This is a guest contribution by Rasmus Sojmark, founder & CEO of SBC Global. If you would like to submit a contribution please contact Bill Beatty for submission details. Thank you.
The international gaming industry has seen sports betting become a phenomenon over the last two decades, and its rapid rise is something we are no strangers to at SBC Global. We have witnessed the vertical continue to grow out of betting shops and expand with the internet onto desktop, before blowing up on smartphones in the early 2010s and going from strength to strength ever since.
The influence of smartphones on this growth certainly bears more than a passing mention. Around 2006 was when mobile became the hottest word on everyone’s lips in the sports betting industry, but it was not until later that it began to truly take hold in the minds of players, operators and suppliers alike, with responsive web design and remarkable innovations such as in-play betting, and later cash out features, transforming the relationship between player and bookmaker.
Putting an increasingly active sports betting experience in the palm of people’s hands, with thousands of worldwide markets available with the swipe of a finger has seen sports betting rise to become the dynamic and colossal industry that it is today. There are a number of factors at play that the industry must be prepared to tackle, however, if it is to continue with this positive upward momentum and grow at the same rate it has done in recent times.
The power of partnerships
The number of operators entering into agreements to become the principal sponsor of Premier League numbers nine of 20 clubs this season, and this trend is extending to the Championship with high profile brands such as Unibet, Grosvenor Casinos, 32Red, SportPesa, 888 Sport, Betfred, Dafabet, LeoVegas and Tempobet all taking one or more shirt sponsorships in the Sky Bet sponsored league.
There is also an increasing emphasis on retaining a betting partner across a host of sports, including the likes of cricket and rugby.
Undeniably, the visibility of sports betting companies in professional sport has never been higher, but in order to better engage with sports teams and fans alike, operators must make sure to activate these partnerships with activities like matchday promotions, social media strategy and on-pitch activities prior to kick-off and at half-time. Simply treating such a sponsorship deal as an opportunity to plaster branding in clear view of the ever-present TV cameras does little to promote sports betting as the increasingly professional industry that it is.
In with the new
Sports betting operators will have to embrace new sports while maintaining the quality of their pre-existing offering, which is easier today with a number of data providers and industry suppliers able to assist. In recent years we have experienced both small and large operators announcing partnerships with a number of data suppliers, while others decided to switch to an alternative core platform supplier that was more adaptable to the constant demand from the punters.
Introducing new betting markets on the same sports is an excellent tool in the arsenal of any forward-thinking operator, but being cognisant of developments in sport and prepared to offer expertly-priced markets on new sports can keep them ahead of the chasing pack.
One of the key battlegrounds that is emerging amongst bookmakers looking to attract a new and younger audience is around esports. While competitive video gaming has been operating under the radar of the mainstream media it has grown into a massive business and a huge spectator sport. And it appears to attract an audience who are not against having a wager or two on the outcome of matches. However this is a very different demographic than the typical sports bettor and bookmakers are having to be smarter, more agile and more creative to get their attention.
Another example is how the likes of Pinnacle and Betfair have marked themselves out in recent months by becoming the first operators to offer betting on drone racing, with the latter partnering the Drone Racing League to offer betting at the World Championship circuit in June. Capitalising on events of this type is a powerful way of driving customer acquisition and move the sports betting industry forward.
It’s only five or so years ago since people in the industry talked about the death of affiliate marketing in the gaming industry. However, the constant need for operators to drive acquisition has been pushing up marketing costs in all other areas, and proven that there is still a need for affiliates to help drive their business forward. In fact, some operators are known to drive 40-50% of their acquisition through affiliates.
Lately, operators place as much emphasis, if not more, on retention and re-marketing to players over pure acquisition. I will go as far to say that the operators that include affiliates in this part of their marketing strategy will be the ones that are more likely to stand out and succeed.
The art of aiding discovery
Offering sports fans a plethora of new markets and sporting events to test their luck on is no doubt important to the growth of sports betting, but as offerings grow in size, avoiding overwhelming those players with an untargeted glut of content is going to become equally crucial.
With this in mind, a noticeable trend coming to the fore for several sportsbook software providers at Betting on Football in May this year was accessibility. Greeting players on localised landing pages or through notifications with content tailored to their interests and language, such as their favourite sports or betting markets is something the sports betting industry must embrace if it is to keep expanding apace in an age where enjoying a tailored and targeted relationship with online entertainment services has become the new norm.
Necessary steps to continue the evolution
As an industry, we denizens of sports betting have seen sports betting make great strides in becoming the legitimate and professional industry it is today. Events like Betting on Sports can only help maintain that progress and continue the projection of a professional image for our industry. Unique in its ability to bring together the industry’s best and brightest under one roof for two days of discussions, the sports betting sector must continue to capitalise on such opportunities for dialogue and networking if it is to continue to grow.
About the author:
Rasmus Sojmark, founder & CEO, SBC Global, on how the sports betting industry can build upon its stratospheric growth of recent years.