Lucy Aitken interviewed Andy Brander, Planning Director, M.i. Media to find out how 32Red, a multi-product gambling business, maximised its use of TV and search to increase profit and brand valuation.

32Red set you some very ambitious business objectives – could you talk through each one please?

The marketing director used Alan Shearer, a two-pound coin and Britney Spears to represent their targets for revenue growth, profit and increased brand valuation. M.i. Media’s job was to dig into these numbers and see how feasible they were. This involved a lot of acquisition modelling looking at how many customers we would have to bring in, to what extent we would have to increase customer value and the impact of attrition levels to map out a credible path to their revenue and profitability goals.

What’s the biggest challenge in terms of stand-out for brands in this sector?

We’ve achieved what we’ve done through classic media objectives: media efficiency and reach. People are fickle and there isn’t a lot of loyalty in this marketplace, which is why you see so many brands splashing so much money everywhere. M.i. Media helped 32Red to identify casino and slots as the key priorities rather than sportsbook, and that gave us a distinct strategic focus that avoided having to compete directly with the big bookmakers battling it out buying the most expensive live sports media.

We analysed consumer behaviour and it was clear that getting search right was the first place to start. By optimising natural search and quickly transforming 32Red’s paid search performance we helped to significantly increase ROI from these core channels. Making those gains put us ahead of the curve on our growth plan which freed up the budget to invest more in broader cast channels such as TV. Our start point was to drive efficiency in the core channels which gave the business greater confidence to invest and expand reach further. Making TV airtime deliver more efficiently drove up volume and helped reduce churn. Clearly, someone can’t make a second purchase from you unless they’ve made a first so our core focus remained driving penetration and the sustainable acquisition of new customers. we have also achieved is a reduction in churn, keeping more of the right customers for longer.  

How did you maintain loyalty?

A lot of work went into segmenting users of the site so we could quickly identify the player type of people coming on and could recognise their relative potential from day one. We could see through their play how likely they were to become sustainable and profitable customers.

Explain the role of data in your approach, particularly with regard to segmentation.

Through segmentation we gained a clear view of people coming through, which channels they had come from and how they were behaving on site. That meant we could make more informed planning decisions about how to better optimise 32Red’s media to acquire more of the right kind of customer. Given strict advertising restrictions for the category, media tends to be priced at a premium but now we had a better understanding of how much we could afford to pay to acquire the right kind of sustainable customers and make sure we weren’t paying to acquire the wrong kind of customer.

Sponsorship was a key part of your successful approach. Could you explain how you made it work so effectively for 32Red?

We wanted to extend the brand’s reach but were limited to what extent we could achieve this using conventional airtime. Sponsoring football doesn’t seem all that daring for a gambling brand but the clubs we’ve chosen have been well thought through.

img source: Rangers

 We selected high-profile Championship clubs rather than Premier League ones because we wanted to reach predominantly UK rather than overseas audiences and can demonstrate how much better we are doing in the towns and cities with clubs that 32Red sponsors: we know it’s working for us.

Sponsorship had a couple of roles to play: we weren’t the broadcast sponsor of Saturday Night Takeaway or I’m a Celebrity but we did deals with ITV which gave us exclusive gaming content around the shows which we could then promote. We were also able to use imagery from the shows to promote our exclusive games in our TV ads which benefited 32Red in several ways.

img source: 32Red

It helped improve online conversion because we had well known entities on the site, when people arrive on a gambling site for the first time, they’re looking for trust and credibility and that improves conversion. And when we were able to put the talent (presenters Ant and Dec) and the games in our TV commercials, we saw response rates improve.

Also, while sport is a bit of a no-brainer with a male-oriented audience, we know that gambling can have broader appeal. Ant and Dec’s mainstream appeal allowed us to speak to a wider audience.

What would you say to encourage any agencies who are hesitating about whether to enter the IPA Effectiveness Awards?

If you have the data to show that it worked then why not? 32Red isn’t in the most glamorous of categories, it’s not purpose driven and on top of that, it goes slightly against the direction of travel re long term versus short term. But we have managed to drive significant growth mostly through short term responsive media but which are cumulatively having a long term effect. We have doubled revenues despite lots of controls and constraints on what we could do. This case study is never going to be a poster child but we’ve been thrilled by the coverage we’ve received.  

What did it mean, winning Bronze?

We had a big debate about whether it was worthwhile to try to enter or not because it’s a lot of effort. But it absolutely was. Winning an IPA Effectiveness Award and the resulting industry recognition has helped us to raise M.i. Media’s profile and got us into the habit of writing award entries – our work with Médecins Sans Frontières campaign recently winning a DMA.  

The deadline for pre-registration for the 2020 IPA Effectiveness Awards is 29 January.

To read this case study and see the other 2018 winners, click here.