Times are tough for UK-facing bookmarkers when it comes to advertising and acquiring new players for a decent price in the UK market. A triple hit of increased paid advertising prices, soaring TV advert prices and the newly implemented Point of Consumption Tax (POCT) have put a number of UK books in a right pickle.
Justin Brookfield, Co-Founder of Tomorrow (formerly known as Locker Room), has been in the digital advertising industry since 1996 and specializes in UK-facing sportsbooks and customer acquisition. Brookfield agrees the advertising landscape in the UK is grim, but he has a number of ideas on how books can circumvent the soaring advertising prices. In this interview, I had the opportunity to chat with Brookfield about this challenging environment we’re facing now in the UK.
Becky Liggero: Thank you for joining me today, Justin. Can you start by telling me what’s happening with paid search? I know over the past few years prices have just gone crazy – how is this increase in pricing impacting the small and the large books here in the UK?
Justin Brookfield: I think its probably fair to say in the last two or three years paid search is starting to get really, really expensive.
There are a number of factors in that, I think there are more players in the marketplace today, they’re being more and more competitive, they’re spending more and more budget. I think probably until about two years ago everybody would throw as much budget as possible into paid search because its such a trackable media and the return in investment is very, very easy to track.
But I think the cost per clicks have started getting very, very expensive and unless you’re an established brand and have thousands of people searching for your brand name every month, the cost for appearing on a generic term like “football bet” or “sports bet” is so expensive that no sportsbook company can justify the return on investment and cost per acquisition that comes from that channel now, so they’ve got to start thinking outside the box a little bit.
BL: Ok yea, that’s not good. So what about when it comes to TV advertising? We know the Premier League has a new deal with Sky and BT and this is impacting the price of advertising packages. Can you elaborate on what this has done?
JB: So the latest TV deal for Sky, BT and Sky quotes ten million pounds per live match that its cost them to secure those rights and that has to be passed down to somebody. I think us as consumers are going to have to start paying more for our subscriptions to Sky and BT but the advertisers will start paying more as well.
Sky are in year two of selling a package to gambling companies and if they want to get involved in live sport its effectively a minimum threshold they need to be in to be at the table and this year best guess is around a million pounds to be in there and that secures you the ability to have some live sport, some recorded/delayed sport, but also you have to spend some of that budget in Sky Atlantic, entertainment , movies, etc, so it’s a big requirement and you have to have big budgets to go put that money and commit it straight away.
BL: Right, OK, so its pretty grim here. And then we have Point of Consumption Tax that’s thrown into the mix, so it’s a pretty challenging environment. So it’s a good thing we have companies like you and expertise like yours, because now I want you to tell me what are some of the ways the sportsbooks in the UK can actually deal with all these increases in pricing- how can they be successful in acquiring new players?
JB: I think it’s a combination of two things. I think there is new player acquisition which is still very important but there is also CRM and getting as much out of as you can of all those people you’ve worked so hard to acquire in the first place.
I think with the CRM side of things its all about understanding the customer. I have several accounts with several bookmakers and nobody seems to know me- I get an email on horse racing three times or four times a month and I bet on horse racing once a year. It’s a waste. They don’t understand me, they don’t build a relationship with me and I think that feels pretty consistent across most of the bookmakers.
All the data is there- they all have customer databases, its about the segmentation and starting to build a relationship with me, because we’re all promiscuous, we all bet with whoever is front of mind at the right time.
And this leads in to kind of a joined up thinking approach that CRM needs to talk to acquisition, the brand side of things, messaging, they need to talk to the media channels, the media partners, TV needs to talk to digital, and we see that not happening very often with the bookmakers.
BL: Right, personalization is something that we talk about quite a bit at these conferences and events. So if you have one piece of advice that you could give to, say, a smaller bookmaker in the UK on how to be successful this year in 2015, what would that be?
JB: I think its about positioning and trying to differentiate themselves from everyone else in the marketplace and most of the bookmakers that we see in the advertising, whether its in print or radio or TV or online, in fact, are shouting at customers- they’re not talking to people, they’re not trying to explain why I should have a relationship with you as a customer, its just about headline prices and signup offers, etc, etc, there doesn’t appear to be a lot of differentiation.
So I’d make sure the messaging is thought through and I’d make sure you’d stay on target inside cost per acquisition costs and if you can’t afford to be spending the money on Google look at other channels, look at social, look at online video if you can’t afford to be on TV and just be consistent, just be consistent in your messaging all the way through and get the CRM right.
BL: CRM and personalization sounds like the way to go. Well thank you so much for sharing your expertise today I really appreciate it.