Helmet Guy of PlayAttack Affiliates discusses the challenges faced by companies operating in the iGaming industry when trying to advertise their products and services online.
Gone are the days when businesses could only showcase their products and services to the masses through traditional television, newspaper, radio and billboard advertising.
Keyword research, customer segmentation, real-time monitoring and data analysis are only some of the perks that came with the digital revolution which became a staple of every marketing strategy. At the same time, the possibility to track the results of a campaign "on the go" had instantly created a greater demand for immediate results.
Various industries across the globe have resorted to social media platforms that allow them to reach a global audience, one that is not affected by borders and one you can "evaluate" based on the number of likes, shares and engagement to please your bosses. Today, these industries are reaping the rewards of their online advertising efforts through mediums such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube … and even TikTok.
However, this has proven to be much more challenging for those operating in the iGaming industry.
Advertising challenges in the iGaming industry
When you work in the gambling industry, social media advertising can become quite a challenge.
All major social media platforms have a policy in place for online gaming and gambling advertising, according to which any advertising activity is only allowed with their prior permission. On top of that, social media platforms have such generic, strict and unclear regulations for iGaming companies that the simple process of attempting to place an ad has become a task of an overwhelming and complicated nature.
Even though companies can apply to receive permission, this does not guarantee their ads will get approved — and, often, the reasons for rejection are unclear. Even if you make sure you only target people who are of legal age, in countries where gambling is not prohibited, only present truthful information and avoid sensationalism, your ad might still get rejected.
Moreover, if you think A/B testing might help you figure out the best way to go — keep in mind that Facebook might shut down your advertising account if it deems you to have violated its advertising policies. Therefore, companies also run the risk of receiving permanent bans from social media platforms if they keep making attempts to advertise anything deemed gambling-related.
The truth is such restrictions on gambling content are there to prevent an increase in problem gambling. And from that spectrum, it is indeed a fair and responsible practice.
However, these policies can be frustrating for companies that are not targeting players but only try to attract affiliate partners (for example). Whether you are an online casino, software provider, or affiliate program like PlayAttack, you will face several obstacles when attempting to have your ads approved on social media. This is due to social media platforms, such as Facebook or Twitter, not offering a clear distinction between B2B and B2C companies.
As mentioned previously, you'd have to acquire written permission to advertise on Facebook. This process involves completing an application form and providing them Facebook a gambling licence. And while this is all fair for online casinos, what about affiliate programs or affiliates that don't have such licences? Do they have to abandon their social media efforts and invest their resources elsewhere?
The problem, therefore, is not that there are strict gambling advertising policies in place. The problem is that everyone in the industry falls under the same bracket and receives the same generic list of reasons when their ads are rejected.
A shift in strategy - The positives
So how have companies within the iGaming industry navigated their way around this hurdle?
They haven’t. Not exactly, at least. Doing so would require a dramatic change in the perception of gambling “promotion” from major social media platforms. Therefore, companies need to focus their efforts on something within their control, which is precisely what they have been doing to compensate for the lost chances to reach a broader audience via social media.
Given the situation, it is simply not feasible to rely solely upon boosting products through social media posts and advertisements. This has created a shift from a “hard sales pitch” to a “soft sales pitch” in how many companies present themselves online.
More specifically, this shift revolves around a strong content marketing effort that has pushed companies into producing organic, high-quality, and engaging content that can effectively drive traffic in their direction.
Generally speaking, people are more likely to become engaged and familiar with a brand when it is helping them somehow. By providing your audience with content like how-to guides, industry news, videos, and quizzes, you are more likely to build an audience that can relate with your brand than if you were to aggressively push products and services every day of the week.
Having said that, the ultimate goal is still to get your audience to convert by using your services. By providing a more engaging platform, your audience will remain on your channels for longer, increasing the likelihood of turning them into customers. This will improve your brand’s reputation while attracting new customers at the same time. Win-win situation, right?
Could it be that these restrictions have indirectly served as a blessing in disguise? The fact we are witnessing an increase in the quality of content online suggests this might be the case.
What are the negatives of this shift in strategy?
The “negative” side to this approach is that it requires a lot more effort from the marketing department. Businesses need much more resources, time, money and research to effectively make this transition happen.
If you really think about it, you will need a team of content writers who can consistently produce strong, quality content for your blog posts. The content needs to be written with the best SEO principles in mind. This involves writing longer-form posts that make use of h-tags, meta titles, meta descriptions, lists, internal and external links... the list goes on. By doing so, you will increase your chances of ranking higher in organic search results. The problem with this is it is a time-consuming process that makes you wait until you witness the results. And in today’s world, where results are needed here and now, this puts a lot of pressure on marketing departments.
When you take all these smaller things into account, it adds up. This means companies out there are suffering because they do not have the means to execute this type of strategy.
Technically speaking, you can still opt to place ads on Facebook, but you will need to take into consideration the reasons mentioned earlier on.
The reality is we are trained to believe social media is this gold mine that can massively increase your chances to get discovered and, therefore, get more conversions. While this is true for many, the gambling industry cannot fully utilise the potential social media platforms offer, due to the industry being heavily regulated. Therefore, the sooner companies come to terms with this and stop relying solely on the power of social media, the better.
We are all aware that maintaining a strong social media presence is undeniably important in today’s world. And iGaming businesses can still choose to do so by posting frequently with engaging organic content, and by keeping audiences up-to-date.
The point is to broaden one’s horizons and try to think beyond immediate results, likes and shares, even if this means you’ll have to work harder to justify your process.