Rolling the die on targeted in-play ads

By Robin Harrison

  • Article summary

Despite new ASA guidelines designed to curb ‘bet now’ ads, clever creatives and well-leveraged data can maintain TV’s effectiveness for marketers, writes Blair Robertson 

Despite new ASA guidelines designed to curb ‘bet now’ ads, clever creatives and well-leveraged data can maintain TV’s effectiveness for marketers, writes Blair Robertson

Watching Sky Sports on a Saturday recently, one Campaign journalist kept an informal tally of advertising and found that 42% of ads aired before the 9pm watershed encouraged gambling. With Premier League games on Sky attracting average audiences of 819,000 according to Bloomberg, and a huge 23.6 million viewers tuning in to watch one of England’s World Cup matches, the focus is on marketers to uphold responsible standards.

The Advertising Standards Authority’s (ASA) new directive, which came into effect on 2 April 2018, is aimed at addressing what it calls the ‘trivialisation of gambling’ in social media, CRM and online marketing activities. Ads must no longer create an inappropriate sense of urgency, which means those that encourage viewers to “Bet now!” may become a thing of the past.

But television is a core marketing channel for the gambling and sports-betting market, known for its ability to reach mass audiences and drive response. How can advertisers ensure compliance while still getting results from their campaigns?

Rising standards

The updated guidelines were drafted by the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) to clamp down on advertising that targets vulnerable gamblers with urgent calls-to-action, bonuses and promotions. The directive restricts not only inflammatory messaging but also creatives that trivialise repetitive betting habits.

The ASA is showing no signs of leniency since its introduction, banning a recent PokerStars ad for implying that inexperienced poker players can easily win games by bluffing, which was seen as encouraging reckless gambling.

Lydia Mulkeen, client director at the UK’s largest media agency, the7stars, works with the likes of Coral and Ladbrokes. She believes that the directive has proved manageable because brands had plenty of time to prepare for implementation. “Companies within the gambling sector welcome guidelines to ensure responsible marketing and have long been self-regulating. The independent body The Senet Group, for example, was set up ahead of the directive to promote responsible-gambling standards.”

Is TV still a sure bet?

Marketers are concerned that the new code will impact calls-to-action within TV ads and therefore the ability to market efficiently. While it’s true that messaging needs to change across an entire strategy, the scale offered by TV means it will continue to be an effective channel for the gambling and sports industries. Marketers can keep utilising it as a great driver of audience response by making some smart adjustments.

1) Be clever with creatives

TV marketers need to rethink how they engage consumers. Savvy brands understand that blasting out money-motivated, one-size-fits-all messaging is no longer effective.

Clever marketers need to think like innovative agency David Miami, whose Mad Men-inspired “Pass the Heinz” creative didn’t show the product at all. Instead, it depicted 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 says: “Sport continues to be the biggest driver of live TV viewing, 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 KPIs, marketers must link campaign performance to business impact. The right technology can easily measure how audience response – be that search activity or a monetary transaction – is directly attributed to TV activity. This means gathering same-day insight to understand which days, times, channels, programmes, genres and creatives work for their brand.

It is entirely possible for marketers to comply with the ASA directive while using television as a primary marketing strategy. But marketers must hold TV accountable for its performance, focusing on reaching television’s ROI potential while maintaining all-important creative compliance. This is 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.

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