Doug Pollard, Co-CEO, Pollard Banknote

 Doug Pollard, Co-CEO, Pollard Banknote

Covid-19 highlights the importance of digital one-to-one engagement with players - PGRI

In a world of anonymous play, lotteries have long relied on broadcast media to reach players and remind them about draws, new games and generally encourage purchase. At the same time, the effectiveness of broadcast media to reach players – especially younger players – has never been worse as people tune out traditional media.

The COVID-19 crisis has added another layer of challenge to the use of traditional broadcast media. Namely, as lotteries are rightfully sensitive about their public image, and concerned about Responsible Gaming, it is challenging for lotteries to find the right tone to use broadcast media to encourage lottery play during a pandemic. Many lotteries converted their ad spend into PSAs, reminding players not to make special trips just to buy lottery tickets or, in some cases, turning over their ad budget to the state for COVID-19 awareness.

In some jurisdictions there were questions asked about how essential the lottery is, and whether the lottery should be selling at all during the COVID-19 crisis.  Broadcast media, in such an environment, which encourages lottery play at retail, further risks damage to the lottery brand, depending on what is happening with the virus at the time.  These are not new concerns, but COVID-19 has certainly placed much more scrutiny than we’ve seen in the past on these issues.

The solution remains for lotteries to develop digital one-to-one relationships with their players.  The more we can encourage players to register with the lottery, the larger the base of people lotteries can reach with relevant messaging that players actually want to receive. Once lotteries have contact information for players, we can send them direct messages without the challenges presented by broadcast media.

Lotteries today are seeing increased traffic to their websites and apps.  We need to find ways to convert occasional website visitors into registered players. The best way to convert visitors into registered players is to give them value for doing so. We can offer special promotions or coupons for registering. For lotteries with loyalty solutions, we can offer loyalty points for registering. An innovative idea we highly recommend is to offer redemption and mobile cashing of winning lottery tickets for registered players. 

Pollard Banknote customers like the Kansas Lottery, the Arizona Lottery and the North Carolina Education Lottery are seeing the return on investment (ROI) from digital engagement with players.  Not only is this engagement far more effective than broadcast media, it is also far more economical.

And, of course, if you can build your registered player database, you are creating a highly valuable asset that can be further leveraged once lotteries begin selling via iLottery.  Our iLottery customers in Michigan, New Hampshire, Virginia and North Carolina are all seeing significant increases in their iLottery sales during the Covid-19 crisis. These iLottery increases have not made up for the loss of retail gaming, but they’re an important contributor to the lottery’s good causes, and they help to preserve the lottery relationship with their players.