Intelligent PPC Could Have Turned Around the General Election Betting Fiasco

Lorna Gill Posted by Lorna Gill

The UK general election didn’t just have the main political parties on the edge of their (parliamentary) seats – bookmakers and gamblers also waited on tenterhooks for the results.

Politicians and their supporters weren’t the only ones carefully following the lead up to the UK general election – it created a huge buzz in the gambling world as well, as every gaming company monitored the opinion polls with great interest.

Big elections like this one and the US presidential election are huge money spinners for firms that offer betting services. The odds can change on a minute-by-minute basis as different news outlets reveal who is in the lead at any one time, and bookmakers and bettors alike are on the constant lookout for any tiny swing in favour of a particular party.

In fact, before the final results were announced, Ladbrokes predicted that £100m would be spent on bets over the course of the election – more than three times what was spent during the 2010 election, according to the International Business Times.

Other bookmakers, however, submitted dramatically lower predictions, expecting £25m to be spent in total (this report was written following the election, whereas the IB Times article went live the week before it).

Although they mirrored the opinion polls in supporting a hung parliament, all bookmakers said they were forced to cut odds to protect themselves against big losses if the Conservatives won, as more and more people started betting huge amounts on a Tory victory.

As Graham Sharpe of William Hill told the Telegraph, “We’ve never had an election like this before, [so] really nobody can predict what is going to happen. This could end up being fairly costly for us.”

Gamblers Win, Bookmakers Lose: Timing is Everything

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Google Trends data unsurprisingly shows that the day of the election was the hottest for gambling-related searches around the political race and as such, the majority of the public waited until the day of the election to post their bets.

Although the odds were lower on the day of voting, it appeared likely that bookmakers would be offering great deals to draw customers in, knowing that, by the morning of the election, they would have the best idea of the potential results.

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However, Adthena’s data shows that the only competitor who made good use of these last minute gamblers was PaddyPower, with it taking the majority of the clicks for generic election-focused keywords.

Bwin completely stepped back on the terms on May 4th, presumably deciding to save some money because it hadn’t received much traction before the day to justify the spend, while Betfred left the market on May 6th, losing out on a major opportunity the following day.

The reason behind this? Maybe both knew they were on course to lose a lot of money with their odds calculation strategy if they continued advertising the great odds they were offering on the favourite party to win using PPC.

In fact, on the morning of May 8th, the bookies’ fears came true and it became clear that the bookmakers were headed for a big loss as the Conservatives established an insurmountable advantage.

However, our data shows that PaddyPower kept its finger on the pulse way after the election, while the other competitors held back. Bwin re-entered the market after the election, with a few peaks, but Betfred steered clear until the end of May, taking down PaddyPower’s lead down a notch.

Although both Bwin and Betfred managed to gain a decent amount of traction after the election, it didn’t take away from the money they had lost from pushing election bets in the run up to the event.

What Bookmakers Can Learn and Apply to SEM

The impact an election will have on the betting markets is always up in the air, as no one really knows what will happen until the polls close and all the votes are counted, but the bookmakers could have used PPC intelligently to try and limit the financial damage.

Targeting keywords relevant to the current market conditions is a great place to start in order to shape a wasteful strategy into a successful, fruitful one.

Placing bets on specific parties or outcomes is risky if you don’t have the insights you need to choose the right keyword targets and although these competitors played it safe using generic keywords for their campaigns, they could have diversified to attract those looking to bet on certain parties or leaders.

To gain the highest ROI, bookmakers should make the most intelligent decisions without paying through the teeth for it and this relies upon knowing what your competitors are doing and filling the gaps to ensure you are not missing out on key terms to strengthen your SEM plan.

For example, Bwin and Betfred could have used insights from PaddyPower’s campaign to see how they were gaining such a large share of clicks.

Adthena’s competitive intelligence for search helps you do just this, giving you the keyword insights you need, when you need it, allowing you to change your message according to the wider market conditions.

(Main image credit: Paul Albertella/flickr)

About the author

Lorna Gill
Lorna Gill
Lorna is responsible for acquisition marketing at Adthena, communicating their award-winning product and generating demand. She has developed her career in fast-paced, start-up environments, including two tech track 100 companies and is passionate about translating technical information into stories that excite and delight.