Last month, our Marketing Director Erica Anderson chaired a webinar on social responsibility in iGaming, focusing on the evolving expectations placed on affiliates and importance of operator collaboration and adoption of a proactive mindset across various markets.

Over time, the affiliate marketing and iGaming industries have evolved regarding the standards of social responsibility. As part of the goal to assess that evolution, we invited industry experts to join our panel and discuss what this means for stakeholders moving forward. The below reflects some of the insights shared by the panel.

Standards for Social Responsibility

Looking at the catalysts influencing the evolution of ethical standards and heightening the awareness of social responsibility, one contributing factor is incentivisation.

Historically, the industry was largely seen as an environment with limited concern towards the perception of its marketing messages. For example, stakeholders weren’t as widely aware of the impact of player acquisition strategies and loyalty incentives on vulnerable players. Today, the UKGC and other regulators are nurturing a more socially responsible environment. As a result, operators and affiliates are held to higher standards, which contributes to an increased awareness of compliance and marketing practices.

The growth of the iGaming industry is accompanied by the implementation of stricter rules and oversight in marketing materials. While this can cause creative restraint, it also encourages affiliates to employ a more standardised marketing process. This also results in reduced competition, allowing compliant affiliates the chance to build lasting relationships with operators.

From an operator perspective, mandates enforced by regulators form a level playing field. Marketing content can then be distributed responsibly, allowing opportunities for operators to create more value within affiliate partnerships. While the interpretation of regulatory standards may be debated in certain cases, it’s important for stakeholders to be responsive and proactive in laying down ground rules to manage operations.

Redefining What’s Expected of Affiliates

How can operators work with affiliates of different sizes? In what way does their approach differ in terms of requirements, and ultimately, influence change?

Operators evaluate their affiliate strategy through the prism of two elements: time investment and resources. By adopting compliance software like Righthander, stakeholders show their willingness to commit both time and resources to upholding evolving marketing practices. Correspondingly, two hurdles identified during the panel discussion included the interpretation of guidelines and market penetration in jurisdictions with unclear rules.

For affiliates, it’s important to determine the message being conveyed by their marketing materials. The approach needs to embrace and encourage operator insights, ensuring a thoughtful decision-making process on messaging. In the early days, affiliates were tasked with switching out creatives overnight without always having the technical resources to do so. By building a strong infrastructure and leveraging new techniques, balanced marketing practices can be achieved.

Compliance is a balancing act; there is no one solution for each territory. With operators and affiliates collaborating on these strategies, responsibilities are better understood and industry-wide commitments to social responsibility can be more thoroughly enforced.

Meeting Demands of Social Responsibility

The influence of emerging strategies can be observed in compliance platforms, which aid in monitoring content. Other benefits include finding and flagging misleading content across regulated markets and automated tools alleviating affiliate managers’ manual tasks. One challenge noted on this front was actioning the data presented in system reports.

There’s been a huge shift in the last five years in the size of compliance teams. Some teams have now either set up a compliance role within their marketing teams or allocated an entire department to it. The latter can result in a disconnect as compliance teams may be less familiar with how affiliates work, making it difficult to understand what data to look for. Fortunately, most companies have found a solution for that.

Independent associations like Responsible Affiliates in Gaming (RAIG) focus on creating accountable environments and increasing credibility across the global iGaming market. Our panellists would like to see these groups evolve even more, while many affiliates are still cautious about supporting and interacting with one another due to the nature of competition and difference in professional backgrounds. Until the industry is successful at eliminating non-compliant marketing practices, operators and regulatory bodies, such as the UKGC, will continue to play a key role in establishing codes of conduct.

While these movements may affect the implementation of creative marketing tactics, they also support the end goal of better collaboration towards social responsibility. The financial and reputational consequences of non-compliance are too impactful for operators and affiliates to ignore, as they will increasingly result in offending stakeholders becoming obsolete. Moving into 2020, continuing to fortify trust and ethical behaviour will be critical for the iGaming industry’s evolution.

Listen to the full webinar here.

For more information on our takeaways or affiliate marketing and digital marketing services, please reach out.

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