As betting leadership looks to revise its retail proposition, how should stakeholders tackle in-shop data engagement, a dynamic that needs to be modernised. Speaking to industry betting-data insiders, Scott Longley tackles an issue that could be deemed as a cultural conundrum for decision makers…
Betting shops might be the final frontier for the new generation of data and statistics but before anyone starts ripping down the sheets of the racing pages pinned to the walls, some consideration for the retail consumer is likely advised.
“I think we need to be careful before rushing to lament the LBOs for outdated data provision practices; we must understand their client base before rushing to judgement, says Jeevan Jeyaratnam, who heads up trading and compilation at Abelson Odds.
The traditional retail bookmaking customer is a very different demographic to their mobile and tablet-wielding counterparts.
“The shops must be careful not to alienate the traditional, and historically more brand loyal, legacy betting punter over the new, ‘flightier punter’,” says Jeyaratnam. “In terms of customer acquisition costs, the mobile ones are harder to keep and perhaps less valuable than shop punters.”
Change has come to the retail environment all the same and today’s betting shop is very different to those of 10 years’ ago, even if the basic OTC function remains largely the same. Part of that change comes with the delivery of more data and statistics to encourage more betting, particularly when it comes to sports away from the retail staples of horseracing and dogs.
Yet replicating the online experience is neither possible nor preferable. In Australia, iSport Genius has been working with online-only brand Sportsbet on content aimed at a retail audience via a pubs sponsorship deal. Nathan Rothschild, co-founder and partner at consumer-facing sports data provider iSport Genius.
He says the difference between the online and retail audiences means the data must be delivered in a simpler and more digestible format as opposed to the deep-dive potential for online – and particularly desktop – use.
“It’s making sure that odds, facts and stats are clear and ensuring the content is relevant and it updates when certain matches start or finish,” he says. “Date isn’t just static, it is dynamic based on what matches or games taking place at the time.”
This means taking advantage of the changing daily sports calendar. “We are currently building a full automated venue/retail solution that allows you to schedule content, stats and offers throughout the day, to different screens, whether that is football, racing or something like the NBA.”
One publication intimately connected with the pages of runners and riders posted on a retail outlet’s walls in the UK is the Racing Post. Eugene Delaney is the director of B2B operations at the paper and he similarly points out that retail betting shops face the task of keeping the current customer base happy while trying to reverse declining footfall.
Up-to-date information is key – the Post recently announced a new tipster display for football which includes content form 20 leagues across Europe – in order to make the shops a destination.
“A key requirement for retail bookmakers is how to drive ‘here-and-now’ betting opportunities and how to grow in play betting,” he adds. “Therefore, signposting the next betting opportunity with an up-weighted focus in terms of display screens/gantry is key to growing their recreational customer base.”
The emergence of SSBTs in retail environments is another very apparent change in the shops in the past decade. Jeyaratnam points out that these terminals may to an extent come with their own issues – the extra layer of pricing, for instance, – but they also give further options for the display of betting detail.
“SSBTs are a great education station for punters not familiar with the plethora of online betting options and for those for whom English isn’t the first language,” he says. “They help bridge the gap.”
A further approach comes with integrated single wallets and the opportunity to encourage further footfall by offering concessions or rewards for paying their local shop a visit.
“These offers must complement the reasons for the user to be at the venue, not try to be something completely different,” says Rothschild. “It’s about enhancing their experience, not interrupting it. Online marketing, for example, is much more about interrupting.”
As Jeyaratnam points out, it is not quite time to be ripping down those racing pages. “Betting shops do have larger screens that can be viewed by more than one user, but given the number of races broadcast each day, the screens still have to sit on rotation; not ideal for early morning punters wanting to place day-long lucky 15s.”
Instead, he believes more can be done to narrow the focus for shop punters while also extending their choice into newer bet types and markets.