Advertising With Impact: IPSOS Recommends Focusing On Quality

Research firm IPSOS highlighted a key message in its analysis — Don’t Gamble on Advertising Effectiveness: Lessons From Sports Betting ads — in Ontario’s crowded betting and casino market, attention must be paid to building a strong advertising strategy to achieve effectiveness.

Prior to the Canadian Gaming Summit, Ted Doering and Scott Morash sat down for an interview with SBC Americas to discuss the study and its findings. 

At the beginning of the conversation, Morash spoke about his career in the research industry, noting that it began immediately after his graduation from the university.

However, the transition to the gaming industry for Morash was almost an accident, although for him it turned to be an exciting step in his research career.

He said: «I’ve been here for 21 years now, and in that time, have focused exclusively on research in the gaming sector. Think about anything related to betting or gambling – iGaming, casinos, sports betting, lotteries. This isn’t just for North America, IPSOS does this on a global scale too. That’s what I’ve primarily been involved in».

Like Morash, Ted Doering, Senior Vice President of IPSOS, who has gone through a similar journey in the research industry, shared his story with SBC. He revealed that his career started back in elementary school when he spent time after school with a member of his family. This experience had a strong influence on his career as he grew older.

Doering said: «I was similar to Scott, I’ve worked in research since I graduated from school. But before that, my dad worked in market research. Back in grade seven, he took me to Detroit as part of work experience where I was able to sit in on a client meeting. I took on a summer job at his company during University, and then they hired me straight after school.

«I’ve been in the industry since 1999. When I first broke into the industry, we would oversee all sorts of different projects, but the most interesting ones to me were advertising testing and tracking. Then in September 2008, I joined IPSOS and have been here for 15 years now».

However, Dering’s role is different in that he focuses on testing ads, with a primary focus on gaining insights into the effectiveness of ad campaigns and tracking creative approaches to understand how ads work.

«We aim to understand best practices and how to deliver in-depth insights to our clients. I’ve really enjoyed this aspect of my career. I’ve enjoyed most of my career, but this aspect in particular, has been really fun, he continued.

The regulated gambling market in Ontario has been in place for over a year now, and with this regulation has come a wave of gambling operators looking to capture the attention of consumers through their advertising.

However, with an increasing number of operators entering the market, how can you stand out from the competition? This is far from being as easy as it might seem.

A recent IPSOS analytics report titled Don’t Gamble on Advertising Effectiveness: Lessons From Sports Betting Ads provides some important lessons that sports betting operators should consider when developing their advertising strategy. The report examines ways in which brands can differentiate themselves and establish strong connections with their target audience.

Dering shared with the SBC that this study took a considerable amount of time to complete and was largely based on his personal experience of watching TV commercials for sports gambling.

He said: «I watch a lot of sports, and something that became really apparent was that viewers were being inundated with so many different ads for different gambling brands. These companies are just trying to get their names out there, right? But my thought was ‘surely people are getting annoyed by this’. 

Using the Creative Spark solution, which measures thoughts, feelings and emotions, IPSOS conducted a study that analyzed six advertisements from various brands.

Doering continued: «What we discovered through this method is that people did enjoy the ads, to a certain degree, especially those ads that featured celebrities. But across the board, our hypothesis was confirmed – very few, if any, could link back to the correct brand. Companies were not getting the credit for their ads.

«When we did some social intelligence work to gain some insight into what people were saying about these types of ads in Ontario, we found that people were annoyed with the frequency of ads. Those consumers not understanding what brand each advert was from contributed to that annoyance, because it just seemed like a string of the same ads all at once».

The study revealed one of the conclusions — irritation from a large number of advertising. However, the most significant lesson, Dering noted, is the huge potential for brands to create stronger branding that reaches all consumers. It has become apparent that many consumers enjoy ads but have difficulty linking specific frames to a particular brand, which means that gambling companies are not getting the recognition they want for their brand.

Unsurprisingly, another significant finding was that celebrity ads tend to increase brand recall. 

However, when establishing a partnership with a celebrity for any advertising campaigns, their relevance must be considered. This conclusion was made particularly clear by a meta-analysis conducted by IPSOS.

The research company analyzed its North American database of more than 2,000 ads to determine what impact, if any, the use of celebrities in ads has on brand association. 

There is a risk of celebrity endorsements being overused in the gambling industry, which can result in consumers not being able to clearly identify which brand is endorsed by a given celebrity.

During the celebrity discussion, Morash highlighted the changing public perception and attitude towards brand ambassadors in general. He explained that this is a hot topic of public discussion that has attracted attention over the past few months.

The AGCO (Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario) is currently considering possible restrictions on celebrity and sportsman endorsements, which leaves some uncertainty as to whether betting companies will continue to work with celebrities.

The celebrity ban will certainly have a short-term impact on advertising strategies. However, according to Dering, such a move by AGCO could force gambling companies to develop new and creative approaches to advertising. In the long run, this can be much more beneficial.

In addition, a comparison was made between the use of female characters in advertisements and their perception by women in sports betting advertisements. Through their research, IPSOS found that advertisements featuring female characters do not always portray them in the best possible light.

A study by IPSOS found that ads featuring female characters do not always portray them in the best possible way. 

The conversation soon turned to other industries and the lessons that can be learned from those sectors. Surprisingly, one of the industries that the IPSOS duo have taken notice of is the brewing industry, specifically the Corona brand.

One of the lessons the sports betting industry can learn from Corona is to create a strong storytelling.

Doering said: «One of the industries that we touch upon in the POV is beer. Let’s take Corona for example. Corona has been a brand that’s been around for a long time and it’s always been associated with the beach, relaxing. But it’s also become synonymous with adding that slice of lime into the bottle itself. Those are the things that have become distinct branding assets for Corona.

«When you see a Corona advert, it automatically evokes a feeling of relaxation and being on holiday. Their advertising probably started with the question of ‘what do we want Corona to stand for? What do we want consumers to associate our brand with?

It’s all about establishing that brand identity from the get go and creating a consistent narrative. It takes commitment to those assets».

Morash echoed this point, emphasizing that the key to standing out in a crowded market is a strong brand identity and compelling storytelling.

He concluded by saying: «I would echo what Ted was saying about leveraging a brand identity and those different assets over time. To me, those types of things – in research – ladder up into higher order need states. Some companies really hit the mark in this regard.

«We know that people choose to make bets or gamble for a number of different reasons. For example, there’s self-indulgence, or the feeling of power, control, beating the odds. There are also social needs, conviviality, to be around friends and enjoy the additional excitement that betting can bring to game night.

«There’s many need-states at play that would need to be investigated for a brand to really then take that into developing their creative and figuring out what their long term play is, as far as their brand identity».
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