Prepare for launch: A crash course in Swedish iGaming

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TMI consider how Swedish gambling habits will change now that the government has changed licensing laws.

It’s finally happened. After years of deliberation, the Swedish government has liberalised its stance on gambling and re-regulated the market. This has opened up a massive opportunity for private entities to offer their products to a territory that loves gambling. Following their Danish neighbours, Sweden has now issued licences to over 50 brands concerning capitalising planning and strategising within the gambling sector.

Up until August last year, Swedish gambling was dominated by state-owned gambling company, Svenskaspel, and state-influenced horse betters, ATG, with competition coming largely from other private entities like Bettson, LeoVegas, GIG, Mr Green, Kindred Group and JackpotJoy.

With limited options for promoting brands online, TV and programmatic media-buying remains the staple choice for iGaming marketing departments. With the CPM’s varying month-on-month and the TV space being difficult to acquire, the operators and affiliates longed for a medium where they could better control and measure the way brand interest is accumulated and acquire traffic results. This led to the opening of Pay-Per-Click advertising, allowing operators to bid on SERP’s and help new Swedish entrants to get their brands more exposure.

What does PPC have to offer new brands?

PPC will be a primary channel for new acquisitions, and the aforementioned companies will be knocking on Google’s door to gain account whitelisting. Bing ads will also offer their platform, with a view to gain some market share. PPC is comprised of multiple different product types, all of which can be used effectively in the marketing mix. Products available include:

Google Ads

According to Google Research, 6.5% of Swedes say they have interacted in some way or form with an online gambling site. This means that the Google SERP’s will now have prime real-estate available for ads to serve on generic Casino, Bingo, Poker and Sports Betting search terms. The auction-based system will rank ads that are most relevant to the search query, among other Google signals.

Universal App Campaigns (UAC)

Every operator ploughing into Sweden will have an app, and Google offer a product that allows you to promote your app through all of Google’s properties - Search, Google Play Store, YouTube and the Google Display Network. This is also available on iOS. These campaigns are simple in their design. Simply set the budget, and the Cost Per Install target, add the creative assets and you are good to go!

Google Display Network

Google’s syndication program allows publishers to offer their sites for advertising, and this will give those companies frustrated with being priced out of direct buys an opportunity to curate their own list of domains and target based on Googles audience data. Note this is only for prospecting as Google’s policies do not allow for retargeting.

Youtube

It is no secret that TV ad buying in Sweden for gambling is extremely difficult, with securing the right spots at the right time becoming a lottery in itself. YouTube products will now offer the customisation of targeting and an ability to control when, where and what they buy to an ever-growing audience. It will allow brands to better measure how their content and creative is working and how it impacts other channels.

Bidding price and volume/intent

While search volumes are readily available through a number of tools, it is unclear as to what the average cost per click will be in this market. This coupled with uncertainty around conversion rates will make projections difficult. What is clear is the search volume and intent. According to Google, 96% of all search queries in Sweden are Brand terms, and this has grown by 21% YoY. Generic searches sit at 7% as of last year. Below we see this mapped out over the last 12 months:

Generic Casino and Poker terms dominate searches with Bingo and Free Spins terms gaining ground.

For Sports betting, the interest in Sport searches through Google is defined as follows over the last 12 months:

Football dominates search volume, with Sweden’s 2nd most popular sport – ice hockey – coming a close second. Combat sports are increasing in popularity with Swedish boxing and MMA on the rise. Horse racing is also a large betting sport, specifically harness racing, known as trotting, which is more popular in comparison to the UK’s flat and jump racing. V75 is the most common type of betting game associated with trotting.

Hot tips in setting up campaigns:

If entering the market, here are some tips that should be considered when setting up PPC campaigns in Sweden:

Consideration of Seasonality

Pay attention to the Swedish search trends ahead of summer months. With the launch of Google Ads in the spring, the summer months will definitely affect user's behaviour patterns. With Sweden boasting the longest annual leave allowance in Europe, one could assume either a loss of appetite in betting, or possibly a shift in search volume across devices - with search volumes likely to increase on mobile. This is especially in the evenings and after work. With no summer football tournaments, desire could be further affected; however, there is still an outright opportunity in the Allsvenskan (Swedish Football League) which runs from March to November. In contrast, horse racing will increase in interest with the top 10 races scheduled between April and November. Planning budget for these months should also take into account bespoke sporting events such as heavyweight boxing fights, UFC and other combat sports.

Pay Day Cycles

In Sweden, Payday or “Lönedag” is on the 25th of every month. This means that the majority of the Swedish work force will have disposable income and as a result, search volume and conversion rates should spike in the two subsequent weekends. Scheduling promotional offers, bonuses and budget around these dates will help in driving acquisition and maximising interest.

Payment Methods

Sweden is fast becoming a cashless society and with this, comes alternate payment methods, such as Mobile Bank ID or BankID. Promoting the ease and quickness of payment will be crucial in defining conversion rates and being competitive in the space.

Device behaviour

Much like the rest of Europe, Sweden mobile usage is higher than desktop. According to Statista, 29% of active gamblers use mobile phones, with 25% using desktop devices, and the remainder choosing a combination of betting shops, subscriptions lotteries and betting at race tracks. A review of Google search volume shows that 60% of searches are conducted on mobile devices and this should be considered not only when developing ad copy, but when managing bids too. Cross device analysis should be regularly reviewed to better understand the user path to conversion and final touch points.

Location targeting

Google query volume shows that the largest volumes of searches are concentrated within three counties. These are Stockholm, Vastra Gotaland and Skane. With most of the volume here, it’s important to target these with specific bid management. This can help concentrate budget towards areas were demand is greatest. Entering ad auctions in specific territories will also help manage the cost per click, instead of blanket bidding towards the country as a whole.

Negative Lists

Most advertisers will not have experience with management of search traffic for gambling and the controlling of broad match modified and phrase match keyword targeting will inevitably lead to the buying of irrelevant search traffic. Having a well-structured list of negative terms before launching will help avoid unnecessary costs. Categories like “betting/lottery results”, “jobs and vacancies”, “syndicate and arbitrage,” betting terms could be examples of queries not to show up for. This is also key when controlling search activity around branded queries.

Tracking, reporting and attribution

With online advertising in Sweden being predominantly display-bought, one can assume that reporting is quite rudimentary and focus is largely on the cost of acquiring traffic. Google and Bing opening their platforms for advertising will help add another measure in tracking last click conversions. Advertisers can now confidently track click to registration to first time deposit and subsequent user activity. A robust and well-developed reporting system that integrates with Google will help make marketing operations smooth and efficient.

With activity supposed to launch in January this year, Google continues to delay the start, and mid-May is rumoured to be the new date. Most advertisers will have their accounts created and campaign building will have started. Tracking and internal data infrastructure, while more complex, should surely be well underway. Hopefully the above tips and considerations will help in the new market!

Roy Coughlan is a group account director at The Media Image.

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