Dr Russell’s survey of 98 sports bettors and 104 race gamblers revealed just how prevalent this form of marketing has become, in addition to revealing its high level of efficacy and the threat that it poses as an instigator of gambling-related harm.
3.7 Emails & 2.3 Texts per Week
The candidates surveyed were asked to keep a daily record of their gambling activity and any marketing communication they received from online operators. Upon reviewing these records, researchers found that sports bettors receive an average of 3.7 emails and 2.3 texts from such operators. Race bettors, meanwhile, received 6.5 emails and 4.3 text messages, on average, over the same period.
These messages either took the form of general promotions or were tailored to each recipient’s individual profile. The latter type of message addressed recipients directly, with offers based on their gambling history, reminders of preferred betting events approaching, and so forth. This marketing approach, known as behavioural tracking, bases messaging on a collection of information regarding players’ betting history. The idea is that, by communicating based on players’ previous bets, marketers may be able to entice them to bet again.
Interestingly, the study also revealed that text messages were by far more effective than emails at convincing recipients to place bets. Dr Russell attributed this to people being more likely to read their texts than their emails. According to him, only 22% of marketing emails were even opened. By contrast, a 2013 study revealed that people read 98% of their text messages and tend to respond within 90 seconds, on average.
Russell also pointed to the ubiquity of the smart phone and how effortless it has become to follow a link in a text message to place a wager on an app or website as an explanation for the superiority of texts over emails in this regard.
Rising Risks Un The Spotlight
Dr Russell explained that this more targeted approach to marketing was partially the result of increased restrictions on television advertising for operators. In March 2018, for example, such advertising during sporting events was banned – largely to reduce children’s exposure to gambling.
According to Russell, similar restrictive measures must now be taken with regard to SMS and email marketing by operators. The report described the industry’s skill at circumventing advertising restrictions each time they are increased. Russell said the targeted messages will definitely increase the risk of gambling-related harm if measures are not implemented to curb this type of marketing.