Solitics VP Sales, Harel Falk, speaks to Tim Poole about data management and automation, while offering advice to affiliates about the opportunities still available during a difficult time. This article originally appeared in the April edition of Trafficology.
Can you give us an introduction into exactly what services Solitics provides?
Solitics is a data management and marketing automation platform; the company was founded in 2013 and has been working in online industries since 2016. Today, our biggest verticals are online trading and online gaming but we alsowork in other verticals like e-commerce. We work with big companies like Codere, Delasport and many other gaming operators; what we enable them to do is create the most personal customer experience for their players in real time, based on all their data.
It’s a cutting-edge system that gives them new abilities and flexibility. They can use all the data they have, including historical data, to create customer journeys for their players, based on what they do or don't do, with a very personal contextual experience. I’m very proud to say it’s done without any big special projects on the brand's side either.
How much of your revenue derives from online gaming?
Online gaming, whether it’s both casino and sports betting, and online trading are the biggest verticals. I would say gaming is over 60% of what we do and the companies we work with.
What measures has Solitics taken in light of the coronavirus pandemic?
Because we’re a technology and service company, the answer can be divided into two. As for the company itself, we have adapted and changed the way we work in terms of working from home. But once the whole COVID-19 pandemic started affecting the whole world economy, right away we started looking at our customers and asked ourselves how can we help them. The first thing we did was analyse all the data and we saw right away who was being affected. It was very apparent from the beginning that the whole sports betting vertical was suffering a major crash, naturally because of all the cancelled events. Generally speaking, there was a lot of uncertainty. There still is but now it’s what I call a “crisis routine” so to speak. Everyone now understands where they stand and are trying to make the best of it.
Very quickly it was evident that, while sports betting was suffering significantly, online casino and slots were picking up. Providers of these suddenly had to deal with a lot more work while at the same time, their employees were less available; some of them couldn’t even access the work from home for various reasons such as security and so on. They had a lot of new traffic and new engagement. So they needed help with automation and data management – the automation was a key part in this. The gaming vertical is very cutting-edge and people know how to adapt. People in the industry know how to change what they’re doing to make the most out of situations.
Right away, it was obvious sports betting companies could see where it was going and they started focusing all their efforts on the casino side of the business, if they had it. We’re still doing our best to help them do that, moving automation to that side of the business and helping them transfer and connect data, transferring players and so on. We worked around the clock with sports betting companies to move towards mostly the casino side of the business.
Other companies, who don’t have casino, tried to find other outlets like virtual sports and esports.
Have you had any business with land-based casinos looking to strengthen their online arms?
Yes, part of Solitics’ specialty is connecting offline data sources and online. We work with brands that have both online and offline operations. There was definitely a huge attempt from the brands to connect all that offline data and bring customers into the relevant online realm.
For most of the companies working with us, it wasn’t actually as big of a challenge as we have already connected those data sources and it was available for them to use right away. Setting up campaigns, customer user journeys and promotions for offline and online customers was relatively easier and more seamless than it would have been if they didn’t already work with our platform.
How does data management help operators, specifically in times of uncertainty like this?
Generally speaking, I can tell you through data management and automation that personalised user journeys can be created based on what players do and don’t do in real time, which increase conversion as well as retention. It’s very contextual, based not just on current actions but all of a player’s historical data. For example, a player that made his first deposit yesterday, is playing today and loses half his despoit, has a much higher chance of churn if the operator doesn't respond to such an event relevantly and contextually on the spot.
This is true in general and even more so at times like these, when there's more demand and employees are less able to meet it. You’re not relying only on the human factor, or all these automated messages that are preset, which is crucial. A lot of our partners have extended this to the sales and support aspects of their company.
What verticals do you think will prosper the most?
It all depends how long this crisis goes on. You could say the online casino and trading verticals are lucky for now. Not only are they unaffected, this has brought in a lot of increases and new traffic from offline and other verticals, too. In the short term, assuming the COVID-19 pandemic is not going to be more than two to four months and the economy will start to recover, online trading will definitely be the biggest winner as it thrives off volatility. In gaming, I can’t say whether it’ll be casino, slots or other verticals but there’s definitely a great opportunity for those companies. In fact, I believe when this whole thing ends, the sports betting companies smart and fast enough to focus on other verticals such as casino will enjoy the fruits of their labour when major sport does finally return.
If they play their cards right and generate a good experience, a lot of casino players are going to stay with them, so if the crisis will be resolved in the short term, there are great opportunities. People who like gambling and sports are definitely looking for new outlets. There’s an opportunity to advance virtual sports and esports more into the spotlight. However, if this goes on longer, people keep getting laid off, are forced to take unpaid vacations and the economy keeps spiralling down, players will have to make a hard choice and everyone will suffer. If it comes down to a choice between buying food and playing online, obviously they’ll buy food. In my opinion, if this goes on for too long, we’ll start seeing a decline. But we’ll have to see what happens.
What advice would you give to affiliates to help get through this time?
It’s pretty obvious to say their source of income has changed. There’s an expression that goes “the cheese has moved” and my advice to both operators and affiliates would be there are tons of opportunities out there. I’ve heard of online trading companies generating more turnover over the last few months than all of last year. I’m sure there are loads of players searching for new outlets. Affiliates should take them to new verticals and shouldn’t sit on the sidelines. They should increase the range of what they’re doing, the verticals they’re working in, and try to take those opportunities. Because the demand is there, it’s just a question of tapping into it.
In the short term, anything related to food and the immediate necessities people buy has moved onto the online world, so there’s another opportunity there. And I think affiliates really do have a wide selection of companies to work with. Obviously affiliates gain the most from operators and casinos that know how to convert the traffic they bring. Those conversions are substantially higher the more companies use smart methodologies and utilise their data. So I would say to affiliates choose who you’re working with well; go for companies who don’t just rely on dumb luck and human efforts; and work with operators who have automation, personalisation and operate in a smart way. We see the increase in conversions and lifetime player value now with companies who use real-time automation versus companies that don’t.