Blurring Boundaries between digital and expo marketing


Roxana Nazalu, Head of Marketing at Pragmatic Play, discusses with 5 Star how the pandemic changed industry-wide approaches to marketing and the role that digital platforms played as interests went online.

2020 saw unprecedented difficulties for all of us, regardless of industry or profession. One thing that particularly changed in the igaming industry was the almost overnight complete absence of live events. Once the staple of marketing campaigns and sales teams, companies had to quickly pivot to other approaches. 

The most obvious difference was any opportunity to be in front of prospective partners was dramatically reduced. Any igaming professional will know how much stock goes into shows such as ICE, SiGMA and G2E, so having these physical exhibitions taken away meant that eye-catching stands and displays in virtual events wouldn’t attract attention in the way of previous years. 

Similarly, being in front of people gave marketing departments the perfect chance to be inventive and creative. Major displays or product unveilings are often the talk of the town post-event, while even more traditional activations of partnerships struggled to gain cut through in a crowded internet space. In the past, Pragmatic Play has experienced a raised profile at ICE through chilli-eating contests and a flash mob to promote products. These become difficult to do through virtual conferences. 

However, while in-person marketing efforts took a hit, avenues opened in other places. The importance of social media has been clear for a while, but the pandemic underscored how vital it was for providers and operators to dominate these channels. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and of course LinkedIn became more vital than ever, with concerted media spend campaigns and innovative content driving conversation in the way that exhibits and conference stunts used too. 

This conversation has been pushed even further, with companies using the pause in events to try new methods without significantly risking budgets. We see igaming providers now producing video channels, podcasts and engaging content, as they offer real rewards and an alternative method of reaching members of the igaming community. 

2020 also saw the take-off of virtual events. While most of us were confined to our computer screens, virtual events became a key way to engage with clients and new business prospects. 

All of these offered completely new opportunities to spread a company’s reach through virtual channels and provided significant branding possibilities. With online sponsorships being an obvious way to reach as many eyeballs as possible, paid online channels took centre stage. 

These expanded branding opportunities is something Pragmatic Play attacked with vigour. This gave us not just increased exposure, but also the perfect platform to display our expertise in areas of interest to the community. 

With it being almost a year since the last major in-person event, ICE 2020, marketing departments have had significant time to examine their previous performances and take stock of their approach. With less pressure to prepare time-consuming stands and activations, there has been a time for introspection, allowing companies to focus on their core objectives and re-align their goals. Certain new approaches taken in 2020 will be infinitely more effective for some compared to previous methods, while others will be eagerly awaiting the return of crowded exhibition halls and the buzz that comes with it. 

In what was a remarkably strange and challenging year, the iGaming community managed to embrace new methods and adapt to virtual events smoothly. The skills learnt over the last 12 months will be invaluable to creating complete 360 campaigns in the future and will hold many in good stead. With every challenge there is an opportunity, and we look forward to seeing what the return of live events has in store.