This July, BetBright released its real-time recommendations component ‘BetFeed’, seeking to develop a ‘no constraints’ approach to its customer interaction with its in-house developed betting platform.
SBC speaks to Brian Mahon BetBright’s Head of Product Development, on delivering ‘BetFeed’, as a data-led social enhancement, replicating the engagement functions utilised by tech giants NetFlix and Spotify…
SBC: Hi Brian, can you detail to SBC readers, BetFeed’s product journey, from its initial concept to its planning, development and final launch?
Brian Mahon (BetBright): To be honest, the product journey for BetFeed goes all the way back to the start of BetBright. Six years ago there wasn’t the exact vision of the real-time feed we’ve now built, but from day one there was always a belief that one of the fundamental elements missing from the betting experience was social engagement. We’ve been on a journey to build out our core product, which is a big build when you start a platform from scratch, while continually layering differentiators on top.
As a company, we are at the point where we want to deliver on that initial vision for social. When we talk of social, people seem to immediately jump to comments, and profiles, and liking posts. It may well become that for us if our users want it; but for now, it’s about breaking down the walls that silo a user on a betting site into an extremely narrow view of the world.
You can be active on any of the biggest betting sites today and you have no idea if you are one of ten, or one of ten thousand online. In contrast, the best of modern digital entertainment experiences lift that veil and give users insight into what music other users are listening to, or movies they are streaming, etc. You get a sense of what’s trending and just how popular those items are. The platforms are far more transparent, and the actions of other users contribute to how you enjoy your experience.
BetFeed is the first step in that vision for us. We soft-launched to a small number of customers three weeks ago and have already followed up with a second significant release based on their feedback. We are rolling BetFeed out to the wider audience now, and from the usage to date we are extremely encouraged.
SBC: As a development team, how did you approach building a ‘no-constraints’ platform, which is unique but can address a betting consumers’ needs and engagements?
BM: We fundamentally believe in technology control, and that by building our own platform we have the freedom to innovative beyond anything possible for those on 3rd party software. So, building platforms is in the DNA of the company.
We’ve launched a lot of innovative products in the last couple of years. Essentially their creation is driven by focusing in on user needs to understand how we can solve problems and create value for them.
BetFeed is no different. We felt there was an opportunity to innovate in that space and create value for our customers. We set out to discover if that was the case by talking to customers. Once we have the product vision, our development teams have continually shown the ability to deliver.
SBC: In the launch notes, BetBright detailed that it had researched the engagement functions of tech giants such as NetFlix and Spotify. What are these dynamics and how have you tried to attach them to a betting vertical?
BM: As I outlined before, it’s really about how we open up our betting platform to offer customers a product experience akin to that of the best of the wider digital entertainment sector. In practice that looks like a more transparent, social platform, which has personalisation and recommendations at its core.
We have our recommendations engine in place. We’ll continue to develop that further, alongside user personalisation. BetFeed is now opening up our platform for social. We’re not naïve in BetBright; we don’t think it’s a case of adding a BetFeed and we are suddenly NetFlix or Spotify. We are an outward-looking company though, and we realise customers don’t experience betting products in a vacuum from other digital entertainment products. So, we do consistently look to the experiences those companies are creating to help inform our strategy – because ultimately, we are competing for the attention of those same consumers.
SBC: As a key project stakeholder, what industry legacy values and dynamics do you feel the BetFeed platform will test or overcome?
BM: In BetFeed a user can see in real-time the number of people who have bet on a selection. They can scroll the feed, and sort by most popular or most recently bets. They will soon be able to filter by sport and bet type. That’s a level of transparency a UK sports bettor will only find on BetBright, and we intend to push the product much further.
That’s an approach I think a lot of competitors would find challenging – I guess we’ll see if others follow.
SBC: Internally building a new platform can be a disruptive process. How have you developed BetFeed to meet the demands and operational expectations of all BetBright divisions (marketing, trading, management, customer services etc…)
BM: Given the history of BetBright, we are all very aligned to our product innovation strategy. Once we have that alignment it’s really about collaborating across all departments. That’ll always come with some conflicting demands, but ultimately, we’ll always put the customer first and prioritise on that basis.
SBC: Finally, how do you see BetFeed developing in the coming months, and what role will the platform have in BetBrights continued innovation strategy?
BM: We see BetFeed as likely being a central part of our innovation strategy for a long time to come. The trick will be to see if our customers continue to agree with us. We’ve committed to a next phase of development already, which we are refining now with customers.
The nature of innovation is continual change so its hard to predict too far into the future but based on what we’ve seen so far – I expect we will be rolling out updates to BetFeed throughout 2018 and ‘19.
Brian Mahon – Head of Product Development – BetBright
Betting innovation and technology development will be discussed at the upcoming ‘Betting on Sports Conference’ (#boscon2018 – Olympia London-18-20 September 2018). Click on the below banner for more information…