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Search spend on Yahoo and Microsoft could be hit as gambling brands turn to Google following its decision to allow gambling advertising in the UK.

Leading gambling and gaming brands including Ladbrokes and Bet365 have moved quickly to launch significant search strategies on Google, and have said the search giant could become the main point of interest for search campaigns.

Search and gambling specialists told nma that Google's U-turn on gambling, as revealed last week (nma.co.uk 16 October), could see in excess of £300m flood into Google — a number significantly higher than the previously reported £100m figure.

This could see brands opt to exploit Google's market dominance and pull spend from its rivals. Such a move could have a major affect on Yahoo and Microsoft, with the former having cited gambling as a key search channel (nma 15 November 2007).

Rob Allan, Ladbrokes online marketing manager, said the betting specialist is considering shifting a major part of its multi-million-pound search spend to Google.

"We're increasing spend but also looking at where that money would be best spent," he said. "Google has significant market share and is where many people go to first online, so Yahoo and Microsoft are not as good from that perspective.

"I can guarantee that over the next month or so money will come out of Yahoo and MSN," he added. "The question now is, given Google has 80% market share, do we place the same share of our spend on it?"

Likewise, Paul Lewis, Betfair's head of marketing acquisition, hinted at an increased focus towards Google. "Yahoo and MSN have typically been a smaller channel for acquisitions in the PPC search market but one that we've had to focus on while Google was not available," he said.

Simon Prodger, marketing director of poker site PKR, said, "It has been very frustrating not being able to work with Google, considering how valuable search is," he said. "It's the biggest search engine so it wouldn't surprise me if gambling companies focus their attentions on Google, especially in the short-term."

Bet365 was one of the first advertisers back on Google when the restrictions were lifted on Friday. Marketing manager Tom Galanis said, "It opens up a far bigger audience for us compared to that previously offered by just MSN and Yahoo."

Ladbroke's Allan also said the prospect of being able to advertise on Google opened up the richest vein for new acquisitions and outweighed the performance of other media.

"Search is better for us than TV in that respect," he said. "But we're not necessarily going to switch money from TV to search. It's more likely to be new money."

Quick facts
2004
Google announces worldwide ban on gaming and gambling ads on AdWords. Yahoo bans them in the US.
May 2007 Yahoo bans gambling ads in the UK, forbidding those with incentives like ‘Play now’ in the copy to appear in its paid search listings.
June 2007 Google extends gambling restrictions in the UK to play-for-fun and bingo sites.
November 2007 Yahoo offers discounts within the gambling and finance verticals to improve quality and encourage reinvestment in the company.
October 2008 Google drops gambling restrictions in the UK

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Published 23 October, 2008 by NMA Staff

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