Casino PPC: all you need to know in 2024

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The gambling industry has grown and keeps growing online driven mainly by one channel: affiliation. The affiliates send their traffic to operators and whenever a new user makes a deposit, they get a commission. They’re typically casino and bookmaker reviews’ sites with organic traffic, even though with the boom of social media, they can refer users from other channels such as Youtube, Twitch, Telegram etc.

At the same time, the operators can get massive value from ranking on Google thus invest a huge part of their budgets on content and link-building. However, there are several downsides:

  • to rank on top 3 of Google you’re facing fierce competition
  • SEO requires longer times plus actions and effects are often hardly correlated and measurable
  • the growing adoption of AI and Google’s changing algorithms are causing huge fluctuations of SERPS giving hard times to SEO managers and CMOs

At the same time, operators do NOT want to fully depend on their affiliates, let alone pay huge listing fees and commissions. Makes sense, it’s a risky strategy.

For these reasons, PPC has gained more and more attention among gambling companies in the past 5-6 years.

In this article, we’ll dive into the world of casino PPC (replace casino with any other igaming product); I will explain how it works, why companies should include it in their marketing mix, what needs to be done to succeed and what you have to consider to hire the right person/agency.

casino ppc

Can you run PPC campaigns for your casino?

When it comes to gambling products and legislation, there are two main macro categories: we can operate in regulated or unregulated markets.

This categorization impacts how you can promote your brand with pay per click campaigns too.

In case of a regulated market, you must possess a valid gambling license and start a verification process to get your accounts whitelisted by Google. Big G wants to make sure your casino/bookmaker/poker room is compliant with the local laws. Once this procedure is passed, you can start advertising.

On the other hand, if the market you operate in is unregulated (or it is but you can’t promote gambling services like in Italy) pay per click advertising won’t be an option.

Yes, you can still run black hat PPC campaigns, by circumventing Google’s terms and conditions but it’ not what we’re discussing here now.

To start, make sure you understand the Google gambling and games advertising policies.

The Evolution of Online Casino Marketing

As said before, casino marketing has evolved a lot in the past years: for a very longtime online casinos have been promoted mainly with affiliate marketing. If this channel is still dominating casinos’ budgets, it doesn’t give you the flexibility, scalability and control that PPC has.

Google Ads has some unique features, among which its immediate effectiveness is probably the most important.

Let’s have a look at the main benefits of pay per click for online casinos (and other igaming services).

WHAT is PPC and WHY it Matters for Casinos

With PPC, you’re litterally buying traffic to your website, rather than just waiting to rank on the search engines. Considering the competition level, only very few casinos are able to rank for the most relevant keywords. Even some of the biggest igaming sites are not able to achieve this and that’s where Pay per Click comes at handy.

It’s not only a great way to get relevant traffic immediately, but it also allows you to test long-tail keywords for your SEO strategy.

Moreover, with PPC you can target your competitors’ brand terms, which is impossible with SEO.

The ability to appear on top of Google is essentially linked to your bids and quality score (which depends on the relevance of your ads and landing page).

Additionally, PPC has a laser-precise targeting: you can’t just target highly transactional keywords, but also specific locations, demographic, devices etc.

Last not least, Google Ads is highly scalable: you can increase/decrease your investements according to performance.

WHAT PPC is not and common mistakes

In my experience (I started running PPC campaigns in 2014), Google Ads (Google Adwords back then) has often been looked at as something magical, that can fix business problems overnight.

Sometimes, people expect immediate results with pay per click and they ignore the fact, there are a number of factors impacting the outcome including: prices, promotions, competition etc.

In a nutshell: if your product/service sucks or if it’s simply not as good as your competitors’, there won’t be anything that PPC can do to help you.

This is even more relevant to the gambling industries where:

  • there are loads of casinos/bookmakers
  • most of them are undifferentiated services with similar features and games

However, in conjuction with solid website, design, gaming offer, user experience and branding, PPC can become a powerful weapon in your arsenal.

Start by analysing your data: what is your average conversion rate, cost per acquisition and customer lifetime value? Be aware of how much you can spend to bring in new customers in a sustainable way.

Another common mistake is setting unrealistic goals. I’ve seen it even on a start-up casino job offer once. “The chosen candidate will have to achieve x deposits at a YY CPA“. This is typically a red flag, as the PPC manager should be at least partially – if not exclusively – involved in the analysis and planning processes.
In that case, I guarantee you, the goals were unachievable and denoted a lack of marketing knowledge. With this attitude, you won’t reap anything but failure, and not just in terms of PPC management.

Just don’t be that company!

The Challenge of the Game

Running PPC campaigns for online casinos is getting more and more competitive in 2024. To be successful or not is a matter of details.

Strict regulations limit the way you can engage with your prospects.
The harsh competition is pushing up the average cost per clicks, squeezing the margin of error.

PPC is no longer (has it ever been?) a set and forget game as it requires constant analysis, and optimization.
In addition to that, Google keep updating their platform with new features (often making the advertiser’s life worse) which requires you to continuously learn and adapt.


Mastering the Art of Keywords

Keywords are the foundation of pay per click advertising. You bid on a keyword and whenever there’s a match with the user’s query, your ad might be eligible to appear.
It’s easy to think that to promote an online casino, you would be using keywords like “best online casino“, “online casino“, “play online casino” etc. However, you will need to be more creative than that, as the majority of your competitors are doing exactly the same and it just wont’ you make win the game.

To win casino PPC, you need to be good at balancing the distribution and related cost of profitable keywords. But how?

Understanding Keyword Intent

Not all the keywords are the same. For example, someone who’s looking for “history of casinos” has not the same intent as one who searched for “best online casino bonuses“. The latter expresses an intent to play and willingness to make a deposit, while the former shows an interest in mere information.

Focusing on transactional intent keyword will have typically higher conversion rate, and because of this, they’re also more expensive.

Avoid wasting your budget in useless or irrelevant keywords, by adding negative keywords or by using exact match keywords.

The Power of Long-Tail Keywords

Did you know that around 20% of the queries performed daily is new. Keywords are not a static entity, they keep evolving. At the same time people search in many different ways to solve their problems and find solutions.

This means you should aim to update your keywords frequently.

Using long-tail keywords is good: it helps you target specific niche segments at a lower cost. Make sure they’re relevant with your offer though. No point to use “online casino revolut” if users can’t use that payment method.

Protecting Your Brand

Bidding on your competitors makes a lot of sense. For example, someone looking for “Leovegas” is not only interested in that brand. We can assume he’s interested in online casino in general. Because players tend to have accounts on different casinos and jump from platform to platform in search for the best bonuses, you should consider “stealing” your competitors’ brand traffic.

For the same reason, especially if your brand is established with a decent monthly search volume, expect your competitors to do the same.

If you notice swings in organic brand traffic, the time has come to protect your brand with PPC!

The Art of Ad Copy

On Paid Search, the ad copy is the bridge that connects user’s problems to solutions. You want your ads to stand out from the crowd. The more relevant your adverts, the higher the CTRs and the lower the CPC. Resonating with potential gamblers, while complying to industry regulations is both a science and an art.

Relevance is Key: Matching the query with your ad copy, will make the keyword bold and more visible: more noticeable = higher CTR. At the same time, the message should include benefits and features; you should use as much text as possible; use as many alternative titles and descriptions; take advantage of the extensions and the sitelinks.

Clear Call-to-Action (CTA): A relevant call to action can make a difference on persuading someone to click on your ad. Be specific and creative. “Play Now” could be relevant but also a bit abused. Find a different and funny way to say the same.

Highlight Promotions: Casinos are often aggressive with their promotions to attract new players. Make sure your bonus and promos are displayed on your ad and they’re relevant with the keyword. If someone is looking for “Bets Premier League outright” don’t show them the Casino bonus.

Stay Compliant: Use responsible gaming best practices as an opportunity to show your commitment and to inspire trust. Do not promote gambling as a way to make money or solve financial problems. Exclude minors from targeting. If your casino is licensed by the UKGC, why not showing it in your copy?

Optimizing Landing Pages for Maximum Conversions

Once a user clicks on your ad, the journey isn’t over. The landing page they arrive at plays a crucial role in converting that click into a registration, deposit, or other desired action.

Consistency: You caught the user’s attention; you got a click and not it’s time to convert. To do it, there must be consistency with what you said on the ad copy and your landing page.

Mobile Optimization: Most of the traffic comes from mobile devices. Start designing your landing page with a mobile-first approach. Ease the mobile navigation and user experience; the load times should be as fast as possible (this impacts quality score as well).

Test and Iterate: The best landing pages are born out of continuous testing. A/B test different designs, CTAs, and content to see what resonates most with your audience.


Navigating the Complexities of Bidding and Budgeting

Strategic Bidding for Optimal Results

Bidding is another important factor determining your success with PPC.
With small and new account, you start with manual bidding. The more data available and the bigger the accounts, the higher need to automate your bids. Setting a target CPA is quite standard in the industry: it can help you manipulate the visibility of your ads in order to achieve the desire cost per acquisition. On the other hand, the delivery and the volumes can be affected.

To find the good balance is the real challenge and it’s influenced by budget, competition etc. Accurate tracking is paramount for you to succeed.

Understand Ad Auctions: Being on top of the ad rank doesn’t necessarily equal to best results. Sometimes, you might have similar visibility with lower CPC and CPAs, with a lower average position. Understanding these dynamics and, more importantly, analysing them, can give you a competitive advantage.

Leverage Automated Bidding: In the era of AI and automation, humans can’t expect to be better than machines and bots when it comes to bidding. You won’t be able to optimize performance manually, if your account has thousands of keywords. Google has been pushing in the direction of automation for a while, with Performance Max campaigns aiming to run almost on auto-pilot.

At the same time, you don’t want to delegate everything to Google and remember that their goal is to make as much money as possible out of their advertisers. Keep a critical mindset, don’t just follow anything that Google (and their account managers) say; balance automation with manual PPC management.

Budgeting for Success

There are two ways to approach casino PPC budgeting:

1- you can propose the ideal budget (or a kick-off budget without prior PPC activity)

2- your budget is limited (we have x$£€ for this year/quarter etc.)

In the first case, you can start from analysing the previous period performance and adapting the cost based on expected results, inflation.

If the CMO wants to increase revenue by 30% YoY with PPC as the main driver, then the budgeting should reflect this goal as well as other factors. Internal data is always more reliable than external data: if you have it, use it. Otherwise, make predictions using the Keyword Planner tool and adjust upwords. You will come up with a proposed budget and the Head of Media, CMO or CEO will accept it or ask for amendment.

In the second scenario, you have to deal with what you get. In this case, you have to quantify the expected CPA and FTDs based on the keywords and their (expected) average cost per click and conversion rate.

Following the SMART rule of setting goals is indeed smart. The goals should be achievable and reasonable, to avoid frustration and an announced disaster.

The beauty of PPC is that you can adapt on the go, based on how results reach the goals, so you can lower or increase the investments accordingly.

Seasonality is a factor too. For example, during summertime, people tend to spend more time outside and the casino activity slows down.

Other events can impact performance drastically. For example, during the COVID lockdown, people were forced to stay home and most online casinos saw a surge of activity. Not adapting the budget to these situations would be foolish.


Advanced Strategies and Analytics for Casino PPC

Harnessing the Power of Remarketing

Remarketing is a powerful feature and unfortunately is not available on Google Ads for advertisers in the gambling industry. If it was, you could exclude already existing customers from seeing (and clicking) your ads and spare a lot of money.

This strategy consists in targeting users who have previously visited your website or app but haven’t taken a desired action (registration, deposit etc.). As previously mentioned you can’t do any remarketing on Google if you promote a gambling product; the good news is there are several ways to go beyond this unfortunate limitation. 

Let ProfitLead unleashes the full potential of remarketing for your online casino. 

Segmentation is Key: Not all users are the same. Segment your remarketing lists based on user behaviour. For instance, target users who visited your registration page but didn’t sign up with a special bonus offer.

Frequency Capping: While remarketing is effective, bombarding users with ads can be counterproductive. Set a limit on how often a user sees your ad to avoid ad fatigue.

Tailored Ad Copy: Customise your ad copy based on the segment you’re targeting. For users who abandoned a game midway, an ad like “Continue Your Game with a Special Bonus!” can be enticing.

Diving Deep with Analytics

The more you invest on PPC, the more every single detail is important to make a difference. That’s why performance analysis is probably the most important part in casino pay per click. You need to have the full picture, on a daily, weekly and monthly basis.

As a former poker player, I always think of PPC as a game that everyone can play, but very few know how to master. How do you do it? By being obsessed with data and performance improvement.

That’s why we build beautiful dashboards, that help us understand what happens quickly.

Conversion Tracking: Ensure you’re tracking not just clicks, but conversions. Whether it’s a new registration, a deposit, or a game played, understanding what users do after clicking your ad is crucial. Proper conversion tracking is the basic for bid optimization. If you don’t track conversions, you can’t optimize performance. If conversion tracking is poor, the data you feed Google Ads with, will make you take wrong decisions.

Conversion value should be tracked so you can optimize performance by ROAS and not just by CPA.

Keyword Performance: Keywords are the main elements to optimize. Investing on wrong keywords is the biggest mistake in casino PPC; increase the investment for good keywords to achieve an impression share of at least 90% and decrease (or pause) all the keywords that are spending money but not converting.

Dashboards: to better and quickly understand data, we build beautiful dashboard.
Through customized charts and graphs, we are able to overview performance in real time, preview trends, fix issues etc.


In Conclusion

PPC for casinos is a game of strategy, expertise, and continuous optimization. In an industry as competitive as online gambling, standing out is crucial. With the right approach, backed by data and industry insights, casinos can leverage PPC to drive traffic, boost brand awareness, and increase revenue. And with a partner like Profitlead, the path to PPC success is clearer than ever.

Remarketing Best Practices

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