Some of the leading suppliers to the sports betting industry offered their insights into the future for sportsbook personalisation based on automated customer segmentation, advanced behavioural analysis and predictive AI-driven models.
The next round table participant was Kambi, represented by its Head of Data Analytics, David Warder.
SBC: What role does pricing and risk have to play in the differentiation of a sportsbook offering?
DW: Automation and odds feeds have meant odds served up to players can be fairly homogenised, with operators who are prepared to take a view becoming a rare breed.
As players become ever more sophisticated, sportsbooks wanting to differentiate through pricing must employ the very best technology, analytical resources and above all, proven experts working together to take a position while maintaining margins.
None of this comes cheap, which is why there is a growing tendency for less sophisticated sportsbooks to follow the odds produced by leading operators and suppliers, which ultimately means they have no control over when they open markets or the ability to produce unique betting content.
Naturally, this has consequences for risk management. Without in-house excellence in trading and pricing, operators are obliged to punish anyone who makes the cardinal sin of daring to take top price.
At Kambi we aim to leverage the power of our network data and technical capacity to empower our odds teams to produce accurate probability forecasts fed into powerful models to generate odds.
Operators are empowered to express themselves through differentiation in paybacks for bet offers by region, with a range of odds boosts and price boosts at their disposal, to ensure they have control of their differentiation in price.
This is supported by a market-leading, automated player management solution built on advanced, self-iterative machine-learning technology, which is configured to each operator’s unique expectations delivering bespoke risk management.
SBC: How can operators build on their customer analytics to both enhance player experience and drive higher margins?
DW: Unleashing the value hidden within the vast quantities of data generated in sports betting requires both an advanced data platform used by experts, and an up-skilled workforce that is fully data-literate. Operators must concentrate on both the capability to supply and consume analytics.
Scalable differentiation in a product means manageable personalised experiences, potentially achieved through segmentation, but becoming ever more granular in their application. Identification of the highest value-driving functions of a sportsbook, combined with detailed analytics can direct strategy around cultivation of customers.
A deep understanding of behaviour driving key success indicators such as retention and lifetime value will identify the critical components defining different customers’ experiences – these might not necessarily be traditional front-end components, but platform and product performance, availability or integrity.
Some customers may be attracted by the look-and-feel, some by the in-play delay and others by the ease of placing multiples through bet builder. In many cases, higher margins should not be the goal, rather operators should focus on finding the optimal margin to maximising revenue.
Analytics strategies will only succeed in leading to improved experiences and realised business goals if their maturity continues to develop. While there is value to be gained from descriptive and diagnostic analytics, ensuring expertise and ‘productionisation’ of predictive and prescriptive analytics is key.
Combining this with replicable, trusted testing frameworks within a culture that prioritises data-driven decisions provides the base to deliver improved experiences, increased engagement and optimal margins.
SBC: How can AI and analytics be used to personalise and tailor the sports betting experience?
DW: With ever-increasing data storage and usage capabilities, tapping into the richness of sports betting data and productionising its value will be critical in maintaining a competitive advantage. Customers expect the most efficient personal service, and by definition, this can vary significantly.
To enable the future proofed service that customers demand requires more accurate decisions to be made at scale, as close to real-time as possible. Every decision a customer makes (or doesn’t) is another set of data points from which predictions can be generated, or can supplement complex ML-algorithms.
From the very beginning of a customer’s lifecycle their experience can be tailored, while integrating further information from product interactions, personalisation leads to a unique experience at the most granular levels.
The industry is still some way behind the technology and its application, and would be wise to tread carefully. The complexities of an ever-changing offering, both in terms of the short lifespan of available events and the highly variable pricing, are not easily comparable to classic cases of personalisation.
Customers still need to maintain independence and control over the experience – an overly operator-defined experience, strongly pushing customers towards a particular outcome can erode the critical trust in the customer versus operator competitive dynamic.
SBC: A lot has been said recently about gamification, what can it do for sportsbook?
DW: Gamification is an emerging trend within sportsbook, though it has gained traction in related industries and more widely. The basic premise is to bring gaming mechanics to the product, with primary aims to increase engagement and retention.
By exploiting the natural competitiveness of customers, simple concepts such as leaderboards, badges and challenges are clearly applicable in a sportsbook environment. Operators should be mindful that some customers could be turned off by socialising the sports betting experience.
No platform has yet harnessed the full potential of gamification, and the elements of a gamification strategy listed above barely scratch the surface of the potential. As an example, gamification can be a powerful tool during the onboarding process. The broader a customer’s view and understanding of the product, the more likely they are to extend engagement.
A customer who is educated in all aspects of sports betting and the offering will see more opportunities and would be expected to interact more frequently, taking advantage of the breadth of the product and the depth of their knowledge. As operators’ products continue to evolve and improve, gamification can be a useful communication and conversion tool.
As personalisation becomes more and more prevalent, individual customer-specific retention strategies will be more manageable, and gamification can play a significant role in this with tailored offerings delivered in real-time. It is one more tool in the box for operators to differentiate their platform from those of competitors.