Back in July, we sat down with John O’Connor, head of business development and sports betting at InCrowd, to chat about InCrowd’s partnership with Sky Sports to deliver a World Cup game that would raise anticipation levels ahead of the kick-off in Russia.
After perhaps the most successful World Cup of all time in regard to global engagement and social participation, we caught up with O’Connor once again to discuss the triumph that was the Sky Sports Road To Moscow FTP game, and what the continued development of this platform means for the future partnerships of right holders, brands and betting partners in the sports industry.
SBC: Sky Sports Road To Moscow was a huge success…Why do you think this format worked so well?
JO’C: InCrowd achieved a 97% completion rate for Road To Moscow, generating over 2.6m predictions, which is an incredible result, but for us that alone isn’t enough. We wanted to ensure that Road To Moscow was a fully rounded experience for the fan; we knew this would be a critical thing to get right for this to be successful.
We created layers of value added game enhancement features. With full integration into participating club websites, players had additional points of access to the game. We also included the option to create mini leagues with 2,000 being set up during the Road To Moscow run.
This “friend versus friend” approach was a massive acquisition tool as fans tested predictive skills in a closed user group format and is something that will prove to be incredibly valuable moving forward.
SBC: How did you keep the fans actively engaged once predictions had been made and leagues created, beyond just coming back to check on results?
JO’C: The contemporary polls were designed to drive repeat visits via conversational topics and were massively popular and provided a transactional gateway for our betting partner.
We also used email communications and push notifications for app users with topical content related to events throughout the tournament, always supported by relevant odds promotion.
Social media was also a significant driver for competition entrants particularly when used under an umbrella of talent driven content.
SBC: We know you already have your next steps planned and in motion which is exciting – what can we expect to see and experience over the coming months?
JO’C: One of the most significant outcomes from the creation of Road To Moscow is that we have developed an engagement format that can work across different territories. For example, there is no reason why a predictive game based around Liga 1 in Romania wouldn’t attract significant audience in Bucharest!
In addition, Road To Moscow was a perfect digital canvas to test new product development. The Man of the Match voting in the OurLeague app is now part of the Sky Sports coverage of Rugby Super League sponsored by Betfred, whose odds are being integrated into the Free-to-play weekly Super League game.
SBC: Do you still see future value in predictors and polls or do you feel fans are looking for new engagement opportunities?
JO’C: There is no doubt that predictors and polls will continue to be significantly valuable. Fans want to have their say and prove that they really know what they’re talking about when it comes to their team and their sports. Thanks to the obvious success of Road To Moscow, our future plans for predictors and polls are ramping up, not slowing down. There’s a lot more scope to predictors and polls that you might think.
Already integrated and proving popular in a number of our official football apps, our predictor functionality will be extensively used in the world of rugby union during the 18/19 season. Premiership Rugby have used the proprietary platform to reward fans who make the best match predictions whilst Scarlets and Leinster will use predictive games to drive engagement on the build up to match day with both clubs offering a wide range of match day rewards.
Polls that drive and divide opinion will promote fan engagement across the digital platforms of English Premier League and English Football League clubs. For the rights holder this will become an additional value add to their partner package, one that will deliver valuable insight into the key motivations for the fan.
Poll formats in the control of rights holders allow them to move formats like try or goal of the month or season onto their own platforms so they can benefit from the data and also control the branding and activate around these assets for their partners.
SBC: How do you ensure the fans are kept up-to-date with features, considering all the activity and development going on behind the scenes at InCrowd?
JO’C: Targeted, timely and relevant communication delivered results during Road To Moscow and these will be adapted across all transactional opportunities from buying a ticket to placing a bet for the whole InCrowd stable of sporting brands.
We’re completely focussed on creating direct relationships between rights holders and brands and being smart with data for our clients benefit.
Our Business Intelligence service aligns contextual, behavioural and transactional data to deliver significant commercial opportunities for both rights holders and partner brands.
It is this data platform that allows us to keep fans engaged by communicating with relevant, timely and personalised communications.
It’s an exciting time here at InCrowd… we’re eager to continue working with rights holders, sporting brands and betting organisations to deliver games that will resonate with their audience, improve brand relationships and drive value for everyone.
Keep an eye out for the next Q&A with John O’Connor, in which we will be discussing the US betting market. Coming to SBC News in October 2018.