Developing a better understanding of player behaviour is critical for all those who occupy a segment of the igaming space, the benefits of such could well be far-reaching for both parties.
Mark Hinds, global CEO of Polymatica, has been speaking to CasinoBeats to address how data analytics can be pivotal to the retention of customers, stressing that through a deeper understanding of customer behaviour, how they play and spend across the entire site, companies can learn the most effective ways to keep customers loyal and how to win over new players.
Furthermore, Hinds also discusses how real-time data analytics can be used to help develop a deeper understanding of what constitutes ‘normal’ activity on their site, in order to heighten knowledge of identifying suspicious behaviour that could be illegal.
CasinoBeats: For the benefit of our readers could you explain the work you undertake at Polymatica?
Mark Hinds: Polymatica enables gaming and gambling sites to understand how individual players engage with them and their content over time to drive better decisions, experiences and improve loyalty.
With such huge volumes of data generated every day, we’ve found businesses in this space struggle to translate it into simple, meaningful and relevant insights that decision makers across the business can easily act upon to deliver value.
“Ongoing payments can provide cover for more malicious behaviour to go unnoticed”
In our experience, gaming businesses often have a purely financial view of content performance, but their teams have limited visibility of how players switch between different games and the drivers of their behaviour.
However, our unique proprietary technology enables decision makers without coding skills to manipulate billions of rows of data, segment players, create player as well as financial performance metrics, and instantly visualise relationships between different games, at the click of a button.
CB: With so many transactions taking place at any one time, what potential dangers face operators?
MH: The constant transactions that take place simultaneously across gaming sites is only to be expected, considering the wide selection of games and the hundreds to thousands of customers who play them at any one time.
However, whilst most transactions are legal and simply part of the online gaming experience, these ongoing payments can provide cover for more malicious behaviour to go unnoticed, such as money laundering.
When online gaming platforms do not have control of, or understand, their customer data, they risk not being able to identify when a player’s behaviour differs dramatically from their usual pattern – or the patterns of other players.
For instance, a player suddenly topping up their account with large sums, when they do not usually do so, could go unnoticed. In order for the many transactions on sites to not simply become white noise, online gaming platforms must take control of their customer data and understand their individual patterns and behaviours. This will allow them to tackle potential illegal activity head on.
“Analytics can act as a virtual pit boss, to ensure only those who are legitimately depositing money are playing”
CB: How can big data analytics be used to help identify suspicious behaviours? And what would the next steps be?
MH: Whilst brick-and-mortar casinos have pit bosses patrolling and monitoring the casino floor for any potential illegal activity, online gaming sites cannot have eyes and ears on the ground in the same way.
However, by taking control of customer data with data analytics, sites will be better equipped to spot suspicious online activity. By understanding players at an individual level, online gaming sites will be more likely to identify irregular deposits, anomalies and other signs that might point towards money laundering.
For instance, if a player who only ever usually deposits £15 at a time into their account suddenly deposits over a thousand, the site will be able to pick up on this dramatic change and investigate the activity further.
The issue of ensuring all transactions are legitimate is still a major challenge for online gaming sites, and there is a real risk of large fines if they fail to conduct due diligence and adhere with all regulations. Analytics can act as a virtual pit boss, to ensure only those who are legitimately depositing money are playing.
“Companies taking the ‘analyse all’ approach simply won’t get the results they are looking for”
CB: Do you believe big data is utilised by the industry as fully as it could be? And why?
MH: As with all industries, companies within the gaming sector produce vast quantities of data, which can complicate the choice of which data sets to focus on analysing. Some might think it’s an easy choice and simply try to analyse everything; but the truth is that this approach won’t even scratch the surface of obtaining the insight they need in order to make valuable changes to their platform. Companies taking the ‘analyse all’ approach simply won’t get the results they are looking for. A more focused approach needs to be taken.
The most valuable data set is customer data; this will provide the insight into what needs to be changed, innovated, or simply scrapped entirely in order to improve customer experience and drive activity on the site.
However, customer data is often seen as difficult to use, due to the fact it is often stored in silos and in disparate formats, which has lead to this data goldmine often being ignored. Unfortunately, this is the equivalent of folding a royal flush in a game of poker.
Gaming providers need to recognise that obtaining valuable insights from customer data does not have to be a mammoth task and, through employing the right technology and tools, they will be able to analyse this data and action it towards valuable changes.
In addition, this same data can be used to help identify the 0.7% of customers who might be problem gamblers. This means that those most at risk on these sites can then be offered help and that these platforms can work to combat the problem online.
“Data analytics can help identify ways to incentivise customers to continue to play after using a bonus”
CB: How can data analytics be utilised to keep customers loyal, as well as winning over new players?
MH: If gaming platforms really want to provide a fantastic customer experience, the best way to do that is to truly understand the habits of each individual player. Customer data, including spending habits, how long people play for, which offers they click on, when they deposit, etc. is exactly what gaming companies should be focusing on obtaining and understanding.
By honing in on this data and analysing it properly, gaming providers will be able to build a picture of what their customers actually want and provide the right content, site navigation, promotions and offers to keep customers loyal.
For instance, there might be an assumption that players choose certain types of games because of the theme they’re segmented into – such as sports, or films, etc. – whereas the reality might be that it is the mechanics behind the games that players are drawn to.
Understanding these sorts of details will enable gaming providers to utilise these preferences to make valuable and personalised offers, that both new and existing players will enjoy.
CB: Retention and engagement could also undoubtedly be boosted via such operations, how is this so?
MH: Data analytics can also help online gaming platforms by evaluating how they can use bonus offers more effectively. Currently, the process of offering bonuses is incredibly sporadic and we see players coming in, using a bonus bet once, and then never playing again. Data analytics can help identify ways to incentivise customers to continue to play after using a bonus, thereby extending the lifecycle of players.