Differences that Matter: A New Framework for Evaluating Marketing Communication Effectiveness in Online Social Gambling

Differences that Matter: A New Framework for Evaluating Marketing Communication Effectiveness in Online Social Gambling

Wilson Ozuem (University of Hertfordshire, UK) and Jason Prasad (University of Wales, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6190-5.ch022
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Abstract

Gambling has been a part of humanity for a very long time, and references to it have been found in some of the earliest dated records. Literature on the topic has been accumulating since ancient times. The advent of Internet technology, along with its typical subsets, provides a new twist on how gambling is conducted in postmodern times. Drawing on qualitative research, this chapter examines online social gambling and real money gambling marketing communication practices and offers some insights on the development and implementation of effective marketing communication programmes. In contrast to existing studies, the chapter, in part, proposes integrative and higher levels of marketing communication programmes between online social gambling and real money gambling environments.
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Introduction

As profit driven entities, internet gambling companies (also referred to as ‘online gambling’ and ‘real money gambling online’ in this study) are seeking expansion into a rapidly growing online social gambling industry (Yakuel, 2013; Chang and Zhang, 2008). A few of the large internet gambling companies and social gambling companies have already started spending millions of dollars trying to fight for market share; while other gambling companies and social gambling companies have begun building strategic alliances (Johnson, 2013). These actions have sparked controversy within the industry in terms of how companies should handle both markets (Schneider, 2012; Goode, 2013; Morgan Stanley, 2012). This controversy, combined with limited research within the social gambling industry, has left industry leaders and scholars with different ideas about how to understand the business models of the social gambling and internet gambling industries, and more specifically, whether or not to merge them together or keep them separate (Schneider, 2012; Goode, 2013; Collson, 2012a; Rogers, 2013; Morgan Stanley, 2012). This has spawned debate amongst government officials about whether or not social gambling online can actually be considered ‘gambling’ and whether or not they should step in and regulate the online social gambling market (Alaeddini, 2013; Cohen, 2013). Furthermore, authors also have different perspectives about online gaming and there appears to be no clear definition of what online gaming entails (Yee, 2006; Raylu and Oei, 2002; Jieun, et al., 2011; Schneider, 2012). More specifically, Yee (2006) and Kaye (2012) claim online gaming involves playing traditional video type games online; while Owens (2010) and Alaeddini (2013) suggest that internet gambling games are forms of online gaming; and Jieun, et al., (2011), Roche (2012), and Odobo (2013a) suggest that the definition also includes the relatively new industry social gaming (including social gambling).

The advantage for internet gambling companies is they can exploit marketing opportunities within the unregulated social gambling industry that they can no longer do within the regulated internet gambling industry. The social gambling industry is unregulated in over 99% of countries globally, primarily because it is currently not considered to be gambling (Morgan Stanley, 2012). More specifically, some social gambling sites do not allow real life monetary value for their virtual currency (fake gambling chips), while other social sites do not accept payments (wagers) from players for prizes won. Either way, both strategies eliminate one of the three key elements for something to be considered gambling (UK Gambling Act, 2005). This allows real money gambling sites direct access to players where local governments have placed legal restrictions for internet gambling marketing communication programmes and consumer buying.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Social Gambling: The activity or practice of playing a gambling related game online on a social network/media platform using virtual currency (fake money). Virtual currency can either be offered free or paid for by the player but cannot be converted back into real money.

Consumer Buying Behaviour: The process and activities which people engage in when they are searching for, selecting, purchasing, using, evaluating, and disposing of products and services in order to satisfy their needs and desires.

Real Money Gambling: Anyone who deposits money into an online casino and places a wager on any gambling related game via the internet in order to win a prize or money.

Online Gambling: Anyone who deposits money into an online casino and places a wager on any gambling related game via the internet in order to win a prize or money.

Marketing Communication: Messages and/or promotions delivered through one or more mediums to communicate with the target market(s).

Internet Gaming: All game types (both gambling related and non-gambling related, including the wagering of real money, virtual money, or no money wagering), which are played online (including through a social network/media platform played solo or multiplayer) via a computer, a laptop, a game console, a tablet, a mobile phone, or any other digital device that has internet access and game play capabilities.

Qualitative Research: A type of research approach that addresses research question(s) and designs a study that involves collecting qualitative data and analysing it using interpretative methods.

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