How Insights Inspired Our Campaign to Raise Awareness on Problem Gambling

Using Data to Push Back Against Problem Gambling

It’s no easy task to address the issues caused by a loved one who struggles with problem gambling. While many of us are likely to know someone who deals with the issue, we’re not alone. Russell Herder recently conducted a survey looking at gambling habits and problem gambling awareness in Minnesota. Our findings indicated that 56% of Minnesotans know someone with a gambling problem, and 25% of those surveyed are concerned about their gambling. We used this research to inform the development of a state-wide awareness effort with engaging creative and captivating visuals.

Targeting the Right Audience
To raise awareness for people who are at the greatest risk of problem gambling, we placed ads where people are likely to gamble. In Minnesota, this can mean mobile phones, casinos, bars, or convenience stores. Since our main goal was awareness, these ads were intended to drive web traffic, connecting people with helpful resources.

Digital Ads
As online sports betting continues to rise in popularity, people are increasingly gambling from their phones. Online gaming companies now advertise on social media and other digital spaces, encouraging people to use their platforms when idle on their mobile devices. These ads are often extremely high-profile, some with celebrity endorsements and some even offering gambling credits. Regardless, sports betting is still illegal in Minnesota.

Knowing that our messages would appear alongside ads for online gaming companies, we made sure they were nonjudgmental and informative, while sharing the risks of gambling addiction. Our ads included boosted memes on TikTok, and digital ads on social media feeds and browsers.

Out-of-Home Ads
While online sports betting continues to grow in popularity, it’s not the only way people choose to gamble. In Minnesota, we gamble at casinos, play pull tabs at bars, and buy lottery tickets at convenience stores.

To reach audiences on their way to gamble, we strategically placed ads at bus stops along routes that lead to casinos. For pull tabs, a popular form of gambling in Minnesota, we placed our ads around bars and in the bathrooms. These strategies were effective in getting the ads to the right audience. These ads weren’t intended to stop problem gamblers in their tracks. Rather, we focused on offering resources so that they could make fully informed decisions about the potential downsides of their activity.

We also targeted ad space near checkout areas where people often purchase lottery tickets. These ads urged customers to consider the odds of winning when buying lottery tickets. For those waiting in line, our messages gave them a chance to pause and learn more.

Crafting Engaging Content

Look and Feel
In addition to meeting our audiences where they prefer to gamble, we also created a look and feel that aligned with the aesthetics of our gambling community. While avoiding visual triggers like cards, dice, or roulette wheels, we used intense colors and neon effects with bold visuals, not unlike those used by casinos and online gaming brands.

Two websites: JustAskMN.org for awareness and prevention, and GetGamblingHelp.com to seek help for problem gambling, were created. Each features the same compelling visuals as our ads but with a more engaging user experience.

The Results
The innovative and empowering messaging, along with deliberate ad placement, increased web traffic by 40% in 2023. With the help of our interactive website, we saw a 132% jump in visitors engaging with the content.

As our campaign continues, we strive to find new ways to improve the reach of the helpful resources we’ve created. This project was approached with a strong empathy for our audience, allowing us to create a meaningful and measurable increase in awareness. If you have an important issue and are looking for people who can turn insights into an effective campaign drop us a line here.

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