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

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

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

What makes for a great media services partnership for a casino?

As it relates to media planning and buying, we believe there are four critical elements necessary for a strong and effective agency partnership. The first is a thorough understanding of the rapidly changing media ecosystem. A great casino media services partner needs to have solid experience in buying media across the entire spectrum of media vehicles. Second is a thorough understanding of the casino gaming industry and the ability to leverage available media research on how casino players utilize and engage with the various media platforms and channels. The third necessary element is a focus on media performance measurement … and, specifically, the measurement of how effectively different elements of the casino’s media plan are impacting the achievement of the casino’s specific marketing objectives. Finally, to be a great media services partner, an agency must be both collaborative as well as transparent in its approach to planning, buying, and reporting.

Well, then, why would a media services agency make a great partner for a casino?

We believe a media services agency could make a better partner for casinos looking to improve the effectiveness of their media advertising spending. On average, 75 to 85% of all casino advertising spending is the cost of media itself.. Given the media represents the lion’s share of a typical ad budget, it only makes sense a Media Agency, whose primary focus is on the media buying versus creative development, would provide better planning and buying support for a casino.

The advertising media ecosystem is changing at a very rapid pace, and it is becoming more complicated every day. Streaming video services were a nascent media channel 10 years ago, but today, the growth in streaming services make the integration of OTT and CTV in your media plans a necessity. And that’s just one channel. It is important, therefore, to maintain functional expertise in buying across all media channels and keep up with all the changes in both existing media channels as well as new/emerging media platforms and channels. This is something that a media agency is specifically designed to do.

Equally important to understanding the media landscape is understanding how and when different media channels can be used most effectively to motivate casino players. Do certain channels work more effectively against reaching new players? What about those channels that are more efficient and effective against our current players? Understanding how consumers engage and react to advertising in certain channels — and most specifically — how a casino’s players engage with certain media is key to building the best media plan for a client. A media services agency with experience in the casino industry can provide valuable insight into the casino players media usage and leverage this in the design on media plans to support client marketing goals more effectively.

Wondering if you are getting the most out of your media spend? Fill out our get in touch page for your free media plan analysis

Cindy, in today’s business climate, it is really important to demonstrate that the advertising is working. How does a good media partner do this?

For the typical land-based casinos, the bulk of transactions continue to be primarily offline, making measuring the effectiveness of media plans a huge challenge. As a starting point, the great media partner will provide complete transparency into what is being purchased and how efficiently it is being bought. The media agency will use a combination of both sophisticated media buying tools, artificial intelligence, and human oversight to ensure plans are executed efficiently and will provide on-demand dashboard and reporting tools to track media costs and results (spend, CPM, CPC, CTR %, etc..

For transactions that can be tracked online through third-party platforms, such as entertainment (Ticketmaster) or hotel bookings (ResNet), the Media partner can provide sales data and aROI analysis that can drive future optimization decisions. For promotional efforts intended to drive visits, coin-in, ADT, etc., the great partner will work with the casino marketing team to identify or create custom KPI’s that are indicative of effective performance. One such KPI might be foot traffic attribution, which measures visitation by people exposed to certain ads. Dependent on the scale of spending, foot traffic can be used to provide directional data to aid in plan optimization and can be indicative of advertising that is really moving the needle in terms of accomplishing marketing goals..

Cindy, as a last question, 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?

Like any partnership, communication is key, and we look at it as having two parts, both a collaborative aspect, as well as what is traditionally thought as communication. This manifests itself in active listening and deep engagement with the client’s marketing teams to gain a thorough understanding of what they are trying to accomplish — their specific marketing goals, their key challenges, any major opportunities they wish to leverage, and how they will measure success. In this way, the great media agency does not just build a media plan to spend the advertising budget, but rather, is able to identify a specific media strategy to best address the challenges and support achieving the specific marketing goals. The communication part is translating those marketing goals into a clear and effective media strategy, which can be discussed with the client marketing team. Then, the agency must collaborate with the client to identify the appropriate KPI’s and create mechanisms to measure and report on plan success. This reporting should be frequent and continuous so that the team can work together to continuously improve performance. While there is no specific “right way” to handle this ongoing reporting, we have found success in conducting weekly “success meetings” with the client via video conferencing, which are supplemented by two semi-annual trips to the property, where our team can interact with their casino counterparts, see what is new at the property, shop the competition and schedule in-person meetings with key media reps.

MPG will be at the Casino Marketing & Technology Conference, July 12-13 at South Point Hotel and Casino. Are you attending? Make an appointment before the conference by emailing Susan Hunt at

About Marketing Performance Group

MPG has been in operation for over 35 years. MPG’s media expertise has been developed by having placed over four hundred million in media across all media channels, and in 125 media markets in the U.S. and Canada. MPG has been focusing on the casino vertical for about the last 15 years. During that time, MPG has worked with over sixty casinos in nineteen states. The agency has partnered with a wide range of casino clients — from large multi casino gaming enterprises to single casino operations. These clients included both Native American and commercial casinos. As such, MPG is well versed in the differences between different jurisdictions, media markets and competitive landscapes. Through its experience MPG has developed a strong understanding of casino gaming and the revenue drivers in casino operations and successfully developed media plans for casino clients that better target casino players and successfully support those amenities and marketing initiatives on which each property is focused.

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