For ICE Totally Gaming this month, we contributed an article for eGaming Review’s conference issue. Our piece on the evolution of digital marketing in the online gambling space discusses both emerging channels and how established ones are evolving.

While the article is available in print, you can also check out the full piece below.

Following smart speakers’ runaway consumer success in 2017, voice search optimisation (VSO) will be an important new marketing channel for operators this year. Meanwhile, the evolution of established channels such as social media and affiliate marketing will ensure that operators’ acquisition strategies have never been more diverse.

Ahead of this summer’s World Cup, marketing teams will acknowledge the new search landscape this presents. With 25 million smart speaker sales in 2017 and comScore predicting that 50% of searches will be verbal within two years, the age of VSO has dawned. This June, a consumer is increasingly likely to ask their Google Home speaker, “Where can I bet on Friday’s Portugal-Spain match in Sochi?”, rather than type abbreviated search terms into their phone.

Detail is not the only difference between verbal and traditional search. Successful VSO acknowledges that voice search involves keywords that are inherently conversational. Long tail keywords are a given, but researching the conversational phrases consumers actually use results in very different primary and secondary keyword groups than those underpinning traditional SEO.

While social media is a younger channel than SEO, pioneering platform Twitter is entering a troubled adolescence after failing to grow its monthly active users (MAU) beyond 330 million in 2017. Given its reach, operators will maintain a Twitter presence but also diversify into expanding channels such as Instagram, the social success story of 2017 after reporting 800 million MAU.

Instagram Stories, its popular video and photo collage feature, provides brands with an effective tool to engage followers and ultimately convert them into depositing players. The live video functionality of Instagram and Facebook also allow brands to boost engagement in an event-packed year. Indeed, Facebook reports that users spend triple the amount of time watching live video than they do edited videos.

Display advertising is also evolving. Banner click-through rates (CTRs) are today challenged by users’ ‘banner blindness’ navigating an ad-saturated web. To improve CTRs, operators can complement banners with native advertising. This format provides users with content of genuine value – from an article previewing the Cheltenham Festival to a piece about a casino’s newest branded slot. A native campaign can serve to quadruple CTRs, according to Polar/Business Intelligence.

The affiliate channel provides brands with a particularly broad canvas for native ads, allowing them to work collaboratively on campaigns to maximise conversions and revenue for both parties. Affiliates are increasingly open to the native format. Three-quarters (76%) of affiliates surveyed by Income Access in Q4 2017 revealed that content is their primary marketing focus compared to only half (55%) prioritising banners.

Nonetheless, there have been recent cases of misleading native campaigns by a small minority of ‘rogue’ affiliates, with regulatory repercussions for the related operators. To leverage the many benefits of native campaigns with affiliates, it’s therefore vital for operators to vet partner sites and marketing approaches to ensure regulatory compliance.

From integrating native advertising into affiliate marketing strategies to new social media approaches and VSO, there are multiple ways for operators to reboot their marketing strategies this year. The acquisition future belongs to the operators flexible enough to embrace change.

We hope that you enjoyed reading our piece for eGaming Review’s ICE Totally Gaming issue. What are your thoughts on the changes affecting online gambling’s digital marketing space? Let us know in the comments section below.