Ruslan Bangert, PokerMatch International: Combining unshakeable traditions with innovations
Integrating new and exciting technologies can be fundamental to attract younger, more ‘tech savvy’ bettors to your poker room. However this risks ostracising the older, more ‘traditional’ bettor. The key to meeting the needs of both demographics, according to PokerMatch International CEO Ruslan Bangert, is to blend unshakeable traditions with technical innovations.
SBC: Millennials and Generation Z bettors have become a core focus for many gambling companies’ outreach. Has this been the case for PokerMatch International?
RB: Let me first define these two groups. Millennials are people between the ages of 25 and 40, and zoomers are somewhere in the 10–25 age range, right? If so, my answer is that both these age groups are attractive to our business in their own way. However, we try to focus mainly on millennials. These are older and more mature people who are able to take a more responsible approach to gambling.
Of course, there are also many people with a strong mentality among 25-year-olds, but statistically speaking, this group is more exposed to risk. I am convinced that gambling is an activity for people who have already provided themselves with a lot and are not trying to solve their problems through gambling. But we are certainly working to attract young people who are 21 years old and older.
This, in fact, is our future audience. And while older people are more conservative in their consumption of interfaces and games, young people are more willing to accept new things and novelties, so we are trying to combine both unshakable traditions and technical innovations in our platform.
It’s fast poker, emotions in player chat, personalised challenges, exciting creative materials, and a livelier communication. We are convinced that one employee of the support service can communicate with different categories of players in absolutely different ways. And that’s what we do.
SBC: How have you gone about tapping into the demographic of younger, more tech-savvy millennials? Have you had to switch up your marketing strategy at all?
RB: As I said above, we’re targeting an older audience. And if we talk about zoomers, the company attracts them with bright creative materials and product promotions that give them an opportunity to compete with someone, show their sporting spirit and maximalism.
Our brand is sponsoring sport car races across the country, preparing to launch a sports poker league among students, and providing hundreds of hours of exciting streams every month. All of this has varying degrees of influence in attracting young players.
SBC: What role can social media, video content, tournaments and brand ambassadors play in attracting a younger audience?
RB: It depends on the kind of ambassadors. If we answer “in a vacuum,” then all the above plays a big role in attracting a young audience. But if we’re talking about the ambassadors, they have to be properly chosen. Despite all the charisma of a moneymaker, he no longer attracts young players. But a cybersports star will do this brilliantly.
So you have to look for ambassadors either among the cybersports players, or among the rising stars of the community itself. We mix these strategies. Live and exciting content also helps. The main thing is to shoot it vertically and make it no longer than two minutes
SBC: There is a balance to maintain when it comes to adding new features for younger bettors while also ensuring that you don’t dismiss the needs of the more ‘traditional’ players who may not be as welcoming to technological changes. How has PokerMatch International ensured that it meets the needs of both types of customer?
RB: If a poker room or a casino wants to do business fairly, it must be an infinitely accommodating business. We are balancing our business goals with the needs of players every day. And they don’t always fit together. I think we have a unique advantage of personally communicating with all the player groups.
On top of that, we understand their desires very well. We take our time in making decisions for the older group and are willing to do quick projects for the younger group. So it’s essentially an “adjustment to the opponent.”
In running a gaming business, it’s just as important as playing the poker game, for example. However, both groups need stable software, and we put it at the top of our priorities. Our software is not the most technically advanced, but it’s light and easy to use, which makes it more stable. And I think our audience appreciates that.
SBC: And finally, what do you anticipate as being the biggest trends when it comes to attracting new demographics of bettors as mobile becomes the vertical of choice?
RB: Mobile has certainly taken over the market. I know that on the market, the highest share of mobile in casinos is about 85%. We have 80%, if we express it in visits. In two or three years, no more than 10% of the players will be playing poker on PC. And all of them will be professionals.
In mobile, we need to give the younger generation more interaction and similarity to other games. For example, loot boxes similar to one’s in Counter-Strike and many other games. We have to change the visual representation of the game so that it looks like all the other games that are present in the young player’s life as much as possible. Also, we should definitely develop the system of achievements, social profiles, and challenges. I think the trend looks something like this.