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Saturday, April 10, 2021

How YouTube Became Fertile Ground for Marketing Online Games

If you have a look online, you could easily find information on the revenue and, as a consequence, the popularity of certain casino games in places like Las Vegas and Macau. In fact, detailed reports emerge each quarter, showing the rise and fall of trends in games like blackjack, as well as how, why and when people are playing certain games. But where do you find that sort of information for the popularity of specific online casino games? It’s difficult with the online market as there is scant detail released beyond overall revenues.  

We do have some inkling, of course. For instance, checking the hugely popular Starburst slots at casino sites, you will see that the game, created by NetEnt, is always placed prominently. Starburst has been regarded as the most popular casino slot online for the best part of a decade, regularly topping lists, both official and unofficial, of the most popular online games. But that sort of information is something of an anomaly, and the data is usually more anecdotal.  

YouTube casino streaming has grown considerably 

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But there is another platform on which we can get an impression of the popularity of online casino games – YouTube. Over the last few years, a community of casino streamers with an army of followers has appeared on the platform. A similar story is unfolding on fellow streaming site Twitch, but YouTube offers a little bit more exposure to the casual viewer. Nevertheless, casino streaming is happening, and those creating the videos are simultaneously influencing the market and reacting to trends already prominent in it.  

When we talk about “influencing the market”, it’s important to understand the role of these streamers. Often, they aren’t the classic YouTube influencers like PewDiePie. They are, in fact, affiliate marketers. That means they will be paid – in one way or another – for encouraging people to join and play at casinos. As such, they will often get to showcase new games for their audience, often in an exclusive format.  

Game name recognition is important to attract new customers  

While their reach is not as wide as those video gamers that get first look at, for example, the PS5 or Xbox Series X, their influence is still considerable. The streamers put on some theatre, in a sense, by playing the games at relatively high stakes. They will also curate videos, creating highlight reels with games’ special features and bonuses. Does that give a false impression of gambling? Perhaps. But many streamers also show the process, providing detail – and evidence – of deposits, profits and losses.  

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As YouTube is a community platform, the streamers will also react to viewers suggestions, and that gives us an impression of which games are popular. In 2020, that normally means highly volatile games like those in the Megaways range. Again, the data is not readily available, but we have often seen certain games become popular on YouTube first, and then arrive in prominent places on casino sites.  

It’s probably not apparent to those who don’t follow the online casino industry, but name recognition of game titles truly matters. It is not enough for a casino to offer blackjack, roulette and some faceless slot machines. Players will look for specific titles, which they may have seen on YouTube or Twitch, and then decide to join based on whether they are available. If not, it could be comparable to buying a Nintendo and being subsequently told that Super Mario games are not available.  

We should finish by saying that this casino eco-system on YouTube is still relatively small, although it is growing. But the streaming platform has a growing role for both direct and indirect marketing for the online casino industry. It’s ironic perhaps given YouTube’s parent company, Google, has had a historic distaste for promoting gambling. Nevertheless, if you want to see the latest trends in the industry, YouTube is the first place to check out.  

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