Gone are the days in which traditional advertising media such as magazines and television were the sole means of online casinos and other web-based businesses communicated with players and potential customers.
Even simple advertising banners placed on websites just don’t cut it anymore. The Internet, coupled with other technological advancements, a growing global village consciousness, and expectations of bigger, better, faster, and more, means that marketers and businesses have had to become far more creative and engaging with advertising.
The Value of Experiential Marketing
The stage was set for what is known as experiential marketing. Also known as participation marketing, live marketing, and brand activation, it is essentially a strategy that takes a pro-active approach to player engagement.
Due to restrictive advertising laws in many states and countries, the bulk of such strategies are implemented online. However, it is not unheard of for casinos and developers of online pokies and other casino game software to utilise offline strategies.
Either way, the basic idea is that online casino players and other consumers are encouraged to take an active role in establishing a relationship with various brands, which, in turn, leads to greater brand awareness and loyalty.
The Development of Online Marketing in Gaming
In the early days of the Internet, online casinos and video gaming studios had to rely on banner adverts, chat rooms and other forums, and gaming websites to engage players. Apart from forums, most of the advertising was passive, in that players would read the advert and either click through to the casino or gaming site in question, or search for it using an engine such as Google.
Email was also utilised, but such campaigns targeted existing players, rather than prospective players.
Next came blogs, although they were generally under-utilised by online casinos. It was only when social media platforms such as MySpace and Facebook, and, later, micro-blogging sites such as Twitter appeared that casinos began to realise the potential of such platforms.
Online Casinos’ Experiential Marketing Campaigns
The principles of experiential marketing give online casinos many more options than traditional means of advertising ever did. As mentioned, most online casinos tend to make use of web-based strategies.
Some of those utilised include blogs, email campaigns, crowdsourcing, and social media.
Many online casinos have their own blogs, and they often supply content to external blogs as well. The casinos’ blogs usually feature site user guides, game information, and relevant news items, and they usually incorporate a call to action. When it comes to external blogs, the content is usually coupled with either a competition or special offer.
The experiential marketing email campaigns used by online casinos have much in common with blogs. However, players would first need to opt in by agreeing to receive such emails from casinos.
Some online casinos have used crowdsourcing websites to great effect. Competitions and contests usually form part of such experiential marketing strategies, which leads to players taking an active role in the development of the brand’s identity.
The great variety of available social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Tumblr allow for various forms of engagement. Some may be based along the lines of a blog, while others may even allow casinos or software developers to provide free games.
That said, the main thrust of experiential marketing social media strategies concerns the stimulation of dialogue between players and casinos. Some online casinos combine social media strategies with offline strategies such as gaming expos, photo booths, or pleasantly disruptive campaigns that may include brand ambassadors dressed as game characters or flash mobs.
As marketing techniques morph and shift, experiential marketing will remain at the core of many advertising campaigns. It’s safe to say that in some industries, the trend is still in its infancy and still needs to develop to recognise its full potential.