When 666Bet and Metro Play’s shared betting licence was retracted last week, some smaller competitors played the game effectively, managing to gain a decent market share at a critical moment when they would have otherwise been virtually unable to compete.
It’s been a turbulent couple of weeks for Metro Play and its family of betting sites, which includes the well-known 666Bet.com. Three weeks ago, both gambling sites had their licences revoked thanks to an investigation by the Gambling Commission into claims that they weren’t exactly operating within legal bounds.
Two weeks ago, one of 666Bet’s directors was actually arrested at Heathrow airport for money laundering, set free, and then arrested again the following day on the Isle of Man.
This week, it seems that the news is even worse: players are growing increasingly concerned that they won’t be receiving their deposited funds back from the company. This public angst has resulted in a total PR catastrophe, but also a huge opportunity for rival sites, as they scramble to win support of 666Bet’s now readily available customers.
Following the company’s suspension, all of its websites were taken offline, which also means that its sponsored search was pulled. So what effect does this enormous move have on the rest of the industry?
Search for 666Bet in Google, and it’s instantly obvious that something isn’t quite right in the PPC gambling market.
A number of companies have decided to start bidding on its brand terms, hoping to rake in some inquiring customers. Although there are a couple of big boys in there, like Coral and Paddy Power, a number of the companies bidding on 666Bet and similar brand terms are significantly smaller competitors, like Spin Genie, Pink Casino, Winner.co.uk and Boylesports.
As you can see above, the majority of the ads displayed are using 666Bet in the ad copy, but some are just using the brand term to promote their own deals. Examples of such include Ladbrokes’ odds for the Manchester United vs. Arsenal game, as well as Pink Casino, which is using the outage as an opportunity to promote its own £150 free credit deal.
The top two performers, though, are Betway and Spin Genie, which have both relied on a very clever trick. They’ve each set up what appears to be a subdomain landing page (666.betway.com and 666.spingenie.com) that actually just redirects users to the offer’s page on their own sites in order to make the ads appear more relevant to Googlers.
A Shift in the Tide
So where does this leave the rankings? We decided to dig a little deeper into the share of voice (SOV) numbers for 666Bet, along with the five companies that managed to jump on the company’s terms, in order to see how exactly the competition has managed to boost visibility and reel in some of the defunct gaming site’s customers.
As you might expect from a company pulling out of the market, 666Bet’s SOV completely collapsed on March 21, the day the site initially went down. At the time, 666Bet claimed that the crash was due to site maintenance, rather than admitting that it had been pulled by the authorities.
After the site remained down for a prolonged period of time, however, the website’s competitors realised it was the perfect opportunity for them to grab a piece of the action.
Although it took a couple of days for the competition to perfect their bidding strategies, the market went crazy on March 23rd, when Boylesports and Betway entered the 666Bet brand term bidding war. The rest of the competitors followed over the next week, with Coral and Winner.co.uk entering the market on March 25th and, finally, Spin Genie on March 30th.
By jumping out to an early start, the lesser-known companies, Boylesports and Betway, were able to sustain their lead for longer, with Betway only being eclipsed by Winner.co.uk on March 27th and by Spin Genie for a brief moment on April 1st. Winner.co.uk was only able to grab the lead for a couple of days, as its strategy was a short-term, aggressive one, snagging second place for just five days.
Despite Coral bidding on 666Bet’s keywords closer to the beginning of the month, its previous performance didn’t really make a significant impact until April 1st, when it fully launched its bidding on the keywords.
Boylesports’ SOV was definitely impacted by the entrance of bigger players into the market, as it started declining when everyone else started taking the hint to bid on these red-hot keywords.
The Hottest Keywords
If we dig a little deeper into the keywords these competitors were spending on, it appears that the most generic, 666Bet, was easily the most popular, accounting for 76% of searches out of the six terms we looked at.
At the point that 666Bet went down, the traffic for the leading keyword, 666Bet, shot up to more than 600 per day by March 23rd, and then above 900 on March 25th. When news broke that the company’s director was arrested, it rose again to more than 1100 a day.
The other keywords related to 666Bet, however, remained relatively stagnant, only peaking at around 100 searches a day up to this point.
Using Competitive Intelligence to Stay One Step Ahead
Although Adthena’s data shows that the smaller gambling companies played the situation very smartly, the market changes could have undoubtedly played better in their favour had they used competitive intelligence just a few days earlier.
This little bit of preparation would have given a stronger grip on the market, especially in the case of the bigger players who decided not to bid on 666Bet’s brand terms straight away.
Bidding on a wider selection of keywords around 666Bet’s loss may have also been an intelligent strategy in order to rank on a wider selection of terms and explore the whole range of opportunities. Adthena’s expertise in market-driven intelligence tools is exactly what brands need to predict, plan, and execute strategies like these.
(Main image credit: gchampeau/flickr)
No Adthena client data was used in this analysis.