Bingo entered the online gaming arena nearly two decades ago, and it’s been slowly cutting away at traditional bingo halls’ share of the market. However, massive tax cuts went into effect last year, leveling the playing field and shifting some of the focus back onto these traditional bingo hangouts, which now have more funds available to modernise their offerings and possibly lower their ticket prices.
Playing the Odds
Bingo is a popular game of probability, and it’s traditionally played in a large hall alongside scores of other competing players. The odds of winning a bingo jackpot are heavily dependent on the number of competing players (and bingo cards) in play, and experienced players learn to estimate these figures and, therefore, their own odds of winning a jackpot.
The History of Online Bingo
Gamesville.com was one of the first online bingo platforms to enter the market, offering free gaming to its patrons, with the profit coming from the site’s displayed ads. At the time, the average age of its players was 32 and 58% percent of players were female.
In today’s tech-savvy world of online bingo, the stereotypically older bingo players have failed to make an impact. According to Costa Bingo, only 9% of players are over the age of 61, while 59% of players are under 45.
Gender splits have remained in favour of female players, but women now dominate the playing field by a larger margin than before with a 77% share.
However, the tide began to turn slightly In March 2014, when the UK tax on bingo was reduced from 20% to 10%.
That said, the outlook for online bingo remains positive: Costa Bingo’s research indicates that 85% of all players prefer bingo on the comfort of their computer or tablet screen to sitting down at a table away from home.
The recent tax cuts have made an impact on both the online and traditional bingo markets, however, and the search rankings reveal as much. Whether or not the tax cuts had anything to do with the changes in PPC advertising and organic rankings is hard to say, as other factors potentially involved include spending cutbacks and keyword shifts.
What Other Events Could Cause Such a Bumpy Ride?
Although the year started off with the competitors’ SOV spread far and wide, The paid SOV trend data shows a slight drop in voice for some of the strongest competitors during the summer, with only Foxy Bingo and Sun Bingo showing growth or stabilisation.
This aligns perfectly with the World Cup that took place between June and July last year, providing the perfect opportunity for one particular challenger to take the lion’s share of searches.
While the other competitors cut back on spending, as shown in the share of spend graph below, maybe leaving it to the betting sites to rake in the gamblers’ funds, Foxy Bingo took advantage of this lull and invested more in bingo-related PPC, which came up trumps.
IT managed to snatch back market share from its main contenders, reaching a SOV of 34%, while others showed a decline.
Sun Bingo’s drop wasn’t as substantial as Mecca Bingo, 888Ladies or Costa Bingo’s loss over the duration of the World Cup, but its slight reduction followed a huge spike at the start of the World Cup, showing it was the only winner of the World Cup, behind Foxy Bingo.
In fact, this incident seems to have had a knock-on impact for the whole group over the rest of the year too. The World Cup shift seems to have re-aligned the whole market, bringing them in closer competition with each other as it heads towards Christmas
Higher Spend Does Not Always Lead To Higher SOV
At the outset of 2014, 888Ladies’ share of paid spend was over 15%, but by April, it had declined to less than 7%. This decline continued over the course of the year, with 888Ladies registering very little of the PPC spend in the market by December 2014.
Counter to popular belief, this actually shows a clever strategy with the competitor, demonstrating reduced spend doesn’t always mean reduced SOV, with its share of clicks increasing at times, despite consistently pulling back on cash injected.
The same intelligent spending can be seen between November and December, where 888Ladies, Mecca Bingo and Sun Bingo all cut back substantially on spend, knowing that over the Christmas period, players would cut back on bingo to save cash for the festive period.
The only competitor that played a different strategy with positive results between November and December was Costa Bingo, which decided to invest heavily and as a result, took a massive jump in SOV, but then dropped out again in January when its competitors began clawing back.
Although the majority of the bingo competitors are working intelligently with their spend, effectively adjusting spend to reflect market conditions such as the World Cup or Christmas period, there is plenty of opportunity for them to adapt their bidding strategies to maintain a more effective approach.
For example, Foxy Bingo’s strategy of spending high throughout the year, maintaining consistently above 15% share of spend could have a knock-on impact on the brand, because it is certainly not getting the return on investment.
The company could start bidding more intelligently, using Adthena to find out where it can cut back and where it should invest more.
If your business is struggling to justify the money invested in its PPC campaign and your competitors are eating you for breakfast, Adthena will comprehensively help you to dynamically analyse your competitive strengths and weaknesses, putting you back on the path to success.
(Main image credit: grapatax/flickr)