May 21, 2021
Until a Supreme Court ruling in 2018, online gaming, and especially sports betting, represented just a tiny fraction of all advertising spending. Since that ruling, however, it has rapidly expanded to become a major player in the advertising space and one that will almost certainly continue to grow. As the customer base expands and more states legalize online gaming and sports betting, the industry will likely grow faster than almost any other in the next 5-10 years. As such, it’s an important space for advertisers, agencies, and media companies to understand.
Top-line Broadcast Advertising Intelligence
Before we dive into some interesting details, let’s look at some general advertising trends among gaming advertisers. Unsurprisingly, gaming advertising peaked in January (Super Bowl) and March (March Madness), driven by sports betting ads and promotions, and then dropped off precipitously. We expect to see this slowly increase as the NBA playoffs continue. Then, ads will likely peak again in July with the NBA finals and Olympic games. This will be the first Olympics wherein sports betting is broadly legal in the U.S. so we don’t quite know what to expect. We will be tracking advertising surrounding the games closely, but will pay special attention to sports betting advertising to see how the industry handles the games.
We wrote about Draft Kings advertising in March, and advertising in the gaming industry at large is very similar. Most ads from both regular gaming advertisers and sports betting advertisers are relatively low-budget productions. They typically highlight different promotions rather than sell or introduce the products or companies themselves. The only real change from March until now is that both Draft Kings and FanDuel are promoting their digital casinos; these ads make up a growing portion of the total advertising from these companies, likely because they represent a potential revenue stream that’s a bit steadier than sports betting. In the month of May, for example, the majority of FanDuel’s advertising has been centered around their digital casino product.
Draft Kings Ad Data
Last week marked an interesting milestone as Draft Kings surpassed FanDuel for the most advertisements of the week for the first time since August of last year. These two advertisers are comfortably the top two in terms of total ad airings, but FanDuel has easily held the top spot. But last week, Draft Kings made a real push across all markets and surpassed FanDuel by just over 1,000 ad occurrences.
This push the week of May 9th was fueled by one ad in particular from Draft Kings promoting a special offer around the lightweight title fight. In pushing the title fight, Draft Kings also took a break from their usual geographic strategy. For example, Ft. Wayne, Indiana and Roanoke, Virginia saw 366 and 351 airings respectively, putting them in 3rd and 4th as judged by total airings by market. These markets generally don’t even break the top 20 Draft Kings markets – both saw only one occurrence of a Draft Kings ad the week before. In a relatively new industry, it will be interesting to see how things shake out as newer players such as MGM continue to try to assert themselves in the marketplaces.