Localized test run
Ahead of Super Bowl LVII, TikTok conducted a limited experiment with gambling advertisements. The popular social media app has banned gambling ads, but the team at TikTok allowed Sportsbet to advertise to a small number of users in Australia, who were shown ads for novelty bets on Rihanna’s Super Bowl halftime show.
“ads promoting fantasy sports, bingo or other gambling related content” are all prohibited
The TikTok terms of service state that “ads promoting fantasy sports, bingo or other gambling related content” are all prohibited. These products are subject to similar prohibitions as alcohol, tobacco, and prescription drugs.
However, the TOS also specify that “a closed pilot for sports betting is currently in operation.” Only “one managed client” was included in this trial. Sportsbet won the right to be that client through an online “application process.”
Targeting a new market
The Sportsbet ads were targeted at young women, an underrepresented demographic in the company’s client base.
the tribe they want to join is crazy for [betting]”
According to The Guardian, This was part of a wider effort by Superbet to diversify the kinds of customers who use its product. In an interview with the paper, advertising expert Tony Raph explained that the ads were looking to induce Rihanna fans to “pony up cash” by suggesting “the tribe they want to join is crazy for [betting].”
Women bet far less money on sporting events than do men and finding a way to create gateway markets for female viewers is a holy grail of sports betting operators.
Betting on Rihanna
The ads focused on prop bets such as what color outfit Rihanna would wear for the Super Bowl halftime show. Other bets included which songs would or would not be featured, which songs would start and end the performance, and an over/under on how many songs would be in the set.
Sportsbet also promoted its product with TikTok influencer Luisa Dal Din in a video captioned: “Me pretending I know horse racing to impress my crush.”
Gambling is a polarizing issue in Australia where it is more unpopular than fossil fuels and casino companies like the Crown have been under high-profile investigations.
As a result, TikTok is proceeding cautiously with this pilot. The company has stressed that the ads only appeared to users who are 21 years or older and emphasized that they were closely monitored.