SBC Summit Barcelona – Digital: Industry marketing awaits its ‘age-gated test’

A deep dive on evolving social media, content and influencer marketing strategies to drive mass audience engagements opened SBC Summit Barcelona – Digital’s day three Marketing & Affiliation track. 

An expert panels featuring representatives of media giants Google, Twitter and LadBible underlined that social media content has shown its true depth in reaching audiences during the COVID-19 lockdown, as all global advertisers were forced to abruptly revise their marketing strategies.

Panel host Kirsten Openshaw, Head of Digital Media and Social for Mr Green, asked whether 2020’s unprecedented events saw industry operators maximise their social media channels.     

In response, Thomas Ash, Twitter’s Client Partner lead for Sports Betting, stated: “If 2020 has taught advertisers anything, is that they have to be ready to just keep adapting to their audiences needs.”

Ash underscored his statement by detailing: “Twitter saw a huge shift in advertisers trying to connect with audiences directly targeting their sentiments, over advertising profiles.” 

“People could not expect brands to maintain a normal tone of voice during a global lockdown. Brands were forced to take a people-first approach, that had to become an integral part of their marketing mix.”

Chris Harrison, Google’s Industry Head for Egaming, interjected that this was tougher remit for industry incumbents as they had to “balance  the paradox of their sports betting inventory being suspended whilst also fulfilling their key advertising duties related to safer gambling”.

Echoing Ash’s remarks, Harrison noted: “Flexibility should have been at the forefront of operators’ marketing strategies across social media and creative channels pushing safer gambling messages.

“From the outside-looking-in, I did not get the sense that betting operators fully used their assets such as football partnerships to create better content, especially at a time when advertisers were asking critical questions of how do we stay active and how do we continue to engage.”

The panel shifted its attention to the imminent regulatory requirements placed on ‘age-gating’ betting advertising content, which is promoted across influencer and social media verticals. 

Having developed influencer-led campaigns for numerous mass-market UK advertisers, Ben Jeffries, CEO and Co-founder of Influencer, stated that tech giants would likely be the gatekeepers of such measures 

He added: “It ultimately depends on how the social media platforms react because they are the ones that hold the control in terms of support with regards to age gating.

“We have seen the likes of Facebook enforce age gating profiles, across its media network including Instagram. However, what is really needed is greater insights on what is ‘age-gated content’ to support the industry and influencers.”

Jeffries concluded the discussion by stating that YouTube “is ahead of the curve” on age-verified protections, which he advised others to follow: “The impact will really be dictated by how tech giants decide to take control.”


SBC Summit Barcelona – Digital is a FREE to attend virtual conference and exhibition running from 8-11 September. To register for your free ticket or find out more please visit –

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