Competition and Latest News in Poker - On and Off the Tables

28 October 2021

Online poker is big business in a competitive market place, and providers are needing to work hard to get noticed. For poker providers, not only are they competing against each other, but all other forms of gaming too.

Globally, online gambling is worth around $67 billion, and is expected to surpass $100 billion by 2026. Online poker makes up a significant slice of that pie, but so do casinos, lotteries, and, the giant, sports betting.

It’s no wonder then, that companies are having to get creative when it comes to securing their market share. 888poker recently won an EGR Marketing and Innovation Award for their latest campaign, and their strategy is an interesting one.

Gone are the glamorous James Bond images of traditional poker advertising, as are the kitsch jingles of other recent campaigns. Instead, 888poker has concentrated on two things: the experience and the player.

In order to get this message across, the company launched a marketing campaign titled ‘Made to Play’. This campaign pushed the message in three ways: traditional video advertising, ‘random’ incentives, and influencer marketing.

The Video

The campaign’s 30 and 60 second videos ran on television and on-demand streaming services around the world. Moving away from traditional images, they instead put the player at the heart of the experience.

This ad focused on the various highs and lows which make up the excitement of playing online poker. It also shows a variety of individuals playing in a range of situations and styles.

This strategy repositions poker from trying to be sexy and full of jeopardy to being inclusive and fun. It also demonstrates the flexibility of ways in which the game can be played, especially with mobile gaming now available.

The Incentives

Over the course of the campaign, 888poker gave away $1,000,000 in ‘random’ prizes to existing and new players. This included tested methods of maintaining engagement such as free rolls and daily spins, but also something more innovative.

‘Gift drops’ were the unique element in this giveaway, and they generated excitement and word-of-mouth marketing amongst players. Every few minutes a random table would be selected to receive no-strings prizes ranging up to $1000.

All players’ screens would begin to show presents raining down and everyone at the table would benefit. This positioning of the platform as generous and fun and the communal excitement for players is new for online poker.

The Influencers

The final thing that 888poker has done is assemble what they call the StreamTeam. These are a hand-selected group of gaming influencers who can sell the platform on a person to person level.

The StreamTeam primarily work through Twitch, a platform known for content makers who commentate on their gaming as they play. They humanise the marketing by taking the message away from the ‘salespeople’ and speaking to customers as peers.

Both on Twitch and other mediums, these influencers focus almost entirely on the gameplay experience. They talk about the software, the platform, the features, and give the impression of really getting inside the product.

They can also offer gaming and poker tips, something the platform itself offers but in a more friendly, trustworthy manner.

One marketing video from 888poker shows these influencers talking through their downloadable app. They bring the features to life by relating them to their own gameplay and the social side of their experience.

The very features they discuss in relation to 888poker’s product highlight the unique reframing they are aiming for. Cute emojis, custom-built avatars, even tomatoes players can digitally through at each other, it’s all about fun and interaction.

In the modern world, poker is light entertainment, not high stakes gambling. It can be played by anyone, anywhere, whenever they like, and it can be played with a smile.

Recent News

Not only did the ‘Made to Play’ campaign earn an award, it has made a great impact for the company. In September 2021, 888 Holdings, the parent company of 888poker, announced a $3 billion buyout of William Hill’s European business.

The traditional gambling giant was previously bought by Caesars Entertainment who are now selling off all non-US elements. This is the first step into the high street for the online company, which now owns 1400 UK betting shops.

The ambitious deal shows just how successful the online casino industry has become, and how competitive the sector now is. If previously small players online are now taking over the interests of established giants, the fight is truly on.

Taking on a presence on the fading high street while online and mobile gaming is surging may seem counterintuitive. Coming after a multi-million dollar marketing campaign, however, it highlights how important winning the branding war is seen to be.

As online poker and casinos have exploded, so have the number of providers entering the marketplace. Not all will profit, and not all will survive, so now is the time for the competition to go to the next level.

Purpose-built and heavily branded apps and gaming experiences have become the next essential in online playing. If a provider wants to be first choice, they will need to be innovative in marketing theirs, and quickly.

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