TG&H On Air – Cindy Kurtz, President of Marketing Performance Group

Sponsored Content By Marketing Performance Group

 

Chris Faria

Hey everyone. Chris Faria here, executive editor of Tribal Gaming and Hospitality Magazine. Welcome to another special edition of TG&H. Today’s sponsored by Marketing Performance Group. Also known as MPG. I’m so pleased to welcome their founder. Cindy Kurtz welcome Cindy to TG&H on Air.

Cindy Kurtz

Thank you

Chris Faria

So Cindy, for those in our audience who are not familiar with MPG, what solutions do you provide to the tribal gaming and hospitality industry?

Cindy Kurtz

So Marketing Performance Group is a casino focused performance based media services company that we, we integrate ourselves into the properties marketing team in order to improve media planning and buying and to more effectively drive new member signups visits in play and to reengage lapsed players efficiently.

Chris Faria

Cindy, tell us your thoughts on what makes a great agency partner versus just a good partner.

Cindy Kurtz

Well, we believe there’s three very important elements, um, to creating a great agency partnership. The first one is a thorough understanding of the media landscape and the casino business. This reduces any learning curves once working with, um, new clients. We second, we believe being both collaborative and communicating well are absolutely of the utmost importance. And then lastly, um, measuring the results and attribution in order to continuously improve the success of the media plans. Um, those are really the three major, um, things that build a great partnership.

Chris Faria

Okay. For your next question. What makes a media services agency a great partner for a casino?

Cindy Kurtz

So, you know, as we all know, the advert advertising media ecosystem is changing at a very rapid pace and it’s becoming more complicated every day. For example, streaming video services were not an integral part of media plans 10 years ago today. Those, um, people use a day, the, um, people using the services has doubled, um, therefore using O T T and CTV in your media plans has become extremely important and that’s just one channel. So it’s really necessary to maintain functional expertise in buying across all media channels, um, and keeping up with all the changes and additions of media channels. And then of course, understanding where these channels are used most appropriately. So, um, do certain channels work more effectively against, um, uh, reaching new players? What about those channels that are more efficient and effective against our, our current players? So knowing how each of these, um, channels works against reaching, uh, the people we’re trying to reach is really important.

And then of course also knowing which channels are used in different parts of the customer’s journey. Um, do you want to broad reach and create some awareness or is it lower in the funnel to encourage, encourage extra casino visits or hotel, um, bookings and things like that? You know, one of the, um, uh, uh, thoughts that, uh, uh, clients tend to forget is that 75 to 85% of all, um, casino advertising dollars are spent on media. So we think it’s really important to have a media first agency involved in, um, placing the media. And I think that’s why we’ve been so successful in this vertical. We have the media experience. We’ve been doing this for over 35 years. Um, we’ve placed over 400 million in media across all media channels, and we’ve bought 120 media markets in the us and Canada for, in Canada from a casino standpoint.

We’ve been focusing on the casino vertical for about the last 15 years. And during that time we’ve worked with over 60 casinos in 19 states. So we’re pretty, um, well versed in the differences in different jurisdictions. It’s also created a strong understanding of gaming and the revenue drivers in the, in casino operations, so that we can better target our media plans for those amenities that each property is trying to, um, improve sales for. And we’ve also worked with everything from a large multi casino gaming enterprises to single single casino operations. So we have a breadth of knowledge. We’ve also worked with both native American and commercial casinos. And Chris, as you mentioned earlier about what we can bring to, um, uh, tribal gaming, um, we really like working in tribal gaming gaming. We believe that, um, we share similar values. So when it’s all said and done, um, MVG considers ourselves a family business.

My business partner is also my husband, um, and that’s kind of the field that we have throughout our organization. Um, and tribal casinos are really, um, uh, also family businesses. They’re just much bigger families than ours. So we believe that that, um, allows us, uh, shared, shared values. Um, we found that working with tribal casinos allows us to really get to know the owners and the members who are benefiting from any success the casino have. So we know that profitability means that we’re providing medical care or EDU education, um, to someone’s children. And we like feeling like we’re part of that community. Um, one example, um, that I think of when I think about being embedded into these, into the communities in which we work is that we had a, um, for one of our clients, um, one of the tribal members’ kids got very sick and the child loved animals and really wanted to go to San Diego zoo.

So the marketing department asked us if we could get tickets to the San Diego zoo, but we didn’t wanna stop at a simple ticket request. So we worked with our vendors, um, to provide a day that the child would never forget. We had a limousine pick her up and take her to the beauty salon so she could have her hair and nails done. Then we arranged, um, the flight to San Diego and a V I P tour of the zoo. So when we, when it was all said and done, I think we were more excited about, um, pulling that off than the child was, but I do believe that it made an impact on our life. The other thing that we bring, um, to tribal gaming is the understanding of all the competition. And that is so important because of all the work that we’ve done.

We know where our clients casinos fit into the competitive landscape, and this is so important in creating strong media plans. So for instance, if you’re in a competitive market with a lot of cross play from, um, uh, different properties, we might take advantage of a tool we call conquesting, which would help us quote steel customer visits from our competitors. Conquesting allows us to geofence our competitors’ properties, um, and we can collect their, um, mobile device IDs and then send them ads to encourage, um, uh, visits to our properties. Um, if you’re the only game in town, uh, new member signups might be your primary objective. Um, and then you would need to use more broad reaching vehicles like television or radio, but we try to make those more efficient and effective as well by, um, when possible for the digital components we can, um, match the client’s, uh, uh, the emails and the client’s database to their IP addresses and exclude our current members from any advertising plans that we have out there.

Chris Faria

You’ve mentioned good communication a few times, so I think that’s very important to you. Tell me, what does that mean to you?

Cindy Kurtz

So, like any partnership communication is really key, and we look at it as having two parts, um, both a collaborative aspect, as well as what is traditionally thought as communication. So from the collaboration standpoint, we believe that manifests itself in active listening and deep engagement with the client’s marketing teams to gain a thorough understanding of what they’re trying to accomplish. They can this way, we really understand their business objectives, what their key challenges are, any major opportunities, um, that they have. And in this way, the great agency versus the good agency as we talked about earlier, um, will be better able to develop specific measurable plan, measurable plans against those, um, uh, custom objectives. We also understand the communication in the traditional sense is very important, and that is where we translate, um, the marketing objectives into appropriate media objectives and provide the client with thorough understanding of the media plans and make sure that they understand why we’re recommending what we recommend.

We also believe that, um, we need to ex uh, establish what the KPIs are going to be upfront so that we’re all working towards the same goal. One of the things that we’re really big on is asking why. So one of the, um, examples is we have had, uh, quite a few, um, casino clients recently say to us, you know, what I think we really need to be on TikTok, um, you know, uh, uh, many clients and agencies for that matter, like to chase the new shiny object. And we’ll always say, why do you wanna be on TikTok? And they’ll say, oh, well, you know, it’s, uh, all over the media, it’s growing like crazy. I think we really need to be on TikTok and we’ll say, well, which of the objectives are you trying to meet with that media channel? And, um, we will add that for instance, that you are correct. TikTok is growing, uh, very quickly, and it is all over the news, but 60% of TikTok users are be between the ages of 16 and 24. And that’s not the primary vehicle for most casinos. Additionally, um, having that many, um, people who are underage can cause, um, further problems down the road. And so that will, uh, recommend Strang away from it. In most instances.

The other area where communication is important is, um, talking about any executional successes and issues we, you can’t avoid when things aren’t going well. Um, and pretend that they aren’t, we believe in complete transparency in terms of the media being purchased. And in order to do that, we need to set up weekly success meetings, um, with the client, which we, we, um, uh, handle over a video conference. And then in addition, we will supplement that with at least two trips a year to the property so that we can see anything new going on, um, on the property. And of course we can meet with a median person, um, because we still believe that it’s very important to have those personal relationships,

Chris Faria

Cindy, for our final question in today’s business climate, especially, um, it’s really important to demonstrate that that advertising is working. How do you do that?

Cindy Kurtz

This is all, this is the biggest challenge and topic of conversation amongst, uh, any media executives when they get together. Um, because in the olden days you could just get away with, um, saying, oh, I just wanna increase the increase awareness, but today we need to show the CMOs. So the CMOs can show, um, their bosses that what we’re recommending and executing is actually working. So we put a lot of, we invest a lot of time and money into staying up to date and utilizing the most accurate tracking tools available. It’s important to focus, um, on the measurement of the current advertising plans so that you can always constantly improve ’em, um, effective medium management requires constantly measuring the effective of E effectiveness of each, um, media element. Um, and then of course, continuously testing new things so that you can always, uh, improve the media plans.

So the first level, or the base level of tracking is making sure that we are buying very efficiently, optimizing our CPMs and our cost per clicks and et cetera. And we do utilize AI to take advantage of those aspects that technology can do so well. But unlike some agencies who depend totally on AI, we add the hu human element and make sure that somebody is watching it every day. So in other words, we do not believe in setting and forgetting it. Um, we believe that, um, media needs to be monitored all the time and make sure that you’re still on track, but even more important than measuring the media efficiency is measuring whether or not the media is actually moving the needle, the needle on your business objectives. So in other words, is it generating the desired response? Um, obviously in the casino world, we’re looking at new member signups and increased visits and, um, improved, uh, coin in increased entertainment, ticket sales hold, hotel bookings, et cetera, since so much of O of what we do is, um, and the casino industry is still offline.

It makes measuring and tracking a little bit more difficult. So we’ve invested a lot of time and, um, energy into making sure we have the best foot traffic attribution models, um, available. And although it’s not perfect, but this allows us to do is to measure whether or not if somebody’s, um, been exposed to our ads, if their mobile device has come into the property, we can then apply that properties. Um, a D T to determine the, um, advertising ROI on that media channel, which will allow us to make better decisions on our media mix. Our philosophy has always been that by concentrating on the details and constantly making minor improvements, um, that in the long run, those minor improvements will add up to much larger improvements in media performance. At the end of the day, our, that this approach alone will not a bad media plan. Good, but it will almost definitely make a good media plan better. We think we’ve been pretty successful at it because what we found is as our clients, um, move from property to property, um, as they, um, move up the ladder in their career, they’re, um, searching us out, um, so that we can work with them again at the new property. So we think that’s probably the, the best vote of confidence we can get.

Chris Faria

Cindy, this is really informative. Thank you so much for, um, being with us today.

Cindy Kurtz

Hey, thank you for having me

Chris Faria

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