Justin Chamberlain: onload{media} – Rebalancing adnetworks’ capacity for online gambling

Justin Chamberlain –

 Branded as low quality and ineffective advertising vertical for industry incumbents, the Ad-network holds a dubious reputation with industry marketing teams. Launching new ‘compliant network’ onload{media}, Founder Justin Chamberlain wants to change the negative narrative…

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SBC: Hi Justin, thanks for this interview. Can you detail to SBC Audiences the development of onload’s ‘gambling compliant ad-network’ – from its initial concept, through to its planning, development and product launch?

The onload{media} service was initially conceived in late 2018 as part of a wider effort to try and identify new opportunities in the online gambling sector. I have been involved in the development of casino games content for over 12 years now and have become a little disillusioned with the industry on several levels.

Firstly, the abundance of content and content suppliers now servicing the sector is unsustainable in my opinion, with the industry now supporting over 240 different game suppliers. Those suppliers are pumping out hundreds of new titles per year, and the industry is saturated with more than 4,000 titles.

Those figures alone are worrying for any new content developer looking to make an entry into this market, but when you also consider the squeeze and downward pressure this puts on revenue-share arrangements, getting new content picked up and promoted properly, and the difficulty of competing with established and proven studios, then it combines to make for a really tough environment in which to compete and make money. So, given these factors, we focused our efforts on how to generate income from existing content, instead of coming in to compete with other providers.

One key thing we learned while exploring new opportunities was that all existing content in the market shares a period of dead space upon initialisation’ – load time. On average, a typical casino game will take 15 seconds to load, and calls to several servers, loading of creative assets, audio assets, bonus rounds etc, mean that games typically have a heavy footprint when being loaded to a user’s device. Wi-Fi and broadband speeds can then hold a game load-up further, and typically the only thing that users see during this time is a loading bar, with maybe some game assets.

This was the lightbulb moment! An opportunity, and effectively empty retail space in every single game being loaded, on every operator site, from every single supplier in the market. We then considered the typical user experience when consuming most digital media today, which of course is heavily video ad-focused. YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, all services with which the online casino industry competes – the attention economy – and all rely on and feature heavily targeted video advertising to the consumer.

“We figured that online casino is part of this economy and that we have a perfect set of conditions in which to serve targeted video advertising:
· Engaged audience
· Guaranteed over 18
· Double verified
· Wallet open
· In spend mode

We worked extensively with our media partners (Lancelot media London) to understand the adtech space and how onload{media} could be a highly competitive network in this sector, as well as how to design and build our platform to best take advantage of this opportunity. LML helped us to understand that to advertisers these conditions are extremely unique and we can offer them the opportunity to place targeted video advertising into a global network of hundreds of millions of games launches a month, with users meeting these criteria, within an untapped space.

Once we attract the advertisers to our network, our solution then allows game IP owners and operators to further monetise every single game (free play and real play) and to diversify revenue streams. In this difficult and increasingly competitive market, this is especially relevant given the strong headwind forecast for the industry over the next few years following the recent All-Party Parliamentary Group report released last week.

We have essentially designed and built pioneering technology that can help operators and suppliers diversify revenue streams now, ahead of regulatory changes which, if enforced, will have a significant impact on the bottom line of the entire industry.

We have recently launched a beta version of the onload{media} service with Blueprint games content on the Leo Vegas casino site, with paying advertisers already buying up our inventory and into our network. The beta phase runs until late December and allows us to do run initial checks and measures on the technology itself, as well as promote the network to some really big names in the advertising world to get them to buy into this exciting new and unique network.

Beyond the Blueprint Beta, we are already contracted to and working with another two tier-one global games suppliers, with whom we are aiming to roll out the onload{media} service across global portfolios from early 2020. We are also in dialogue with several other tier-one providers and operators about how the onload{media} solution can be used to enhance their revenues in 2020 and beyond.

All things considered, we have already made considerable gains in the last few months and 2020 looks set to be a very exciting year for us.”

SBC: As a former industry executive, how have compliance demands disrupted industry traditional marketing practices with regards to targeting and engaging audiences?

Every user within the onload{media} gaming network is an 18+ verified and logged-in user. This provides advertisers with engaged audiences spending time online. As they are logged in as consented users, we can provide targeting by criteria such as age, gender, location and interest, delivering appropriate and more crucially non-intrusive ad experiences.

SBC: Why have ad networks garnered such a poor and controversial reputation for igaming and betting verticals?

Traditionally (gaming) ad networks adopted ‘spray-and-pray’ models, running multiple ads on pages delivered in cluttered content environments, resulting in a poor experience for users and advertisers. However, onload{media} has developed a compelling ad experience, employing both relevance and targeting for brands.
Improving the ad experience has resulted in a frictionless user journey across our operator network meaning users will be served non-intrusive and relevant ads into the heart of their gaming experience. Brands understand that onload{media} audiences are verified 18+ users and, as a consequence, they can target users by criteria and improving return on ad spend and ad spend wastage.

SBC: In terms of efficiencies, how have you developed onload{media} provisions to be adaptable with industry marketing teams’ day-to-day operations and compliance demands?

We have built the onload{media} service as a proprietary technology that allows us to be in control of our own destiny when selling our inventory and campaigns direct to brands who want to buy into our network.

We have also integrated several other standard adtech technologies to allow us to sell our inventory through most global programmatic solutions, meaning advertisers, brands or agencies can buy inventory on our network through the most popular third-party programmatic solutions on which they will already purchase a considerable amount of their inventory.

From a compliance perspective, we have built the service to be fully compliant with all GDPR requirements on the advertiser side. Furthermore, we are building a whitelist of approved brands, products and services that will be allowed on the network to help protect the operators from unwanted and inappropriate ads.
With these measures and more, we aim to make onload{media} the safest and only guaranteed over-18 ad network that brands can buy into globally.

SBC: You are launching onload{media} services as an IAB member, why is this such an important development for your network?

As IAB UK membership consists of advertisers and media agency buyers, it’s vital that we can showcase our unique ad experience with them, specifically high-visibility ad products targeting engaged 18+ users.
At onload{media}, we have pioneered a low risk and high return ad model for the advertising community, all delivered within brand-safe gaming environments. Needless to say, IAB UK plays a key role in sharing this message across the advertising industry. With the support of the IAB our aim is to provide brand-safe ad environments for UK advertisers, targeting engaged gamers with disposable incomes.

SBC: Looking to 2020, how will you keep developing onload{media}s capabilities?

Currently, our efforts are focused on the online casino sector and specifically the slots and table games segment. However, our ambition is to broaden dramatically the capabilities of the service to serve targeted advertising in other sectors of our industry globally. Social, skill, soft and lotto-type products and environments all represent opportunities for onload{media} to grow our service and business.

We are also currently planning further capabilities to our platform that will allow for the brands and advertisers to fine-tune their campaigns even further, offering an enhanced level of tailoring when compared to other established networks.

We plan to offer the ability to advertisers to buy ad campaigns based on criteria such as operator site, game type, time of day, user demographics and ultimately geolocation. Offering the brand or advertiser the opportunity to target a particular type of end-user on a specific operator site, on a certain type of game, at a specific time of day and within a 500-metre radius of a brand’s outlet is possible and represents an incredible opportunity for us to build one of the most valuable networks in advertising. We are already working on the 2.0 version of the platform which will hopefully be rolled out in the second quarter of 2020, offering these capabilities and more.

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