SBC News ‘Infiltrating the totally empty gap’ - Ulrich Gilot on Betsson’s marketing success

‘Infiltrating the totally empty gap’ – Ulrich Gilot on Betsson’s marketing success

Betsson AB has demonstrated great strength in its recent marketing strategies, utilising geo-targeting, age-gating technology, and more – resulting in the firm taking home the Marketing Campaign of the Year Award at SBC Summit Barcelona 2023.

The group’s ‘Engaging Fans Beyond the Final Whistle’ recognised the unique scheduling of the 2022 Qatar World Cup, whilst leveraging its partnership with the Football Manager (FM) franchise to deliver in-game messaging.

The result of this demonstrated 15 million impressions over 55 days, reaching 76% of the audience and achieving high engagement and brand recall.

Ulrich Gilot, Betsson’s Head of Media, spoke with SBC News about the success of the campaign, whilst drawing on his three years of experience at the firm which has seen a focus on driving media and branding activities with the help of advertising agencies.

“The first feeling that comes to mind of a marketeer when winning such a prestigious award is pride and gratefulness to have been given the opportunity to put our words into action,” he stated. “The circle is complete.” 

Opportunities, ambition and debates

Gilot went on to praise his team’s ‘perpetual ambition’ to leverage marketing innovation in order to keep a competitive edge. 

“We’re not always the biggest fish in the pond,” he continued. “We are very much of a challenger in comparison to some of our competitors. I would like to particularly thank Rasmus and Jan for giving me the opportunity to invite FM’s suppliers at our ‘Marketing in the Metaverse’ panel in 2022.

“Without that we wouldn’t have the opportunity to meet in Barcelona and debate about the possibility to advertise in the metaverse. So what we did – we didn’t advertise in the metaverse per-say – we advertised in the game.”

In detail, Betsson identified a gap in the market regarding the Qatar World Cup. The Stockholm-listed gambling company was aware that most advertisers would leverage classic offline and online media marketplaces to drive attention to their brands.

SBC News ‘Infiltrating the totally empty gap’ - Ulrich Gilot on Betsson’s marketing success

The company also identified that the cost of media during these specific seasonal events would inflate quite significantly, especially in the specific traditional marketplaces.

Working with this, the group’s Head of Media explained: “We thought that we could leverage rather new and innovative in-game marketplaces to reach our audiences where little to no competition would be present. 

“So when I spoke with the people from the panel that we had in 2022 at the SBC Summit Barcelona, I already knew that we would potentially have exclusivity to advertise in the game football manager. And so, this was already very innovative.”

Advertising solutions that drive attention

Traditionally, the new FM game versions are released in November, and through findings with Global Web Index, ‘gamers are considered gamblers’.

Betsson then deepened its research into the Qatar World Cup market, which revealed that its audience would likely buy Christmas presents related to the competition.

“If you connect that to the fact that people during November and December buy video games, and that this coincides with the competition, and these people are gamblers but also gamers (and vice versa), we get an edge,” he explained.

“So, clearly, Football Manager was a very exciting solution to infiltrate the totally empty gap, to innovate, to claim exclusivity, extend our reach beyond the World Cup schedule and drive the media attention metric forward.”

Meanwhile, Gilot described media attention as a new metric that is being discussed quite a lot in the media industry at the moment. This was marked as an area that Betsson wanted to explore further.

The group also partnered with independent research companies LUMEN and Nielsen, which Gilot explained was done to ‘validate those gut feelings’. This demonstrated that the initiative drove better results in terms of attention than any of the other media available offline and online.

FM was also considered an ideal partner for the group because of the technology available within the game which allowed a ‘perfect audience segmentation’. 

Delving into this further, Gilot said: “Indeed, Football Manager requires specific age-gating and location details in order to allow a player to sign up. Our programmatic solution could plug to their technology stack and buy the inventory based on a very precise audience segmentation.”

Lessons to be learned

Meanwhile, Betsson took on several lessons from working on the campaign, and Gilot emphasised how “unique circumstances drive unique challenges”, as well as fantastic opportunities to explore innovation. 

SBC News ‘Infiltrating the totally empty gap’ - Ulrich Gilot on Betsson’s marketing success

He went on to note how the upcoming EURO 2024 and Copa America 2024 also present challenges and opportunities. With the two events taking place almost simultaneously, Betsson’s current challenge is now how to tackle this unique case. 

“I am ruminating on some ideas, but I will only divulge them once the competitions are over,” Gilot detailed. “Hopefully, this could lead to another SBC award in 2024.”

More specifically looking into the impact that the FM partnership had on Betsson’s audience engagement and trading performance both before and after the World Cup, the Media Head said that the attention the initiative drove positively impacted the brand recall significantly – which translated in a brand engagement increase. 

He continued: “The early results were very promising, so we decided to extend our campaign further in 2023. This allowed us to deepen our evaluation on attention metrics further with both Nielsen and LUMEN confirming the early performance results we had observed during the FIFA competition.”

Vital technologies

Furthermore, Gilot looked into how the campaign underpinned the importance of geo-targeting, age-gating and other technologies in modern operator marketing. It was vital for this campaign to fulfil compliance and responsible gaming regulations, he emphasised.

“While the objective was to drive higher brand recall, we had to execute the campaign responsibly. We did not only fulfil the igaming regulation but also fulfilled the IAB’s mission which consists in making digital advertising less intrusive and more pleasant.”

Highlighting the significance of age-gating, he commented: “The other piece is that – and this is very important when it comes to responsibility – we could actually target an audience of 18 plus. 

“We could go by age segmentation. So 18 plus is one of the parameters of the platform, but we could segment an audience and say we only want to go for 24 plus.

“Because the information you put in the game is tailored to you, and then we only want to target that specific audience and we could do it.”

Finally, based on the success of the campaign, the company can now delve into what further scope there is for more marketing and collaboration between betting and gaming.

Gilot described FM as a ‘one-of-a-kind’ moment. Not all games provide the age-gating and geo-targeting that is necessary to fulfil compliance and optimal audience segmentation, and Betsson has distinguished itself as one of the first adopters of such a solution in the igaming industry. 

“I was lucky to meet with Bidstack at SBC Barcelona 2022 to discuss our collaboration for the WorldCup,” he acknowledged.

Summarising from his 18 years of media industry experience, working across the globe, Gilot concluded: “My network within the industry often gives me the opportunity to have a first look into what is next. I leverage this to the benefit of Betsson when possible.”

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