Lee Davy sits down with the CEO of BtoBet to figure out why eSports has caused the stampede it has, who the eSports consumers are, and how everyone in the eSports betting community can learn to provide the very best products for them.
June 1, 2016.
BtoBet and Betradar join forces to create a platform for betting outlets looking to add the exciting new market of eSports to their roster of products.
I knew quite a bit about Betradar.
I didn’t know so much about BtoBet.
So, I reached out to their CEO and visionary behind the company, Alessandro Fried, to pick his brains, and this is what he had to say.
Why have eSports been so popular?
“If you look at the way millennials interact in their daily lives, you will notice that the use of technology plays a major role. They were born in an evolving video game environment, and they socialise and connect with friends through technology, video games and the digital dimension. They access their entire world through technology, looking for ways to follow their passion with a seamless experience; playing and having fun. eSports is the perfect solution to fulfilling millennials’ expectation, and that is why it has become so popular. As a result, social gambling has been described as the next revolution in the online gambling world, and the National Olympic Committee recognises eSports as a real part of the sporting world. When it comes to events, major sponsors such as Coca-Cola and American Express are mainstays. These are clear signs that society is positively accepting this new reality, and it will soon be common to refer to a gamer as a “sportsperson”.
What do we know about the eSports consumer?
“The eSports consumers – the so-called Millennials – are young (18 – 34-year-olds), and over 30% have engaged with some form of betting online, with disposable income and a strong propensity to gamble. 75% of millennials are always connected (even at night) and ahead of the game in terms of technological advancements, and they are great at multitasking on several devices. As a result, many appear to be far more interested in owning an iPad rather than a vehicle. They generally don’t trust TV, brands and traditional advertisements, but prefer independent media; sharing opinions in blogs and Social Media with peers. 82% of Millennials’ trust in an organisation rises if it has some sort of a Social Media account. They like to feel special and for this reason; they are attracted from personal and personalised proposals.”
What should sportsbooks and gaming houses do to grab eSports consumers’ attention?
“eSports’ fan base is composed of around 90 million people worldwide, and operators must be prepared for this fast-growing phenomenon to avoid losing ground to their competitors. It is important for bookmakers and gaming houses to understand millennials’ preferences in order to attract and retain them.
“In our opinion, to grab eSports consumers, bookmakers and gaming houses have to build brand credibility. They need to act and dress like millennials to show their authenticity, be present and active on social media, and create occasions to provide entertainment and encourage interaction.”
What is preventing more eSports consumers from betting on their favourite games?
“Principally, operators are now only offering eSports betting, but it is not enough. They need to understand the games, trade in the tournaments correctly and create great content that will engage and motivate young eSports fans to bet. At the moment, unfortunately, sites offering one of the most popular millennial games, like Counter-Strike, are not regulated, and an International eSports Federation to regulate the market is needed. The only Federation currently in existence is Korean; KeSPA, and it considers all gamers to be athletes who are allowed to participate in the games using their real name and surname in order to be easily recognised, and not with their virtual identity. The lack of a Regulated International Federation is balanced by the presence of tournament organisers (i.e. ESL), who define clear roles and monitor the games. This is done through technological tools and preventing match-fixing or match manipulation. We can say that today there are the conditions that guarantee the right and correct execution of the tournaments.”
What are the critical success factors that sportsbooks should be using to get eSports fans to bet?
“It is fundamental to present eSports’ proposal by using millennial style; creating a special section for eSports, suggesting a wide offer of the most popular eSports competitions, recommending an omnichannel environment, and presenting personalised leisure offers. It is important to ensure consistency in games across different channels and top content. The employment of innovative technology combined with new interactive and funny games encourages millennials to become regular customers.”
What are the crucial differences between eSports betting and traditional sports betting products?
“Traditional bettors are generally sports players and fans, while eSports players do not necessarily practice any physical sports. In this way, the environment around traditional bettors is different from the millennials’ world. Traditional bettors experience their passion in various ways; not necessarily through digital channels (TV programs dedicated to sport, radios, stadium, newspapers, etc.) eSports fans and bettors live their passion through exclusive digital channels and an omnichannel environment. From this perspective, the bookmaker has to present itself as an additional proposal, which goes beyond the bets and deeply understands the passion for each sport.”
How should gaming houses communicate with eSports customers?
“As mentioned before, it is important to make millennials feel special, using their method of communication and building a personal style of providing information: concise, direct, personal, appealing and cheeky.
“Millennials appreciate fun campaigns, interesting infographics, and videos on social media platforms, and they love information tools and friendly ways of communication; through mobile and social networks. Gaming houses should also adopt some peculiar strategies, such as following forums and choosing the right place and time to get in contact with eSports enthusiasts; by being present at special venues, attractive events, or even creating specific events for fun and entertainment.
For marketing operations addressed to millennials, a concert venue is a much more suitable choice than a football ground.”
How important is the ‘in-play’ market for eSports, and how difficult is it going to be to create, considering the complexities of the games?
“eSports are “competitions” and they are perfectly tailored for betting; more than other sports.
There is a large, ever-evolving variety with great potential. Consider the new entry Overwatch; it sold a total of 7 million copies within the first 9 days. Inside every game, we can find situations that generate passion and emotion within fans, while at the same time creating opportunities for the betting market. We must consider that where the fans’ passion is strong, the betting opportunities are enhanced with startling intensity.
“Where there is complexity in the game, there is also an advanced and automated mathematic algorithm processing real-time high-frequency data from professional eSports matches. As a consequence, no development obstacles can occur where knowledge of games, event analysis and advanced mathematics are combined.”
How can gaming houses build loyalty with their eSports customers?
“Millennials are not influenced by brand advertisements, and they don’t stick easily to a brand. On the contrary, they are more attracted by the kind of experience the brand proposes. Millennials remain interested depending on how much technology, engagement and personalised gaming proposals the brand gives. For this reason, operators need to think of software that can improve eSports fans’ experience by offering the type of entertainment that suits millennials, and using tools to manage their business with flexibility. For example, through BtoBet’s advanced technology, we permit a vertical segmentation of the target, bonus personalisation and betting suggestions.
“We allow operators to enjoy the possibility of registering millennials, monitoring the behaviour of each registered eSports enthusiast, and verifying their preferences while they play, in order to provide automatic and personalised suggestions and rewards in line with every millennial’s wish. Based on Artificial Intelligence, an advanced sportsbook enables the automation and customization of offers, rewards, and bonuses.
“We can’t forget that millennials are always multi-device connected and in this perspective, an omnichannel connection is relevant to give millennials the possibility to use the product wherever and whenever they want.
“To build loyalty, gaming houses must also propose dedicated live streaming solutions for online and retail bookmakers to fulfil customer demand for information, betting stimulation, and match visualisation. They need a flexible CMS to customise the eSports section, including an area with blogs and related content for millennials to swap and share ideas and opinions. What about games results and scores? To further improve loyalty, gaming houses have to provide millennials with ultimate statistics and live scores.”
Give an example of how one sportsbook house can differentiate itself from another to attract an eSports consumer?
“The sportsbook has to appeal to millennials and must demonstrate its positive reflection and credibility. To be different, it has to be authentic and convince its audience that betting is an experience to enjoy. Writing good content and useful information helps to acquire credibility, capture millennials’ interest and create positive value association with the brand.”