Storyful analysed consumer conversation about the gambling industry in the UK and Ireland on Twitter, Reddit, Facebook, forums and digital media between 6 October, 2019–6 January, 2020. More than 223k mentions were analysed during this timeframe.
For the purposes of this report, 'mention' is defined as a text post that includes the selected word or phrase. 'Interaction' is defined as a combination of likes, comments, or shares on a post. 'Engagement' is defined as a combination of total active reactions, including likes and shares on Facebook; likes and retweets on Twitter; and upvotes and comments on Reddit.
Storyful examined consumer perceptions of the gambling sector in the UK and Ireland—including reactions to key industry developments and social indicators of confidence in the industry—to identify emerging trends and key insights that will allow gambling companies to navigate evolving challenges in the sector.
This is a precarious time for the gambling industry. Disproportionate media coverage of an online gambling ‘epidemic’ has raised concerns about addiction, painting the sector in a negative light amid reports of declining profits, falling shares and shop closures.
Companies in the gambling sector must manage their reputation carefully amid new challenges. Consumers are worried that online gambling attracts vulnerable people, including children. There are also concerns that highly visible betting company sponsorships in football and new ways to gamble on smartphones will exacerbate addiction.
At the same time, social media offers a rich source of insights into the gambling industry, providing new and growing opportunities to monitor consumer conversation beyond traditional media narratives. Consumers online discuss not only media coverage of gambling, but also their own experiences, advertisements and company initiatives. While stories of gambling addiction made up 13% of gambling-related media coverage over the last 3 months, for instance, it accounted for just 4.2% of Twitter conversation.
Gambling companies can gain valuable insights by using online conversation to guide campaigns, stay aware of backlash, and leverage positive sentiment and trends. Below are three key takeaways from Storyful’s analysis.
Responsible gambling advertising poses risks for companies. Though gambling companies can effectively use advertising and messaging to address concerns around new technology, ad placement and message tone are crucial. Companies must advocate for responsible gambling without seeming hypocritical, or face backlash.
Upgrading gambling shops and harnessing new technologies could help battle negative public perception. As gambling companies rush to stay ahead of the curve, some are receiving a positive consumer response by revamping shops based on the popularity of online gambling features.
As sports betting and gambling face negative headwinds, experiential games such as bingo are experiencing a renaissance. Community-based games like bingo enjoy positive media coverage, with consumer enthusiasm following suit. Research shows 78% of younger audiences value experiences and occasions over material items—gambling companies can capitalise on this by broadening their offerings to include online and offline experiences.
Gambling advertising provoked criticism if it appeared hypocritical in tone or careless in placement.
Consumers were critical of ads that paid lip service to ‘responsible gambling’ messaging while using contradictory slogans, and they were alert to inappropriate ad placement.
While media coverage was limited, online conversation appeared ad-hoc in reaction to specific campaigns following key online posts and news stories. Companies can use this backlash to inform future ad campaigns.
Although some backlash is unavoidable, companies should be conscious of how their slogans interact with the message of responsible gambling. Advertisements should not dilute the impact of such messages.
Below are examples of slogans and ads that social media users criticised because they felt they contradicted the ‘gamble responsibly’ message or failed to fully acknowledge the challenges of gambling addiction.
Very odd advertising from BetFred.
Their tag line? All Day Everyday.
If you're encouraging your punters to bet ALL day EVERY day I'm not taking your speil about "responsible gambling" seriously.
- Charles White
Ad placement can provoke consumer backlash
Two thirds of top enaged tweets around gambling related advertising were negative, with concerns around targeting being the most prevalent. Consumers responded negatively when gambling ads appeared on media stories about gambling addiction or as targeted ads on online searches for gambling blocking tools.
But gambling companies were not held solely responsible for inappropriate ad placement; consumers also targeted media companies themselves. Such incidents contributed to a general sense of ill ease with gambling adverts, and sparked calls for greater regulation and limits on such advertising.
Coordinate directly with media platforms to avoid inappropriate ad placement—for example, by ensuring that ads are not placed near coverage of gambling addiction.
Be proactive, rather than reactive, in tackling placement errors.
Spotlight real consumers sharing tips on how they control their gambling. Avoid placing the burden of responsibility entirely on consumers by highlighting industry efforts to encourage appropriate gambling behaviour, such as AI-powered ‘cool off’ periods in gambling machines.
Boost the credibility of ‘responsible gambling’ messages by incorporating addiction-related tips.
Gambling warnings that blend into the main ad contribute to consumer perception of hypocrisy around such messaging. Instead, use clear designs to distinguish warning labels and avoid slogans that directly contract this message.
Make ‘responsible gambling’ messaging visually distinct from the rest of the ad.
The perception of betting shops is generally negative on social media, hindering community support for gambling hubs and acting as a barrier for younger consumers.
However, amid rising attention on the negative impacts of online gambling, companies can highlight the positive elements of in-person gambling and capitalise on consumer enthusiasm for modernised betting shops.
Source: The Guardian
A quarter of UK betting shops could close, with 12,000 jobs at risk
Coral’s ‘betting shop of the future’, with digital screens and comfortable decor, drove positive engagement on Facebook and Twitter, showcasing the possibilities for a new type of shop that integrates the positive elements of online gambling with the social value of in-shop betting. Modern betting shops provide an opportunity to diversify the clientele, and allow traditional patrons to mingle with a younger crowd.
Gambling shops with digital functionality and a welcoming decor can help combat negative perceptions, making betting shops a more attractive destination for a wider range of consumers.
Integrate technology into betting shops and modernise decor to attract a broader demographic.
Campaigns that present betting shops as an alternative gathering place for live events rather than an alternative to online gambling might resonate with younger consumers, especially where they coincide with updated interiors.
Emphasise the social potential of in-person gambling to attract younger consumers.
Promoting these shops might provide a route to more responsible gambling for some consumers.
Betting shops could be highlighted as part of a ‘gamble responsibly’ message.
Government restrictions and online gambling’s popularity have led to a media narrative that betting shops are in decline.
Shops with new technology and modern interiors resonated online with consumers who wanted an improved betting experience, an opportunity to socialise, and even a more responsible way to gamble.
UK gambling machines loaded with AI 'cool off' system
Gambling companies can look to the individuals and companies broadening the appeal of bingo for younger audiences to learn about ways to tap into new demographics.
The social appeal of themed bingo events is dovetailing with the millennial experience economy, bringing an older generation’s game to a younger demographic. Although it is still a form of gambling, bingo seems untouched by negative narratives surrounding the sector.
Themed bingo raves drove high engagement on social. Novelties and special guest appearances at bingo raves were especially popular according to online conversation. A St. Patrick’s-themed bingo night featuring Bewitched drove over 8k comments on Facebook. Bingo rave company Bingo Loco was mentioned in over 10k posts on Instagram.
Inside Bongo's Bingo craze sweeping Britain with 90's rave music and jugs of Prosecco
The increasing experiential nature of bingo means online users also partake in the latest real life bingo novelties and trends.
Influencers Sidemen went viral following a YouTube video of their own highly interactive game of hide-and-seek bingo around London (5 million views).
Bingo card memes based on current political events, TV shows, and media proved popular on Twitter. The humourous interactive nature of these posts led to high engagement.
• UK General Election Night
• Talk Shows
• Christmas Movies
Incorporate popular themes from bingo events to online offerings.
Establish partnerships with influencers and companies marketing bingo for millenials.
Share content focused on celebrities or ordinary people enjoying themselves.
Monitor media coverage and conversation around bingo events to uncover topics of interest.
Consider partnering with a media company to create bingo cards for popular shows and live events, such as awards shows and political debates.
Gambling companies could benefit from the new wave of bingo enthusiasts by partnering with event organisers. Sponsored events or special deals for participants could introduce new audiences to online bingo offerings.
Positioning games as social experiences might resonate with audiences, as younger bingo attendees frequently post photos of events on their social accounts showcasing their favourite parts of the experience.
Storyful uses a combination of proprietary and partner tools to collect our data and cross-reference our findings. Our historical data is sourced through Brandwatch, CrowdTangle and through our direct relationships with Facebook, Twitter and Reddit. Media discovery and analysis is performed via a combination of third-party tools such as Buzzsumo.
Our analysis covers these conversations as well as the broader social and digital ecosystem, including user networks, patterns of engagement, spread, signals, trends, cross-platform activity and community dynamics. We rely on custom proprietary tools such as Discover for cross-platform discovery and analysis. We employ a combination of qualitative and quantitative approaches that span traditional digital measurement, qualitative research, foresight and futures frameworks, as well as social media-specific methods emerging out of fields such as public health, behavioral psychology, ethnography and media studies.
The content of this report is subject to the following disclaimer terms: https://storyful.com/intel-report-disclaimer/
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