Thomas Koller – Friends4Media – Pulling off an “ambitious” UEFA partnership

An established provider of brand engagement solutions with a special focus on quizzes and trivia games, Friends4Media recently became the sole mobile application games company licensed by UEFA.

We caught up with the firm’s Managing Director Thomas Koller, who explained how the partnership with UEFA came about, dispelled doubts over the long-term effectiveness of quiz games, and shared his excitement over launching a UEFA Gaming Hub version in February.

SBC: What would you say to dispel doubts a potential partner might have over the long-term effectiveness of quizzes as an acquisition and engagement tool?

TK: Quizzes have been around for ever intriguing and exciting consumers, regardless of age or gender. Used everywhere and by everyone: newspapers, television, magazines and street promotions, as well as the internet. We’re not claiming that by using a quiz or any branded game for that matter, numbers will skyrocket! It takes planning, finding the perfect timing and making everything relevant.

For instance, a quiz app with customers creating teams/clans and playing each other, with the promise of winning something like a free bet, cash back or other sort of bonus is always relevant and will increase engagement. After all, we’re talking to sports fans. Now take it a step further – skill based games also allows for cash play – what better than to bring new players to your audience?

When we’re talking about sports occasions for celebration or engagement – a fixture, an anniversary, a sign-up, a competition, etc. arise every other week. Friends4Media will assist in putting together the perfect mechanism to make the most of every aspect of a fan’s life before placing a bet.

SBC: Your game formats include single and duel quizzes as well as tournaments; how powerful has the ‘friend versus friend’ approach been for partners of Friends4Media?

TK: The key factor behind the success of the games is the social aspect. Sending out invites, playing or challenging, chatting with friends or people from all over the world are strong drivers and unique features. When combined with the top-of-the-line relevant content and fun characters, it creates an unparalleled gaming experience.

SBC: How important has social media become to the reach of these quizzes? From a partners’ perspective, would running the games even make sense without the possibility for social sharing and subsequent engagement?

TK: Social media is fundamental for every business, big or small. Regardless of whether it’s a mobile application, a news agency, a super market or an online gaming operator. At Friends4Media, we tried to bring in our products that have that social aspect. We’ve got people who actually started chatting inside our app and ended up being married!

Our efforts are focused in trying to keep our audience engaged within the application and allowing content that the users create – through achievements or interactions with other players, to be shared online, thus adding value to our product and our partners.

SBC: Can you explain to our readers how the partnership with UEFA came about?

TK: Our vision for the company is simply to make it a world leader. Having that in mind, the idea of a partnership with a leading, world-class organisation seemed a one-way street. We prepared a complete application portfolio, where we explained thoroughly our business, our reach, our vision, what’s in it for UEFA and how a partnership could be beneficial for both parties.

To cut a long story, short, we managed to become official UEFA licensees for UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League and UEFA Nations League for the next three seasons. We take great pride in the fact that we’re the sole mobile application games company amongst UEFA’s sponsors and licensees.

SBC: Your interactive quizzes provide the option to create new revenue streams through offering in-app purchases, or even by accepting real-money bets – has this option been taken up by UEFA?

TK: We’ll be launching a UEFA Gaming Hub version in February 2019. This will be the light version of our application which, as discussed and agreed with UEFA and TEAM, will not have such features. We can, however, drive consumers to the official stores (Google Play and App Store), where they can download the full version of the application, with all features – including cash play enabled features.

SBC: How much emphasis did you put on scalability of your products, and the technology that supports the speed and quality of integration, ahead of launching with a partner as big as UEFA?

TK: As we’ve mentioned already, its encoded in our DNA to aim for the stars! Part of this ambitious effort to team up with UEFA involved a huge amount of preparation in all aspects of the company. We’ve grown in numbers by adding A-players that are self-driven, ambitious, open-minded and super receptive to new challenges and change.

We’re offering an agile, effective, productive, high-performing, state-of-the-art workplace, with equal opportunities for everyone. We’ve added partnerships such as with AWS for our backend systems and Helpshift for our Support team and Aerospike database systems. We’ve got dedicated professionals in strategic parts of the world to make sure that we provide the best service to our B2C and B2B.

Friends4Media will be exhibiting at next year’s Betting on Football (19-22 March), Betting on Sports America (23-25 April) and Betting on Sports (17-20 September).

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