Mobile Gambling has been the next big thing for a few years. And yet for one reason or another it has never quite happened. So is it any different now? It must be, we have just had a mobile gaming SUMMIT!
Firstly I have to admit to being just old enough to remember when the word "summit" meant Reagan and Gorbachev striding towards each other across a tightly cropped lawn, the whirring blades of a giant helicopter in the background. Summits have a gravitas which, without wishing to cause any offence, the mGaming "Summit" lacked. Yes, I know what you're thinking if it had gravitas the author of this would not have been allowed anywhere near it.
Right, I have slagged it off enough and I do not want to give the mistaken impression that it was a waste of time or not worth staging, so here are some facts:
The Keynote speech by Dr Windsor Holden and the follow up from Darren Mark Noyce gave some interesting figures and insight into the mobile landscape, how mobile devices are used and also talking about the perceptions from the point of view of the user, such as trust.
I followed Track 2 to begin with which discussed Products and Services "What do high tech mGambling consumers really value in the experience?". Darren Pollard chaired the panel which also included Enric Sole' from IMSC and Ross Sleight from Somo. This discussion was very interesting particularly in profiling the average mGambling consumer and touching on some key areas of marketing.
Ross Sleight was impressively knowledgeable and informative, giving 3 primary reasons consumers use mobile devices: a) to execute a task (such as a Google search) b) through a sense of urgency c) reasons of boredom. He also stressed that the mobile is not to be treated as an addition to a desktop presence, as it perhaps historically was, but must be seen as a "primary access point" for customer acquisition.
The panel also gave greater insight into who uses a mobile phone or tablet and where - 80% of TV viewers, for example, have a mobile phone next to them whilst they watch and the tablet is really for "deeper consumption of content”.
Enric Sole' spoke of the Bettymovil SMS sports betting which is a wonder-product for less developed markets such as Africa and South America. Whether this was the right audience for him I don't know but his view of a different type of market and the simplicity and immediacy of the product can teach the whole industry some important lesson regarding communication with mobile users. All in all, the panel and the chair did a great job.
The Track 1 presentation from Jean-Luc Cornish (Somo) really followed on from things I had heard earlier. CRM needs to be mobile specific, the mobile consumer is likely to be engaged by some other media at the same time and, importantly, SEO for mobiles should reflect shorter search entries by users.
The key people on the discussion panel (chaired by Josh Morris from Virgin Games) were Matt Sunderland from Probability PLC and Nick Marsh from Mojiva. Localization of marketing and the problem with tracking users were the main points. The potential for targeting consumers based on where they are physically at any one moment was repeatedly covered but at all times this was theory over practice. The dearth of gambling affiliates, which have embraced mobile gambling, was also touched upon but again this is indicative of where the industry is at the moment, and will surely change. Some panelists were a bit cagey about topics but again I think it was informative.
A pause for lunch and a chat with a few delegates gave me the impression that there is still considerable skepticism regarding mobile gambling, not so much with those present but perhaps by the absence of others. There were only 3 companies with stands (aside from iGaming Business) but I am sure that this could increase in years to come.
The schedule changed a little after lunch and the Track 1 panel discussing "Marketing and Making it Social" seemed to conclude that there was no "social" gambling and unfortunately got bogged down in a slightly tortuous discussion regarding virtual credits and casino gaming. I got the impression that there was a lot of "I don't know" during this discussion, which is not necessarily a criticism, but generally the subject seemed borne of the assumption that there is a direct link between social media and gambling on mobile devices. This takes me back to another earlier speaker (I think it was Ross Sleight, but correct me if I am wrong) who wisely said that those who play Zynga Poker and those who play real money poker will largely be different people. The former will not naturally convert to the latter.
It was back to Track 2 for "Crossing Channels - Creating a genuine multi channel offering for the mobilised consumer". This strayed a bit from the subject but not to any great detriment of the discussion. Marcel Puyk from Cellectivity and Sree Reddy Vanga from Cozy Games are best placed in the industry to offer insight and they dutifully did so, the latter championing HTML5 despite a slight dig from Mr Puyk about the battery life. Again it was stressed that the mobile offering will have to be different from the desktop offering and concerns regarding the nature of mobile players were addressed - Vanga assuring us that high rollers were also playing on mobiles and allaying fears of cannibalisation.
I skulked out at around 4pm - earlier than I should as the lure of a cheeky drink during work hours became too strong - but I have nevertheless drawn some conclusions, despite not by any means being present at all sessions. I felt a lot of the same ground was covered repeatedly (perhaps due in part to the fact that the discussions I was present at were not a perfect cross-section) but nevertheless this also helped me remember the main point I will take away from the day and perhaps one major reason that this time the industry is not crying wolf: Mobile customers are different from “traditional” online customers! This realization coupled with the fact that technology has caught up with the very idea of mobile gaming means we are genuinely at the dawn of a new era… also we are a vacuous, ill-mannered society with the attention span of a gnat and can never stop fiddling with our blasted phones.
Looking forward to a bigger and better mGaming Summit next year.