Advertising is vitally necessary for online gambling operators to increase market share. This is a mainstream industry and has not been called a ‘niche’ market for many years. Using Facebook as a communication and marketing channel has become the order of the day for businesses which do the majority of their trading over the internet. It therefore stands to reason that gaming operators would want to use Facebook as a location from which to market their wares. Just this year (2011) in late August, the social networking site had an about face regarding their attitude towards online gambling ads.
Their approach has softened significantly towards gambling website operators, and in August they announced that more flexibility would be allowed on their platform. Brand pages as well as the content and management of ads will see gambling operators being allowed to offer promotions, and let’s face facts; promotional offers are deemed to be encouraging of gambling activities. This has not been so leniently allowed previously, and Facebook was moderating any promotion or advertising content before it went live. Gaming operators have been limited to four ads per week in the past, and stringent guidelines have also been applied regarding the restrictive nature of the content and communications allowed to be used.
Due to the restrictive nature of Facebook advertising rules, many of the large online gambling operators found themselves in contravention of the existing rules. It is this that is believed to have instigated the recent shift, and now, rather than Facebook playing the ‘Gatekeeper’, the wellbeing of the player is at the discretion of the gambling operator. There is now no limits placed on frequency or content of posts. The only real requirements are that the ads target over 18′s, and that the site be licensed in the area their advertising targets.
This self-moderated content allows gambling operators to engage with their customers direct from their Facebook page. Special offers, forums and promotional activities are in effect no longer being stifled. Marketing evidence is beginning to clearly indicate that driving traffic to Facebook can be significantly cheaper for advertisers – they get much more bang for their bucks. The target market also now gets what they expect from a Facebook page, where better customer retention and advocacy is also possible. Traffic can also be sent from Facebook to an online gambling site, and ‘likes’ are more in-line with what consumers expect to see from this sector. Facebook also gains in that they compete as a relevant referring traffic source.
However, this is not an advertising ‘free-for-all’ for the online gambling business, there are still some restrictions in place, and it pays for gambling operators to be mindful of these. Promotions must run on a ‘tab’ and not a wall, which is a fundamental requirement for all Facebook brand pages. The great news for Facebook is also that these changes guarantee greater engagement from users, which should be of massive benefit to all parties concerned.