Here Scott Longley delves into sports betting operators marketing strategies ahead of major tournaments such as the fast approaching European Championships in France.
Longley spoke to a host of operators including Sportradar, LeoVegas, Editec and Tipstrr to discover what they’re focussing on ahead of the big kick off. Euro 2016 preparations and post tournament strategy will be a key focus of the Betting on Football Conference (#bofcon) at Stamford Bridge on April 21st.
There was a time in the not too distant past when big football tournaments such as the European Championships would come as something of a surprise to sports-betting and gambling operators. It may seem ludicrous, but back in the day it wasn’t unknown for marketing departments to be somewhat taken unawares by the big tournaments, and hence the marketing efforts could sometimes be characterized as being ‘on-the-hoof’.
But that was of course before the globalization of football. Now every operator will have been planning their Euro 2016 strategy for months, laying down their marketing spend like a shock and awe bombing campaign and leaving no stone unturned as they vie to attract punters drawn to have a punt on the summer’s big sporting event (betting-wise at least).
The sense of anticipation it typified by the comments from the marketing manager of one of the newest sportsbooks on the block. LeoVegas will barely be out of the starting blocks before it faces up to the challenge of drawing in customers to a new proposition in the midst of a marketing arms race, and LeoVegas Expansion Manager Oscar Eriksson, is understandably cagey about revealing the specifics.
He said: “We have a lot of initiatives in the pipeline but nothing finished as of now. We are looking at many interesting angles as the Euros are coming up. As with our overall marketing, there will be a local touch-and-feel and of course some innovative ways of combining LeoVegas with the Euros.”
He continued: “A great thing with LeoVegas is the mobile-first mindset, where we are offering an extremely intuitive and fun way to bet on sports. I think people (this) will distinguish clearly LeoVegas amongst all the other brands this summer.”
The popularity of betting on big football tournaments has arguably expanded the reach of the tournament as well as intensifying interest in more established European gambling markets. Partly this is being achieved through the enhancement of the current product suite to feed the heightened betting interest.
Michael März, Managing Director of Betting at Sportradar, points out that the company has a multi-pronged approach to the tournament, enhancing both its virtual football product ahead of this year’s competition and also planning a version of its new Mythical League offering for when the kick-off takes place in Paris in June.
He stated: “The key is to plan ahead for any major tournament. With the virtual product we started early with extensive planning in the spring of 2015. Since then we have been busy with state of the art motion capture, video editing, game simulation and engine building. The end result will be going live with clients on May 16 with a full virtual Euros championship playing out from group stages to final every 70 minutes. The whole thing is super realistic except in one area – we modelled England scoring in penalty shoot outs.”
Which brings us appropriately enough to Sportradar’s Mythical League, a product the company will be adapting to a whole range of events, whether the upcoming Euros, but also the UEFA Champions League or the African Cup of Nations taking place January next year.
März said of the new product: “We didn’t have this product two years ago (for the World Cup). This summer, our operator clients will be able to offer markets on match-ups between teams in different groups and different parts of the draw all the way through till the semis. Fancy a group A team against a group C team? Think a Quarter Final 1 team will score more than a Quarter Final 4 team? This product will let you bet on these and more: it’s exciting, it’s brand new and it adds content.”
Counter-intuitively, Africa will be a particular focus for many providers ahead of the Euros. März makes the point that virtual football is already a very popular product both in terms of online and land-based betting. He said: “Football is so popular in Africa, they lap it up and they lap up virtuals as well. The timing of the Championships this year will be good for Africa, but in the hours in between the matches our virtual tournaments will be very popular.”
For Simon Burrell, Head of Business Development at Editec, which runs land-based and online operations in 22 countries across Africa including the Premierbet brand, virtual sports is a point of differentiation beyond this year’s Euros. He said: “This summer’s Euro 2016 is sure to prove a success in our shops, but we know that having a strong portfolio of virtual games is really the thing which differentiates Premierbet from our competitors.”
Burrell added: “In fact, as we roll-out premierbet.com, we’ve included virtuals on the launch roadmap way ahead of casino and other products, as we know how well these perform within our markets.”
Burrell is chairing an electric panel at #bofcon on whether Euro 2016 will see the dawn of daily fantasy sports in Europe. It includes Oulala CEO Valery Bollier, Mondogoal’s Richard Graham, Fantasybet CEO Viktor Enoksen and Sportego Founder Trev Keane.
Back in the UK there is likely to be much talk about fantasy-type competitions that will take place over the course of the tournament. According to Damien Fearn, the founder of new tipping platform start-up Tipstrr, competitions that have a clear link to the underlying betting opportunities will be to the fore.
Still in launch phase, Tipstrr has already run sponsored competitions centred around the Cheltenham Festival (in conjunction with Ladbrokes) and the Cricket World T20 (with Unibet) tournament and it is looking at running something similar for the Euros.
Fearn makes an obvious point about the appeal of attempting to leverage interest in big football tournaments. He explained” The main reason is that so many people are looking at it. The European Championships has such a large reach. The number of viewers for the tournament is huge, and for that four-week period in June, it’s really the only football available to watch.”
While Fearn admits his product is aimed at a niche – it is looking to attract bloggers and experts who provide betting tips – he still feels that the Championships give Tipstrr an opportunity to push the site’s unique selling point to a wider potential audience. He hopes to announce a sponsor for his competition in late April, and he says he hasn’t been short of interested parties.
Football betting and Euro 2016 marketing strategies will be discussed and debated at the ‘Betting on Football Conference’ 21st April at Stamford Bridge, the home of Chelsea FC.
You can claim a 33% discount by inputting the code SBC when ordering your ticket! See you there.