Considerations In Monitoring Online Gaming And Gambling

Customer experience is incredibly important in online gaming and gambling, perhaps more so than on any other type of site apart from online banking. Users visit for an entertainment experience, which must be enjoyable on all levels, but they must also develop very high levels of trust and confidence, both in the fairness of the games and the security of any financial transactions.

In addition the use of mobile devices for gaming is on the rise, and apps and mobile sites both have their own unique considerations, but must be thought of, as they are by users, as part of the same seamless brand interaction experience.

Due to the legislation around gaming there are often more compliance and verification issues to deal with than on many other kinds of site, many of which need to interact with external systems.

Any website or app “glitches”, whether caused by hardware, software, design or content can disrupt this experience for the user, and hit the operators hard on the bottom line.

So what can be done to ensure that the users feel happy and secure, however they are interacting with your brand?

What To Monitor

If you want to be sure that your site or app is performing correctly then you need to monitor performance 24×7.

“Performance”, of course, is one of those words that hides a multitude of sins. Let’s first look at what we mean by “performance”.

At SciVisum we take a “Customer First” approach to measuring performance. This means that unless you can experience the site as a user, unless your monitoring engine can “Do What The Customer Does” and provide you with data based on the real, rather than the ideal, experience your users are having any decisions taken based on this data will be pretty worthless when it comes to real world application and attempts to support and develop the systems.

But the very first thing you need to do is define your KPIs

Defining Measures For Realism In Online Gaming Monitoring

Where site content changes rapidly and constantly, and has time sensitive dimensions such as that seen on gaming sites.

Of course every organisation has specific Key Performance Indicators but here are some that all online gaming sites should be able to measure against:

  • Site Wide Availability (for what % of the time do users have access to full functionality)

  • User Journey Availability (for % of the time is each journey fully available)

  • Speed and performance of steps within each user journey

  • Delivery Time for each journey

  • Lookup and Connect times

  • Trace Route Tracking (where in the internal or external network are slowdown occurring)

  • CDN performance

  • Lost Revenue (due to unavailability and slow downs)

  • Host performance

Ideally you would also be able to:

  • perform benchmarking and comparisons

  • see user choices that caused/did not cause errors

  • replay user journeys

  • Understand content display and delivery

  • Component performance and comparison

A curse of fast moving sites can be Sporadic Errors. These kind of problems happen irregularly, for short periods of time, and can be very hard to track down and fix. The key point to bear in mind here is that while each error may be insignificant in itself the cumulative effect of these types of problems over time can be huge, in terms of user experience and in wasted developer and support time. SciVisum worked closely with some of our clients in the online gaming industry to specifically produce monitoring to help with this issue.

Where data and content are provided by 3rd party sources, as is often the case with gaming and gambling, accurate performance data is vital in SLA discussions. For example, if odds for gambling are out of date, or the results of an event or next moves in a game are delivered slowly or too late the user will lose all trust and go elsewhere.

This is maybe the place for a note about “speed of delivery” monitoring, in particular the industry benchmark tables which are popular in the trade press. While it is extremely important to measure and understand “speed of delivery” it is crucial that “delivery” is measuring the time it takes for ALL components on the page to resolve and work correctly, and that these can be broken down and seen in isolation. It is no use knowing that your “web page” takes under a second to “deliver” if none of the data feeds are visible for 30 seconds after that. Telling the board the “page delivery figure” may keep them happy, but that happiness will disappear pretty quickly if they see falling revenues and user numbers because the site is not “usable” however quickly it brings up the “containers” for the content. You must also know delivery speed “rendered in browser”, that is as it is for real users, as well as the server time stats that the operations teams need to know.

Defining User Journeys

User journeys can be anything from a simple visit to one page where no direct interaction takes place, to complex multipage visits that include interaction with features provided by many different systems in the backend or externally.

You may also want to run the same journey on different country sites, or on different devices to check for performance consistency.

When looking to define which user journeys to monitor in the beginning think of the core activities that users must be able to perform on your site, for example:

  • Registration / Account Creation

  • Login

  • Account Management

  • Playing games

  • Making a bet

  • Adding funds / claiming winnings

You should certainly monitor all the major processes on your site in at least one journey.

Many of these journey involve a number of choices to be made by the user, and this is where Dynamic User Journeys are needed.

Dynamic User Journeys

Instead of merely checking URLs monitoring and testing software needs to take the same actions, in the same way, as real users, experiencing the unique combination of code and applications occurring throughout the interactive journey. As websites become more functionally complex and possible user actions become more varied, fluid and dynamic it is imperative that your monitoring does, too.

The old method of “static journey monitoring” or “static URL monitoring” meant that one one choice was pre-specified for a journey. In monitoring terms this would mean that you might know that it is possible to place one particular type of bet, on one particular event, for one particular amount, 100% of the time, but that is ALL it tells you. The rest of the site could be down and you not know.

Dynamic User Journeys are the next evolution of this method of monitoring, they are sometimes called “automated mystery shopping”. In a dynamic user journey the monitoring script behaves just like a real user, making random selections at each stage of the journey, the better to replicate real user behaviour and test the performance of all aspects of the site.

Monitoring the performance of an end-to-end user journey instead of whether stand alone pages are simply visible, or certain components and features working in isolation, provides the necessary realism you need to understand the experience your users are having on your site.

It could be that each page is working fine, but the process for moving between them is not, for example.

Typically you Dynamic User Journeys mean that you need to monitor fewer individual journeys as the checks per journey are more comprehensive. You would need many more Static User Journeys to cover the same information.

Data For Everyone

The importance of any Customer Experience monitoring, is that it provides information that is accessible and actionable across the various teams within an eCommerce enabled organisation.

Effective use of monitoring data in an organisation bridges the gap between business and technology teams by providing a common language for in depth analysis and enable business wide understanding of the impact of online performance on the bottomline.

It’s not only the technical teams that have a use for monitoring data.

Marketing and sales want to know about the impact of performance on campaigns, any technological or load restrictions, and when to schedule various activities. They invest time and money in bringing users to the site through SEO, SEM, advertising, events, social media activities and PR campaigns and want to provide a great user experience to them when they arrive. If visitors are unable to interact with the site as intended problems need to be identified and rectified as soon as possible.

UX, Web developers, designers and content producers want to know about the real user experience. They are focused on the creation of a rich customer experience. Errors in coding can cause sharp increases in processing and rendering times for the browser at home – exactly the opposite of what was intended. Knowing what real users experience removes the danger of lost sales and the risk of brand damage.

Operations teams, Development Teams and Service and Delivery managers all have a huge interest in what is happening on the servers and back end and in order to support front end Customer Experience it’s vital that technical teams can discover the technical root causes of issues flagged up by users, partners or other areas of the business.

Strategic Teams and Capacity Planners need vital data as an input into strategic planning, target setting of all kinds, and forecasting as eCommerce continues to rise in strategic importance.

SV Monitoring Suite

All products in the Monitoring Suite have been designed with different user needs in mind, but all are delivered through the intuitive Customer Portal, and enjoy the one-on-one managed service support, that our clients value so highly.

To help support all teams, and provide a “single point of truth”, all products in the SV Monitor Suite are designed to ensure that everyone can understand and be proficient in using the wide ranging metrics to deliver ongoing improvements.

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