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COVID-19: Three iGaming insights from Google Trends

Over the last two months more time has been spent online than ever, with Google searches for online courses growing by over 70% globally between the last week of March and the first week of April, whilst global YouTube watch time for videos on spoken languages has grown more than 6X year over year

The behaviour of the nation has altered considerably since lockdown began in March. How has this affected consumer iGaming behaviouer, and what has the impact been on iGaming with all this new-found time at home? 

Whilst it was initially assumed that lockdown would create a boom in consumer wagering spend, Michael Dugher, chief executive of the BGC has stated “there hasn’t been an explosion in people betting online … — in fact, the opposite is true with total revenue down by up to 60 per cent”. Gambling operators have voluntarily halted TV advertising during the lockdown period until 6th June and sportsbooks have struggled to adapt to the mass cancellation and postponement of sporting events. Colloquially, many assumptions have been made on how lockdown has impacted consumer iGaming behaviour; increased interest in e-sports, more time and interest in casino gambling and the remaining niche sporting events that are still being hosted. 

Digital Fuel Marketing have dug into search traffic trends to find the truth behind the assumptions. 

Here are three iGaming insights from Google Trends:

1) We’re missing sporting entertainment, and are searching for sport content to consume 

Once the majority of sporting events were cancelled, overall searches for sport dropped massively from the end of February (23/02-29/02) to the end of March (22/03-28/03) – down by 61 points on Google’s interest over time scale. Searches for “sport cancelled” peaked the week commencing March 8th, and since then consumers have increased their interest in the sports they have found are still going. Searches for both the Belarussian Premier League and the Turkish Super Lig have more than quadrupled since February, with people keen to follow whatever football is still showing. Likewise, search traffic for Tampa Bay and Gulfstream Park, the Florida racecourses still hosting horse racing, has peaked as people look for sporting entertainment to satisfy their downtime. 

2) Interest in sports betting has maintained 

With all major sporting events cancelled, one would assume interest in sports betting would decrease significantly. However, analysis of the search data shows searches for sports betting over the lockdown period are level with search activity in November last year. Indicating that the general public are keen for sports to come back and for major sports betting activity to resume. Interest in sports betting jumped 19 points from week commencing 29th March to week commencing 19th April. Searches for “online sports betting” reached an annual peak during the week commencing 19th April with interest in “premier league return” growing from that week up to now – a promising insight for the iGaming industry for when sport recommences. 

3) Searches for online casino and poker have fallen after an initial peak

As predicted, interest in online casino and poker drastically increased in the first week of lockdown. However, this peak has not maintained and search traffic has been falling since. This reduction could have multiple factors; it may be in part due to the removal of TV and radio advertising, as well as increased gambling awareness messaging. Additionally, it may show that once customers have found an operator they prefer they are increasingly brand loyal.

Supporting your iGaming SEO strategy moving forward

Data is key in anything we do digitally, particularly in the iGaming industry. Reviewing the search trends suggests a number of learnings; with many people still searching for sports betting, now is the time to work on your SEO strategy to increase rankings moving forward. Secondly searches for sport and casino have been expanding beyond brand key terms as shown in all our trend research above, SEO strategies should therefore ensure they include a focus on more generic search terms. Digital Fuel Marketing is working to support our iGaming clients old and new, if you would like an SEO audit for your business please get in touch with us and we’ll see how we can help.

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