CalvinAyre.com returned to London’s Stamford Bridge today to cover the day two of the Betting on Football Conference (BOFCON) 2017. Despite a heavy, previous night of official networking activities, the expo floor was busy and there was a solid turnout throughout the day in the Marketing & Media conference track and the Trading & Operations track.
Today’s Keynote Speaker was John O’Reilly, a professional who started working in the sports betting industry with Ladbrokes in 1991 and is now serving as a Non-Executive Director of William Hill.
O’Reilly said his biggest lesson when moving to the online space from retail was that you’ve got to be on the ball- when a player goes to the site, you’ve got to find a way to share your passion as an operator for the game online.
He said change in the tax regime was a game changer for sports betting in the UK and pointed out how bookies used to want their customers to lose as quickly as possible, but after turn-over tax was implemented, bookies just wanted their players to bet and keep in betting.
O’Reilly explained how football betting has been the big driver of betting in Europe, and how betting on horses is akin to playing the lottery in Europe. He said the same is true in Asia, football is the big driver and it will continue to be this way for the foreseeable future. “Sports betting is led by football”, he said.
The appetite the Far East has for data surpasses UK and European bettors according to O’Reilly and he predicted this trend will change over time. “Increasingly, the market is going to be driven by data available for the consumer. There’s a long way to go with the use of data in the industry”, he said.
O’Reilly closed out the session by pointing out there is too much negative press about the sports betting industry and there needs to be much more emphasis on the quality of work. For example, sports betting companies raise a lot of money from taxes, create wonderful job opportunities and provide an outstanding product for entertainment. He said as an industry we need to be much more proactive about presenting the positive side of sports betting to the media and regulators.
We caught up with Adam Cole, Founder of Football INDEX, a innovative 18-month old site allowing customers to buy and sell footballers with real money on the “Football Stockmarket”. Cole decided to take advantage BOFCON to educate the industry on his new product and talk on his aggressive marketing strategy.
The young company has just gone live on London’s ITV1 with their first ever TV ad and they’re the official sponsors of ITV’s coverage of the UEFA Europa League until the end of this season. Football INDEX has also sprung for adverts on the Tube, an indicator things are going well with the company and they are looking to greatly expand their customer base.
“It’s a big moment for us as just two years ago we were a very humble three man start up and now Football INDEX is going to be in front of millions of viewers. It really is testament to the growth and success Football INDEX has had to date and proves there is a huge appetite for alternative gambling products outside of the traditional verticals”, said Cole.
Today’s celebrity appearance came in the form of Chris Kamara, former English footballer, Sky Sports Presenter and long term Ladbrokes brand ambassador. Kamara participated on today’s “Star Signing- are ambassadors a better marketing tool” panel alongside Jim Erwood of Extra Time Management and Paul Brighten of Sports & Entertainment.
Kamara said he started working with Ladbrokes in 1999 and used to do audio work in betting shops, looking at the premier leagues on Saturdays and his ambassador role developed from that. He said 12 years ago he appeared in his first ad for Ladbrokes but that people were associating the ads with him instead of with Ladbrokes, so they had to change their strategy. “So now in the ads, we talk about the actual betting and we make them funny”, he said.
For example, these days Kamara appears in Ladbrokes ads where he dresses up as 11 different characters. “My wife was gutted with the ad when I dress up as a women because I have bigger boobs than her”, he joked. “At least we have the same size bum”, he said with a smile.
Kamara spoke so highly of Ladbrokes and of his bond with and loyalty to the organization because they look after him. He said when Sky Bet was launched, Sky Sports wanted him to leave Ladbrokes and join their betting site, but Kamara said no because “Ladbrokes came first and Sky Sports understood that”.
Brighten, who represents football celebrities such as Roberto Carlos, talked on the pros and cons of sponsoring an individual vs. a team as a sports betting operator. He said it depends on the brand’s needs and it’s about understanding the “why” and the “how” you’re going to deliver it vs. everyone else is doing it.
“I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer. A combination of both is what you probably want to look at”, he said. Its one thing to invite customers to a hospitality suite for a match but another to have someone like Kammy coming in for 15 minutes telling stories from their career, he shared.
Before closing out the day, we spoke with Andrew McCarron of SBC Events to hear his thoughts on how things went this year at BOFCON. Without surprise, McCarron was delighted with the turnout and said the feedback from delegates this year was incredibly positive, especially considering four years ago attendance was around 100 and this year it was close to 1000.
McCarron added a few words about the upcoming Betting on Sports conference in September, confirming SBC are already ironing out the details and it will be an expanded version of BOFCON in terms of content.