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 Metric Gaming, represented by its Chief Commercial Officer, Keith Hayes.
SBC: What role does pricing and risk have to play in the differentiation of a sportsbook offering?
KH: Not as much as they should be. Risk in particular is deeply underutilised in sportsbook product differentiation.
When it comes to price, all that the vast majority of customers really want is to feel the prices offered are fair and there’s no need to constantly calibrate against general market prices.
You won’t find many customers willing to fund a second account for an extra £1 in return if offered 11/10 instead of evens for a £10 stake. Industry heavyweights regularly quote average stakes below £10.
Few would contest the conventional wisdom that knowing your customer is the key to success in most industries. In sports betting, knowing your customer is all about risk management, not to be confused with liability management.
Liability management is a set of operational tasks concerned with ensuring risk positions are accrued in-line with best practice and to set parameters, while risk management is a strategic initiative to understand how those liabilities were accrued.
To do that properly, you must analyse your customers. Yet, such is the near total uniformity of sports betting platforms and products today, you’d be forgiven for believing that sports bettors must behave as one homogeneous shoal with few, if any, discernible cohorts.
We know that there are distinct behavioural characteristics customers share with many other customers that govern their actions to some degree, creating cohorts. These include the amount of time dedicated to betting, how social the activity is, how they like to consume content and overlooked by practically everyone; how susceptible they are to problem gambling. These factors, as well as others, should arguably have a dramatic impact on the product experience, but they don’t.
When every brand is clamouring to own the “innovative” badge and every supplier claims near total customisation capabilities for their customers, why is it most products look so similar and fail to cater to different cohorts?
The truth is the sports betting industry is years behind other entertainment industries when it comes to providing customers with distinct product choice and variety. Different cohorts are dealt with using the bluntest of instruments like stake factoring or different size promotions, because that’s all the antiquated technology offered to date can support.
SBC: How can operators build on their customer analytics to both enhance player experience and drive higher margins?
KH: Marry customer analytics with sports modelling and user interface designs to deliver differentiated experiences.
It requires modern technology and IP like Metric’s to achieve but moulding a product experience to customers’ risk profiles and selectively layering on characteristic-driven customisations can deliver a far more intuitive and frictionless experience, creating significant brand affinity. Not to mention less friction should mean more bets and therefore more revenue.
When bettors moved away from betting shops and into the digital arena, operators could no longer manually approve every bet. They reacted to this by employing an ultra-defensive attitude to liability and risk management when setting out their stalls. By allowing their paranoia of losing money to sharp bettors to govern most decisions, the quality of every material element of the recreational customer experience was negatively impacted.
At Metric we have been focused on creating automated solutions that allow operators to treat their customers as individuals; For example, should genuine recreational customers have the same in-play bet rejection rate as those who hunt out errors? No! But they do.
At Metric, we have developed a suite of capabilities that dramatically increase bet acceptance rates from good quality customers without increasing bet acceptance from other cohorts. We’ve done the same to reward (“Promotions” is a dirty word in the Metric offices!), cash-out, product offering, pricing, bet acceptance and more.
We are convinced this ability to improve the monetisation potential of a customer base through product tailored to distinct cohorts of that base is the future, and we’ve been investing heavily in these capabilities over the last couple of years.
I’d be worried if the best Metric could offer is improving the ordering of sports on user interfaces based on past customer behaviour!
SBC: How can AI and analytics be used to personalise and tailor the sports betting experience?
KH: Solve the real problems customers are facing, if your technology allows you to!
Why do customers see an incomplete product, even 24 hours before an event starts? Why are all customers subjected to bet delays? Why are markets suspended in-play so often? Why is it so hard to place multiples in-play? Why do some events only allow ridiculously small stakes? Why is there so much “tax” charged on cash out? Why do promotions need turnover requirements? Why isn’t “cash back” actually cash?
The answer to all those questions is fear. Operators are scared that without such blunt protections in place their margin will be quickly eroded. But for recreational customers, who are the mainstream and deliver practically all revenues, these are the friction points that detract from the quality of their experience.
Most bettors are not attending the game they are betting on. Often a goal is registered on a betting site before they see it on TV, how are they supposed to understand the need for a bet delay?
Most customers do not spend hours absorbed in promotions’ terms and conditions to exploit loopholes. They just want their promotion fulfilled quickly so they can reinvest. What’s the relevance of turnover requirements to them?
Metric is not unique in recognising these headwinds to a truly superior product experience, but it is unique in having the technology to do something meaningful about it.
SBC: A lot has been said recently about gamification, what can it do for sportsbook?
KH: That term can mean many things to many different people, and it probably should.
Distilled down to its most basic elements, Metric interprets “gamification” as driving customer enjoyment by synthesising customer data and product to amplify engagement.
This can and should manifest in a variety of ways depending on the cohort you are catering to.
Take an overly simplistic (but widely quoted) example of gamification: leaderboards. How engaging is a leaderboard if you’re never competing for the top spots? Not very. And the less said about jackpots the better!
If gamification is interpreted as a shortcut to retention and cheaper acquisition, we’ll still see the same sub-standard catering to customers’ differing expectations and that could cause more harm than good.
Employing gamification as a real-time enhancement to well thought out and well executed journeys can immerse the customer more deeply in the activity, delivering a far more enjoyable experience. Real-time is key, and that’s how we think about gamification when building out our products.
At Metric, we’ve also been looking at the cross over between gamification and responsible gambling for a while now and have some radically new product features we’re excited to release with our partners next year.