Forget the Youth and Follow the Money: Marco Trucco of Videoslots

In the fiercely competitive online casino industry, operators are constantly under pressure to set themselves apart, break new ground, and introduce innovative products and features that captivate audiences. Whether it’s leveraging cutting-edge technology and game mechanics or harnessing AI to increase engagement and predict user behaviour, the pursuit of innovation is unrelenting, writes Lauren Harrison.

But what if we’ve been approaching this wrong? What if players are seeking something different? And what if autonomy and anonymity play a greater role in the customer journey?

One company challenging the status quo, delving into these pressing questions and challenging preconceptions is Videoslots. Today iGF is talking to their Chief Marketing Officer, Marco Trucco.

In this fascinating Q&A, we discuss the most prominent issues facing casino operators, including staying competitive, driving user engagement, targeting younger demographics (or not) and the opportunities for turning regulatory barriers into promising innovation.

As the slots market continues to grow and become even more saturated, how do you stand out from the crowd?

“It’s not all about standing out. Sometimes, you don’t have to. It can be just as important to be in the mix and capture the traffic that comes your way, effectively retaining it. Heavy users, especially casino users, tend to have multiple accounts on multiple sites, so you just need to be in the mix of reasonably good offers. Realistically, you can catch a decent market share if you have a solid product, convenient and sound features, lots of games (which is our main feature), and good customer support.

“This idea that you need to stand out is the ideal, but you can still do an excellent job by going after the consumers who are ready and motivated to try out new operators. These players tend to provide good value, and as they are experienced, they have a good idea of what to expect onsite. So we’re not necessarily trying to capture new players, we’re also focussing on getting the category right. Once players have joined, we have to do a great job of retaining them and offering a great service.”

What digital tools are you most excited about going forward to help with player engagement?

“Based on where we are, we haven’t used many, if any, personalisation and recommendation tools. It’s been one of our features. We don’t have a VIP team, and we don’t have special offers, so our numbers reflect the strength of our product itself.

“We could easily grow by applying these elements, especially with the new brands we’re launching. With these brands, there’s more room for testing, and we can go for a more personalised approach, which is the opposite of what Videoslots and Mr Vegas have offered so far.

“Although I think most players are happy to find their way around a casino site, find the games they want to play and try to get used to the site’s navigation independently; you don’t need to spoon feed, with prompts, game recommendations and so on. Some players like this, but many don’t need it.”

How do you see the introduction of AI changing the customer journey? Is this the key to successful player engagement at scale?

“In theory AI could be key, and some brands and companies will certainly take this route to increase player engagement at scale. Whether we’ll do it is another question. There are many other ways to drive player engagement that aren’t built purely on players but focus more on gaming: The game concept, game ideas, mechanics, promotions, and other tools we can embed in the game. For example, we have trophies, awards, the battle of slots and the wheel of jackpots.

“As most of our engagement tools are embedded in the game, they don’t interrupt the process; there’s no email to view, bonus to opt into, et cetera. We don’t do that. Everything is integrated with the game experience itself; so if we do use AI, it’ll be in our own way.

“While we use AI in a few tasks, I don’t believe in giving it the responsibility to decide the best experience for each player. That’s based on the assumption that players want casinos to know them and predict their next steps. But do we really think that casino players want to be so personalised? Do they want to feel that the casino knows them?

“Everyone thinks we want to know the players, and we want players to feel that we know them, but are we sure this is correct, or are some players looking for anonymity? When you walk into a big land-based casino, you don’t expect to be recognised or greeted by name and directed to your favourite game.

“Not all players want a business to know everything about them; some want to maintain a level of privacy, and rightfully so. We need to leave players some room. The freedom to discover their own experience without being pushed or the customer feeling like we know too much about them. The last thing we want is for our players to feel we’re the Facebook of casinos, predicting their next moves with a worrying, almost creepy, amount of insight.”

Is the industry doing enough to appeal to younger audiences, and is this even necessary for sustainable growth?

“The industry may be doing too much. There’s no need (especially for casinos in mature markets) to target the younger segment. The 40+ segment is the growing demographic and will be the majority in western Europe in the next 50-years. You already have the best demographic in the next half century, just sitting there waiting to be entertained, so why should you care about younger audiences and people who have other options for entertainment?

“For casinos, in very saturated and mature markets, going after the toughest customers to convert doesn’t make sense. Plus, they have less money and less disposable income and are very restricted from a message and marketing perspective. And rightfully so. It’s a different case if we’re talking about sportsbooks and poker, where it is a key demographic; but for casinos, not so much.

“It’s about focusing on real customers interested in casinos and offering good value. Eventually, the young audience will become 30 or 40 and fall into our key demographic and get into slots, but it’s not something that you can push on people.

Is regulation a limiting factor for customer growth, or is it just an opportunity to innovate?

“Regulations are restrictions, but they push you to innovate for this reason. You must find new ways to remain relevant and maintain a positive message.

“But again, with innovation, I think there’s a potential misconception that the 40+ audiences want to be treated as younger players do; they don’t. It’s not that they wouldn’t like to be 20 years younger; obviously, everyone would like that. It’s more that they want to be 20 years younger but with the preferences of their own generation, not the current one.

“Generally, the 40+ audience doesn’t understand the younger generation or what they like to do, and that’s normal, which means you need to treat the 40+ generation as they would like to be, which is themself, 20 years younger.

“Don’t try to do something that appeals to younger audiences, thinking the older generation will still see this as aspirational. Instead, because of the generational disconnect, they’ll see it as marketed at young people and not for them.

“I think the message is to remain on-target and category and, if it comes at the price of looking a bit outdated or uncool to younger generations, that’s fine.”

Editor’s Note:

From addressing misconceptions to moving away from the younger generation to follow the money and stay on message, the Videoslots’ perspective is a refreshing–and at times radical–reminder to slow down and embrace the reality that you cannot target everyone: “It’s about focusing on real customers interested in casinos and offering good value.”

According to Marco, new products are often developed and aimed at the most difficult-to-convert demographic, the 20-somethings, who are not particularly interested anyway.

This strategy overlooks, and risks alienating, the more significant and growing demographic of slot players who are 40+ and have real purchasing power. Sure, you may risk looking outdated to the smaller portion of younger players, but it pays off in revenue as you satisfy the demands of the core market.

Fascinatingly, Marco isn’t convinced that AI and other tools are the right solutions for increasing player engagement. He believes anonymity, freedom of choice, and in-game features that do not interpret the game cycle resonate better with experienced players who value their privacy.

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