PartyGaming Gambles on Advertising to Restore U.S. Cash Flow

Not long ago, PartyGaming, one of the world’s largest online poker sites, didn’t need to advertise. It made tons of money in much the same fashion as brick-and-mortar casinos.

But when the United States adopted the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act in 2006, it looked as if the party was over for PartyGaming. The law prohibits online gambling sites from accepting any real money wagers or deposits from U.S. residents.

Now, the 10-year-old company is hoping online advertising will make up for the lost revenue. It has announced its first foray into advertising, an exclusive purchasing agreement with Traffic Marketplace, a Connexus-owned online ad network that claims to reach more than 108 million users monthly. “They looked for new monetization and the obvious choice was advertising,” said Connexus spokesman Calvin Lui.

Under the deal, Traffic Marketplace will resell advertising and sponsorship opportunities on PartyGaming’s U.S.-facing versions of and Lui said these sites offer advertisers access to a huge pool of affluent users not afraid to spend money.

“The demographics are just astounding,” he contended. “And it’s a very captive experience. You actually download a software application that has the game on it. So it’s not a Web surfing experience and you are actually engaged in a game.”

The opportunities for advertisers will run the gamut, from rich-media to simple pop-ups to integrated sponsorships. For example, companies can buy a rotating ad on the poker table, ads on the table belt and messages on the coats of the virtual dealers and characters playing the game.

“The dealer may be a character that you can create,” said Lui. “Say you’re rolling out a new movie. Jack Sparrow could be the dealer and the table felt could be Pirates of the Caribbean. You could have a place to click for a preview of the movie.”

Lui said there will be no gambling or drug ads allowed.

“There will be a lot of typical units and customized units as well,” he said. “As you walk through the lobby you might see news and bulletin spots which are typical banners. As you log in we could have pop-up inventory. As you enter a tournament there can be pop-ups associated with the name of the tournament. And as you exit there can be pop experiences. There can be leader boards and banner ads that can be rich media.”

He expects the site will be attractive to companies in entertainment, lifestyle, alcohol, travel, automotive, finance, electronics, retail and style. “It is skewed male,” said Lui. “But poker isn’t necessarily as male as one might think.”

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