Thomas Hogenhaven is the Chief Product Officer at Better Collective. In another of our end of the year series, we spoke to Hogenhaven about the launch of SmartBets, big data, esports and innovation in betting.
SBC: Having launched in June in time for the Euros, how has the latter part of the year been for SmartBets, and what has the feedback been like to date? Do you expect to see more odds comparison platforms emerging through 2017?
Thomas: We’ve been able to grow quite quickly since our launch – last week we unveiled our German language version, and we have a few more planned for early in the New Year. And we really hope to see more odds comparison platforms in 2017! While building SmartBets, we spent a lot of time and resource in creating a scalable setup, which means we’re almost ready to offer complete odds comparison options as white labels of SmartBets.
SBC: Are bettors as a rule moving more towards ‘evidence based betting’ with widespread availability of detailed stats, or are they still in the minority to ‘I can feel it’ types?
Thomas: The ‘gut-feeling’ and ‘stats-based’ punters are still quite different betting segments – there’ll always be people who just fancy a punt! However, we think our SmartBets feed makes evidence-based betting more accessible for everyone. As shown in the screenshot below, we can serve up quick facts for upcoming matches to allow users to make much more informed decisions before betting. This makes it easier to bet on a match where you don’t have particularly strong knowledge, as well as uncover a few surprising gems in games you do.
SBC: Ultimately, will big data be of greater benefit to punters or the bookies?
Thomas: I don’t think either regular punters or bookies will ultimately benefit from big data. Chances are any value in it will be extracted by a few professional gamblers or syndicates, but it probably won’t be that good a thing for everyone else. A more perfect market will squeeze both regular punters and bookmakers.
SBC: Are there particular sports and markets in which real time stats and odds, like SmartBets offer, tend to be much more popular?
Thomas: Currently at SmartBets, we’re only offering odds and stats on football, so for us it’s comfortably the most popular! We’ll be expanding this in due course, but the ability to offer real time stats for our clients can be vital in any sport. Tennis, cricket, rugby, NFL – being able to make informed decisions based on stats can be key for nearly every sport or market.
SBC: In terms of market volume and potential does esports warrant the hype it has generated this year?
Thomas: Esports betting has the potential to be as big as any traditional market – you only have to see the thousands of people watching in stadiums and millions watching online to see its appeal worldwide. Of course, there is a long way to go before it’s anywhere near ‘real-world’ sports, but it is likely a big future market in the gambling industry.
SBC: What betting innovations have been the most exciting in 2016, and what is on the horizon for next year?
Thomas: 2016 hasn’t really seen any revolutionary innovations that have changed the market at scale, though Bet365 have rolled out new cash out features, which have gone down well with plenty of users. We’ve launched our SmartBets Feed in the end of December 2016, which gives each user their own tailored betting feed. We strongly believe this will attract a significant amount of punters in 2017.