In preparation for ICE Totally Gaming and the 2018 London Affiliate Conference next month, the first major events of this year’s iGaming and affiliate marketing calendars, now’s a good time to look at marketing trends for the industry. Acquisition will evolve greatly over the next 12 months, with the further development of voice search and regulatory changes in the UK affiliate channel just two worthy of operators’ attention.
Here are the biggest digital and affiliate marketing trends that we expect to shape 2018.
1. Affiliate Marketing: Improving a Robust Channel
Developments at the end of 2017, including the closure of a high-profile affiliate programme and increased pressure from the UK Gambling Commission for operators to deal with rogue affiliates, will shape the UK-facing affiliate channel this year. Operators will be streamlining their programmes to make sure they overcome these challenges.
The recently-founded International Gaming Affiliate Association (iGAA) will also help to encourage affiliates to better comply with regulation. Affiliates and operator will work collaboratively together to develop a more mature and higher-quality channel in 2018, which will also improve trust among players and brokers across the iGaming industry as well as the financial trading space.
2. Voice Search
The number of voice searches will increase this year, which isn’t surprising when you consider that Search Engine Journal reported a soar in result accuracy from below 70% to 92% between 2015 and 2017. Innovations such as Amazon’s Alexa product and Google Assistant are helping to accelerate these changes. With search engine results pages (SERPs) also constantly evolving, voice search optimisation (VSO) is important to brands’ overall SEO strategies.
Voice search differs from the traditional method because it’s more conversational and generally uses long-tail phrases. ComScore predicts that 50% of all internet searches will be voice by 2020, so brands who adapt their SEM strategies accordingly now will enjoy an advantage over those who don’t.
3. Social Media
Instagram launched ‘Recommended for you’ in December 2017, making posts which might interest users – but were published by accounts they don’t follow – visible on their news feeds. Although Business Community discovered that just 7% of marketers currently regard Instagram as their most important social media platform, this new feature, in addition to other effective organic tools such as ‘Instagram Stories’, mean that this number will almost certainly rise in 2018.
Twitter’s decision to double its character limit has received mixed reviews, which could also help raise the popularity of Instagram as a digital marketing tool. A YouGov survey found that less than half (four in 10) users said they liked the extension, while a third revealed they preferred the 140-character limit.
However, it’s also important to remember that 280 characters gives brands the opportunity to tell a better story and resonate more with followers. Paid and organic offerings, such as promoted tweets and live broadcasting, also mean that Twitter will remain important for brands’ digital marketing strategies.
Snapchat will also likely become more widely-used in customer acquisition, thanks to brands now having the power to promote their own stories in addition to the introduction of a pixel tracking tool. Providing campaign results will prove attractive because brands can measure their performance in more detail, while promoted stories mean that more brands will look at the medium to increase their visibility amongst millennials in particular.
4. Artificial Intelligence
Artificial intelligence (AI) will be even more influential, as brands seek ways to further personalise their product offerings and customer service. Sportsbooks such as William Hill already send tailored push notifications to players’ mobile devices, but more accurate AI could lead to other innovations such as personalised pricing for individual users at specific times.
Customer service will also benefit from greater AI influence over the next 12 months, and the enhanced communication skills of chat bots and similar tools will help companies to deal with customers more effectively. Operators will also likely use AI to promote special offers and enhanced odds.
5. Video Advertising
HubSpot revealed that nearly half (48%) of marketers not already leveraging YouTube plan to add the platform to their content strategy this year. Brands will have a range of options in this discipline too, as Facebook have announced plans to test pre-clip advertising on the ‘Watch’ hub which they launched last August.
Along with paid video ads, many brands already use YouTube organically – an example being Party Poker providing ‘how to play’ tips. Enabling a wide range of marketing approaches and boasting high shareability, this already-popular form of content marketing will likely become even more widely-used this year.
What are your key digital and affiliate marketing trends for 2018? Let us know in the comments section below.
At Income Access, we offer a range of search engine marketing and content marketing services alongside our core affiliate management services. To find out more about these, please reach out.