LONDON: The number of gambling advertisements on UK television has increased sixfold since 2007 when the sector was deregulated, according to new figures from media regulator Ofcom.

The research was based on analysis of BARB viewing data, with gambling ads categorised into four types: online casino and poker services; sports betting; bingo; and lotteries and scratch cards. The data showed that between 2006 and 2012, the proportion of commercials accounted for by gambling ads rose from 0.7% to 4.1% of all TV advertising.

A total of 1.39m gambling ads were shown in 2012 with 30.9bn impacts, compared to figures for 2006 of 152,000 and 8bn respectively.

Adults were exposed to an average of 630 ads each in 2012, and children under 16 saw 211. A socio-economic breakdown indicated that the ads were overwhelmingly directed at the C2DE groups, which saw 833 ads, while the ABC1 groups saw roughly half that number, or 451.

Bingo and lottery/scratch cards have accounted for the majority of advertising spots although their share has dropped back with the steady rise of ads for online casino and poker, while even-numbered years registered spikes in sports-related gambling ads, for events such as the FIFA World Cup or the Olympic Games.

In 2012, bingo accounted for 38.3% of all spots, followed by online casino and poker (29.6%), lottery and scratch cards (25.6%) and sports gambling (6.6%).

An analysis by impact showed a slightly different picture, with bingo again leading the way, accounting for 41.2% of gambling impacts, followed this time by lottery and scratch cards (27.2%), then online casino and poker (19.2%) and sports gambling (12.4%).

Those figures suggest that sports gambling ads have proved especially effective. Ladbrokes, for example, has made use of television ads during live sports with its Game On! campaign, featuring an excitable Italian football commentator, to achieve an ROI of 5:1.

A recent article in the International Journal of Market Research segmented the betting market in England and found that gamblers behaved largely like consumers of other products, with some loyal to only one form of gambling while others were repertoire gamblers. A better understanding of cross-purchase behaviour was necessary, said the authors, for both the marketing of gambling products and for gambling policy.

Data sourced from Ofcom; additional content by Warc staff