Who would have thought it; online scratch cards! About six years ago, people would have laughed at the idea. Everybody is familiar with the offline proposition, but the concept of scratch cards in
Online scratch cards are gaining popularity quickly
an online environment may not be so clear. Today, this concept has become the pastime of choice for many people worldwide, but how did it all begin?
Scratch cards, also known as scratch off tickets or 'scratchies', are one of the newer developments in gaming. They represent a fun alternative to gaming with better odds of winning compared to the traditional casino site. Taking for example one of the leading online scratch card websites, Scratch2Cash, state to their players, the odds of winning are 1:3.
Since the establishment of offline scratch cards, they have been used for several causes, including charities and as a means of advertising. St Peter's Hospice has created scratch cards to raise enough money towards patient care. UK football team, Barnsley FC have their own branded scratch cards to help promote the team, for just one pound a card. Since these instant win scratch cards are associated with such activities, they appeal to audiences worldwide.
Scratch cards are the second largest revenue generator in the world of offline gaming after National State Lotteries. In the online gaming world, the lottery, being a non skilled game, is the biggest consuming gaming product to date. They are fun, simple and appeal to both men and women of any age. The appeal for scratch cards is so prominent amongst today's society that it has the potential to become a standalone product in the non skilled igaming world.
From June 2006, six months after the establishment of the online scratch card industry, up to June 2009, the purchase of scratch cards has had an impressive growth of over 26,000%. This shows its escalating success and the future potential it has to grow further.
This concept hasn't even hit the mainstream audience in the online world yet, so the probability of online scratch cards becoming the next best thing in gaming is extremely high.
The results that the online scratch card has shown and proven is the growing success of a mass market product and how something so small and simple can have such an impressive effect on the online gaming industry. Is this just the beginning?
In the beginning...
Online scratch cards come in two guises: Web/Flash based and Downloadable. The web based products are the most popular format as they require no download, are easy to access and appeal to the wider audience. Downloadable based games require a longer installation process and, therefore, appeal to a smaller and niche market of selective gamers.
Players of online scratch cards range from bingo players to your average house wife looking for some online fun. This audience is the industry's prime target but essentially anyone can play – hence the wide variety of games and themes available today.
So what is the difference between online and offline game play? Simply put, there isn't a difference, and that's why it is a successful and growing mass market product, something that affiliates will find to their distinct advantage.
To tell us more about this emerging sector, we spoke to an affiliate director, Mickey Winitsky from NeoGames Partners, the leading scratch card affiliate program and pioneers of the online scratch card market.
Scratch cards will be a new proposition to most gaming affiliates – is it a challenging vertical to promote?
It's challenging because we are a niche product in the gaming sector. We often have to educate the affiliates as our product is less known to gaming affiliates, but we are creating and leading this market worldwide so we certainly have the knowhow. Our big advantage is that gaming affiliates find it attractive and innovative that we are a mass market product and are able to penetrate markets normally closed off to gaming companies. The verticals we can work with are much more open, essentially we convert in most markets; women, men, sport, shopping, e-commerce and lottery, and this is in addition to casino gaming.
As an affiliate manager, where have you seen change in the online scratch card industry from when it was established to now?
The way I look at it is that when bingo came online, people were sceptical of the concept and now it's one of the biggest revenue generators in online gaming. The same trend is being seen in the online scratch card market. We now have affiliates and operators coming to us and vying to enter the market. We all realize that everyone knows how to scratch a card – we are a completely non-skilled game.
Are social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook as much of an aid to the online scratch card vertical as they are to the rest of the gaming market?
Yes it helps to create concept awareness, particularly the idea of scratch cards now being online. To this end, we have a dedicated staff member that manages our social network efforts. Our Facebook page has grown into the leading scratch card group and we have people continuously adding us every day. The interest is amazing! We have a Facebook profile, a group called Online Scratch Cards and a Fan Page for our products, Scratch2Cash and Hopa.com. We are also keeping close contact with our affiliates through Twitter with affiliate promotions, product news amongst other things. They love it!
What are the keys to successfully marketing a new product around a major gaming show?
There is a big difference between us and other programs as we are a different product, we are the 'new kid on the block' and people are showing great interest in a product that can generate a new revenue stream. The key is definitely to do pre-show marketing and research – make sure you know who is going, where your stand will be positioned and also you need to be active on forums. Then when the gaming show comes about, you know what to expect. The objective is to make as many contacts as possible, sell the brand and build relationships with your affiliates.
Have online scratch cards reached their peak or can we expect more?
No; we've not even tapped the surface! People are still getting to know the brands and the idea of this complimentary product being online. It is very exciting to see this grow at such an explosive rate and I'm very happy to be a part of it. A few months ago we celebrated the sale of 1 billion scratch cards and just three months ago, we launched our new brand www.hopa.com, which is very different from any other site out there.
What advice would you give to affiliates interested in promoting online scratch cards?
I would say don't be shy to try it out. As the product is built in a totally different way from all other casino sites, the conversion rates are so much higher and the sales funnel much clearer. You will see the results come through and before you know it, you won't remember life before advertising scratch cards on your site.
NeoGames is the leading provider of online scratch cards and was the first company to have committed solely and exclusively to online scratch card games in creating two of the market's biggest online scratch card websites, www.scratch2cash.com and www.hopa.com. In addition, it creates and personalises skins for its worldwide affiliates. NeoGames' products are all Flash based, with a wide variety of exciting themed games, incorporating slots, sports, fantasy, casino and more.