The European Championship presents a unique opportunity to reach new audiences and improve engagement, as long as operators have innovative products in place, says Commologic CEO Tamir Berler
With this year’s UEFA European Championship just weeks away, operators are already beginning to scale up their marketing spend ahead of the biggest betting event since the last World Cup. The opportunity presented by a major football tournament taking place in a time zone conducive to high European viewership cannot be underestimated.
But while the Euros is sure to provide a short-term volume boost for operators, it also presents an opportunity for a more lasting impact in terms of improved engagement and reaching new types of players.
Live betting has transformed the sportsbook market over the past decade, but we feel operators are not doing enough to leverage its appeal, particularly among the type of sports fan who normally doesn’t engage with betting. Specifically, product has not always kept pace with the imaginable possibilities of the in-play revolution. And it is easy to forget that sports betting remains intimidating to a lot of casual sports fans, research shows that only around 15% of UK football fans engage with online betting, so there is definitely a market for more casual products.
There will not be a better chance until the 2018 World Cup to reach the remaining 85%, and this makes it critically important to make the best possible impression; presenting these players with an impenetrable list of handicap prices simply won’t cut it.
The answer to the issue of making betting more appealing to the 85% is second-screen apps that are fun, engaging and ultimately easy to understand. The second-screen effect has already changed the nature of sportsbook and placed mobile at the heart of live betting, focus should be placed on an innovative new product which not only improves engagement with fans but also softly educates them about in-play in an entertaining way.
Our new product that aims to target that market is BetUP, a new second-screen, live betting game which has launched with Unibet.
CPAs have been on the rise for some time now and the major regulated markets are more competitive than ever, so it has never been more important to differentiate on product. The ever more expensive battle for sportsbook’s traditional demographics is draining marketing budgets, eroding profit margins and dragging operators to price and bonus wars instead of focusing on growth.
The temptation during this summer’s Euros will be to accept the short-term volume boost and move on. But we believe there is a greater opportunity to create a lasting effect on the industry and move it beyond the two-year cycle of major tournaments. If we can put an innovative and engaging product in front of a new player during June, there is no reason they won’t be back for more come September.
BetUp applies a number of principles designed to increase engagement and broaden live betting’s appeal. Early testing has been extremely encouraging, with many players telling us they’ve found our game more exciting than the actual match they were watching. If you look at the existing in-play formats offered by operators, they are nowhere close to attaining this level of engagement.
Our game presents players with simple choices they can make on in-play wagers. For instance, which team will win the next corner? We are not overcomplicating the process by presenting novice players with ever-changing odds.
This approach also means our game is a truly “live” experience – as opposed to many in-play offers which are suspended as soon as the action gets interesting.
We also pool entry fees so we can offer large but attainable jackpots in exchange for small stakes. We’ve found such jackpots have a strong appeal among more casual players, and the competitive element which goes alongside creates better engagement. Introducing new players to a softer form of betting means these players are less likely to churn after a bad experience caused by a lack of enjoyment or understanding.
And instead of picking live betting markets out of hundreds on a long list, BetUP takes players on a well-orchestrated journey. By building a story around live betting, users feel like they are part of the experience, instead of a passive onlooker.