During a Sunday afternoon watching Sky Sports, more than 42% of ads aired before the 9:00 p.m. watershed were found to encourage viewers to gamble. With Premier League games attracting an average of 819,000 viewers, and a huge 23.6 million viewers tuning in to watch one of England’s World Cup matches, marketers must uphold responsible standards.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has set out a new directive, which came into effect on April 2, 2018, aiming to curb the “trivialization of gambling” across core marketing activities such as social media, CRM and websites. Ads must no longer create an inappropriate sense of urgency – like those encouraging viewers to “bet now!”
As a core marketing channel for the gambling and sports betting market – known for its ability to reach mass audiences and drive response – how can TV advertisers specifically ensure compliance, while still achieving the full benefits from their campaigns?
The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) drafted the updated guidelines to clamp down on bad ad practices that target vulnerable gamblers with urgent calls-to-action, bonuses and promotions. The directive restricts not only inflammatory messaging but also creatives that trivialize repetitive betting habits.
The ASA has shown no signs of leniency since the introduction of the new directive, moving to ban a recent PokerStars ad as the minute-long ad implied that even inexperienced poker players can easily win games by bluffing, and could be seen to encourage reckless gambling behavior.
Lydia Mulkeen, Client Director at the UK’s largest media agency, the7stars – who works with the likes of Coral and Ladbrokes – believes the introduction of the directive has been manageable as brands were given plenty of time to prepare for implementation. “Companies within the gambling sector welcome guidelines to ensure responsible marketing and have long been self-regulating, for example, the independent body The Senet Group was set up ahead of the directive to promote responsible gambling standards.”
TV is a Sure Bet
Marketers’ main concern is that this new code will impact calls-to-action within TV ads and therefore the ability to market efficiently. While there is no getting around the fact that messaging needs to change across an entire marketing strategy, TV will continue to be an effective channel for the gambling and sports industries as it provides scale.
So what can marketers do to keep utilizing TV as a great driver of audience response?
1) Be Clever with Creatives
TV marketers need to rethink how they engage their consumers. Savvy brands will understand that blasting out money-motivated, one-size-fits-all messaging is no longer effective. Clever marketers will need to think like David Miami and Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce – you read that right, straight from an episode of Mad Men – who developed the Heinz “Pass the Heinz” campaign. The creative didn’t show the product at all, instead depicting close-up images of food “practically begging” for the addition of Heinz Ketchup. Gambling and sports betting marketers can learn from this campaign and push for creative but responsible messaging for their own TV ads.
2) Use Data to Understand Campaign Potential
As Mulkeen suggests, “sport continues to be the biggest driver of live TV viewing (Love Island aside!) with no other platform giving the opportunity to reach such a scale of engaged sports enthusiasts in a gambling frame of mind.” To get the best ROI and meet brand-specific, performance-based KPIs, marketers need to link campaign performance to business impact. With the right technology marketers can easily measure an audience response – be that search activity or a monetary transaction – that is directly attributed to TV activity. This means gathering same-day insight to understand which days, times, channels, programs, genres, and creatives work for their brand. Only then can marketers maximize the power of insight into audiences and optimize campaigns in-flight.
Marketers can ensure compliance with the new directive while also utilizing TV as a primary marketing strategy. It’s the power and reach of TV that makes it a great driver of the digital responses the sports betting industries are looking to achieve. But marketers must hold TV accountable for its performance – focusing on reaching TV’s ROI potential, while maintaining the all-important creative compliance. It’s no mean feat but the technologies available to today’s gambling and sports betting marketers will ensure TV is a sure bet for years to come.