Nanocosmos / Hipther: April 2022 interview

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Q: Is the online gambling industry lagging behind others when it comes to UX?

Betsson – Janick Bonnici – Gaming Content Optimisation Manager

Although we are seeing substantial improvement, the simple answer is yes, when you compare the industry to other digital industries and their giants like Netflix, Spotify, Amazon – it is clear that these companies invest heavily in differentiating themselves from others in their field, offering customers with the most user-friendly and effective browsing experience. As an industry, our focus has heavily been on the content we release, innovation and adapting to constant change, which can distract our focus on user experience optimisation. It is understandably quite a challenge given that the industry has grown at such a fast pace and we’re often faced with regulatory changes, even impacting the way we can promote games on site, which means that every market has different UX requirements.

Gamingtec – Andrei Beu – Commercial Director

The COVID-19 pandemic shook the very foundations of businesses from different industries, forcing them to adapt to changing times at a much faster pace. More and more businesses realized the importance of building their online presence as the world retreated indoors. We can say that the gambling industry is somewhat more conservative hence lagging behind tech, travel or big data, yet there are certain markets (like EU) which are focusing a lot of attention on UI/UX.

Press Enter – Hampus Eriksson – Chief Product Officer

We are operating in an online industry, estimated to be worth more than $50bn which says to me we are doing something right. The industry is incredibly competitive and in order to acquire and retain players, UX has to be a priority for anyone hoping to drive a successful business and experience substantial growth.

Competition also drives innovation and our industry is renowned for pioneering technology that provides the best UX available. This not only applies to the moment players arrive at the lobby but also the choice of games, easy navigation, player personalisation, but also to more compliant requirements that are in place to ensure player protection. UX is everything and I believe the gambling industry truly thinks about the end to end player journey and what that UX looks like.

There will always be some incredible examples outside of gambling that surprise and impress us, and this is great, because it’s also important to be regularly inspired and learn how we can adapt new technologies to enhance our own industry.

 

Q: Casino game lobbies have not drastically changed in many years – why is this?

Betsson – Janick Bonnici – Gaming Content Optimisation Manager

The focus through the years has very much been around providing players with the best content and engagement before and whilst playing the games. This includes tailored content targeted at specific players based on their preferences, intriguing offers and engaging gamification experiences such as tournaments and missions, often offering massive prize pools. This was always the most effective way in attracting players to browse games, however as markets regulate and marketing becomes more limited, optimisation of your shop window becomes integral in allowing players to find content which they enjoy.

Gamingtec – Andrei Beu – Commercial Director

This is again a matter of the markets we are looking at. The more technically evolved countries have also brought in a better UX and are constantly updating their online gambling offering. We can easily tell the difference between operators active in Africa versus Europe. So lesser tech progress attracts conservativeness.

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Press Enter – Hampus Eriksson – Chief Product Officer

At a glance, I can understand how one might think that lobbies have largely stayed the same in terms of format, however there is a lot more going on behind the scenes. Casinos have gone from offering players hundreds of games to thousands of games across multiple verticals. Today, players are provided with all the tools to navigate the lobby, with filtering systems, game categories, etc and operators are now finding ways of using the information they glean from player behaviour to  come up with new and interesting ways to present games that the player would enjoy most.

 

Q: What technologies/solutions are available to help deliver a more personalised experience?

Betsson – Janick Bonnici – Gaming Content Optimisation Manager

We are definitely not short of data in our industry, which is the key ingredient to developing a personalized gaming experience. We spend hours on hours every day drilling down on deep dive analysis, with the end goal to deliver the most dedicated user journey. There are also third party companies specializing in content analysis and building personalized frameworks. Apart from this, with the tremendous volume of games on display and influx of new content being released on a daily basis, having a smooth content management system is essential. I would say there should be a balance of a refined game recommendation engine, with the touch of human experience as the ideal approach to achieve this experience, since our industry is constantly evolving, with new game types constantly being innovated by game studios – we need to ensure we are always on top of the current trends.

Gamingtec – Andrei Beu – Commercial Director

There are several tools that have been widely used in the past years to shape the UI/UX and they will keep on having an important role. Yet it’s only natural that designers and developers alike will look into the emerging UX technologies like Voice UI (Amazon Alexa, Google Home, Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana), touchless gesture control, AI, VR and others. The industry will need to adapt as the trends show us the users being more and more connected to emerging technology.

Press Enter – Hampus Eriksson – Chief Product Officer

Going back to the previous question about UX, personalisation plays a large part in this. If a client doesn’t feel like they feel valued or that they belong, then they’re not going to want to stick around. An operator can provide the most immersive and thrilling content, but without ensuring personalisation is a priority within their UX ambitions, then it will not be money well spent.

There are a number of technologies available and many of which are easily integrated into iGaming platforms. These can range from extremely advanced solutions using many data points that will subsequently start learning player preferences by recommending games they are likely to enjoy or more simple solutions that allows you to present a range of games to be presented to a group of players qualifying into some set criteria’s.

The implementation of AI has also played a huge factor when it comes to personalisation and has been a hugely valuable tool in driving overall engagement throughout the player journey leading to increased wagering activity and ultimately maximising the lifetime value of each customer.

 

Q: Why is delivering a personalised experience so important for the player?

Betsson – Janick Bonnici – Gaming Content Optimisation Manager

Picture yourself as a person who is opening an online casino page for their first time, all you are presented with is a bunch of game thumbnails, perhaps some important information about the game, as well as the option to filter through the various game offerings and studios. As an average player, this massive selection can be quite overwhelming and often the player will choose a game related to an offer, or one of the first games they see on the page. If one of the first games you enter is an extremely volatile game for instance, as an average player you could deplete your balance instantly and get the opinion that you cannot win. We are building some brilliant content in this industry and there is absolutely something for any type of player, how you guide a player to making their choice of game is key to their perception of playing online.

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Gamingtec – Andrei Beu – Commercial Director

Focusing on customers and testing different options is key in determining the most relevant and effective UX for online gambling. Various types of screen resolutions and browsers need to be supported to ensure an equally easy and enjoyable experience for the players. Moreover, operators need to make sure they consider every step users might take to find a game, access help, search and any reasons why they might want to abandon the site/app. The quicker users get to their goal, the more frequently they are likely to return to the same operator.

 

Q: What opportunities does it present the operator?

Betsson – Janick Bonnici – Gaming Content Optimisation Manager

The obvious opportunity is of course a far greater customer engagement and retention. By delivering a personalized experience from a UX point of view, every time a player logs in to their account, they are not seeing a static page, but ideally a fully customized experience. Retention is key in any industry, it is cheaper to retain players than acquire, I believe that the user experience, especially looking ahead, is going to be key in judging site stickiness and brand loyalty. Players are spoilt for choice nowadays, with new brands always being launched, the user journey is more important than ever.

Gamingtec – Andrei Beu – Commercial Director

Personalization is at the heart of a comprehensive customer experience. The benefits of good UI/UX are measurable and research shows us the importance of proper personalization:

  • the ROI is likely to increase 5 to 8 times and sales by 10%
  • personalized calls to action convert 200% better
  • 90% of users are likely to be willing to share their behavioral data if the operator can make their experience faster and easier

Press Enter – Hampus Eriksson – Chief Product Officer

Investing in personalisation is a necessary approach by most operators because without it, it will dramatically reduce the lifetime value of that player. Therefore, the opportunities are all around ensuring the retention of players. I think that Game Recommendation Engines in all their various forms are maturing, and there is a lot of focus and investment going into that. CRM personalisation has also come on leaps and bounds, enabling operators to offer an end to end level of personalisation.  This is particularly valuable when we engage with our players via Customer Support and/or Payments. The chat bots are great at taking care of many FAQs, and this undoubtedly expediates many requests on behalf of our players.

However, there will always be situations where players will need a real human interaction to solve a problem. Therefore, I think we have a great opportunity to improve how we respond to these types of enquiry; such as, why do I have to explain my problem to a customer representative and why have they not got the technology and tools to see what my problem is before I start talking to them? The stuck game rounds, spins that didn’t pay out correctly or bonuses that didn’t trigger or release is the type of information buried deep in 3rd party systems and can be accessed if you are guided where to look. I think we can make significant improvements in that area and empower 1st line support more to give help more promptly, rather than start collecting the information from the user to start up the investigation. Furthermore, as an industry we still need to continue to invest into empowerment of our 1st line. This is one of the few chances we get to communicate directly with our players, and you do not get a better opportunity to change a bad experience into a positive one. I am still amazed when I gamble around casinos and need help and still get hit with the same response that I got 10 years ago: “we need to escalate to the relevant department” answers, we need to minimise this to the absolute necessary level.

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Q:  How do you see casino game lobbies and the way content is pushed to players changing?

Betsson – Janick Bonnici – Gaming Content Optimisation Manager

I imagine that lobbies will come more alive with more customization on the user-end. The average shelf-life of a new game is becoming shorter and shorter, given the volume of content coming through, as a result the decay curve of a new game release is also much quicker. Everyone wants that front-page exposure, therefore judging that a game sticks from the beginning is vital. This should tie in with games becoming more feature-rich, which guarantees that they’ll be pushed through in more categories and filtering, thus granting them more exposure. We should aim to move away from static looking lobbies and bring online casino pages to life, really bringing forward the exciting experience and thrill which you experience in-game, before you even open the game.

Gamingtec – Andrei Beu – Commercial Director

Online casino operators generate huge volumes of data on a daily basis, and within this data there are plenty of indicators as to player preferences in each market. Identifying and monitoring trends in each market enables the operators to determine which games/providers they should promote, also allowing them to create bespoke content.

There is a series of factors to consider if you want to really engage with your players as an operator and the change will likely be based on behavioral data as well as emerging tech allowing the operators to provide a unique UI/UX.

Press Enter – Hampus Eriksson – Chief Product Officer

Our industry is constantly innovating and it won’t be long before it’s introducing a much more advanced way of serving the games and marketing information that players want to receive. I also think that for the more casual and recreational player, there might be a slower uptake in any significant changes to the game lobby but who knows – watch this space!

 

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