How to differentiate product offerings is one of the biggest challenges for the iGaming industry in general, a land where countless operators and B2B companies are competing for a limited market share. Harry Lang, an iGaming professional who over the last 11 years has worked for operators such as Pinnacle, Mecca Bingo, Foxy and Cheeky Bingo and Bwin.Party in senior marketing roles, has a wealth of knowledge to share in this space.
Lang just recently announced his departure from Pinnacle and the launch of his own company, Brand Architects, a marketing, brand development and PR consultancy firm with a special focus on iGaming.
“I think I’ve done all the verticals…over the last few years and it became apparent that if I take the skills and the experience I learned there and put them into a consultancy business like Brand Architects, now is probably the right time to do it”, Lang revealed.
Affiliate marketing is here to stay
Over the past year or so the affiliate industry has been rocked with the news of several major operators closing down or proposing to close down their affiliate programs. Naturally this type of news is primed to send large ripples throughout the industry, which is exactly what it did. However, according to Lang, despite the drastic decisions taken by such operators, affiliate marketing is here to stay.
“I think what this is doing though, in regulated markets especially, is that you need to play by the rules. Whether they are communications rules or advertising rules or in the UK specifically the Data Protection rules, you need to follow those guidelines and the affiliates that work for operators need follow those very same guidelines”, Lang said.
“I think affiliates are going to get bigger and stronger as verticals and entities and new crypto opportunities come into play, but that said, to follow those rules exactly can take a lot of work, effort and resources, that’s only – in my opinion – going to encourage the amalgamation of affiliate entities”, he added.
Abiding by strict affiliate marketing rules, especially in the UK, requires a lot of resources and can be difficult for a small, independent affiliate to manage. As a result, Lang predicts we’ll be seeing more mergers and acquisitions in the affiliate industry and the growth of affiliate networks.
“Become a bigger entity to compete with- those massive networks- its now a proper industry and like operators themselves, sometimes its hard for the small guys to compete”, he said.
Product differentiation is the biggest marketing challenge
Product differentiation on the operator side is another area where it’s a challenge for the smaller fish to compete.
“Competing with the big guys, the 365s, the Skys, Paddy, Bwin, Betfair, it gets harder and harder to do and there’s a reason why these guys are big”, explained Lang.
“They’ve got a great product, they operate very, very well and they spend a lot on marketing and its hard if you’re an individual entity or a smaller entity to compete with some of that, so I think more amalgamation of brands is going to take place, but that’s only finite, there are only so many companies that can merge”, he added.
For B2B providers, the marketing focus must be on product differentiation and also competitive pricing.
“In our small industry, most people who are making those purchasing decisions have been around the block enough to know what the bottom line looks like…it is that challenge to innovate and from there creating more noise. I think those are the big challenges”, Lang shared.
Squeezing sponsorship deals for PR buzz
The iGaming industry is bombarded with dozens of press releases on a daily basis, with announcements of new product launches, office openings, talent movement, sponsorship deals and much, much more. How to spice up a PR strategy is another challenge the iGaming industry faces and one of the ways to do it is through a properly executed sponsorship deal.
“I think PR expands its remit into partnerships, into third party activity, cross-promotional work. You need to look at it as an added value element of an acquisition, brand building piece. Obviously sponsorship is there, especially for the big sports books”, Lang said.
Huge, expensive shirt sponsorships and famous spokespersons deals can generate plenty of PR, but its important to squeeze these deals from every direction to achieve the desired return.
“Quite frankly, its not just about that one hit wonder – you spend five million a year on a shirt deal and you get into the sun – that’s not really good enough. That’s not great return. You need to think about what more can we add to that”, explained Lang.
Using betting-related data from sponsorships is one way to squeeze more from an expensive deal and encourage engagement from customers and media.
“I think working with the data side of the businesses and being more astute about the data that is delivered from the team itself, that gives you content and engagement that can go much, much deeper and much, much further with their audience and a wider audience plus the media”, shared Lang.
“Remember the media actually pays a lot of money for sports data, so what can you do with your own betting data and sports data to make a richer and deeper story?”