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iGaming & Sportsbook Operator Guide to Programmatic Advertising


Betting online is big business, but acquiring new clients is one of the most challenging aspects for casino operators and betting site operators alike.

Digital marketing is progressing at unbelievable rates, and technology is always evolving. The following few years will see the online gambling market get hotter than ever before with the deregulation of the US market, the result is more ad spend and greater competition among advertisers to acquire new players. The affiliate marketing industry will also become more competitive as new aggregator sites try to establish themselves in what could be the biggest opportunity and turning point in the gambling industry since the start of the web.

Today we take a look at just one of the ways advertisers can reach new depositing players with programmatic advertising.

If you are an affiliate, bookmaker casino online or land-based, this article is for you.

This guide is also helpful if you are an affiliate or aggregator who complies with bonus offers from leading operators and wants to drive traffic to your SEO sites.

What is programmatic advertising?

Programmatic advertising is a way of buying digital ads. It uses software using predefined rules to purchase and place the ad on various sites or apps based on targeting criteria such as demographics, location and browser behaviour.

Why should online gambling operators use programmatic advertising?

If you run online marketing campaigns, you’ll know that reaching your audience is more complex by the many regulations.

The gambling industry is highly regulated, and the major ad-tech platforms such as Google, Facebook, Pinterest, Snapchat, Twitter and TikTok don’t make it easy. They have their policies on top of government policies.

If you’re creating a marketing plan, you should consider whether you can get your account whitelisted to acquire new users with the above-mentioned ad-tech platforms (we can help with that). Still, the truth is it’s pretty hard, especially if you only have an offshore gaming license in the likes of Curacao.

Programmatic advertising is advantageous because, in general, the policies placed by major DSPs are much softer. Publishers themselves can opt out of receiving gambling ads, which would be wise if you are a publisher that reaches younger audiences.

On top of the fact that it’s much quicker and easier to get to market with programmatic ads, you may also see better ROI than Facebook or Google Ads.

What is a DSP?

A DSP is a demand-side platform which allows you to target specific users on various ad exchanges. You can buy ads on exchanges that reach your target audience, where you then run the ad.

Using a DSP allows you to automate online buying processes, reducing costs and improving efficiency.

A DSP aims to help achieve better advertising ROI; therefore, one of the aims of a DSP is lower CPMs (cost per 1000 impressions). 

How does a DSP work?

A DSP is used to set up your campaign parameters; for example, you can target users based on their location or interests. You then choose which ad exchanges you want to buy ads from and create a media plan that allocates how much budget will be spent per site.

Once this is done, it’s time to pick what content you wish to promote, including images, videos etc. These are called creatives.

Your creative needs to follow certain guidelines while being uploaded onto the chosen publisher sites in order for them not to reject it because they don’t meet their requirements. This is especially important for the iGaming industry.

What is the difference between an SSP and DSP?

An SSP is a supply-side platform, which allows publishers to monetize inventory by selling ad space the goal of a SSP is to increase the CPM advertisers pay thus netting a publisher more revenue for their ad space.

What does it mean when something has been bought through RTB?

Programmatically buying through Real-Time Bidding simply means you’ve bought the ad using technology automated in a real-time auction between the publisher (seller) and buyer.

Considerations for iGaming programmatic advertising

The first rule when approaching any form of marketing is to know your market.

What works for one company may not work for another, and vice versa. However, the general steps you need to take are similar no matter what industry you’re in or who your target audience is:

Know what it is that makes your product unique – this will help establish an emotional connection with potential clients!

Create a strategy – start by deciding which type of programmatic advertising suits you best (there are performance-based ads like banners, native ads that blend into the website they’re hosted on and direct response ads designed to generate leads).

Once you have decided where to focus your efforts, create content specifically for each channel/platform. And remember, quality over quantity! Not every ad needs to be a winner, but they all need to give your target audience some value.

Create an advertising budget – this should cover everything from hiring agencies and buying media space/ads on sites right through to the creative side of things, i.e. creating high-quality content or landing pages that convert users into customers!

What works best for a betting company’s display, video or native advertising?

We all know what a video ad is, but sometimes there is confusion between a display ad and a native ad.

A display ad is a banner that takes up an ad space slot. A native ad, however, resembles other content on a publisher page in terms of look, feel and format, making it appear less intrusive but still allowing you to promote your brand message effectively.

Native advertising has the advantage of being more authentic. A display banner allows you to be more visual and deliver a more complex message with multiple frames in your message.

A video ad will have more engagement online than other forms, but it costs much more, increasing your CPA costs. Generally, video works best only for branding.

You should test what works for your brand with a clear A/B testing approach.

What are the gambling regulation policies & laws around advertising through programmatic advertising?

If you are a casino or sports betting operator, the laws and policies will vary by market, and you should always consult local regulation; here, for example, you will find advertising and marketing rules and regulations from the UK gambling commission.

Can you retarget users who have visited my site?

Yes, retargeting strategies are among the best marketing strategies you should be using when setting up a programmatic ad buying campaign. Retargeting works by placing cookies on your website, which are used to track visitor behaviour; this is then matched with the ad-serving platform’s cookie library. The user will see your ads if they visit other websites that serve ads from the same source.

The process works best for returning players who have visited your site before but haven’t converted yet! If you run a casino, for example, you could target players who have spent a certain amount of time on your site and haven’t yet made their first deposit. The more recent a site visitor is the higher value they are.

Retargeting works really well for this type of scenario, but you can also run remarketing campaigns that use other strategies to get users back on your site. If they’ve visited the games section before, it might be a good idea to show ads with special offers or free spins during peak hours.

Should I use frequency capping?

You don’t want to annoy users, so remember to set a proper frequency cap. Frequency capping in programmatic advertising is where you limit the number of times a user sees your ads. It is usually set on either an impression basis, but can also be set by actions i.e. time between ad display etc…

An example of good frequency capping would be showing an offer not more than 7 impressions per day and a maximum of 30x a week.

Use private market place deals

Private market place deals are great for iGaming companies. PMPs offer advertisers preferential access to a curated market place of relevant publishers who have opted-in to receiving such deals.

PMPs are great for building relationships between buyers and sellers as they offer access to better pricing, more transparency and control over the deal. They are also great for iGaming companies who want to build their brand awareness by advertising on relevant sites or with top tier media owners!

What metrics should I consider when buying programmatic ads?

Brand awareness campaigns

Brand awareness campaigns should be measured by impressions and reach, this will help to assess the number of people who have seen your ad.

You should focus on viewability and time spent with your ads, the greater the time spent in view, the higher the brand recall and the greater awareness.

Performance campaigns

Performance campaigns focus on acquiring a user at the lowest possible cost, by user, we mean someone who has successfully registered on your site and made a first-time deposit. In this case, you should be focusing on metrics such as

  • Conversion rates
  • CPM cost per mille
  • CPC cost per click
  • Cost per registration
  • Cost per conversion

Let’s take a deeper dive into those most relevant metrics to gambling operators.

• Impressions – the total number of times your ad has been displayed to new customers or existing customers. This metric tells you how many people have been served your ad.

• Clicks – this is the number of clicks your ad has received.

• Click-through rate (CTR) – This is the number of clicks your ad receives divided by its impressions. CTR tells you how interesting people find your ads and could indicate whether or not it’s relevant to them. If many users click on a particular advert, that means they liked what they saw!

• Cost per thousand impressions (CPM) – this is the cost of one thousand impressions. A good metric for benchmarking against other campaigns or even long term ad performance as it allows you to compare like for like and see where your ads are performing best!

• Cost per click (CPC) – this is how much money you spend on every click that’s received by your ad. CPC tells you how much money you’re spending to get people to click on your ads and is used for budgeting purposes. The goal is to lower the CPC.

• Cost per conversion – this is the cost of each conversion that’s received by an ad campaign.

Which DSP should I use?

That really depends on the kind of budget you have for your ad campaign.

The main DSPs to consider are

  • Xandr
  • MediaMath
  • Avocet
  • The TradeDesk

Note these DSPs typically require a minimum ad spend of circa $100k a month.

How much do DSPs charge?

DSPs charge based on a bid reduction fee, a percentage of the ad spend, typically between 10-25%.

What should I look for in a programmatic iGaming agency?

Your agency should have experience in programmatic advertising and online marketing within the online gambling industry. The more experience they have, the better their understanding of your business goals.

Your agency should also have worked with other iGaming brands before so that they can apply learnings.

They should have extensive experience in the markets you operate and understand what messages will resonate.

They will understand that no operator is the same and that a tailored approach is crucial. 

A good agency will be responsive, passionate, and results-focused with a strong sense of setting up for success from the outset.

What are the most popular ad sizes for gambling advertisers?

The same rules apply to gambling advertisers as others typically. You’ll want to create ads in the following sizes for maximum inventory reach:

  • 300×250
  • 728×90
  • 160×600
  • 320×50

What are the typical acquisition costs for casino advertisers?

$50-$200 USD per first time deposit.

What are the typical acquisition costs for sportsbook advertisers?

$50-$250 USD per first time deposit.

What type of targeting should I use to acquire online gamblers?

To maximize user acquisition you should use a combination of prospecting and retargeting.

A prospecting line item is:

– Used to target new audiences that are not currently engaged with your brand.

A retargeting line item is:

– Used to reengage users who have visited in the past but haven’t taken action, or made a deposit.

Contextual advertising

It can be a powerful tool for online gambling operators to increase user engagement and drive more users from the search results.

Content is king when it comes to contextual advertising. This type of campaign allows you to target your audience based on their interests, typically by targeting keywords related to a specific topic or theme.

You are a sports bookie and want to promote live odds on Manchester United vs Tottenham. Your audience is probably researching news related to these two football clubs. So you’d want to compile a list of keywords such as

  • football, odds, live, Tottenham, Manchester United,

Then apply these at a line item level using contextual targeting. Your content would then appear on pages written about these clubs and is contextually relevant. This granular data-led approach is the type of targeting method you’ll need to succeed and ensure your CPA costs do not exceed net gaming revenues for profitable long term outcomes.

What data should I apply to reach my audiences?

When it comes to programmatic, you want to be using a mix of both first party and third party data:

First-Party Data:

– This data comes from the website itself and is stored on your databases. It allows you to build detailed personas of users who have performed actions or visited certain pages etc. First-party data can also come from your CRM; a list upload allows you to match your audience to devices across the web-based on a unique identifier such as email or phone numbers.

Third-Party Data:

– Third-party data will allow you to reach new users and segments outside of your current database. This can come from data providers such as Acxiom or Experian.

There are a wealth of third-party data providers that allow you to target gamblers more accurately, so do your research.

What time of day should I advertise?

Up weight your campaigns when you typically see the highest conversion rates.

Should I use HTML5 banners?

Try a mix of image and html5. Generally speaking, you’ll want to use html5 at the top of the funnel.

What CPMs are typical?

Retargeting CPMs should vary between $2-15 depending on the market and recency of the prospective player.

For prospecting line items sub $1-2CPM + any data fee.

I hope you have found today’s blog post informative. Thanks for reading 🙂

Adlegion Ltd is a business founded on data. We also have best in class relationships with ad-tech data partners and publishers.

We help clients increase media spend efficiency with targeted campaigns that lower CPA costs.

If you’re interested in our programmatic agency services to help acquire new users, drop us a line, and let us bring you quality players at cost-effective rates.

We have various pricing models depending on the scope of the work.