Spain’s advertising ban emphasises need to focus on retention

Posted: Apr 15, 2021 15:30 Category: Europe , Regulatory , Responsible Gaming ,

The forthcoming gambling advertising ban and bonus restrictions show how important customer retention will be for Spanish operators

The gambling advertising and sponsorship ban that will come into force in Spain this Summer represents a major change for a European market that is well regulated overall and highly competitive.

Other related measures include a ban on bonuses for new players and coordinating the different registers of problem gamblers held by Spain’s autonomous regions.

The advertising veto is not totally unexpected in that some restrictions, such as limiting the sports sponsorship activities of betting firms, first appeared as emergency measures at the start of the pandemic.

However, these quickly turned into an all-out ban on sports sponsorship, advertising (in the media and at sporting venues) and bonuses for new players, which comes in at the end April. Not being able to attract new customers with welcome bonus offers is a significant moment for Spain’s industry.

The rule changes also demonstrate how quickly the authorities can decide to implement measures that might seem reasonable initially; before they push through much stricter restrictions and/or outright bans.

Moving forward in a new setting

For dot es operators the new rules are a bitter pill to swallow. The ultimate aim of regulation is to channel the vast majority of players to licenced sites and for operators to be able to advertise openly and gain strong brand awareness and national prominence in a setting that is regulated, safe and productive.

JDigital, the Spanish industry body for iGaming operators, has been prominent in its criticisms and has argued powerfully against them, but to no avail.

Spain’s regulated operators must still move forward in this new setting, even if the new measures have a major impact on their activities. Most will do so by shifting their focus away from pure customer acquisition and onto retention and maximising lifetime values.

Communicating with new, existing and lapsed players will be key and Enterative’s personalised approach to CRM can optimise that aspect of their work.

The data illustrates why they need to do this.

Following the introduction of the initial pandemic-related marketing ban last year, figures for April-June 2020 show that the number of Spanish active players dropped 29.4% on a quarterly basis and 25.3% on an annual basis.

The number of players who registered during that second quarter more than halved compared with the first quarter and the total number of players who registered in May was the lowest monthly total for more than four years.

Swedish example

In this regard, Sweden also provides some clues as to how betting and gaming brands can address this new environment through increased customer retention.

enteractiveAs the country regulated its iGaming sector in January 2019, operators were only allowed to offer new customers one first-time bonus, a major change for brands that are so used to bonusing as an acquisition and activation tool.

This has meant that Swedish brands now focus more of their efforts on retaining their players through product innovation, enhancing user journeys and content. Enteractive plays its part in this with its Swedish operators, for whom they communicate one-to-one with players and ensure they are served with relevant products, while also keeping a keen eye on any problem gambling issues that require an RG response from the operator.

However, Swedish stakeholders are also clear that the restrictive regulations, which also include a weekly deposit limit introduced last year, have led to a drop in the rates of player ‘channelisation’ (or channelling) to licensed operators.

Sweden’s State Treasury confirmed this as it recently published a report that showed that 85% of gambling in the country took place on licensed sites in 2020, a 5% drop on the 90% figure reported in 2019.

The country’s iGaming trade association BOS has estimated that ‘channelisation’ rates for sports betting range from 80%-85% and rates of regulated online casino play are as low as 72%-78%, with players comfortable playing on sites that are unrestricted by national regulations.

Those figures point to a clear regulatory failure to attract the vast majority of Swedes to licensed sites, but for operators they also demonstrate how important customer retention has become.

Similar developments may well take place in Spain and player habits are likely to bed in from the start of the new football season when all gambling advertising is removed.

A clearer picture of player trends should emerge towards the end of the year, but for Spain’s online gambling industry, a focus on retention is the way forward.

Enteractive will be happy to discuss opportunities for the Spanish market with any operators looking to improve their CRM processes to overcome the challenges resulting from Spain’s current regulatory environment. Get in touch as [email protected].

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