iGaming marketing: What’s next?
2020 is without doubt a year where sci-fi movies about threats to human civilization have merged with reality. Some days it is so surreal that one could be forgiven for thinking we are indeed living out scenes from a movie. Narratives like ‘new normal’ are paraphrased a lot as another year draws to a close.
In the iGaming industry, in remote boardrooms over Zoom or Teams, at virtual industry tradeshows or even in their Telegram groups, the age-old question reoccurs: ‘What does the future hold for digital gambling?’
In this version of reality, the future is not happening tomorrow, it is happening now. The connected world is changing fast and while technology is facilitating these changes in our innate learned behaviour and in our consumption and interaction with brands, products, and services, what could 2021 look like?
Sensory overload – digital dilemmas
Over the last six months we have been bombarded with a never ending stream of messages by governments, scientists, activists, brands, news outlets, and social media trending hashtags.
This has created sensory overload which has caused an equal and opposite effect of ‘digital dilemmas’, and that in turn has resulted in our inability to make a decision, to identify fact from fiction, and reduced our attention span to a few seconds. According to the National Center for Biotechnology the average human attention span is now eight seconds whereas at the start of the noughties it was 12 seconds (even goldfish are believed to have an attention span of nine seconds!) A recent study from scientists at Cornell University concluded that the average adult processes 35,000 conscious decisions every day, with 226.7 decisions each day taking place on the topic of food alone.
That’s a lot of information to process, and at the continued rate of messages, U-turns, mixed messages, fact or fake, our organic brains are overloading, and that will continue as brands look to survive in languishing economies.
The psychology of choice and choice reduction
The ‘preponderance of choice’ is a well-researched discipline in other industry verticals. Yet in this background of digital dilemmas, it appears gaming operator brands, or platform providers within the iGaming supply chain, utilize every pixel on the on the UI (user interface) which is crammed with the latest betting promotions and content of available sports to bet on.
Kellogg Insight says: “Choice overload is the negative psychological, emotional, and behavioral effect of having too many options to choose from.” Sports betting and online casino players are not a separate cohort group; they have the same ‘digital dilemma and choice overload’ of trying to navigate irrelevant betting content which is directly increasing ‘betslip’ abandonment rates. Indeed, sportsbook product owners and digital marketers will tell you that only 5% of the available betting content displayed results in a confirmed bet, so that infers the other 95% of published betting content is irrelevant.
Players need assistance, but I’m not sure that the industry is brave enough for a popular sportsbook or well-known casino brand to consider the reduction of choice in order to simplify the betting or gaming decisions-making process to increase betting propensity, reduce choice overload and improve customer satisfaction, and churn management for fear of the impact on their brand, and more importantly, EBITDA.
Yet it will come, because we are in an environment where safer gambling dictums are central to discussions around the introduction of monthly spending limits, and it is foreseeable that player incentives such as free bets will become a thing of the past. Of course, simpler interfaces with fewer betting decision choices may or may not reduce gambling associated harm, but the reduction in content could assist in educating players and making all parties more informed about those reduced choices.
Developing products within a safer gambling environment
Data is the central pillar for product relevancy. Traditionally, gaming product marketing models have been developed on segmenting potential players based on factors such as age, sex, interests, and media consumption patterns. Other models use geodemographic segmentation which is based on principles that people who live in the same postal code area are more likely to have similar characteristics than are two people chosen at random. These factors are important when developing and shaping a gaming operators’ business or marketing/product plan and roadmap. More data is required, more data points, and perhaps different models, need to be considered to be successful and ensure safer gambling risk factors are taken into consideration.
The growing area known as behavioral economics may find more relevance in the iGaming ecosystem. Behavioural economics involves studying the effects of social, cognitive, and emotional factors on the economic decisions of individuals, of which gaming and gambling are affected and influenced by those processes. Behavioural economics therefore explores why people sometimes make irrational decisions, and why and how their behaviour does not follow the predictions of standard economic models. Examples of such behaviour are players who keep betting even while expecting to lose. Another example is that loyalty programmes tend not work that well in the gambling industry because players live for the today, not tomorrow. So in other words, £10 today is preferred to the potential of £15 tomorrow. We usually find that gamblers prefer small more immediate rewards or payoffs rather than larger, more distant ones.
You must remember real people, and those that gamble, are not rational creatures that can be shoe-horned into the same neighbourhood or suburban postal code standard segmentation models of old. Indeed, increasingly objects of consumer desire are being described first by other people, and not the marketers through social media networks, which then influence others to purchase or engage with that brand. Marketing, communication, and technology is therefore not only changing the ways in which we reach gaming customers and how they interact with that technology, it is changing our innate player behaviour.
The future of digital gambling in 2021 isn’t necessarily about gargantuan leaps forward in technology or seismic innovation shifts. It’s about simplicity, reduction in betting choice, and solving the mundane by striving to make products and services that are safe and relevant, with the end player being in control and educated to the betting entertainment choices that they wish to make.