BLOG | by Charlie Dundas

Betting Firms: more to be done to get public onside with industry

As the sector sets up a new trade association to head off regulatory threats, our data suggests that one of its first tasks may well be to address current public perceptions of the industry.

Most non-punters interact with bookmakers in one of two ways – through their marketing and through the news. Unfortunately for bookies, much of the public’s recent news interaction with the industry has been negative.

Take this month, for example, when the sector came under fire from some politicians for falling short of a contributions target to GambleAware. Although many bookmakers can point to strong individual records, the broader headline is often nonetheless harmful.

Our data shows that headlines like this appear to have had an impact on the current perception of bookmakers generally. This shows that while the sector is robust and flourishing, even companies with a reputation among their peers for showing leadership and strong CSR can struggle to cut through negative noise.

We track, as part of our BrandIndex service, the public’s perceptions of a wide variety of individual bookmakers (as well as online casinos and bingo sites). But rather than single out individual companies in this exercise, let’s look at a composite of the data for the whole sector.

The chart above shows how our betting shop/website sector, which is made up of 14 brands, performs against one of the 16 metrics we track for every brand – Impression. For the sake of context, we’ve pitched it against a handful of other non-betting brands which have recently divided public opinion.

As you can see, as far as Impression goes, it’s not a pretty picture for bookmakers right now. Impression is a net measure (that’s to say, we take away the number of people with a negative impression of a brand, or in this case a sector, from the number of people with a positive impression).

And Impression for bookmakers is currently well into the negative (these scores are an average of daily scores for the past 12 months). That means that there are significantly more people out there who have a negative impression of bookmakers than a positive one.

As the chart also shows, bookmakers fare poorly in comparison to Starbucks, Facebook and Google, all of whom have come under media and regulatory scrutiny recently.

While figures like this may not immediately cause concern (this is just one metric for the industry among the 16 we measure and, as with all metrics, it will fluctuate), the data may pose an issue for those concerned about further regulation of the market.

The popularity – or otherwise – of an industry will always have a bearing on its ability to resist unfavourable treatment by politicians.

If, for example, the government were to propose a tax on estate agents (or, indeed, MPs), the plans would be unlikely to be met with a public outcry. If they were to try the same thing on charity workers or nurses, you could expect a very different outcome. The government would have a fight on its hands.

This is one of the many reasons that reputation matters and how data can help to identify a challenge, as well as help address it. If the industry is to fight its corner as effectively as possible, it will find public support to be a valuable weapon in its arsenal. As such, leaders of the sector’s new industry body may well wish to keep a firm eye on this metric.

This article first appeared on EGR Global

BLOG | by Charlie Dundas

Commercial Director

With over 15 years’ experience in the sports and sponsorship field, Charlie’s role at YouGov Sport (SMG Insight) is to develop new market opportunities as the company continues to grow internationally. He also assists established and future clients to get the most from YouGov Sport’s market-leading tools and research techniques.