Insight - WhichBingo's Simon Jones on reaching bingo players

Insight - WhichBingo's Simon Jones on reaching bingo players

Wednesday, December 7, 2016
Affiliate site's award caps off very successful year

Online bingo comparison site WhichBingo recently won another prize, Best Bingo Affiliate prize at the EGR Operator Awards 2016. TotallyGaming.com caught up with WhichBingo commercial director Simon Jones to find out why his firm has had such a good year.

Totally Gaming: Can you detail any operational changes you have made at WhichBingo in 2016?

Simon Jones: 2016 has been a year of change for the business both in terms of strategic and operational direction. In the last half of 2016, we took the strategic decision to change the company name from Focus Online Management Ltd, to WhichBingo Ltd. This has allowed the team to focus purely on one main brand and website, whilst the rest of the business has moved into other subsidiaries that are now part of a group still owned by the founder Phil Fraser.

From an operational point of view, this has brought the team closer together where previously there were a number of distractions with multiple other projects. Allowing the team to direct their attention to one brand means project collaboration is now a real driver to moving forward with innovation development. We’ve also made some key appointments this year, with a Head of UX joining us in 2017 to help us deliver our next key innovation projects.

TG: We understand that you re-aired your first ever TV commercial this year; how successful was this campaign?

SJ: Yes, back in early 2015 we aired our first TV campaign at the same time we launched our new responsive website. This time round, in 2016 due to Clearcast regulations we created two edits of the TV commercial which were aired pre and post 9pm. The campaign ran through September and October, and on first impressions, it’s been another success with record numbers of visitors to the website.

TG: Do you think that increased familiarisation of online gambling has led to an increase in the numbers playing online bingo?

SJ: That depends on how you look at it. According to the latest bingo player survey we have running on our site, as part of our preparation for our next Online Bingo Annual Report, nearly 50% of players questioned don’t think of themselves as gamblers. So no, I don’t think it’s down to familiarisation of online gambling specifically. I think the reason why there’s an increase in the numbers playing online bingo is because of the TV advertising.

From our Online Bingo Annual Report for 2016, there was an estimated £56m spend on TV advertising in 2015 by bingo brands, with the top 5 spenders contributing over 60% of this figure. Tombola bingo is undoubtedly the biggest single bingo brand that advertised on TV in 2015, accounting for over 20% of total media spend.

TG: How do you think the landscape has changed for bingo affiliates this year?

SJ: Any bingo affiliate practising effective SEO using Google SERPS for the majority of their traffic has had numerous ups and downs over the last 12 months, us included. And since Penguin 4.0 officially launched in September 2016, with its reported real-time updates, any affiliate, bingo included, has seen major changes in their rankings, and not all of it has been good. We seem to have weathered the Google algorithm updates well this time and are seeing healthy improvements in rankings where others continue to decline.

Moving forward into 2017 I expect there will be acquisitions of bingo affiliates joining bigger gaming affiliate businesses looking to broaden their portfolio and market share.

TG: What made WhichBingo a more deserving winner of the EGR award than either Little Star Media or Mad About Bingo?

SJ: With all due respect to our friends at Little Star Media and Mad About Bingo, whom we know personally, I think the main reasons for our deserved win are down to branding and innovation. Whilst both our competitors have decent bingo affiliates sites, WhichBingo has remained at the forefront of the market with our single-minded mission and vision. It was interesting to see our biggest competitor BingoPort absent at this year’s EGR Operator Awards, whilst parent company and owners Gaming Realms Plc were present to collect their win for Best Mobile Casino Product.

Whilst WhichBingo is arguably still just an affiliate website, it’s more about the brand potential and our approach to innovation that’s keeping us ahead of our competitors. We host our annual WhichBingo Awards in London straight after the Bullet Business Online Bingo Summit which is now in its 10th year. We’re also in the process of publishing our 2nd Online Bingo Annual Report which has been well received by the industry, and quoted at gaming conferences and in board rooms of some of the biggest bingo brands. Moving forward into 2017 is going to be very interesting for us as we continue to push forward with new products and innovation. 

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