The gambling industry has seen exponential growth over the past few years. A combination of increased legalization and regulation, rising social acceptance, and developments in mobile and internet technology have seen gambling become more popular than ever across a number of countries and demographics.
Modern digital technology and social platforms mean that gambling operators and developers now have more opportunities to market their products and services than ever before. Adverts can be broadcast to enormous audiences and see high engagement statistics. However, as the ideas of responsible gambling and player protection are gathering speed in the industry, how will this affect marketing and digital advertising? Let’s find out.
How do digital gambling ads work?
The gambling industry is highly regulated. Laws and rules differ greatly from country to country, and even specific regions within one country can have their own unique regulations. This means that marketing and digital advertising for gambling can be complex and fraught with difficulties. Marketers must ensure they are working within all specified rules and adhering to the relevant laws, or they risk having their ads pulled or even facing legal or regulatory action.
Additionally, every different digital or social platform will have its own individual rules regarding gambling ads. Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or TikTok, marketers must make themselves aware of the particular policies of each platform and tailor their campaigns to suit them.
For example, to advertise online gambling products or services on Meta platforms Facebook and Instagram, marketers must complete a number of steps and meet certain requirements. First, they need to obtain written permission from Meta through an application. They then need to demonstrate that they are licensed by the relevant regulatory bodies and that they are legally allowed to operate in the region or regions they are targeting.
Apple pulls gambling ads from App Store
Running gambling ads on social and digital channels is an involved process that can often require significant time and resources to implement. Despite this, it would seem gambling ads are still subject to far greater scrutiny and can be pulled at a moment’s notice, as recent news from Apple would suggest.
On 25th October, Apple began displaying more ads in the App Store, on both the Today page and at the bottom of app listing pages. These ads are identified as paid advertisements by a blue logo and background. This move comes as the company looks to drive revenue through digital ad expansion.
This news was met with some criticism. Many argued that the presence of paid ad space on individual app listings would only force developers to have to buy the space on their own pages themselves, in order to steer away rival apps looking to poach customers.
Apple faced even more criticism later that week, as a number of developers spoke out and expressed their anger at paid ads for gambling companies appearing in the ‘You Might Also Like’ section under their own non-gambling apps.
In response, Apple said to MacRumors: “We have paused ads related to gambling and a few other categories on App Store product pages.”
The use of the word ‘paused’ would suggest this is just a temporary measure. However, the company has gone on to confirm that it is considering reviewing its rules regarding gambling ads.
What does this mean for marketers?
For gambling companies to adhere to responsible gambling rules in their campaigns, they must strive to meet regulatory requirements and follow guidelines set out by overseeing bodies. Adverts and marketing material must only target consumers aged 18 or over, while many jurisdictions stipulate that gambling ads must simultaneously display safer gambling messaging.
However, what this news from Apple would seem to suggest is that no matter if marketers follow the necessary rules and abide by laws and regulations, they still run the risk of their adverts being pulled from platforms.
On the surface, it would appear that Apple has pulled these ads simply because other app developers were unhappy with them being adjacent to their own products. For gambling companies who have followed the rules and paid for this ad space, this might not seem entirely fair.
What it does suggest is that the gambling industry still has some way to go in achieving true mainstream acceptance and that it is still subject to biases from a number of other industries and sectors.
Online gambling is now the biggest sector in the entire industry. As our lives become ever more interconnected and intertwined with our mobile and personal devices, it’s only natural that gambling companies would look to use these channels to market and advertise their businesses.
However, the gambling industry must adhere to far more stringent rules than others, with a rise in responsible gambling practices making things even more difficult to navigate. As the news from Apple has demonstrated, digital advertising for gambling is still something of a gray area. Even if all the necessary rules are followed, gambling ads can still be pulled for what operators might see as rather dubious reasons.
As responsible gambling takes on even more importance in the eyes of gambling companies, players, and overseeing bodies, we can expect to see even tighter rules around marketing for the industry. However, social media companies must do their part too, and work to further clarify and define their own gambling advertising policies.
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