Industry Interview:Bingo, a growing gameINTRODUCTION David was brought on board by Akamon Entertainment’s Chairman Carlos Blanco, who he had worked with in the early 2000s. As Head of Bingo, he is responsible for business, design and technical development of all Bingo games, working to make them the most played on all platforms. In his role, David makes the most of his extensive experience in gaming and new technology, which he gained from founding his own website torneosonline.com, coordinating the Games Area at Campus Party, the largest technological event in the world, and co-founding Volcanic Internet, a company specialising in graphic design and new technology for the Internet. David feels lucky to work in what he is passionate about and thrives on working on fun projects with a strong innovative element and with enthusiastic teams. So far, he’s never had to send out his curriculum vitae. He earned a BA in Business Science from the Open University of Catalonia, and was awarded the 2000 InnoBit prize from IBM, La Caixa and Terra for best start-up of a website with elmenuonline. com. As well as playing Texas Hold’em on mundijuegos.com in his free time – ‘the perfect mix of strategy, mind-reading and luck’, David likes heading for the countryside, to get away from it all with family and friends at his house in the small village of Riudaura in Catalonia, Spain.8th Online Bingo Summit 2013Conference & ExhibitionLondon, May 1-2New platforms, new players:Attract, retain and monetize anew generation of bingo playerwww.bulletbusiness.com/bingo
Industry Interview:Bingo, a growing game Tell us about what Akamon is doing in the bingo space, and how things have been progressing. David Jané: We developed our first bingo game four years ago. It was the eighteenth game the company introduced. Before that, we concentrated on traditional card and board games. Revenue exploded, and we found that interactive bingo gameplay was really engaging for our users. Last year, we ported our bingo game to a more modern technology, like Flash, and we added several social features, like collectable items and experience levels. And we saw the number of daily active users grow, until bingo became our top game, both in terms of revenue and activity. And so, in 2013, we are developing a range of bingo products. As Akamon is focused on Latin America and Southern Europe, we are trying to bring bingo experiences that are familiar with our markets. So, for example, we are releasing tombola, which is a variant of bingo played in Italy. It has many common elements to 90-ball bingo, but with multiple prizes, and chips instead of balls. We’re going to launch three other bingo clones this year. We’ve realised that bingo monetises really well, and keeps people engaged on our platform, and provides a fun time. We used to have a subscription, but now we monetise using virtual currency. Our users didn’t like the pay-wall, so we removed it. Now we provide our users with a range of different card prices, and they can turn on the auto-daub settings. They can play up to 24 cards each game, which really boosts monetisation. It is a freemium model. When users join, they get a few hundred chips, which they can use to start buying cards, and play for a while for free. Then, once they run out, they have to buy virtual8th Online Bingo Summit 2013 currency. We also have a daily bonus, so that every day, whenConference & Exhibition users come to the platform, they get a pack of currency, whichLondon, May 1-2 gives them more free time. Right now, we are generating 70 euro cents per daily active user,New platforms, new players: which is pretty high compared to our other games. We haveAttract, retain and monetize a about 30,000 daily active users across our portal, and Facebook.new generation of bingo player And, at the end of March, we’ll have our mobile version, too, available on iPad and iPhone. About 60 percent of our users are from Spain, and then about 20 percent are from Brazil, followedwww.bulletbusiness.com/bingo by France, Argentina, and Venezuela.
Industry Interview:Bingo, a growing game The average time on the site is about 1.5 hours a day, which is pretty high. Strangely, the shorter we make the games, the more the players stay with us. Of course, we also have a reward system, where the more they play, the more gems they get. They can then redeem those to get extra bingo cards. For us, it’s a matter of balancing the length of the game and the rewards. How important do you see social being for bingo? What are the main considerations to think about when building a social bingo product? David Jané: We ran some surveys with offline bingo players to try to understand what drives them to go to a bingo hall. One thing they mentioned is that they like a comfortable place, that they can go to with their friends, and they can meet nice people. So, we try to bring this to our online game. You can rate the players in the room. If they are rude in the chat, for instance, you can give them negative points. We also have monitors who kick out people with bad reputations. We try to keep the place tidy and clean, because we think this helps in providing a better social experience where people enjoy meeting one another. Our typical bingo customer is female between 25-35 – it’s often women with children. In fact, you can see between 4pm and 5pm that the users on the site decrease for a while, when women go to school to collect their kids.8th Online Bingo Summit 2013Conference & ExhibitionLondon, May 1-2New platforms, new players:Attract, retain and monetize anew generation of bingo playerwww.bulletbusiness.com/bingo
Industry Interview:Bingo, a growing game You’re launching your mobile product in March. What were the major considerations and challenges in creating and marketing it? David Jané: What we want with the mobile product is for people to engage with the game regardless of the screen they use. That was a technical challenge: how can we bring the mobile players on to the same platform as the browser players? But we solved that issue. Mobile players will play in the same rooms as the browser players. When the first mobile players get the app this month, they will already find thousands of players already playing. We had to adapt the user interface for the mobile. For example, we had to change the input features from a keyboard and mouse to a finger environment. Then, we had to choose which social elements to keep. We kept chat for our iPad version, but not in the iPhone version. However, you can still see all the players in the room whichever version you play. One of the main reasons we wanted to develop the mobile product is that we know that people often play online while doing something else. When people play board or card games, they have to give their main focus to that. With bingo, it’s different. Giving people something where they can play while watching TV, or at the bus stop, is really valuable. For us, it’s about providing the best second activity possible to our players. That’s one reason we added an automatic purchase feature. So, players can select how many games they want to play, and they don’t have to take care of cards after each game. It’s automatic. They can just glance at the screen occasionally to8th Online Bingo Summit 2013 see if their friends have joined, or if they’ve won.Conference & ExhibitionLondon, May 1-2New platforms, new players:Attract, retain and monetize anew generation of bingo playerwww.bulletbusiness.com/bingo
Industry Interview:Bingo, a growing game What elements of Akamon’s operations and product do you think make it stand out, and how will you try to build on your recent success? David Jané: We are focused on 90-ball bingo, which is the game traditionally played in Spain. Probably later this year, we will have 75-ball game as well, with some extra features that our competitors don’t have at the moment. We promote the game mostly through the Akamon platform, which has more than 40 games on it. We have Brazilian games, Spanish games, French games that we can use to cross-sell our social casino products. Once we have people on the platform, we can bring to them to bingo, roulette, or slots. We find that people come on and play about three games per session, on average. Cross-selling is cheaper than other forms of user-acquisition, and it’s also easier. Because of regulation, it’s very difficult to market a bingo product in a market like Spain. Akamon serves Southern Europe, but also increasingly in Latin American markets. How do you see bingo developing in these countries? David Jané: What we’ve realised in the past month is that players in countries like Brazil need to be educated with this type of bingo. But we are seeing a great increase in traffic and active users. In fact, we now have more Facebook users in Brazil than in Spain – which is a good achievement, considering we started8th Online Bingo Summit 2013 here, and that Spain is usually the biggest market for manyConference & Exhibition our games. The issue with Brazil is monetisation: the paymentLondon, May 1-2 method, and how to move the money back to Spain. But with Facebook credits, it’s easier for everyone.New platforms, new players: We have different clones for each of the markets we are in, likeAttract, retain and monetize a the one we have for Italy. But, at the same time, we think thatnew generation of bingo player players enjoy discovering games from other cultures. We see that with our card games, for instance. Catering to different countries is not a big problem if you have good translation andwww.bulletbusiness.com/bingo local support.
Industry Interview:Bingo, a growing game How will bingo products develop over the next 2-3 years, and what will really differentiate the next generation of bingo products? David Jané: There are several issues for us. One is side-games. We know that bingo players love side-games. So, we know we need provide amusing side-games like slots or quizzes, if we want to keep building our monetisation and engagement. The second issue is how we treat people using their real identities. On Facebook, players usually have their real names and real friends, and that means they don’t tend to share content, or spend as much, as on the portal. So, we need to look closely at that. It’s important for us to understand what ID we are going to provide.8th Annual Online Bingo Summit8th Online Bingo Summit 2013 David Jane will be presenting on mobile and social bingo at the 8th annual Online Bingo SummitConference & Exhibition in London on May 1-2, 2013.London, May 1-2He will be joined by over 20+ other expert speakers and 100+ attendees from all the leadingbingo operators including senior representatives from Facebook, Paddy Power, 888, Tombola,New platforms,Chandler, Google, Endemol, FreemantleMedia, BGO Entertainment and many more.Coral, Victor new players:Attract, retain and monetize anew generation of bingo and opportunities to reserve places at this landmark event are available on:For more information playerwww.bulletbusiness.com/bingowww.bulletbusiness.com/bingo Exclusive ticket offer: As you have downloaded this Exclusive Q+A, just use discount code “INTERVIEW50” and receive an extra £50 discount off the current listed prices when you reserve your place at the conference through the event website