The 2022 World Cup was one for the history books, and not just because of its winter setting, but as the doors close on the tournament its impact on bookmaker year-end trading is yet to be seen.
As companies across the betting space put together their Q4 results, SBC News reflected on the World Cup panels of last year’s Barcelona Summit, quizzing three speakers from the event on how Qatar 22 played out from a business perspective.
One of the panellists on the ‘Keeping sportsbooks hot during the World Cup’ session, back in September 2022 Star Sports’ Managing Director cautioned against aggressive marketing and praised the potential of content – but also predicted a strong focus on the tournament from customers.
SBC: What was your marketing strategy prior to and during the World Cup and how successful was it?
RC: Our marketing strategy prior to and during the World Cup was to focus on a spread of offers that would both engage the core customer base we currently have, as well as keeping them and prospective new clients interested for the duration of the tournament.
Rather than appeal to the masses with a flashy sign-up offer, we wanted to ensure we were offering our punters more in the way of substance, with proven, Trading-driven promotions.
Was content marketing of greater significance to you during Qatar 2022 than in previous tournaments and what role did it play in your marketing approach?
RC: Content marketing played an important role in our approach to Qatar 2022. The content team committed to writing previews of every match at the World Cup, this presented an opportunity for cross-selling the host of promotions available during the tournament, as well as driving consistent traffic to the content site, both from organic searches and traffic from social media platforms such as Twitter.
How did customer engagement fare throughout the tournament? Did it increase or decrease as the World Cup progressed?
RC: Overall, it was a great World Cup. However, we did see the expected reduction in bet numbers and wager size, once the number of daily games reduced and England exited, that said the Final delivered record numbers for a football final at Star.
Dr Matthias Kirschenhofer
Offering a unique perspective on the otherwise betting-focused panel as representative of a media organisation, Sport1 Median AG’s Executive Board Member described the World Cup as ‘perfect’ for acquisition, whilst emphasising the importance of branding activity early on.
How can operators in Germany effectively utilise the media for marketing and customer acquisition, and was this done effectively at Qatar 2022?
MK: For the 2022 FIFA World Cup, we’ve offered a broad variety of advertising options on our multichannel sports platform SPORT1 – TV as well as Digital and Social Media: homepage takeovers, deep-linking odds integration into live scores, preview brand stories, World Cup channel presenting, Countdown presenters leading up the games etc.
In TV, we integrated presentations and spots in our World Cup talk shows “WM Doppelpass” and the “SPORT1 News”, daily odds shows and spots.
Did any World Cup marketing clash with wider festive advertising campaigns witnessed during the Christmas period?
MK: We witnessed that, especially with our coverage of the World Darts Championships. But in fact, we experienced that it pushed the event as we’ve set audience reach records with the PDC World Darts Championship and conversion rate records for our gambling clients.
We’ve established even better gambling environments by programming the whole WSOP coverage around the Darts live broadcasts.
Airing his views on the ‘World Cup – Acquisition or Retention’ panel, McKay outlined what products would be the keys to success, with free-to-play games and bet builders a recurring theme throughout the conversation – according to his post-World Cup feedback, these predictions were spot on.
What were the stand-out products from this year’s World Cup? A lot has been said about bet builders and free-to-play games.
JM: The predictions regarding the popularity of bet builders and free-to-play games have proven to be accurate. Throughout the industry, there have been numerous promotional offers for these markets, which have attracted a large number of players and helped to retain them.
At Virgin Bet, we saw a record percentage of turnover in these markets and believe this trend will continue in the future. Additionally, we launched World Cup versions of our already popular free-to-play game, Fives, which saw record numbers of customers participating and contributed to our success during the tournament.
What were the most popular betting markets during the tournament and did this vary by country?
JM: There were no major surprises in terms of the most popular betting markets, although we did see an increase in bet builder and special stakes as certain high-profile players caught the attention of recreational customers.
In terms of variations across the countries in which we operate, we always aim to promote local teams and players, as well as offer promotions specific to each country. However, due to the high-profile nature of the World Cup, the popularity of global superstars such as Messi and Mbappe meant that localisation had minimal impact.
On that note, how important was it to personalise product marketing from market to market?
JM: Personalising product marketing for each market is crucial. Despite the limited number of games, we tailored the imagery, promotions, and markets advertised to each territory.
Overall, did you find that you performed better on customer acquisition or retention?
JM: Overall, our performance was successful in both customer acquisition and retention. We exceeded our predicted acquisition numbers and also recorded encouraging retention rates from the start of the tournament. Furthermore, the availability of live games in local markets provided customers with a reason to return throughout the tournament.