Black Type COO, Stephen Davison: Maximising racing’s expansion

Black Type is looking to build on a positive 2018 and benefit from a rejuvenated digital approach in the year ahead.

We spoke to the operator’s new COO, Stephen Davison on how the brand is looking to elevate its digital offering in 2019, as well as what the changes in racing broadcasting mean for Black Type.

SBC: Can you detail the plans and focuses for Black Type in 2019?

Stephen Davison: The main plan for Black Type in 2019 is to improve our product. In order to do that, we are going to get a new app, a new desktop website, a new mobile site. This is a big project for us but is something that will greatly improve the user experience.

We are very aware that our current app isn’t up to the standard required, particularly compared to the likes of Sky Bet, Bet365 and Paddy Power and whether we like it or not we are competing against them for the same types of customers, so we need to ensure that we are not giving any customers that come to us a reason to leave because the website wasn’t good enough.

We will also shortly be adding horse racing related content to our website which will add another string to our horse racing offering. We are also in discussion with streaming providers to get images up on in-play football and tennis. Last and not least, we are expecting to have live streaming on all UK horse racing up on our site in time for Cheltenham.

SBC: Can you explain some of the challenges that come with establishing yourselves in what is a saturated market for online betting operators?

SD: Whether we like it or not, we are competing for the business of customers who bet with the major bookmakers like Bet365 and Sky Bet. While it is impossible for us to compete with these companies financially, we can perhaps provide a more personal touch to retain these customers. We have to make sure that the experience they get with us is just as good as they get there. That’s why we are investing heavily in improving our website, app, content and CRM tools.

SBC: Without an excessive marketing spend, how do you ensure the brand character you are portraying is truly effective?

SD: I think there are a number of examples of companies who have gone at things with a huge marketing spend which hasn’t paid off. First of all, the product you are offering needs to be unique, that is worth its weight in gold vs marketing spend, in my opinion. Our uniqueness is we are trying our best to be competitive on price on the sports we want to lay.

We are not going to be competitive all the time and we pick our battles, but I would hope that we can be recognised for the fact we are trying to do things a little differently. Once the product is right and the brand has been built up then I think that is then the right time to spend on marketing.

SBC: As an operator that places a key focus on horse racing, how much can you benefit from the current broadcasting evolution that the sport is enjoying?

SD: With Irish Racing moving to the newly rebranded Racing TV and Sky Sports launching a dedicated Racing Channel to replace At The Races, there has been a huge amount of change but once the dust settles and they get into stride, I believe racing as a product will benefit in the long run.

Sky Sports Racing, for example, are now showing racing in HD and their new drone footage and slow-motion footage makes racing more watchable for the regular punter. We will have live streaming available on all our racing in time for Cheltenham which will improve our user experience massively.

SBC: What can you do to ensure that you meet the desires of both casual and more committed horse racing punters?

SD: One thing which we continue to be very proud about, is that we are very committed on price. If you check our price on the morning of the race on Oddschecker, we will be trying to lay a bet.

In terms of our more casual punters, we are looking to introduce more derivative markets. Again, the introduction of live streaming on all UK horse racing will be welcomed by both the casual and more committed horse racing punters.

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