Geo-Targeting - The Often Overlooked Feature That Makes All The Difference
Have you ever entered an online store, only to magically see all the prices listed in your native currency? Most of us have had that experience, and it has certainly wowed dozens of less tech-savvy shoppers. This feature, of course, isn’t magic, even if it feels like it - today, it’s commonly known as geo-targeting, where websites use information collected from the user’s computer to determine their location and communicate with them appropriately. This could include something as simple as changing the site’s language automatically to match the user’s locale, or something as involved as altering the content and data displayed on the site’s pages.
This technology is nothing new, having existed in one form or another for over a decade. However, online content providers have only started adopting it in the last few years, partially out of convenience for the end user, and partially out of necessity. This includes online casinos from around the world, but even more importantly, the affiliate networks that they often use to promote their games, bonuses and services directly to players. And while this small, seemingly insignificant feature is currently used almost exclusively for player convenience, in the near future it may become indispensable to the online casino industry.
What is Geo-Targeting and How Does it Work?
The term “geo-targeting” doesn’t actually refer to any one implementation in particular - rather, it’s a catch-all term which references the end result more than the methods used to obtain it. The most reliable method for determining someone’s location stems from the IP address and browser information sent to the site from their computer, which can accurately tell any site what country and city the user is from, and even who their Internet provider is. Sometimes the browser’s language can also be used to determine the native tongue of the user, and by extension give the site administrator a good idea of where they’re from (someone with a browser set to German is very likely a German native or living in Germany). Big corporations with less restricted access may also use GPS data, but understandably the practice is frowned upon by both users and smaller companies. The important part is that, as long as you’re determining the user’s location somehow, you’re using geo-targeting.
But how does that work in practice in the online casino industry? When it comes to the casinos themselves, the implementation tends to be a little limited in most cases. Despite the fact that casinos have significantly more reliable methods of gauging a player’s location than other sites (for example, access to payment information), most of the time geo-targeting serves not as a convenience for users, but rather as a barrier that needs to be overcome.
Many casinos won’t let you play at all if you’re part of a country they don’t like, even if gambling is legal there - a tactic which, in turn, has led to players using questionable means to gain access to block websites. At best, the casinos will change their currency to match the player’s locale, but even that’s relatively rare.
Where geo-targeting truly excels, however, is at the hands of affiliate networks. We’re already seeing some pretty amazing results on affiliate sites such as https://free-spins.net/, who actively alter their content to best suit international players no matter which country they come from. For example, if players from Germany, the UK and Russia all visit the site, they won’t only see the site in their native tongue, but the bonuses and available casinos will change to display only those relevant for their country. Obviously, a version of the site can’t be made for each country, and sometimes the same content has to be reused. But what if you’re from, say, Spain or Italy? There’s no Spanish and Italian versions of the site, so instead users will be invited to read the UK reviews and articles. Except even that content will organically change, displaying relevant bonuses and information for the EU market, should the casino support it. Numbers and entire sentences within individual articles will transform so that the content will always be relevant no matter where in the world you visit from.
How Geo-Targeting May Change the Industry?
The reason why some online casinos don’t let players from some countries in isn’t because they’re xenophobic, far from it. Rather, it’s because most countries, and even sometimes regions within a country, have their own, unique rules and requirements for casinos if they want to legally accept bets from that country’s citizens. A site that complies with UK regulations doesn’t necessarily adhere to German or Russian laws, for example. Hell, each US state where gambling is legal has its own set of rules and regulations, meaning that even if you’re cleared to deal cards in the US, it might be illegal to take money from the majority of its population.
These regulations will only grow tighter as money laundering crimes and gambling addictions increase in both number and severity. Geo-targeting, this little, innocent feature that serves as a minor convenience to most people right now, might be the solution. If different countries have different requirements, then would it not be possible to build several different versions of a casino, each licenced in a different country or sometimes different area, and then deliver exclusively that version to the local players? For example, in Belgium bonuses and free spins are currently not legal, so casinos either need to take theirs down, or simply not accept bets from Belgian players. But what if a separate site was created exclusively for the Belgian market which is free of bonuses and contains a unique selection of games, while a player from the UK going to the same URL will still be able to claim their welcome bonus?
This technology already exists, and a select few casinos have made progress in that area - albeit not much. For the time being, most operators’ choice is to simply “cut off” problematic markets rather than deal with each country’s individual regulations. But as laws tighten, we might see geo-targeting transform overnight from a tool of exclusion and ‘blocking, a wall to keep players who don’t live in the “right” countries out, into one of inclusion and adaptability which lets everyone enjoy their favourite online casino no matter where they live.
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