Gambling report reveals big opportunities in App store optimisation

Major gambling brands are missing big opportunities by failing to optimise for mobile app search, according to the findings of Stickyeyes’ Mobile Gambling Intelligence Report.

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Our Mobile Gambling Report, which launched at ICE Totally Gaming earlier this month, provided an in-depth analysis of the strategies and tactics used by some of the of the growing mobile gambling industry. What was clear is that whilst this is by far the biggest growth sector within online gambling, many operators were missing out on big opportunities to drive click share from high-converting terms.

The business case for mobile

The business case for mobile in the UK gambling market has never been stronger. Mobile is the fastest growing sector of the UK gambling industry, with the percentage of customers betting on a mobile device increasing from 29% in 2013 to 43% in 2014 (Online Gambling and Betting: Mintel, 2014).

William Hill reported in 2013 that 42% of its sportsbook revenue was attributed to mobile, whilst it experienced a 298% increase in mobile betting revenue in 2014. Betfair has reported a 64% increase in mobile betting revenue whilst Paddy Power attributes 51% of betting revenues to mobile.

Mobile application marketing is also being driven by the introduction of the online ‘point of consumption’ (POC) regulation. These tax regulations are driving a change in attitude in the industry, with brands reducing the volume and frequency of promotional offers in favour of cultivating a more loyal and responsive consumer base. Mobile applications are a very effective way at securing that vital ‘share of wallet’ amongst active consumers.

Mobile is very much the growth area in this sector but there are a number of opportunities that brands are failing to exploit.

Big brands dominate mobile search

Firstly, let’s talk about the numbers.

On mobile devices casino, bingo, poker and betting related terms generate an average of 111,607 searches per month. The most searched phrase is ‘bingo’ with 18,561 searches per month, followed by ‘casino’ with 7,300 searches per month. In total, 30% of overall bingo search volume is attributed to mobile devices and four out of the top ten mobile search terms relate to this product.

Betting demonstrates the highest search volume from mobile devices at 38%.

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There is significant competition amongst major gambling operators in mobile search, and the click share is dominated by big brands. Paddy Power (across all gambling verticals), is the most visible brand with 18.95% click share, although it is closely followed by Foxy Bingo and Sky Gaming brands.

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Major brands are clearly jostling for position in these SERPs, which represent the greatest levels of volume in the mobile market. However, many of these brands are potentially missing out on visibility in more focused, and potentially better converting, keyword markets.

Gambling brands jostling for position on mobile-appended terms

Mobile appended searches (eg, “[keyword] mobile” or “mobile [keyword]”) represent a smaller but still significant proportion of the market; particularly the casino sector, which accounts for 78% of mobile-appended searches. The term “mobile casino” generates 10,095 monthly searches, whilst the terms “casino mobile”, “online casino mobile” and “mobile casinos” combine to create a search volume of 8,048.

But despite these search volumes, mainstream brands appear to be struggling for click share in this market.

The click share for mobile-appended search is dominated by Vegas Mobile Casino, with 28.69% of the total click share, more than twice the click share of second-placed William Hill. Whilst 32 Red and Sky Gaming all feature around the 10% mark, there is a notable lack of major brands within this click share index.

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This is a very real opportunity for brands to drive converting traffic as, due to the nature of the search terms, the user has made a conscious decision to look for a mobile specific solution. As a result, the brands that neglect these key terms risk missing out on potentially lucrative forms of traffic.

A missed opportunity on app-appended search

If the major brands are missing an opportunity in mobile-appended searches, then app-appended searches represent an area where smaller brands and affiliates are really stealing a march on the major operators.

Whilst the search volumes for app-appended search terms (such as “[keyword] app” or “app [keyword]), are low, they are keywords that convert. The term “betting apps” is the keyword with the highest volume at just 733, followed by best betting apps at 731, but the keywords themselves signify user intent, and present an opportunity for an operator to occupy prime digital real estate on a mobile device.

Betting terms make up 62% of this particular search market, ahead of poker and bingo (15% each).

In the app affixed segment the top two positions are occupied by affiliate app store websites, with Betting Apps and Betting App Store combining for almost 50% of the total click share. This represents a key discovery avenue for gambling brands.

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William Hill is the highest ranking brand and its click share is attributed to visibility for the phrases ‘bingo app’, ‘bingo apps’, ‘casino app’ and ‘mobile bingo app’. Whilst its keyword coverage is not as diverse as other brands in this click share index, it demonstrates high ranking positions for those of most value.

The opportunity for brands

Mobile provides a significant opportunity for growth in the gambling industry, but there are clear signs that brands are neglecting potentially lucrative search terms in favour of volume.

At present, more than one in five (22%) of gambling apps are abandoned after download without a deposit being made. Whilst download volume is indicative of exposure, customer interaction and retention is paramount to longevity in the market. As download volume represents the first interaction only, brands need to consider strategies for ongoing engagement and methods to minimise lead time between interactions.

By focusing on user intent, rather than volume, there is an opportunity for major operators to steal a march on competitors and drive revenue by specifically targeting app and mobile keywords.

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