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Roundtable: Marketing responsibly within a stricter environment

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Roundtable: Marketing responsibly within a stricter environment
Reading Time: 6 minutes

 

With emerging markets and countries taking a stricter approach to regulation in recent weeks, the subject of responsible marketing remains high on the agenda.

As an industry we understand the importance of being safe and responsible when engaging with end users with marketing material, but how exactly are operators and suppliers working together to ensure that best practices are maintained on a daily basis?

We asked Daniela Speranza, Head of Compliance at Betsson, Liesbeth Oost, Sustainability Manager at Aspire Global and Peter Christian Noer, Head of Country Managers at Soft2Bet, to discuss the tools and measures that are being utilised to improve the execution of responsible marketing.

 

Given the increased scrutiny around marketing across multiple regulated markets, do you think more can be done at platform level to support operators in their efforts to be more responsible?

Peter Christian Noer: Yes and no, we believe the responsibility falls on every operator, to ensure its marketing practices are kept in line with regulations. However, the more tools that can be provided the better. Especially in terms of targeting, so that operators can filter out under-age people easily.

It all comes down to data and what opportunities the platform provider has in place, if the system is kept secure and a trusted source of compliant traffic, then increased marketing budgets will be allocated to the platform.

Overall, it is in everyone’s interest that the platform can offer great protection, betting and data tools, although the responsibility of the allocated marketing budget should always fall on the operator.

Daniela Speranza: Yes, ideally platforms would be designed with responsible gambling considerations at their core, making it simpler for operators to achieve their objectives in this sense and comply with their ever-increasing obligations. For example, if platforms were to be tailored to cover market-specific legislation and advertising standards, I believe that it would be easier to protect the end-user, this of course being the ultimate goal of any responsible gambling requirements. The greatest thing about software is that it is plastic, and it can be moulded as we desire. This benefit must be used to our advantage as operators, always subject to the exigencies of the market competition, of course.

Furthermore, artificial intelligence and real-time alerting models can be integrated with platforms to provide efficient monitoring and analyses, enabling operators to interact proactively with players and ultimately providing end-users with the ability to make informed choices.

Liesbeth Oost: With AI and machine learning technology coming on in leaps and bounds in recent years, there’s a lot more that providers can do for operators in this space. For instance, in the world of affiliate marketing, an operator can have dozens of affiliates and the operator is responsible for ensuring each one remains compliant. When platform providers invest in developing the right solution, they have the ability to offer greater oversight on affiliates. This leaves the operator open to a lot less risk, which is a huge step forward, especially as stricter marketing rules are being enforced.

The industry has embraced a lot of different aspects of sustainability such as responsible marketing in the last two years. It’s easy to see how that is becoming more a part of the culture now, and this isn’t purely motivated by a fear of getting fined. Embracing compliance has led to better business, so it is no surprise that doing so with responsible marketing, for which Aspire is a strong advocate, has had a similar impact. It would be fantastic to see those efforts replicated in the wider industry, which could only serve to benefit operators.

 

What are the key differences between different jurisdictions approach to responsible marketing?

Liesbeth Oost: There are massive differences between jurisdictions. However, one steadily emerging trend is the markets that have regulated most recently seem to be the strictest. In the Netherlands, which has recently introduced its new regulatory framework, penalties on advertising violations result in non-eligibility to apply for a license.

Elsewhere, the US is very serious about each business’ role in the environment and its overall social governance. Embedding a culture of responsible gambling in a newly regulated country bodes well for the future of the market, promoting safer gaming experiences that players can enjoy.

Daniela Speranza: Whilst the intention of responsible marketing measures in different jurisdictions is more or less the same, namely, to reduce rates of gambling addiction and ramp up player protection efforts, especially for vulnerable groups such as problem gamblers and minors, there are key differences when it comes to how different jurisdictions approach it.

Certain measures in jurisdictions which do permit marketing are often similar regarding what can and cannot be included in communications regarding marketing material. For example, requiring ads to be socially responsible, not targeting minors or portraying sexual content.

At Betsson, we believe that advertising is vital for channelisation. Associations like the European Gaming & Betting Association’s (EGBA) are aiming to set long-term standards for gambling advertising content in Europe. Betsson is a member of EGBA and follows its Code of Conduct on Responsible Advertising for Online Gambling with a firm commitment on responsible gambling.

Peter Christian Noer: I wouldn’t say that there are many differences. Overall, they are quite similar with each jurisdiction having a unique trait. For example, some regulators will want a license number included in banners whereas others don’t mind.

The main rules to follow are quite consistent, such as not targeting minors, following good marketing practices, indicating terms associated with offers, offering full terms and including references to responsible gambling helplines or services.

Perhaps one of the biggest differences between jurisdictions is how many disclaimers need to be included. However, in my opinion, this doesn’t serve much of a purpose. In certain jurisdictions, regulators differentiate the number of disclaimers based on the market channel, as some allow for more to be included. However, this allows these regulators to bloat the requirements. I personally fail to see the point of including several disclaimer sentences in marketing messages, no one reads them, and, in any case, they are available online.

 

What sort of solutions does your company provide in supporting operators with their responsible marketing efforts?

Peter Christian Noer: As an operator ourselves, we mostly rely on the tools provided by partners at our disposal. In general, we maintain a strong level of communication with our provides and external partners.

We also normally work with partners that have operated within the industry before, since they have experience with special regulatory, technical and business requirements. More importantly they’ll also understand that our iGaming industry probably has more restrictions than others.

Since players’ trust is crucial in all markets, it’s also important that we as an operator market ourselves in a responsible and balanced manner. We also ensure that we stay within the guidelines and not go outside of them. Facing courts for marketing violations not only hurts the operator but the industry as a whole. We must acknowledge that we are an easy target and that we should all work collectively to improve the presentation of our offers so that they are clear and fair, otherwise future marketing restrictions will continue.

Daniela Speranza: Betsson understands the importance of identifying early signs of potential gambling-related harm and with this in mind, constantly invests in technology to develop automation and tools to help identify end-users at risk, such as late-night gamblers, chasing losses, heavy spenders, frequent depositors and limits being changed frequently. Our in-house built RG Prediction Tool with the help of various other reports, alerts and escalation processes is in use by a dedicated safer gambling team that is collating all data, analysing, and using the outcomes for interactions and interventions.

Betsson also ensures that marketing and advertising efforts are conducted in a socially responsible manner. Marketing and advertising communications are not aimed at, nor appeal to, underage persons (i.e., any age below the legal age for gambling in any jurisdiction where the communication is targeted) and carry appropriate warnings about underage gambling.  By way of example, no logos or names of gambling products or services are found on products intended to be used or worn by underage persons. Advertising is not shown on any websites that children may frequent; YouTube and social media content are age-gated; celebrities or prolific persons are not used in marketing if they are under the age of 25, and persons that are shown, are shown to be gambling responsibly, for example no links to alcohol and gambling together.

The Compliance team is well integrated with the marketing teams and provides guidelines and training so that marketing is responsible and meets the various regulatory standards of moderation. Furthermore, the Compliance team oversees these functions to ensure that published marketing material follows internal guidelines and policies.

Liesbeth Oost: A huge challenge for most operators is how they monitor their affiliate partners to ensure they are always compliant. Overseeing every aspect of how multiple affiliates are performing is a massive task that cannot be done without the support of technology. To help with this, Aspire has partnered with Rightlander, which offers a range of solutions for affiliate compliance monitoring. Through its technology, we can identify affiliates bidding on client brand names, hijacking traffic and using their own tracking codes to intercept traffic.

Significant strides have been made in the world of machine learning and AI, which means that advanced platforms can actively optimise campaigns to a much greater extent and reduce the need for judgement calls on employees’ part. Most importantly for this issue, these tools can monitor a huge number of sites and flag any that may not be compliant in that market in an efficient manner.

Although our operating partners take care of their own marketing and relationships with affiliates, we are equipped to assist them in their operations and provide them with a service that ensures affiliates are not misrepresenting their brand.

Interviews

Making a lasting mark in a new territory

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Making a lasting mark in a new territory
Reading Time: 4 minutes

 

We talk to Michael Bauer, CFO/CGO at Greentube, to discover the key elements to a successful entry into a new market.

What has to be taken into consideration before entering a new market?

Michael Bauer: The first aspect to consider is whether or not our games already have traction in a particular region, this can be in either social casino, or the land-based environment. If we see that this is indeed the case, then the decision-making process is a much easier one as clearly, this is a positive sign as to our potential within that jurisdiction.

Secondly, we have to take into consideration the market itself. How big is it, what is the overall population, how does that break down into demographic groups and what is the average income? All of these questions are pertinent. We also have to look at how the market is shaped by regulation, for example is it reasonable from a taxation perspective and in terms of products and content, or are there any major restrictions in place? All of these factors are in play when we are deciding whether or not a market is attractive to us.

By way of examples, looking at the Czech Republic and German markets, they have heavy restrictions in place on the product. Germany has a €1 limit on stakes and five seconds between spins, while in the Czech Republic, you also have maximum win limits. This can make products less attractive for players and from a supplier perspective an amended product, which is less scalable and attractive.

How important is it to utilise local expertise within a market?

It is usually very important, because markets are all different to one another in certain respects and this means a one-size-fits-all approach cannot be successfully rolled out across multiple jurisdictions. This is true for both suppliers and operators, and arguably even more crucial for the latter. Operators must have a detailed knowledge of local marketing networks, compliance aspects of regulation and local player tastes and preferences. Local expertise is an integral part of the growth journey towards being an important player in a market, there is the potential for an operator to buy their way to success through marketing, but it is a costly approach.

Are the current conditions in Germany an illustration of potential difficulties of entering a new territory?

Germany is the best current example of potential difficulties when entering a new market due to regulation. It is the first regulated market I have seen that has created an environment that is particularly unattractive for players, causing channelisation rates which are only around 20%. In addition, the regulators have struggled to issue licences. As things stand at present, what the regulation is creating does not lead to the desired outcome – the channelisation of the player base into a safe, regulated environment.

Is there an expectation for both operators and suppliers to enter every regulated region?

To a certain extent, yes. Our bigger, global customers are asking us to join them when entering new markets. We experienced this in both Argentina and Ontario, as well as other smaller regions. The issue here is that a market may not necessarily be attractive enough for us as we have too many other opportunities to tackle at the same time. When we are dealing with a smaller jurisdiction, the cost of entry and resources may be better funnelled towards the bigger openings.

Certain operators may seek to launch games on as global a basis, but this is a trend that is becoming less prevalent, which is down to different regulations and operators utilising various platforms in certain regions.

How long does it take to know whether you have been successful in a market? How is that success measured?

When a new region opens up and the regulations in place are crafted carefully, such as in the Netherlands for example, operators who gain a licence are able to ramp up quickly. We have also seen in Switzerland that markets can become very interesting, very quickly. Our measure of success is market share, where we receive feedback from operators on the success of our games. The other aspect is the GGR we are generating in a region and the number of players we are reaching. It may be that a certain jurisdiction has a weak currency, or low local purchasing power, but where there are many people playing our games. Colombia is an example of this, where the currency is not as strong as the European markets we operate in for example but we have a large player base, and can also be regarded as a success. Germany is a less than ideal example, because players are leaving the regulated market, and we cannot supply the black market.

Do you have any particular examples of successful or non-successful market entries?

The starting point of a successful entry for us is usually predicated on being first to market. We achieved that in Switzerland and the Netherlands, where on day one of regulation our games were available to play. In itself, this is a success because it’s normally very tricky to be that fast. Secondly, after a certain time you look at how big your market share is. Switzerland, the Netherlands, Poland and also Norway are good examples here, as we quickly gained market share through the latter with state-owned Monopoly holder Norsk Tipping. You also have high hopes of certain jurisdictions that don’t come to fruition, which despite best intentions and plenty of hard work can be out of our hands due to regulations requiring amendments of games and stakes.

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Interviews

Exclusive Interview: Vivo Gaming’s New CCO Neil Howells

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Exclusive Interview: Vivo Gaming’s New CCO Neil Howells
Reading Time: < 1 minute

 

Neil Howells, the new CCO of the live dealer platform provider Vivo Gaming, speaks about what he hopes to achieve in the role and the latest innovations the company has to offer in the live space.

 

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Gaming

European Gaming meets Gökçe Nur Oguz, CEO and Co-Founder of Playable Factory

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European Gaming meets Gökçe Nur Oguz, CEO and Co-Founder of Playable Factory
Reading Time: 4 minutes

 

Q: Tell us about how & why you came to found Playable Factory?

Over four years ago – when we founded the company – gaming was booming and it still is today. All our friends were working in the sector and we wanted to, too. We were new to it all. Monetization, LTV, CPI… sounded like another language to us but gradually we learnt from our friends and tapped into the scene. As we grew our understanding, we realised playable ads played an important role. If done well, they can add to the experience of gaming. But good ones were frustratingly hard to find. So, along with my co-founders, Berat and Omer, we started making them ourselves and the rest is history.

Q: What were you doing before that/what led to it?

After university, I completed a PhD in Fluid Dynamics, a subdiscipline within physics and engineering. There were a few gamification projects, like building games for people to play that would simultaneously have a background programme running to solve an operational problem. This part had me captivated. Outside of academia, I was always gaming and would gamify everything I did. Not just computer games, but card games, board games etc… So it felt natural to me to do something I enjoyed.

Q: Describe Playable Factory & Gearbox in a nutshell?

Playable Factory is a company that focuses on the creative needs of digital advertisers. The focus is mostly on playable ads and recently on video ads for gaming clients specifically. Our secret (or not so secret) weapon is Gearbox, an online editing and iterating platform for creatives. This is split into two: Gearbox Playable, create your own tailor made playable ads (create, iterate, download and repeat) and Gearbox Video, a tool that allows users to record gameplays easily and create/edit/tweak to their heart’s desire. You can generate hundreds of videos in an automated process with one click.

Q: What kind of support can a gaming developer (or brand marketer) expect from your
platform?

Gearbox is made for people who want to monetize their games. It’s a one-stop shop for advertising and promotional videos. No prior coding knowledge is needed so anyone can use it, which hasn’t really been done to this extent before – with full, fast-response, technical support. It’s like having the full agency experience on one platform. For developers, we provide them with market insights around playable ads, guiding them to the right concept in
a speedy manner. They can get creative with graphic filters, text to speech options, banners… and any feature that improves the performance of the playables or video ads.

Q: Who are your clients?

We work with top mobile game publishers: Zynga, Playtika, Dream, Voodoo, Lion Studios, Gram Games and lots more. Apps publishers like Funimate, Trendyol and Gopuff. And brands include Hasbro, LEGO, Unilever and L’Oréal.

Q: What is unique about the Turkish mobile market/why has it become known as the Silicon
valley of the mobile gaming market?

Turkey’s become a global mobile gaming hub. It’s amazing to watch it take off. Some of the best publishers and developers in the world are based here. I think it’s got a lot to do with the ability for rapid development. You’ll find teams of 4-5 young people making a steady stream of mobile games that they send out into the market. Thanks to home-grown success stories, the eyes of investors have turned towards us. But it’s also down to the culture here. Gaming is hugely popular in Turkey and you can feel the passion and drive among people in the
scene here. Local and global economic forces make international expansion lucrative and it feeds back into making the industry making it even bigger and better – and long may it continue.

Q: Have you always been passionate about gaming? When did you first get into it?

I’ve always liked games: console, board games, mobile games… For me, it’s cracking the puzzle that gets me hooked on a game. In my childhood, my younger sister and I were always inventing our own games. Now, business-wise, my co-founder Berat and I, enjoy gaming together and playing board games in our downtime. We actually got the licence for the hugely popular party game Codenames from Czech Games. Since then, we’ve published two more board games together. This was before we entered mobile gaming.

Q: What’s your favourite mobile game?

It has to be 2048. I like puzzles and numbers 🙂

Q: What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve overcome in your career to date? And greatest
success?

Without a doubt: building a company from scratch on a technology that we learned all by ourselves, with no training. I didn’t know how to build playable ads, I didn’t know anything about HTML5 gaming and coding so finding a good developer and establishing a business was the biggest challenge.

Q: What’s one piece of advice you’d give to start-ups in the gaming industry?

I never truly understood the importance of a team before I started working in gaming. PhDs involve mostly working solo and it misses the team spirit. The pressure is high because the success of your work is always dependent on you, and you alone. The gaming industry is totally different. Success reflects on the team who built the game. I wish I’d known that before joining the industry. So, my advice would be to evaluate your team, and believe in them because that’s the only way to reach success. If you don’t like the people you work with, it’s often much harder for you to fulfil your full potential. When your motivations align with your team’s, you can combine forces and focus to get the success you deserve.

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