An expert panel offers insights into mobile marketing, including the channel’s relationship with its desktop counterpart
Mobile marketing was on the agenda at one of ICE Totally Gaming’s renowned panel discussions, as a quartet of sector experts discussed the channel as part of a session entitled: Marketing for mobile – how do you retain customers and drive new players into the business across games, devices and modes of play?
How can we compare mobile technology in the gaming industry with desktop?
SM: Nearly 70% of our acquisitions are through mobile, which is a very large number. What that means is that the first port of call for people is coming in through a mobile device, but our product is an engagement product. People are playing poker for hours upon hours. What we have seen is that people are coming in through mobile and are then finding their way on to desktop for alternative gameplay reasons such as improving their skill, at least from a poker perspective. What we have done is geared the mobile product towards being an acquisition platform as well as a solid gaming platform for the casual players. Our more serious product sits on the desktop.
RL: We’re always hearing about desktop versus mobile and I think there’s no reason why mobile acquisitions can’t use desktop and vice versa. We live in a very smartphone-focused world, but most people do use both products. With sportsbook, it is now a mobile-focused product – especially live sportsbook.
The reason for that is I don’t know how many people sit in a pub watching football with a desktop in hand – it’s probably not many. When Frank Lampard came on for Manchester City at home to Chelsea last season, I watched with my own eyes as people were rushing to their phones to bet on him to be the next goalscorer. The key thing is that we will acquire people for desktop and mobile and I think there is value in being able to use both products. There is no reason why we should cannibalise one or the other.
How do you create the need to play on a mobile device as opposed to desktop?
RL: With sports, it’s quite easy to do. The fact is that most people are keeping up with sports on their mobile, with things like Twitter and gaming sites. It isn’t that hard. If you take a recent big football story, like Pep Guardiola being set to join Manchester City, people are already looking for next season’s prices. These events drive people to go to sportsbooks. With casino and poker it is more difficult because there isn’t that urge or drive.
HF: We always thought that our players were playing across both mobile and desktop. We found out that actually only 7% of our current customers are playing across both platforms, so we actually have two totally different target groups. On mobile, the lifetime value is a little bit lower than desktop. We should adapt all the marketing messages, concepts, products and features.
Does casino acquisition on mobile have a different purpose?
VD: If a game is linked to a key moment, like in sport or with jackpots, it is better for customer acquisition. For example, when you have a high lottery jackpot, the mobile search is sevenfold on the normal traffic search. For us, the volume of leads we get on mobile is twice the volume of leads on the web for sports betting and lottery.
The type of product definitely influences the importance of mobile. According to the product range, the role of mobile is very different. The importance of desktop is different according to the age of the audience. Generally, mobile is first. For a more mature audience, desktop would remain one of the first platforms and tablet may be second before smartphone, so you have to target your marketing according to the product range and the age of the audience.
What innovative marketing tools can be used in this area?
VD: From an industry perspective, we sometimes struggle to get the full journey for the consumers on mobile. The first thing is to connect the dots and get the full journey. It’s a long process. We are still connecting the dots to get full mobile business value, and then you get specific tools to make that flow.
At the same time, you have some tools like marketing innovations that you would think as more of a transferrable platform for cross-channel marketing.
SM: Sometimes you see Google or eBay use a tool and you think it’s amazing, and then when you get the tool it just doesn’t quite work like that in advertising. I won’t go into all the tools on the market. A lot of them do a lot of the same thing. For me, the focus that a lot of the companies should be placing and which we’re placing is on going to an overarching agency. This is an agency that provides top-tier services as opposed to trying to do it ourselves.
We can implement a billion tools, including programmatic and predictive analytic software, we have a lot of that stuff for analytics anyway, but then you’re just buying one tool after another. It all comes down to implementation and it’s very hard to get it right, especially if you’re not a technologically-driven company.
Our industry is not a technical industry. We split a little bit here in that we are one of the very few companies that do not use third-party ends. We have our own in-house system. We are very fluent in that respect. The toolsets out there are very complex and are not quite made for our industry.
HF: I would disagree, as we use a lot of tools. Playtech is our provider. We utilise marketing lteration tools and of course we personalise the website for both mobile and desktop players based on their gaming history. They are using our content model, which is a free way to monitor a value model. We optimise the page and portfolio and also make segmentations with age and gender. We have a lot of possibilities that allow us to create a better customer experience.
How do operators make the games more attractive to players?
SM: Even though poker is a game that takes three, four, five hours, people are playing it on their mobiles which is surprising. Close to 48% of our tournament audience play on their mobile phone, which is astounding. One of the things we did to bring in a more casual player was to take a three-player Spin & Go and put a random jackpot on it to pull them in. We advertised it as a 10-minute game and that is what has made that game so popular on mobile. People thought: “I’ve got 10 minutes to play this game as opposed to four hours.” I think that’s the biggest thing on mobile.
VD: Stickiness in a game is not as important for us, because we are much more about a responsible gaming approach. The research we do with consumers shows that a clear vision about responsibility and the limits people can play with are much more necessary on mobile than on desktop. Responsible gaming options and communications are much clearer on mobile.
Is it too controversial to say that it’s about time the gambling industry focused mobile on millennials?
RL: I don’t think that’s controversial. We find that a majority of our mobile players are in their late 20s to mid 30s. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. We have separate sportsbook, casino and poker apps. The general idea is that multiple apps should do one product extraordinarily well, as opposed to doing five products to an ok standard. With the millennials, that is an expectation. They want an app that will do something extraordinarily well. A couple of companies have tried to do an app that does everything, but ideally the way to approach it is to take several products that do very well as opposed to one for all.
SM: I think it’s possible to do it all. The universal platform is what I have been looking at recently, which would make you able to customise it for each customer.
HF: On average customers use five to eight apps in total, so I do agree with having a universal app. What app creators should keep in mind is that the app needs to solve customers’ problems, otherwise they won’t use it. They can download it, but they won’t use it.
Veronique Deconinck Manager of Integrated Digital, Social and Content Strategy, Belgian National Lottery
Hanna Forsström Head of Games, Digital Channels, Finnish Slot Machine Association (RAY)
Richard Lee Mobile Marketing Manager, Unibet
Shaz Mirza Director of Mobile Services, PokerStars
Moderator: Tom Galanis i-Gaming Marketing Consultant