Valentina Bagniya: Technologies should solve existing problems, not create new ones just to justify their use

SOFTSWISS CMO, Valentina Bagniya, offers insights into the trends shaping B2B marketing in iGaming and its future direction. 

Valentina Bagniya in depth

The iGaming market is constantly evolving. Marketing within the industry can be equally as innovative too. What trends will be the most significant in 2024? 

One of the key trends that we can already note in 2024 is that B2B marketing in iGaming is becoming more and more critical. Marketing has evolved into a strategic function for brand development. Now, it is not just about promoting the company's products but about building its image, specific brands and their effective management. It is essential to recognise that without marketing activity, this image may develop spontaneously and inaccurately is essential. 

As a result, we can expect an increase in the quality of communications, which will contribute to the development of marketing in the iGaming industry. We have to be more creative and think outside the box. As communications become more complex, the need for quality data increases and any further development will require deep analytics. Moreover, the emotional component of B2B marketing is becoming important, reflecting a trend previously seen in the FMCG market. From initially rational communication, we are moving towards emphasising emotional factors in decision making, combining them with rational motives. 

The progress of artificial intelligence (AI) has a dual impact on marketing: on the one hand, it makes content creation easier, faster, and more effective; on the other hand, it increases competition and requires a more creative approach to communications and selection of promotion channels to reach the target audience. Advances in AI and other technologies also highlight the importance of real customer feedback. With the increasing amount of fake content generated, trust in communications becomes vital, and reviews from real people and personal contact play an important role here. 

From initially rational communication, we are moving towards emphasising emotional factors in decision making, combining them with rational motives

Will the shift towards mobile gaming, AR, and VR impact marketing in the iGaming sector?  

Mobile technology has already impacted the iGaming industry as players increasingly turn to mobile devices, especially for live betting. According to the Softswiss Sportsbook platform, mobile devices accounted for 92% of operators' total GGR in 2023, highlighting their growing importance in the industry. 

As for VR and AR technologies, my attitude leans more toward scepticism. Many perceive these technologies as a fashion trend, with their adoption driven more by popularity than their practical value. I believe that technologies should solve existing problems and not create new ones just to justify their use. If the target audience of online casinos does not have a strong need for VR/AR, given that such entertainment provides an entirely different experience, there's no rush to integrate them. We should always ask ourselves about the target audience's need for new technologies and whether they will be actively used. 

For example, a few years ago, betting on smartwatches peaked in popularity. iGaming developers enthusiastically adapted their apps for this technology, believing in its great future. However, over time, this feature failed to resonate with the target audience and became a rudiment since there was no real demand for it. 

Earlier this year, you expanded further into the African market by acquiring South African provider Turfsport. What was the drive behind this move? 

The acquisition of a majority stake in Turfsport, a leading South African software provider, was a key element of this year’s strategy to expand into new regions. This move significantly strengthens our position in the South African market, as Turfsport has strong local brand recognition. As a result, we have access to new solutions that expand our product range. 

Entering a new market by purchasing a local company has proven to be one of the most effective approaches. However, we evaluated this transaction carefully to ensure it would help us offer our clients effective solutions to grow their businesses in this promising region. 

In general, this region's attractiveness stems from a confluence of factors: rising internet penetration, increasing interest in online gambling, and evolving iGaming regulations. A few years ago, LatAm experienced a similar phase, and now most B2B suppliers operate there. In Africa, we decided to stay ahead of the curve by acquiring a company to accelerate our entry into this market. 

Without a deep understanding of local culture and needs, even the most technological and innovative projects may not be in demand

How does varied demand for online games across different regions, for example, online casinos vs esports betting, impact Softswiss’ marketing strategy? 

When building a marketing strategy, we always start with the goal and objectives. Of course, upon entering a new region, we adjust our marketing strategy. The primary task is to build brand awareness and form the company’s image, then target separate clients, and only then drive mass lead generation. 

Adapting to each market requires careful study of the behavioural characteristics and preferences of the target audience, including content and game consumption. Our marketing strategies rely on a thorough analysis of qualitative and quantitative data specific to each region. We get information not only from publicly available sources but also conduct our own market research. We analyse and extrapolate a vast amount of internal data collected by our products worldwide. To forge this approach, we learnt through experience. For example, we had a failed case many years ago when we were starting our development in different regions. We invested an entire year in launching a project in a new country, being absolutely confident of its success. However, a month after the launch, we faced a harsh reality: there were no players, the project was not bringing the expected results, and we could not understand why. 

While investigating the reasons, we found that the primary factor was the lack of internet coverage in the region. Most potential players did not even have an email or the ability to register online via a phone number. Surprisingly, locals preferred to play in online casinos not from their homes but by visiting designated gaming rooms. This experience became a real eye-opener for us, emphasising the importance of adapting to the cultural peculiarities and realities of people in different regions. The lesson was tough but invaluable: without a deep understanding of local culture and needs, even the most technological and innovative projects may not be in demand. For example, the bright, colourful content we deliver through our Game Aggregator simply may not load correctly because the country has poor internet. 

Can you tell us about Softswiss’ plans for 2024? 

In 2024, our strategy will aim to expand our presence in new promising markets, Latin America and South Africa in particular. We want our customers in these regions to receive advanced technical solutions for the iGaming business backed up by enhanced marketing communication.  

As leaders in the iGaming industry, we understand our responsibility to both players and casino operators, so we prioritise responsible gaming. We implement practices that ensure player safety and well-being, such as self-regulation and self-exclusion features, to mitigate the risk of gambling addiction. Also, the concept of social casinos captivates us, and we view it as a promising direction for advancing responsible gambling practices. The concept of social casinos is that players participate in games using virtual tokens instead of real money. And monetisation is achieved by purchasing in-game artefacts, lives, etc. A social casino offers a similar experience to traditional casinos but with reduced risks, making it particularly appealing to younger demographics. 

We are keeping an eye on the development of social casinos and their potential. This means we will have to find new horizons in product development and strategies in the iGaming market. 

Valentina Bagniya is the CMO at Softswiss. She has served as the company’s CMO since 2020 and helped launch its marketing department, while implementing a new integrated commercial planning process. Under Valentina’s marketing leadership, Softswiss has expanded its presence in new markets – LatAm and Asia – as well as strengthened visibility in existing ones.

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