There are many reasons a casino marketer may not place advertising at the top of their effective tools list. The ugly truth is that it is seldom known what impact, if any, your advertising spend has had. Digital has helped move its value up because it is typically supremely trackable, but even traditional advertising, done right, can be a high-value tool.

The first step is to understand each channel – its benefits and drawbacks – and then use it properly. What follows is a look at each channel available to casino advertisers.

Let’s Start with The Current Darling: Digital

Digital advertising is probably the largest and most complex category in the advertising industry.  It encompasses websites, display ads, retargeting, geo-targeting, programmatic buying, SEO, PPC, OTT, and VOD, to name a few. There are many benefits to digital advertising, but the most important and a favorite of media planners and media buyers is that it allows advertisers to target defined demographics and feed the top of the marketing funnel with little to no waste in spending.

Digital advertising is a vital component of any marketing strategy and campaign. A marketing plan without a useful website and effective digital advertising leaves a gaping hole for competitors to fill. Leveraging the power of the digital landscape ensures that a business will not only be noticed but considered when needed, continuing to fill the top of the funnel and drive revenue increases.

Websites

Not having a website today is not an option. It is a must for businesses to be visible on the world wide web. Websites are an entryway for consumers to find out more information on a company and are often also responsible for first impressions. If a website is not designed according to best practices, the potential customer will likely not stay on the site long and move on to a competitor’s site. While there are too many small businesses that may opt not to have a website for various reasons, a website is a must-have for casinos.

There is a long list of best practices for websites, but critical factors include being informative, engaging, and supporting the overall marketing strategy.  Also, websites should be fast-loading, mobile-ready, optimized for SEO, and track users’ movements throughout the site. For casino marketers, this means your guests can find the information to plan their visits in an easy way. Additionally, it would help if you understood where your traffic originates from and which online behaviors you want to influence.

Display Advertising

Display advertising includes banner ads, retargeting, geo-targeting, and programmatic buying. An advertiser’s message will appear on websites relevant to the target demographic and overall marketing strategy.

Retargeting is just one of the ways you can make your banner ads more effective. When a customer visits your website, the device they used is tagged before they leave the site. When the tagged device is used to browse the internet, the consumer is served the advertisers banner ads on various websites for up to 30 days. This technique encourages returning to the casino’s website to complete a hotel booking, restaurant reservation, or to drive traffic back for more information.

Geotargeting gives advertisers the ability to get specific about the areas or geographic locations the ads should appear. This location-based targeting enables users to focus on areas as small as 150 feet, concentrate on multiple locations, or target an entire city (or even a neighborhood).

A restaurant may use geo-targeting for advertising to businesses and homes within a 3-5-mile radius. A car dealership may use geo-targeting to reach an area within a city where their database indicates that most of their customers live. Casino marketers have been using geo-targeting to advertise to guests entering a competitor property. Still, the availability of addressable geo-targeting can allow them to set specific addresses as their fences.

Programmatic buying has advanced in recent years and continues to do so as software programs continue to be enhanced to automate the digital advertising buying process, placing banner ads on relevant websites within the available inventory and at the lowest bid possible.

SEO, SEM, and PPC

Once considered as two separate efforts, SEM (search engine marketing) and SEO (search engine optimization) are more currently looked at as two halves of one effort.

SEO is an organic method of ensuring that a website shows up on the top of online search queries. While individual search engines can vary, Google is the most used, and thus, the primary focus of that goal to shop up in search. SEO focuses on how a search engine’s algorithms determine what websites will show up when searching.

Optimizing a website for search ranking includes the quality of relevant content, keywords used in the content and tags, and ensuring that search engines index the website correctly. Promoting a site to increase the number of backlinks or inbound links is also an SEO method. Search engines are known to consider this an essential factor when determining a website’s popularity and authority.

From there, marketers layer in paid search ads (or PPC- pay per click) and other search engine services that will increase traffic to a website.

In general, each has a role and timeline in making your site “findable.” Organic efforts often take the most time. Marketers have to discover relevant keywords and understand the questions their customers are trying to answer. Then comes the development of content and proper coding, tagging, page titles, and meta descriptions, just to name a few. Pay per click advertising is a quick way to drive website traffic. Google Adwords is the most widely used PPC platform, but

Over the top content (OTT) and video on demand (VOD) have changed how the internet is used, and TV is viewed in recent years.  The line drawn between the two is more blurred than ever.  For viewers, this is huge. This means that viewers can access their favorite shows and programming through their cable systems video on demand or other subscription services such as HULU, Netflix, and Amazon Prime. While some subscription services such as Netflix do not allow advertising, HULU, cable systems VOD, and others have inventory available for TV advertisers to extend their reach and frequency in a format wherein most cases, the ads must be viewed and cannot be fast-forwarded. The benefit is the precise targeting available to you as an advertiser. One household may see your ad while the next door will see a different one simply because one fits the target, and the other did not.

 

Print Advertising and Why It is Still Important

Media planners and buyers often fight an uphill battle with clients regarding ad placement in print. Phrases often heard are: “print is dead,” “I can’t tell you the last time I read a newspaper,” and “people still read this magazine?”  However, print (like direct mail) is not dead, and it is very much relevant to today’s marketing strategies.  Are readership and subscription numbers down? Yes, but that is a good thing because the advertising is now reaching those most engaged.

Nielsen reports that 65% of print readers will take action after looking at a print advertisement.  Print ads engage the reader and entice, motivate, and encourage one to take action. Additional research by the Retail Advertising and Marketing Association indicated that over 47% of consumers are likely to move from a print ad to an online search after viewing the ad.

Think about it, advertising has one goal to engage consumers and print does an excellent job.

The following are just a few reasons why print is still an essential part of a casino marketing plan.

  1. Print ads cannot be blocked. Online technologies today allow people to download ad blockers, which can prevent display ads from appearing.
  2. Print ads are excellent support for television and radio ads because more information can be provided to consumers.
  3. Readers are not multitasking like they do when consuming digital content or television.
  4. Like television and radio, print can support any marketing strategy by establishing brand identity and communicating to the same target market set in the media plan.
  5. When an advertisement appears in a trusted publication, trust can often spread to the advertisers.
  6. Print placements can also include digital mirror placements.

Paper-based Reading vs. Digital Content

The mindset of the reader can be quite different if they are paper-based or digital reading.  Digital content is often quickly consumed. Since mobile is the most used platform when reading digital articles or researching, quick and easy to understand content is preferred.  Paper-based reading is slower and more deliberate, which leads to longer-lasting recall and greater comprehension.

More Than Just Newspapers

Print advertising is not just magazines and newspapers. It can also include direct mail, shoppers, directories, flyers, brochures, and newsletters.  Media planners and buyers recognize that placing ads in various print forms provides more information to consumers.  As casino marketers, we the role of print whenever we have a promotion or giveaway. Television and radio ads can drive interest and generate excitement. Print advertising can tell the guest how to earn entries and any limitations that may be in place.

Key Factors to Successful Print Campaigns

  • Reach the correct target audience. The advertisement content and the ad placement in the proper publications and location within the magazines are critical. Miss either step, and the ad will not be effective.
  • Brand identity. The look, feel, and the way the ad is crafted MUST be consistent with your brand and all other forms of communications. Miss this mark and the target audience may not make the connection, which will reduce the overall reach and frequency of the entire media plan.
  • Many publications target the demographics within a media plan. However, if proper research and vetting are not done to determine that the magazine, newspaper, or any form of print advertising is of high quality, the brand identity can suffer.
  • The content of the advertisement should be engaging and illustrate the benefit for the reader. Always include a variety of ways to find more information: website, phone number, and address.
  • All print advertisements must be reviewed multiple times to ensure that the message is correct and void of any errors. Errors in print ads are often a costly mistake and can result in frustrating consumers.

The benefits of print as a support medium to television and radio, a way to drive more traffic to a website, and to provide further information to consumers far outweigh the notion that print should be pushed aside and ignored. Like all other forms of advertising, print has its proper place within a media plan and marketing strategy. Properly leveraging the power of print and other mediums will increase awareness (reach and frequency) and work towards the ultimate goal of generating revenue.

What is Outdoor Advertising?

Outdoor advertising has worked hard to progress with the evolution of advertising. Known as a support medium, outdoor advertising is one strategy that media planners and buyers use to prevent media fragmentation in media plans. Combined with other mediums like radio, tv, or digital, outdoor advertising can elevate a brand to the top of mind awareness.  Today’s outdoor advertising consists of billboards, digital displays, transit, bus shelters (and other street furniture), and placed-based media such as on the side of a building.

Impact of Outdoor Advertising

Outdoor advertising can have a significant impact on a marketing campaign. This form of advertising cannot be blocked or skipped. It is large and on most major highways and main streets in all cities and towns. According to the Outdoor Advertising Association of America, outdoor advertising has reach, “91% of U. S. Residents age 16 or older who have traveled in a vehicle the past month, noticed some form of OOH (out of home) and 79% have noticed OOH in the past week.” And, also engagement, 82% of billboard viewers make a point to look at the advertising message at least some of the time; over one-third look at the billboard ad each time or almost each time they notice one.”

Use of Outdoor Advertising

Outdoor advertising isn’t just a collection of stagnant locations placed around the city; it can include impactful digital boards, bus shelters, bus benches, and so much more. Moreover, because media planners and buyers can choose locations that are ideal and relevant to the advertising campaign, outdoor advertising is a favorite channel, — delivering the right message at the right time to the right audience. Also, digital outdoor can be day-parted, highly targeted, contextually relevant (based on location), demographic-driven, and consumer behavior focused.

Outdoor can be used in many different ways and incorporated with other strategies within a media plan. For instance, a media buyer can select three to four critical outdoor locations around an event or a particular business for advertising.  Since each billboard location comes with GPS coordinates, the buyer can create a geofence to deliver banner ads and retargeting messages, which is a perfect way to extend any marketing plan’s reach and frequency.

But Wait, There’s More Outdoor!

Outdoor advertising is more than just billboards; it can also include the side of busses (or complete bus wraps). It can also be the top, back, and sides of taxi cabs, street corners, kiosks in airports and shopping malls, and even public bathrooms. The wide variety of applications is why some may refer to the channel as “out of home.” Looking to reach foot traffic downtown? Bus shelters are perfect. Are you looking to make sure that tourists know the hot spots to dine? Airport advertising in baggage claim and on taxi cabs is a great way to initiate awareness. Need to go big? You can place your ad on the side of a building.

Do’s and Don’ts of Outdoor

While outdoor advertising seems like it is not all that tricky, there are a few do’s and don’ts that are particularly important.

  • Content: Content of the advertisement is critical. DON’T overdo it. Most ads are seen very quickly, so DO stick to the “less is more” theory by keeping the content to seven words or less. Avoid long URLs and hard to remember phone numbers.
  • Creative: DO be creative, innovative, or humorous if you can. DON’T blend in with the background. Do not use lettering or images that will be hard to see.
  • Placement: Just because the location available has the highest traffic count does not mean it is the most effective. DON’T impulse buy outdoor advertising based on location only. The site should be taken into consideration, along with the driver experience. Will people zoom past it, or do they have to stop for a traffic signal? Is there another ad directly next to that location? Is there anything such as a tree or sign blocking part or all of the board? Once you select locations, make it a habit to check placements periodically. Trees will eventually grow. Additionally, you never know when construction will impact your message.
  • Put yourself in the customer’s shoes and consider what they can read from where.
    • Standardized large format displays such as billboards are intended for viewing from extended distances, generally more than 50 feet.
    • Street furniture displays (bus shelters, benches, and kiosks) are advertising displays positioned for eye-level viewing and influence.
    • Transit (buses, subways, mobile billboards, blimps, and airplanes) advertising is attached to moving vehicles in typical gathering or transit areas.
    • Place-based (arenas and stadiums, cinema, gas station, and projection) advertising can go anywhere one can just about imagine. There are new types of placed-based advertising becoming available every day.

Outdoor is a Blank Canvas

Evolving technology, formats, and creativity make outdoor advertising perfect for any media plan or marketing strategy. No matter how consumer media consumption habits may change, outdoor advertising will always be noticed. The various formats are nearly blank canvases with the unlimited creative potential to break through the clutter with eye-catching artwork that will extend and amplify an advertising campaign.

What is Radio?

Although radio is an audio-only medium, it’s an engaging medium that listeners often emotionally connect with because of the on-air personalities and radio station format. Radio’s strength is in sound power, and this power is used to build trust and drive business. It is a passive medium where listeners can multitask and listen while they are doing other activities.  Radio can be used by consumers, in the car, online, on-site, or at home. Radio truly does meet both listeners and advertisers’ needs through its diversity in format, demographics, and ethnicity.

The diversity in formats allows listeners to find the perfect station, but it also enables advertisers to target both broad and narrow demographics easily. When media planners and buyers utilize radio, they recognize the characteristics of the listeners of each format. They will consider this when choosing stations, often despite broad-based ratings.

Radio continues to become more accessible.  Because of social media, radio stations and on-air personalities can now make deeper connections with their listeners. Digital technology has increased and enhanced the listener’s experience via downloadable apps, text messages, and e-mail so that everyone can be in the know about their favorite station, artists, or on-air personalities.

Advertising on Radio

Some may say people listen to only one or two radio stations. However, Nielsen’s PPM research has shown that listeners are engaging with at least six stations per week, making radio complimentary to any marketing strategy and media plan because listeners can be reached on multiple stations multiple times. In this way, radio is very considered a mass reach medium (much like television) and a frequency medium. Also, because of radio’s generally lower cost, it is an affordable way to target a captive audience, fill the top of the purchase funnel, and drive an immediate response such as selecting a place to dine or gamble.

Radio is a trusted and influential medium. It is an information resource; news, weather, and traffic updates happen multiple times per hour. On-air personalities endorse local businesses and discuss local politics, root for the local sports team that everyone loves, and will fulfill music requests when a listener just has to hear that new song again.

Radio easily supports and drives awareness when coupled with TV, print, digital, social media, and outdoor (to name a few).

Ratings

Ratings play a big part in determining what formats work best for a demographic.  Nielsen generates radio ratings, and research on radio listeners can be found using Scarborough.  The ratings and research data are pulled based on what is known about the demographic. This data, in turn, helps the media buyer determine which stations and formats should be included in the media buy and how long people listen to a station, what stations have duplicate listeners, and even simply what are the best dayparts to buy. For instance, a news-talk format may have a more substantial listenership in the morning while a soft rock station may have a better listenership during the day.  If the media buyer is creating a schedule to target Adults 25-54, they would likely buy spots in the morning on the news-talk format and additional spots during the day on the soft rock format.

Time to Tell Your Message

Radio offers much flexibility when it comes to creating commercials. Commercial lengths can vary from a brief five seconds up to 60 or more. Endorsements, sponsorships, and on-air mentions are available and work well with continuous scheduling, flighting, or pulse buying strategies.

The Many Faces of Television

Aside from social media, perhaps no other media channel is changing at such a rapid but exciting pace. Screens have gone from black and white to color to HD to 4K. Screens have gotten bigger yet smaller. From broadcast to cable to streaming, television has been the centerpiece of our lives. “Who Shot JR?” The Red Wedding. Friends. Television has given us a way to share defining moments of pop culture and modern society, tragedies, and joys. The 1980s ushered in a broader selection of programming through cable TV, and today, streaming brings us even more options.

What is Broadcast Television?

Broadcast television is a form of mass media that works well to generate awareness, attract attention, and appeal to emotion.  Unlike cable, however, broadcast television can generally be obtained free, over the air using an antenna. Broadcast television is also a limited number of networks, whereas cable has hundreds, even thousands!

Neilsen estimates that 96% of US homes have at least one television receiving some television programming. It is no surprise that media planners and buyers recognize this as the dominant form of media filling the purchase funnel’s top. It is valued for its specific characteristics.

  • Audiovisual gives television advertising (and programming) the ability to tempt, tantalize, and convince by appealing to the human senses of sight and sound.
  • News programming dominates broadcast television today. Many network stations now have 5-9 hours of news a day! Also, in times of crisis, local television is the crucial medium most of the population goes to for information because of its capabilities to go live quickly.
  • Advertising on television enables one to reach targeted audiences based on demographics and research quickly.
  • Information and entertainment via television are within reach of your remote control. Many viewers base their daily schedules around what television shows they watch. For instance, they will watch their favorite early morning news show such as Today Show or Good Morning America when they wake up, local evening news when they come home from work, and their favorite Prime Time shows such as Dancing with the Stars, The Voice or NCIS as they wind down.

How is Television Used for Advertising?

Familiar with the Geico Gecko or Chester Cheetah? What about slogans such as Rice Krispies’ “Snap, Crackle, and Pop” or McDonald’s “I’m lovin’ it”? Did you sing the jingle? That’s how television is used to create a long-lasting impression of brands that many won’t quickly forget.

Knowing that television can generate broad awareness and lasting impression of a product or service through pervasiveness, impact, and targeting, media buyers and planners create strategies to ensure that not a dollar is wasted.

They take into consideration the daily habits of those that watch television. Media planning software enables the planner to design a media plan to reach the intended demographic cost-effectively. And, media buyers ensure that the programming bought is not only the highest-rated for that demographic but the most cost-efficient by making sure they hit the lowest cost per point possible.

Broadcast television is always a number one choice for media planners and buyers everywhere, when the budget is available.

What is Cable Television?

Broadcast television’s first cousin, cable television, expanded television viewing opportunities starting in the 1980s.  The interest in cable television started with MTV and a slogan that everyone knew by the end of August 1981, “I want my MTV!” The difference was that to get MTV and other cable networks, one had to subscribe to cable, which meant that watching television now came with a monthly fee. This monthly fee included installing cable wiring in homes and a fancy little box on top of the television. In the 1980s, no one imagined cable television would expand and grow to what it is now.

The Rise of Cable Programming

While MTV is no longer the same as it was when it first launched on August 1, 1981, it was the innovator of cable television programming as it is known today.  Not only did it bring the second British invasion of music to the US, but it brought musicians to life. MTV’s format also included up to date music news, new game shows like Remote Control, and the cartoon all parents hated – Beavis and Butthead. Most importantly, with shows like The Real World and Road Rules, MTV was a pioneer in what we know today as reality television shows.

Today’s television viewing landscape includes thousands of cable networks that appeal to almost anyone. Up to date news, weather, and sports are at every subscriber’s fingertips. Shows about murder, deep-sea fishing, and driving trucks on icy roads are enormous hits. Reality-style non-scripted shows such as Keeping Up with the Kardashians and The Real Housewives franchises have given everyone an escape from their reality.

Characteristics of Cable Television

Lately, most of the news around cable television has to do with cord cutting – meaning many are canceling their cable subscription and moving to streaming services like Netflix and Hulu. However, media planners and buyers recognize that cable television is still a dominant form of media. Like broadcast television, it fills the top of the purchase funnel because of its unique characteristics.

  • Cable has a reach like broadcast but enables the buyer to buy frequency like radio.
  • Cable networks provide live and late-breaking news that can be immediately available as the action is happening.
  • Because most cable providers do not cover an entire DMA, buying cable via an interconnect (a group of cable systems within a DMA) allows media planners to compliment the marketing strategy by ensuring that ads are delivered exactly where the commercials need to be seen.
  • Cable programming is much more flexible than broadcast, enabling each cable network to provide original programming and run it several times a day to fill time slots and generate a following.
  • While Nielsen and ComScore ratings are often lower than broadcast, the prices are also generally lower.

Cable is a natural fit in a media buy due to the content of the networks. Are you trying to reach Men 18-49 to purchase a truck? Sports (ESPN, Fox Sports, Golf Channel), Late Night Comedy Central, Tru TV, SyFy, and news networks such as CNN, FOX News, and MSNBC are your best bet. Conversely, if you are trying to reach affluent women with a penchant for décor and gardening, place your commercials on HGTV, DIY Network, Food Network, Lifetime, and Investigation Discovery (everyone loves a good murder mystery). The options are endless.

Next Step: Multiscreen Viewing

Cable networks are pros at taking the viewer from the TV screen to their website. Full episodes of most of a cable network’s hit programs are available for viewing on their websites. In addition to that, the networks also create extras that help develop an up-close and personal relationship with the casts of their original programming. This strategy allows the cable network to increase visits to their websites and grow loyalty to the programs.

Now, most people are no longer just watching TV. More often than not, they are also using a device such as a laptop, tablet, or smartphone. Many think television seems “old school,” but it is, in fact, far from it.  eMarketer research indicates that the main behaviors while watching TV are online shopping, scanning social media, and texting.

The number of ways we can advertise is growing yearly, if not more often. Now, more than ever, we can achieve the holy grail of advertising: reaching the right person at the right time with the right message.

Portions of this previously appeared on bluhorn.com.

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