Beware of Vanity Metrics

By Gambling Insider
Eriks Petersons, Digital Transformation Director at Ciklum, discusses how iGaming businesses can move forward via the power of data

In the age of digital everything, it comes as no surprise that iGaming is experiencing rapid growth, expected to reach a global market value of $112bn by 2025.


So far, so good

It is, however, a heavily regulated industry, and regulations are anticipated to tighten in the coming months and years to ensure the protection of online players. For businesses in the industry, this means using every tool at their disposal to successfully navigate the challenging waters; and data and analytics is an invaluable tool for ensuring continued – and astounding – growth.


The power of data

Much like online retailers, the iGaming industry collects huge amounts of data points from its end-users – through actual account registration, or by tracking the way in which a customer engages with the online gaming platform. The data available is an invaluable tool for marketing or providing personalized services – a key driver behind customer acquisition, retention and revenue growth.

The value of data to businesses can only be unlocked by applying analytical capabilities (such as AI and machine learning solutions), which can uncover patterns and extract key insights that enable businesses to make data-led decisions, drive revenue and customer retention; improving the end-user experience.


The metrics that matter

Tracking, measuring and analysing data is key to gain useful business insights. And infact, you likely will have heard of vanity metrics–so-called as they are the stats that help make a business look good.

In the iGaming industry, vanity metrics might include:

- Gross gaming revenue: GGR is determined by the amount of money wagered and the amount of money paid out. In simple terms, the amount of bets made minus the amount of winning payouts.

- Net gaming revenue: NGR is what is left from GGR after a business deducts its operating expenses – such as bonuses and fees.

- Registrations: Number of player registrations.

- Deposits: This refers to the total deposit amount over a given period of time.

- First-time depositors: FTDs is the number of players who have deposited money into a casino account for the first time.

For businesses that are successfully growing, we would expect to see an uplift in the above vanity metrics – perhaps even hitting all-time highs continuously. As the company grows, there will be more money to invest in marketing, which will in turn drive registrations and the other vanity metrics mentioned above.

However, the problem remains that vanity numbers won’t really offer true insight, and growth is not endless. On their own, no matter how impressive they might look, these metrics aren’t necessarily all that helpful. To have long-lasting success and continued growth, business leaders will need to look beyond these numbers to make meaningful, strategic decisions.

The good news is that vanity metrics such as those above can be made more valuable in a few different ways.


Making metrics work for your business

Businesses will always need to track vanity metrics – it’s making them work harder that is the key.

Here are a few actionable ways in which the iGaming industry might glean valuable insight from vanity metrics:

  1. Instead of simply measuring raw GGR or NGR, try instead measuring both metrics according to each customer. Both metrics become much more valuable this way; for example, if the overall revenue keeps going up, but the revenue per customer is going down, it will indicate the business will need more customers to continue growing at this pace.
  2. Another example is to track net gaming revenue to gross gaming revenue margin. Taking the same scenario as above, both numbers will continue going up, but tracking the margin will indicate at what expense.
  3. Similarly to the revenue examples above, deposits or depositing customers can also be expressed as ratios – for example, new customers compared with all customers, or average deposit per customer. In this way, the same metrics can provide a wealth of useful insights, instead of simply being a vanity project.

Understanding user trends and behaviours is key to making insightful business decisions. Data and analytics has a wealth of insight to offer iGaming businesses, and will be key as the industry continues to experience ever-tightening regulation. The first step is understanding exactly which metrics to measure – and how.