.
He added with more and more regulation coming, the offers featured in advertisements will be more strictly monitored and operators should tighten up their marketing messaging as opposed to focusing on bonuses and offers. “My advice would be find that spot in the market rather than focusing on the offers themselves”, Ustenel said.
Moderator Ben Starr closed out the panel by pointing out how after the new regulations come through, it will take some time to work out how to survive after depending on bonusing for the past five years.