Marketing in a changing landscape
Norsk Tipping is subject to strict marketing rules. The basic rule is that the company must not advertise more than is necessary to channel society’s appetite for gaming to the legal offering.
Thus, it is the situation in the gaming market and society otherwise that affects how and how much Norsk Tipping markets itself. In 2020, the authorities took a number of steps to strengthen the Norwegian regulation of gaming and enforcement of the marketing and gaming rules. These measures have consequences for Norsk Tipping’s marketing work.
The Covid-19 pandemic changed the everyday lives of many Norwegians, including those interested in – and who have problems with – gaming. Norsk Tipping was concerned about the consequences shutting down society and changes to the gaming offering would have. Norsk Tipping’s customer surveys showed that the concern was justified when it came to slot machine customers, a customer group in which the number of at-risk gamblers is high. In March, 11 per cent of slot machine customers said that they played more via foreign companies after the Covid-19 measures were introduced and slot machines closed. Some 2 months later the proportion had doubled, to 21 per cent. The reasons for this are complex, although direct advertising from unregulated gaming companies is an important factor. In March, 29 per cent of slot machine players said that they had received direct marketing via email, text messages, or telephone calls from unregulated gaming companies. In May, that proportion had climbed to 50 per cent.
For the player base as a whole, there were little signs of change, both with respect to gaming via Norsk Tipping and leakage to foreign companies. This indicates that the level of market communication was correct and necessary.
Spending less money on advertising
In 2020, Norsk Tipping spent NOK 373 million on advertising, sponsorships and promotion, a decrease of NOK 16 million compared with 2019. Measured in terms of the growth in net turnover, the cost ratio has gradually decreased in recent years. In 2020, expenses represented 4.4 per cent of Norsk Tipping’s net turnover, a decrease from 4.8 per cent in 2019 and 6.4 per cent in 2014.
Advertising and net turnover
If one excludes expenses related to sponsorships and promotion and looks at advertising expenses in isolation, these fell by NOK 37 million from 2019 to 2020. For more information, see notes 4 and 5 in the annual accounts.
Lower media buy for gaming
Media sales figures from the analysis company Nielsen are often used to assess the total size of the advertising market. These figures are not directly comparable with the accounting figures, where one recognises the actual expenditure. Nevertheless, experience shows that the Nielsen figures provide a fair picture of the advertising value for traditional media channels such as TV, radio, and print media. The gross value of Norsk Tipping’s advertising buy last year was NOK 277 million. This was a reduction of 11 per cent compared with 2019.
Figures from Nielsen show that the overall advertising market for gaming dropped by 11 per cent in 2020, if digital marketing is disregarded. This means that gaming advertising accounted for 2.9 per cent of all advertising in Norway in 2020, compared with 3.1 per cent in 2019. In 2020, unregulated gaming companies accounted for 68 per cent of gross media sales on TV, compared with a share of 72 per cent in 2019.
Mainly marketing low-risk games
Norsk Tipping offers many types of games, although not all of them are advertised. Terminal games, online casinos, and online bingo are games associated with a high risk of developing gambling problems and these are not marketed. The majority of Norwegian gamblers only play lotteries and scratch cards, which are games associated with a low risk of developing gambling problems. These are the products that are marketed the most by Norsk Tipping.
Despite the fact that a relatively small proportion of the public plays games with a high-risk profile, it is precisely these games that cause the greatest problems. Both public surveys and statistics from the Helpline show that it is with online casino games that most problem and at-risk gamblers struggle. The public survey also points out that increased exposure to advertising and the gaming advertising having a stronger influence may have contributed to the increase in problem and risky gambling in Norway.
Casino games have been advertised on Norwegian TVs by foreign gaming companies for many years using strong means such as welcome bonuses and free games. Amendments to the Broadcasting Act now give the authorities the ability to halt this advertising. If successful, Norway will be one of the few countries in Europe without online casino adverts in national media. You can read more about the legislative amendments here (in Norwegian).
Findings from the public survey and the Covid-19 pandemic resulted in several changes to the company’s marketing in 2020: The content was adjusted to take account of the possible negative consequences that a more or less shutdown society could have. Advertising was completely halted in social channels such as Snapchat and YouTube for a period of time.
At the same time, the marketing of large prizes was designed to be more informative and its visibility on TV was reduced. The use of live tickers on TV showing live odds was ended. A number of restrictions were introduced into the marketing mix in parallel with expanded insight studies in order to obtain an insight into any negative effects of the marketing.
In addition to the aforementioned changes, Norsk Tipping strengthened its responsibility messaging. Beyond marketing its responsible gaming rules and own responsibility campaigns, the message ‘Spill med måte – så tipper du ikke over’ (‘play with moderation – and you won’t overplay’) was included in a large number of the company’s adverts.
Draws on NRK reported to the NPCC
In February, the Norwegian Press Complaints Commission (NPCC) considered a complaint from the foreign gaming company Kindred Group that claimed that NRK’s broadcasting of Lotto, Vikinglotto and Extra draws was contrary to six points in its code of practice. NRK (Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation) rejected the claim that it had breached good press ethics and said that the draws were shown because they were of public interest.
A divided commission decided that NRK had acted contrary to point 2.3 of the code of practice on openness. The NPCC’s conclusion resulted in changes being made to the broadcasts to clarify Norsk Tipping’s role in their production.