The vitality of adding value: Keeping operator brands in front of the customer

The vitality of adding value: Keeping operator brands in front of the customer

Given the high profile attention that unexpected player transfer stories gained in international media, it could be taken as a guarantee that these movements would also influence bettor behaviour.

Alexander Martin, CEO of SKS365, observed at the SBC Summit Barcelona that when Cristiano Ronaldo moved to Juventus in 2018, a large number of Italian fans began to bet on the player and on the club.

Noticeably though, when the Portuguese star striker made his return to Manchester United in 2021, some Italian football bettors’ attention turned towards the Red Devils. With the controversial influx of many big-time European players to Saudi Arabia throughout 2023, can the same be expected to occur?

“The same is happening with the move to the Saudi league,” Martin said. “Before these players moved to the Saudi league, there was no turnover in that league. Nowadays, we see interest in games, and customers trying to get the data and the insights.”

Often regarded as a league in which – as one audience member put it in a question – many high-profile European and Latin American players move to to make some career-end money prior to retirement, the MLS is no stranger to big transfer news.

Phil Valente, the league’s Director of Sports Betting, noted that the arrival of seven-time Ballon D’Or winner Lionel Messi at Inter Miami back in June has driven strong engagement with the club, which is now one of the most followed North American sports franchises on social media.

The repeal of PASPA in 2018 and subsequent rollout of regulated betting has also driven betting engagement with the league, however. As Sports Betting Director, overseeing and managing the league’s interaction with the industry is Valente’s chief remit.

“Educating the fans that want content around betting is always important,” he said. “Our fans are looking for that, we have third party partners that create betting content that we share. 

“As the league we don’t want to be the ones to create this, but we do want to educate our fans who are seeking that information.”

On content, this was the major talking point of the panel, and all three speakers agreed unanimously on its benefits. For leagues such as the MLS, betting content is a means of reaching new audiences for their sports. For operators, it is a means of keeping sports fans engaged and interested in their product.

Myke Foster, Fortuna Entertainment Group’s Head of Commercial Strategy, noted two questions operators should ask themselves regarding content utilisation – Where is your brand and where are you when your customers aren’t betting? And how are you visible and how do you add value? 

“Our industry is now an entertainment business,” he explained. “We have to entertain and engage people and have to constantly be active to get out of our comfort zone and do things that would be unusual. You have to be in front of your customer when they’re not engaging with your product.”

Building on Martin’s comments and adding more context on what these major player transfers can mean for operators, Foster – who has also notably worked as Head of Sportsbook Proposition at Entain – noted that names as big as Messi moving to new leagues is highly beneficial to both bookmakers and customers.

“The Premier League exists in a very finite portion of time each week and in each season, and people are engaged with it,” he said, adding that the momentum the women’s WOrld Cup oprened up new opportunities for bookmakers.

“These are not competing with the Premier League, with the traditional cadence of waking up on a Saturday and putting an acca on for the weekend.”

It was noted by Martin that customers are becoming more demanding for information and insights around games. The digitisation of media, entertainment and betting has played a big role in this he noted.

Again, the conversation focused heavily on the need for content, including statistics and insights, to connect customers with sporting markets. SKS365’s CEO observed that whilst back in the day the average consumer would rely on the sports page of a newspaper, now the internet means that a huge range of insights are available at their fingertips.

Different markets have different restrictions, however, and in Italy – where SKS365 is one of the leading operators – various forms of advertising such as in the radio and television are completely banned.

Martin explained: “Social media for any kind of gambling activity is not allowed. There is still the opportunity for affiliates to promote a minimum of three operators and distribute information about these operators.

“What we benefit from is that we have more than 1,000 betting shops and locations. In Italy a strong success factor is to have a real strong retail presence,  make sure people come to the shops and have a nice experience, and we have invested heavily there. 

“The betting shop should be the second best alternative instead of going to the stadium, and you can see a couple of games on a weekend. That is quite a big success factor, but besides that, we have the news channels, and that is something we can offer quite broadly.”

SKS365 has a range of information portals available to customers are a means of keeping audiences engaged with the sporting markets, Martin explained, with Foster also noting the importance of keeping content frequent.

In the age of TikTok and Instagram, customers can create their own content on a regulator basis, he remarked, and so it is easy for operators to be ‘behind the times’ to an extent – therefore, all content operators create must be of a high quality and bring value to the offering.

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