Social Ad Group’s Oliver Southgate on reaching your audience

OliverSouthgate-socialadgroupStart-up business The Social Ad Group takes social media content produced by sports journalists and pundits, and looks for outcomes from a sports betting angle, giving users the chance to bet on people’s insider knowledge, hints and tips. The firm recently won Best use of Technology by a Bookmaker or Gaming Company at the Sports Technology Awards. Chief Technology Officer Oliver Southgate believes bookmakers can get ahead of the game by using social advertising and engagement to defeat banner blindness.

“The game has really changed over the last few years as more and more people conduct their lives in a more open manner by means of sharing their thoughts and opinions. One noticeable change is around the ever decreasing attention span of consumers, choosing bite sized nuggets of content over traditional media for a quick fix.

With all this change, businesses have been rushing to jump on board the social media bandwagon, and some companies are doing a really good job whereas some others are not. The trick is not to think of social media in terms of just creating content, it needs to address the basis of the two words, Social & Media.

Social, to me, means being friendly, getting out there and talking to people, whereas media is something for me to consume. Sounds simple, but brands often try to do both and end up failing or find it difficult to grow because not everybody wants to talk to a brand, so it really comes down to a consumer need.

When it comes to sport, twitter rules the roost, especially during live events, for example there were over 15,000 tweets a second during Euro 2012, I cannot begin to think what this will be during the World Cup in Brazil, but one thing is certain, brands will find it hard to get any traction without making something compelling for consumers to want to engage with.

So how do bookmakers get ahead of the game?

Back in the day there was only a handful of bookies, today the market is becoming somewhat crowded and the average consumer has 4-5 accounts. This means retention strategies play an ever increasing role. As such, users are now inclined to bet based on ease and impulse, a promotion, an advert, a tweet or any type of content that gives them the impulse to bet, is where they will bet. That’s a trend that will continue, it is about shortening the time it takes from provocation to wagered bet.

We have seen lots of activities about free bets, money back and cashing out in recent times and although these work, I believe there is lots of room for improvement. Currently these messages are delivered through traditional online advertising (banners and search), however, we all know search advertising is very expensive for anything relating to betting and banner ads tend to have a CTR of < 0.1% due to what the industry define as banner blindness.
Engagement not likes

Everybody is het up with number of likes etc, when engagement should be the key, so how do we drive that up and increase our reach?

Not everybody will see you facebook post or tweet, so this is a stumbling block for started, and in reality why sponsored stories (facebook) and promoted tweets have really taken off. That leaves us with a whole lot of content that we need to get out there and this is where I think social advertising has the biggest part to play.
Social Advertising

To me, Social Advertising is about taking social content (i.e. a tweet from twitter) and putting it somewhere relevant (a sports news article), this can serve two purposes, one increase the reach of the social post and two provide value to the consumer.

By providing a user with engaging content promotes the brand in terms of providing value to the consumer. Think of it like sponsorship, the value is not in the sponsor but in the content. Adding in brand messaging contextually into this stream of content will drastically improve the chance the CTA will be clicked. For example, if a tweet mentions ‘My money is on Liverpool to win the league’ and next to that is an option for you to bet on Liverpool winning the Premier League, there is a much higher chance the consumer will click to bet rather than a generic banner.

This is the area I love, and the reason we built our business, our concept is simple, take the best social content from the influential people in sport and wrap a brand around it. The call to action (betting) plays second to the content, the betting is used to provoke a reaction from the user.

Our ideas around social advertising for bookmakers revolve around flutr, which for us has numerous meanings, having a flutter as we all know is British slang for making a bet when talking among friends (social), flutter also relates to the rapid variations in pitch or amplitude of signals, we think of these signals as sentiment or feeling which helps us solidify our thoughts and dismaying our fears when it comes to betting (well if Stan Collymore thinks this is going to happen then I do too). Flutter is also used to describe an irregular trembling motion which we literally take through as both excitement and nervousness.

So we designed flutr in a way to take our understanding of human social behaviour and couple that with the emotive traits that drive sports excitement to build a tool for bookmakers to use for acquisition and retention purposes.

We showcase influential people’s opinions and thoughts around a specific sporting event/match and showcase relevant odds based on what is being mentioned.

flutr suits publishers as well as the bookmakers as the editorial proposition for consumers increases dwell time as well as engagement and provides a real hook in retaining user traffic. I think this unique take on Social and Digital Media in the advertising world helped us to win the 2014 Sports Technology Awards – Best use of technology by a bookmaker. We ran a number of successful campaigns on Yahoo! and with Sky Media for Ladbrokes and SkyBet and now have new contracts in place for the world cup and next season, which for a start-up is fantastic news.”

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