Market Intelligence Report: UK Online Gambling 2012
UK ONLINE GAMBLING
January 2012 to December 2012
Welcome to our second market intelligence report for the online gaming industry. Stickyeyes have been working with online gaming clients
for over 15 years and we believe our unparalleled sector experience has significantly contributed to the value we have driven for our clients.
Since our last report, published in January 2012, we’ve seen some significant shifts in the market. Most notably the continuing rise of
mobile betting and an increasing overall market share for sports betting (driven largely by in-play football betting). 2012 also saw the
launch of the first ‘real money’ gambling product on Facebook in August. Many brands are now looking at the potential of social media
as a channel for customer acquisition. The overall competitiveness of the market has also increased as more operators, particularly the
traditional bricks and mortar brands, have increased their focus on online.
It’s clear that the winners in 2013 will be those that are able to maximise their share of voice by utilising all available channels and taking
a flexible approach to channel management.
Stickyeyes’ approach to online marketing in the gambling industry is centred on the breadth and depth of our industry data and insights.
We hold more data and have more experience than any other agency. Rather than simply providing standalone services, we work with our
clients to truly understand the market opportunity in order to create a robust ROI focussed online marketing plan. Our services range from
consultancy work for online opportunity analysis through to full deployment across all channels.
Deeper analysis into your brands
Although the report has significant depth, we expect it will raise as many questions as it answers for your brand. We are therefore happy to
offer a detailed review of your performance, highlighting areas where you dominate, areas where you have an opportunity to improve and
further benchmarking against your competitors. This research will be led by our Insights team and cover the entire online marketing mix
and customer lifecycle.
If you are interested in this analysis or have any questions, please contact:
0113 391 2929
0113 391 2929
WHAT WILL YOU GET FROM THIS
WHAT QUESTIONS DO WE ANSWER?
KEY FINDINGS OF THE REPORT
A who’s who in online gambling.
Who are the market leaders?
What’s shaping online gambling?
In-depth market analysis covering January 2012 to December
Which keywords are driving market visibility?
Over 100 individual pieces of key insights.
What are brands doing to achieve maximum market share?
Over 100 individual pieces of statistical interpretation.
How are brands using social media to acquire customers?
Analysis of the top 100 brands across the top 50 keywords.
An interpretation of the top brands search and social media
Consumer expenditure on gambling and betting exceeded £2 billion in 2012 and it is expected to grow to more than £3.5 billion by
Sports betting leads growth within the online gambling market and was estimated to be worth £1,026 million in 2012.
In terms of market share by revenue, William Hill leads the online gambling and betting sector with 15%, followed by Ladbrokes with
A macro analysis of the online gambling sector tells us that sports betting terms have the largest share of search impression volume
The most lucrative generic keywords are bingo, poker, casino, online casino and roulette, which comprise a collective 75.46%, while the
top sports betting keywords are football odds and horse racing betting, accounting for 68.62% of the search impression volume for
the top 10 phrases.
Traditional bricks and mortar operators dominate brand search impression, with William Hill, Paddy Power and Ladbrokes being the
Over 52% of all brand volume comes from just 6 key operators which are William Hill, Ladbrokes, Bet365, Betfair, Paddy Power and
888 is the only operator who has successfully developed a competitive organic or paid presence within all 4 generic gaming verticals betting, bingo, casino and poker.
888 leads the casino sub-vertical. However, volatile organic rankings, coupled with growing competition from Ladbrokes, Casino 770
and William Hill, means this lead could be eroded.
Intercasino has seen a dramatic downturn in their organic performance and there is evidence to suggest that this may be partly due to the historical
impact of a Google algorithm update.
Pure play poker operator PokerStars have a solid organic and paid click share, making them one of the leading brands within this subvertical.
Gala and Mecca are the only traditional land-based bingo operators within the top 10 of our aggregated click share index. Gala’s position is
attributed to the fact that they have solid organic coverage, while Mecca leverage PPC to maximise their exposure.
The market leader within the bingo sub-vertical is Tombola, which has developed a holistic presence within search. They leverage with
great effect both paid and organic search in order to drive and maximise market exposure.
Betfair leads the aggregated click share for sports betting, however, their position is not guaranteed and is only 0.24% ahead of both
William Hill and Paddy Power. Any shift in organic rankings or increase in their paid search share of voice will see a change of order at
With an aggregated click share of 20.26%, William Hill dominates the horse racing betting sub-vertical and are the most aggressive
brand leveraging both organic and paid search channels to gain maximum exposure.
Even though William Hill has traditionally been seen as a specialist within the horse racing betting market, they have also developed
an aggressive organic and paid search strategy that ensures that they are a leading brand within the football betting sub-vertical.
Although Paddy Power leads our social score card with 79.80 out of 100, this is only marginally ahead of Sky who have 78.20. This is
reflective of the fact that both these brands are deploying a well co-ordinated social media strategy that embraces all social channels.
Brands are extensively using product and price promotions, as well as propagating content on sports news and betting insight on social
media channels to engage with new customers.
Since 2007, online gambling advertising has increased by 1,386%. This is indicative of the continuing competitiveness within the gambling sector.
Sports betting dominates online gambling, accounting for 45% of all search impression volume.
During 2012, search impression volume from mobile devices grew 75%, with the sports betting sub-vertical having the largest share.
In terms of both revenue and search impression volume, horse racing betting is the largest segment within sportsbook and is led by William Hill.
Casino and poker is led by 888. This has been achieved with the implementation of an aggressive strategy across both organic and paid search.
However, they face strong competition from cross-vertical brands like Ladbrokes, as well as pure play specialists such as PokersStars.
888 has always invested heavily in traditional organic and paid search. However, a recent agreement with Facebook to offer real money gambling is
an aggressive move by 888 as they look to capitalise on the growth of social media.
Paddy Power have developed a seamless integration between their TV advertising and social media platforms by deploying a content strategy that
communicates with great effect a maverick brand proposition that is entertaining, fun and humourous.
“SINCE 2007 ONLINE GAMBLING
ADVERTISING HAS INCREASED BY 1,386%.
THIS IS INDICATIVE OF THE CONTINUING
COMPETITIVENESS WITHIN THE
“WILLIAM HILL, PADDY
POWER, LADBROKES, BETFAIR
AND BET365 ARE THE LEADING
BRANDS WITHIN ONLINE
GAMBLING. ALL OF THESE
BRANDS HAVE DEVELOPED
A PRESENCE AND PRODUCT
PROPOSITION WITHIN ALL
OF THE PRIMARY SUBVERTICALS: CASINO, POKER,
BINGO AND SPORTS BETTING.
THIS APPROACH PROVIDES
OPERATORS WITH LUCRATIVE
OPPORTUNITIES TO CROSSSELL THEIR PRODUCTS, AS
WELL AS BROADEN THEIR
CUSTOMER BASE AND BRAND
SPORTS BETTING LEADS GROWTH WITHIN THE ONLINE GAMBLING MARKET
Online gambling broke the £2 billion barrier in 2012 and is forecasted to reach £3.5 billion by 2016 (See Appendix B Reference 1). This
growth has been primarily driven by sports betting, which reached £1,026 million in 2012 (See Figure 1). The importance of this segment
is reflected by the fact that sports betting represents 45% of the value of the market, therefore putting it at the centre of the gambling
sector. While the majority of UK consumer expenditure on sports betting still continues to flow through land-based operations, the remote
sector i.e. online desktop and mobile devices has been able to close the gap through its own rapid expansion (See Appendix B Reference 2).
Figure 1: UK online gaming and betting market size, by segment, 2008-12
Horse racing continues to dominate the sports betting market. However, it has started to lose its majority share of expenditure in 2011/12
(See Figure 2). The main growth area in sports betting is football, with “in-play betting” being the fastest growing element. Since 2009/10
consumer expenditure on football betting has grown from £355 million to £600 million in 2011/12 (See Figure 2). The rise of remote
betting i.e. online and mobile has given major impetus to football betting and all leading gambling brands have developed promotional
and sponsorship opportunities in football.
Ladbrokes launched the ‘Game On’ campaign in August 2011 across TV, online advertising and in-shop window displays. The ads use
the emotion of Italian football commentator ‘Tiziano Crudeli’ to illustrate the excitement of betting with Ladbrokes.
Bet365 has signed a three-year shirt sponsorship deal with FA Premier League football club Stoke City, which is owned by a subsidiary
of the company.
Gala Coral was the Daily and Sunday Mirror’s betting partner for the Euro 2012 football tournament held in Ukraine and Poland.
William Hill sponsor the England football team, as well as being the official betting partner of the FA Cup and Scottish Cup.
Bwin is the official online gaming and betting partner of Manchester United, while Paddy Power has premium advertising positions
with both Liverpool FC and Manchester City.
GROWTH OF FOOTBALL BETTING WITHIN SPORTS BETTING
Source: Online Gaming and Betting, Mintel, UK, October 2012
(Source Sports Betting, Mintel, UK, July 2012)
Figure 2: UK consumer expenditure on sports betting, by product, 2009-12
MOBILE DEVICES AND ONLINE GAMBLING
According to a Mintel /GMI survey 29% of users who have gambled online do so via a smart phone, indicating that mobile devices are
rapidly becoming a mainstream platform for gambling (Source: Online Gaming and Betting, Mintel, UK, October 2012).
This directly correlates with the split of search impression volume between desktops and mobiles. As can be seen from Appendix B
Reference 3, volume from mobiles devices accounts for 25.83% of all brand and non-brand searches. Moreover, during 2012, search
impression volume for mobile devices share grew by 75%, (See Appendix B Reference 4) with sports betting having the largest share (See
Appendix B Reference 5).
“DURING 2012 SEARCH IMPRESSION
VOLUME FOR MOBILE DEVICES GREW
BY 75%, WITH SPORTS BETTING HAVING
THE LARGEST SHARE.”
Source: Online Gaming and Betting, Mintel, UK, October 2012
INTRODUCTION TO ONLINE GAMBLING MARKET
Source: Google Keyword Estimation Tool
Horse racing betting
Sports betting can be dissected into a multiplicy of sporting segements such as horse racing, darts, snooker and football, as well as event
related areas such as Champions League and Cheltenham Festival, and finally specific games such as Manchester United vs Liverpool FC.
This report looks at the two most popular sports betting related segments:
The online gambling keyword market comprises of four key markets, these include:
The study covers the period January 2012 to December 2012 and analyses the performance of the leading online gambling brands across
the following sub-verticals - casino, poker, bingo and sports betting, which has become the fastest growing market in online gambling.
(See Appendix B: Definition of online gambling).
Figure 3: % Split of search impression volume by sub-vertical
Figure 4: % Split of search impression volume within the sports betting sub-vertical
Our findings will detail tactics and strategies, as well as reveal the most visible operators within:
PPC (Pay Per Click)
Social media and content
The following insight analyses the top 50 keyword phrases within each of the primary verticals across the top 100 brands. We have
removed all non-commercially related websites from our statistical interpretations e.g. Wikipedia, IMDB, etc.
Source: Google Keyword Estimation Tool
Of the top 10 phrases within generic online gambling, bingo (29.90%) and poker (15.29%) lead the way, followed in close succession by
casino (11.42%), online casino (11.31%) and roulette (7.54%) (See Figure 5).
Figure 5: % Split of search impression volume for the top 10 generic online gambling keyword phrases
A macro analysis of online gambling tells us that betting (including sports betting) terms have the largest share of search impression
volume with 40.55% (See Figure 3). Within the sports betting market, horse racing betting dominates with 51.31%, with the second
largest being football with 15.33% (See Figure 4). This split mirrors spending within the sports betting market in which both horse racing
and football collectively constitutes 75.80% of all consumers expenditure (source: Online Gaming and Betting, Mintel, UK, October 2012).
Source: Google Keyword Estimation Tool
* Other includes: dogs, golf, tennis, F1, darts, snooker, rugby & cricket
Sports betting is more complex and is made up of diverse set of keywords that are designed to reflect the different stages within the
betting lifecycle. These include brand phrases such as William Hill and Ladbrokes, generic phrases such as horse racing betting, as well as
event or competition terms such as Cheltenham Festival betting or Champions League betting.
Generic terms are typically used to develop search exposure and help initiate the search journey, while the more specific event or
competition related phrases help drive focused searches and traffic, as well as the conversion process. Brand plays a role across all verticals
and comes into play during the later stages of the search process when customers have selected their product, as well as facilitating repeat
visits and customer retention – example terms include William Hill betting and William Hill football betting.
With the exception of sports betting, the online gambling market is primarily driven by a small number of high volume short-tail keyword
phrases. For example, within the poker sub-vertical 68.51% of all search impression volume is driven by two keyword phrases: poker and
online poker, while 75.02% of all search impression volume within the bingo sub-vertical is driven by the terms bingo and online bingo.
STRUCTURE OF ONLINE GAMBLING KEYWORD MARKET
Figure 6: UK online gaming and betting market, by operators’ value share (estimated), 2012
HOW DO WE MEASURE THE SEARCH MARKET?
Search impression represents the number of times a website page is displayed within the search results. It is only after the results are
displayed that visitors are able to click on either a PPC advert or an organic link. Therefore, “click share” represents the act of a visitor
clicking on a PPC advert or an organic link and is calculated as follows:
Organic click share is the number of clicks that an individual operator has achieved against a keyword, as a measure of where they
rank for that keyword.
Ladbrokes - 11%
Other - 44%
PPC click share is the number of clicks that an individual operator has achieved against a keyword as a percentage of their “Share of
Voice” (SOV). SOV is a measure of how often a brand’s PPC ad appears along with its position.
Paddy Power - 11%
See Appendix A Reference 1 for a full breakdown of our methodology.
Betfair - 11%
GROWTH OF ONLINE ADVERTISING WITHIN THE UK GAMBLING SECTOR
Bet365 - 11%
Advertising in print media accounts for 52% of UK bookmakers promotional expenditure and remains one of the most effective
promotional tactics. (Source: Sports Betting, Mintel, UK, July 2012).
Spending on sports betting TV advertisements have increased to over to £10 million in 2011. This has been led by the growth of
in-play betting and the ability to screen live odds during half-time commercials. However, TV as a marketing channel is third place
behind online advertising and according to Mintel this is largely due to comparatively high cost of the medium. The heavy cost of TV
advertising has also excluded smaller operators who in turn have gone online to acquire customers (Source: Sports Betting, Mintel, UK,
Within the area of sports betting, online advertising more than doubled from £4.6 million in 2010 to £10.4 million in 2011. Since 2007
this growth equates to a 1,386% increase, reflecting the growing competitiveness of the sector. This rapid growth now puts online
advertising within sports betting second behind print (See Appendix B Reference 6).
William Hill - 15%
Source: Online Gaming and Betting, Mintel, UK, October 2012
Figure 7: Brand related search impression volume for the top gambling brands
Other - 38.36%
SHARE OF BRAND SEARCH IMPRESSION VOLUME
The major brands within the online gambling sector have developed a presence and product proposition within all of the primary
sub-verticals including: casino, poker, bingo and sports betting. This provides operators with lucrative opportunities to cross-sell their
products, as well as broaden their customer base and brand appeal.
In terms of market share by revenue, William Hill leads the online gambling and betting sector followed by Ladbrokes and then Paddy
Power. William Hill and Ladbrokes’ leading position is primarily facilitated by the fact that they have the largest land-based operation
that is complemented by an online presence (See Figure 6). This mirrors the split of brand search impression volume in which William
Hill lead with 19.39%. However, marginally ahead of Ladbrokes is Paddy Power with 10.86% (See Figure 7). Moreover, 52% of all
brand volume come from just six operators, namely: William Hill, Ladbrokes, Bet365, Betfair, Paddy Power and Betfred.
Betfair - 6.02%
Betfred - 4.98%
Bet365 - 9.69%
William Hill - 19.39%
Ladbrokes - 10.70%
Paddy Power - 10.86%
“WILLIAM HILL HAS THE LEADING SHARE
OF BRAND SEARCH VOLUME FOLLOWED
BY PADDY POWER.”
Source: Google Keyword Estimation Tool
MOST VISIBLE ONLINE GAMBLING BRANDS IN SEARCH: KEY HIGHLIGHTS
Key findings of the report:
45% of the value of the gambling market is attributed to sports betting, making it the single most important sub-vertical within the
Since 2007 online advertising has increased by 1,386%, reflecting the continuing competitiveness within the gambling sector.
During 2012, mobile search impression share grew by 75% with sports betting having the largest number of search impressions
conducted by a handheld device.
Generic sports betting terms are typically used to develop search exposure and help initiate the search journey, while the more specific
event or competition related phrases help drive focused searches and traffic, as well as the conversion process.
There is no one clear leader within the generic sports betting sub-vertical. Betfair, William Hill and Ladbrokes all stand to gain from any
shift in organic ranking or increase in their share of voice for paid search.
Search impression volume for both horse racing and football betting is driven by specific events such as Cheltenham Festival, Epsom
Derby, FA Cup and Champions League. Volume for these events is driven by short term surges, followed by equally dramatic drops.
Looking at the 2012 Champions League, the most visible brands across both organic and paid search were Betfair with 14.54%,
followed by Bet365 (12.95%) and Ladbrokes (11.15%).
Online betting odds comparison operators such as Oddschecker, OLBG and GG.com are absorbing critical organic real estate. Many
online bookmakers are jostling for premium positions within the SERPs to maximise their exposure. Competition is only set to
Even though Oddschecker dominate the organic click share index for football betting, the real powerhouse is William Hill who has
developed a solid search strategy across both generic betting keywords, as well as sportsbook, in which they lead the sub-verticals for
both horse racing and football betting.
Paddy Power is one of the few gambling brands that has successfully integrated their main site with a wide range of social assets
including Google+, Facebook and Twitter in order to engage directly with customers. Moreover, they cross-pollinate with great effect a
series of quirky TV adverts entitled “We Hear You” across these platforms.
All of the major brands within the online gambling sector have developed a product proposition within the casino, poker, bingo and
sports betting sub-verticals. This provides operators with lucrative opportunities to cross-sell their products, as well as broaden their
customer base and brand appeal.
Over 50% of all brand search volume comes from just six operators: William Hill, Ladbrokes, Bet365, Betfair, Paddy Power and Bedfred.
Of this group, land-based operators dominate such as William Hill, Paddy Power and Ladbrokes.
Search impression volume within casino, poker and bingo are dominated by a small number of high volume generic keyword phrases.
For example, over 70% of all bingo search impression volume comes from two keyword phrases - bingo and online bingo.
The most lucrative generic keywords are bingo, poker, casino, online casino and roulette which comprise a collective 75.46%. The top
sports betting phrases are football odds and horse racing betting, accounting for the 68.62%.
888 have always invested heavily in traditional organic and paid search, however, a recent agreement with Facebook to offer real
money gambling is an aggressive move as they look to capitalise on the growth of social media.
Betting is the only sub-vertical within gambling that has a long-tail, primarily driven by sports bettings keyword phrases such as sports
betting, football betting and horse racing betting, as well as event terms such as Cheltenham Festival.
Sports news and betting insights plays a crucial role in the content tactics of all the major betting brands. The type of content
typically posted onto Facebook includes predictions, betting odds and tips, as well as updates on live games and post match reviews.
888 is the only operator that has successfully developed a competitive organic / paid presence within all four generic gambling subverticals – casino, poker, bingo and sports betting.
The search engine results pages (SERPs) for the term casino is distinctly different from many other types of results for online gambling
keywords. This reflects Google’s on-going quality drive to deliver not only more relevant results but listings that are more in tune to
the visitors locations.
All brands have a healthy focus on product and price promotion tactics such as free bets every week, up to £50 free bet, no deposit,
free bet Friday or money back specials. Virtually all operators take the opportunity to develop their brands via Facebook, Twitter or
Google+ by posting regular content showcasing the lastest promotional offers.
888 has a 10% lead within the casino sub-vertical. However, volatile organic rankings, coupled with growing competition from
Ladbrokes, William Hill and Casino 770, means that this lead is by no means guaranteed.
One of the most dramatic drops during 2012 has been InterCasino. It is possible that InterCasino may have incurred a ranking
penalty as their backlink anchor text profile is heavily weighted towards non-brand terms. This is indicative of an overly engineered
organic linking strategy.
Competition within organic click share index for the poker sub-vertical is intense. Although 888 is leading, this is marginal and
with less than 4% separating the top four, they face strong competition from PKR, PokerStars and Sky. All of these brands are well
positioned to assume leadership of this sub-vertical.
The organic click share index for bingo is highly competitive and this is reflected in the fact that there is less than 4% that separates
the top seven brands.
The top four operators (Tombola, Foxy Bingo, 888 and JackPotJoy) within the aggregated click share index for bingo have developed a
holistic presence, leveraging both paid and organic search to drive and maximise market exposure.
Gala and Mecca are the only traditional land-based bingo operators within the top 10 of our aggregated click share index. Gala’s
postion is attributed to the fact that they have solid organic coverage, whilst Mecca leverages PPC to maximise their exposure.
“THE MOST LUCRATIVE GENERIC
KEYWORDS ARE BINGO, POKER,
CASINO, ONLINE CASINO AND
ROULETTE; WHILE THE TOP SPORTS
BETTING KEYWORDS ARE FOOTBALL
ODDS AND HORSE RACING BETTING.”
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