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Google industry head Chris Harrison has shared his vision for the ‘new normal’ of digital marketing in the iGaming space, saying that change will endure long after the pandemic is behind us.

Harrison’s comments came in conversation with iGaming NEXT non-exec shareholder Michael Pedersen during the Future of Digital Marketing session, which closed this week’s iGaming NEXT Online: Bright Future conference.

The Google exec reassured the sector that enhanced digital audiences would remain post-pandemic and that online privacy changes, while requiring a new approach, are not an existential threat to the industry.

It was cultural changes within marketing teams that Harrison chose to highlight most strongly. “You’re probably going to have to become more comfortable with gaps in your data”, he said. “That’s just going to be, you know, the nature of the future.”

Moreover, he added: “And when you’re thinking about tracking, one has to get comfortable with this idea of prediction; more so than precision.”

In other words, without third party cookies tracking customer behaviour, marketers with have to move to a heavier reliance on AI, modelling and prediction.

“This idea of the single customer view – that’s not that’s not really a thing anymore. Certainly, when you go cross channel”, Harrison said.

“When you think about multi touch attribution, that becomes quite difficult to do, again when you’re going cross channel. Data-driven attribution can still be a thing, certainly within individual platforms. But this idea of precision becomes quite complicated. One-to-one marketing, you know, the right customer at the right time with the right ad, that becomes somewhat of a struggle.”

However, the good news is that the pandemic has been a catalyst for digital adoption, with ‘the great acceleration’ being the term applied to this hastening of existing trends, due to covid-19 and the associated lockdowns.

Harrison pointed to business consultancy McKinsey’s characterisation of the phenomenon, which was that there had been ten years of digital transformation in just three months.

One example of this is the acceleration in YouTube consumption. Harrison said in the UK in December 20 million people watched YouTube via their TV. In the US, that number was 120 million people – which equates to a third of the population in each case.

Perhaps more interestingly, he revealed that the platform has 98% reach of 19-34s. “That’s the future of any sports betting or casino company”, he said.

Moreover, when compared to the more traditional marketing method of TV, Harrison said there was an extensive opportunity to brand build, although the audience is offered the option to opt out of gambling advertising.

That aside, “There’s 90 minutes of content consumed on YouTube by 18 to 34 hours every day”, according to Harrison. “That’s out of six hours of total content consumption.”

Meanwhile, the same group watches an average of 75 minutes of live TV per day. However, “a chunk of that is the BBC”, Harrison added, where it is not possible to advertise.

You can watch the session with Chris Harrison (Industry Head, Google) and Michael Pedersen (Non-exec shareholder, iGaming NEXT) on igamingnext.tv.