Until fairly recently, there were few viable options for marketing to a slot patron while they were actually engaged in game play. But the modern slot manager has a full ecosystem of player loyalty touchpoints available to them today, including the video slot screen itself.

Game screens are now being utilized for in-game marketing, and so far, players have responded positively to the experience.

“In-game marketing evolved from simple downloadable credits to bonus games and floor-wide events like tournaments and virtual racing,” said Ted Keenan, senior director, product management for systems at Scientific Games. “Those bonus games and floor-wide events continue to be compelling and engaging mechanics to create fun, exciting and differentiating events on a casino floor. The evolution will continue with the growth of marketing events that leverage the mobile devices.”

Operators are always looking for new ways to reach audience segments with relevant offers that deliver results; and suppliers are responding with ever-improving system solutions that help them reach this goal. One such example is SYNKROS Offers Management, the latest system enhancement from Konami Gaming. SYNKROS Offers Management empowers operators to reach, incentivize and reward players based on their demographic, spending and other factors. In addition to advanced targeting capabilities for the property using this tool, the facility’s players have the benefit of selecting from multiple bonus awards—such as food and beverage comp vouchers, free play, drawing tickets, tournament entries and extra point prizes—and they receive personalized notifications across a variety of touchpoints including game displays. With SYNKROS Offers Management, offers can be non-contingent or require targeted action and can be scheduled for specified time periods of activation, selection and expiration.

“We really created SYNKROS Offers Management to give operators the utmost convenience and control to configure promotions and maximize their results,” said Steve Walther, senior director, marketing and product management for Konami Gaming.

Land-based gaming machines are not the only devices that can benefit the in-game marketing evolution. Mobile gaming is increasingly being used to drive return visits to casino floors, which makes it another prime target for in-game marketing. 

“Mobile gaming is becoming another tool that a casino marketer must learn to use to create engaged and loyal players,” Keenan said. “Today, mobile gaming is most associated with play-for-fun social casinos. Increasingly, we are seeing mobile casino gaming mechanics being used by marketers to drive return visits and brand loyalty.”

SG Gaming Systems is initiating a strategy to extend its marketing solutions to these mobile devices. “Every component of in-game marketing from the card reader and downloadable credits to the bonus games including tournaments and virtual racing will be enhanced to leverage mobile devices,” Keenan said. “Mobile devices can reduce operational costs and improve player experiences by replacing physical magnetic stripe player cards or serving as an electronic substitute for physical tickets. Bonus games and promotional events on the casino floor to increase trip value can be extended onto mobile devices to increase trip count. Any aspect of the casino player experience is bound to be enhanced by mobile devices.”

Keenan also believes that the growth of mobile usage among the casino playing demographic is going to impact in-game marketing much, or more than, any other in-game marketing device of the past.  “The industry as a whole is facing a steep learning curve to understand how best to use mobile devices to enhance the casino experience,” said Keenan. “More and more we are seeing manufacturers integrating slot machine games and mobile apps to create engaging experiences that marketers can use to elevate casino brand loyalty. The best solutions will leverage successes from a broad spectrum of industries that have embraced mobile marketing. Whether it’s a retailer’s in-store tracking solution, an entertainment company’s persistent game, or a hospitality company’s secure keyless solutions, casino marketers will need to leverage successful components to create the best player experiences.”

Another example of suppliers offering mobile solutions is Konami’s award-winning SYNKiosk, which features mobile functionality that allows players to manage their account from a personal smartphone rather than a kiosk machine. All the different promo games and account features they enjoy at the physical kiosk can be conveniently accessed through their own mobile device.

Big data is another trend that is starting to impact in-game marketing.  “To date, casino marketers have been confined to mostly just player data gathered by the casino,” Keenan said. “Big data empowers the casino marketer with new insight about players spending habits, entertainment activity, social influence, education and wealth.” 

Incorporating these increasingly sophisticated data science algorithms can help casino marketers reach players more cost effectively and with greater impact than just intuition alone.  SG Gaming Systems has launched its big data solution, Praxis Analytics, and they expect to evolve this product to meet growing demands for more data-driven marketing solutions as demands rise.

Meanwhile, numerous casinos are benefiting from the profitability of existing in-game marketing. SG Gaming Systems has worked with several casinos to create profitable in-game marketing solutions; solutions that range from Guinness World Record tournaments to floor-wide virtual racing events to big data driven personalized in-game offers. 

“Most all marketers ultimately measure results by profitability,” Keenan said. “Some of the casinos have performed extensive research to ensure that the promotional activity is driving incremental revenue rather than merely cannibalizing from another revenue source at the property.” For example, one casino found that their revenue had increased significantly more than the competing casinos in the region over a one year period of extensive in-game marketing promotions. Upon further investigation, they found the number of unique players visiting the casino was comparable year-over-year, but the number of trips by each player had increased significantly while the average value per trip remained constant. The uptick in revenue was attributable to a more engaging player experience that drove additional player loyalty.

“The continued use of SG Gaming Systems’ in-game marketing solutions is the strongest evidence that in-game marketing creates increased machine profitability” said Keenan.

Although in-game marketing can improve bottom line results, operators should be judicious in how they utilize these system enhancements. “Our customers use in-game marketing more as a tool for advancing total property revenue and reinforcing a lifecycle of player engagement,” Walther said. “Impact to machine revenue is nominal; however it’s important to make sure that in-game marketing efforts don’t become distracting to the point that they inhibit the core slot gaming experience.”

Below you will find more details on what Scientific Games and Konami Gaming are doing to foster innovation in the in-game marketing space and beyond.

SCIENTIFIC GAMES

SG Gaming Systems offers a complete product-line of integrated solutions for the casino marketer. In-game picture-in-picture technology, digital signage, promotional kiosks, mobile marketing solutions, games and promotional events are all integrated seamlessly to empower the casino marketer.  “Piecing together disparate solutions can result in expensive and sometimes less-than-seamless integrations and no other manufacturer has such a complete product offering like Scientific Games,” Keenan said.

SG Gaming Systems supplies some of the most widely used casino management systems in the industry.  The casino management systems include everything from the card reader to the player tracking software to the picture-in-picture bonus games that award free-play to a casino’s most valuable players.  SG Systems has evolved the basic player tracking and downloadable credits into technologically sophisticated solutions for casino marketers that includes:

  • iVIEW Display Manager, which presents system-driven content including bonus games right on the main game screen to create the best player awareness and engagement; 
  • The Elite Bonusing Suite, which monitors player behavior in real-time to deliver those bonus games prominently at the point-of-play; and 
  • Praxis Analytics, which uses data science algorithms to enable prescriptive offers optimized for each individual player using a combination of real-time casino data and external data sources.

SG Gaming Systems continues to drive casino marketing from the club desk to the point-of-play, and now into the digital age with increasing mobile integration with the recent launch of cardless and cashless solutions that open the door to extending the casino marketers reach even further.

SG Gaming Systems also continues to integrate new technologies into their products with the Elite Bonusing Suite (EBS) continuing to evolve with new and engaging game mechanics and promotional concepts.  New licensed games like Clue Rewards, Monopoly Roulette and Yahtzee One Shot elevate the brand recognition of promotional games on the casino floor. New skill game mechanics have also been added to tournament games like Dice Frenzy and Bubble Burst.  Also, BetVIEW games leverage the success of secondary side bets on table games to create new concurrent gaming opportunities on existing slot machines.

Praxis Analytics is a new product that uses data science to meld casino data and external data sources into a powerful marketing engine.  Using data from outside, the casino marketers gain new insight into the true wallet share of players and improved return on marketing dollars invested.  A cloud-based subscription service makes Praxis Analytics a cost-effective use of leading-edge big data technology.

Mobile offers extend the use of EBS games and Praxis Analytics insight to players’ mobile devices. Mobile offers are designed to drive return visits and enable casino marketers to reward players instantly with bonus games on their mobile device. For instance, check-in to the hotel, receive a mobile offer to play a bonus game on your mobile device to earn free-play back in the casino. Or perhaps on Friday afternoon a mobile offer in the form a bonus games is sent and awards free-play that must be redeemed today.  Players like to play games and offers are more fun when you win them.

 “Increasingly, our products empower a casino marketer with one-view of a player regardless of where or from what device the player engages with the casino brand,” Keenan said.  “iVIEW Display Manager empowers the casino marketer to communicate and engage with the player at the slot machine.  Promotional Kiosk empowers casino marketers with self-service kiosks.  CoolSign reaches players around the property through networked digital signage. SG Universe and other mobile solutions extend the casino marketers’ reach off-property in ways unimaginable only a few years ago.”

KONAMI GAMING

Konami’s award-winning SYNKROS casino management system allows casinos to use video slot machines as a key touchpoint for player communication and casino marketing. True-Time Windowing allows casinos to broadcast player communication directly to the game screen of any video slot, without interrupting game play. This technology can work in conjunction with system-delivered tournament games through True-Time Tournaments and tools like SYNKROS Offers Management which promote a lifecycle of player engagement with targeted player loyalty incentives.

Games equipped with a True-Time Windowing device are able to blend game content and casino communication on the same display, using picture-in-picture technology. This provides the ability for the SYNKROS system to distribute important account information such as incentives, special offers and system-delivered bonus games.

“Konami’s True-Time Windowing also has the unique ability to highlight full-screen web content with True-Time Web Services,” Walther said. “SYNKROS customers can use this to feature the casino’s owned web channels, for players to book a hotel stay or place restaurant reservations directly from any equipped slot machine display. This functionality is convenient for the player and allows the property to facilitate additional sales opportunities.”  

Player convenience is also at the forefront of innovations for SYNKROS’ True-Time Tournaments. “Depending on the property’s particular needs for a promotion, they have the flexibility to deliver synchronized tournament games and on-demand tournament games to reward carded players,” Walther said. “So our SYNKROS customers can section off a group of games and simultaneously launch a bonus tournament for all players, or they can allow players to play and redeem any earned tournament entries at their leisure. Both have available leaderboard display options to highlight top participants and encourage other players to join. True-Time Tournaments also has a variety of exciting game themes, and on-demand tournaments can even be presented in a multi-game format to allow players to pick their own favorite tournament theme.”

Operators are able to customize the screen panel with branded art and even video content, allowing them to highlight any number of property initiatives—such as upcoming events, room specials, restaurant happy hours and players club promotions.