There is no questioning the fact that online gaming has been one of the internet's greatest success stories. The size of the market is currently growing at a rate of over 12% each year. Figures from respectable financial analysts Statistica show a global figure of 58.9 billion US dollars for the financial year 2019. Which then increases to US$66.7 billion the following year. Furthermore, their analysis of the global online casino market predicts that the size of the market will reach 92.9 billion US dollars globally by the year 2023.
Online gaming began over 25 years ago when Cryptologic and Microgaming created the first online casino software. Microgaming continues to develop digital slot machines, video poker games, and a wide range of other gambling products to this day. However, early on Microgaming choose to stick to licensing their games to third parties rather than operate any online gambling sites of their own. This model proves to be extremely successful for Microgaming. And, it has since been emulated by a host of other companies. All hungry for a slice of the lucrative online casino market.
The early online casinos were extremely crude by modern standards, and the market initially completely unregulated. That was bad news for players of these casinos, who were sometimes taking a gamble just by depositing their money with some of these websites. Alexa has been recording the number and popularity of sites on the web since 1996, when the company found just 15 online gambling sites worldwide.
The next year, more than 200 online casinos were known to be operating. Many of which can still be found in the Wayback Machine archives. It's easy to understand how the market became extremely competitive very quickly under these conditions. As a result, digital marketing quickly became essential to the survival of every online casino.
Welcome bonuses were one of the first online casino offers to emerge. And the competition was so fierce that these bonuses quickly became overly generous. Bonuses were offered to new and existing players. Attracting new players is essential to the growth of any online casino. But keeping them coming back is what keeps a casino in business.
When social media began to take off in a big way, casinos quickly found ways to use this new medium for digital marketing. Casinos quickly found that social media was a much more cost-effective form of promotion than traditional billboards, television, and print advertising. Social media also allows for two-way communication. Players could give feedback on promotions for the first time and share the best offers with their friends.
Digital marketing allows advertisers to reach their target market in a way that was never possible in the past. Online advertising can provide a convenient link directly to the gaming site. Different landing pages are also in use for specific demographics. Older players might see a generous bingo bonus, for example, while young men might see poker offers or online football betting.
Wherever a player is initially sent, the final destination is always the online slot machines. Every site offers these games, alongside table games such as blackjack and roulette. Often in side panels that are present whether a customer is playing bingo, poker, or placing sports bets.
We now have live streaming, where a casino sponsors players to play their games and interact with viewers who comment and interact in real-time. Polls are a popular option on Youtube and Twitter. These can sometimes provide tens of thousands of opinions in a very short period of time. Facebook's community group feature is extremely popular with online gamblers, who clearly enjoy sharing their experiences and interests.
It's impossible to discuss digital marketing in the online casino industry without mentioning the affiliate schemes. Almost all sites offering casino games, poker, bingo, or sports betting use affiliates. So when people search for information about the trustworthiness of a particular online casino, or the RTP of the latest slot from NetEnt or Microgaming, they will often end up at a website that is part of an affiliate scheme.
These sites will often have a wealth of useful information on the world of online gambling and discussion forums. As well as casino reviews, exclusive bonuses, independent arbitration facilities, and other features that online gamblers will find extremely valuable.
Of course, the end goal of every one of these sites is to direct people to online casinos. Some sites have an exclusive area where they will vet online casinos and add them to an elite list if they meet certain requirements. Those requirements can include having a representative of each casino among their userbase.
Affiliates get paid for bringing traffic to online casino websites via several models. But what digital advertisers can learn from this is why affiliate marketing is so effective in online markets. Affiliates are paid based on their performance. So any investment a casino makes in this type of marketing is easy to track and measure accurately.
Furthermore, successful affiliates quickly gain a strong reputation amongst players. So, when a casino is featured or heavily promoted by these sites significantly increases the credibility and trustworthiness of that casino's brand. The link between a popular affiliate and a high-quality casino can create a feedback loop. This is where players rely on affiliates to promote trustworthy casinos, and casinos invest more in those affiliates as a result.
The digital marketing techniques that online casinos use are undoubtedly extremely successful. Digital advertisers working for other companies may well be able to use these proven methods to promote sites involved with a diverse range of industries and online markets.
In particular, the use of social media to target specific demographics, big data, and the affiliate model are underused by many industries. Could the success of the online casino market be replicated in other areas by digital advertisers?
I see no reason why not.