Once again, sportsbook operators will have likely increased their marketing spend to welcome the start of a new Premier League season this August. However, Josh Jolliffe, Senior Sales Director at Genius Sports states that an iGaming-centric approach to football marketing spend is an absolute must…
SBC: From your experience, what digital marketing tactics are most effective for new customer acquisition at key events like the 2023/24 Premier League kick-off?
Josh Jolliffe (Sales Director @ Genius Sports): The start of the new football season is always an exciting opportunity for new player acquisition. While paid social, search and affiliates are key parts of the digital mix, programmatic display and video remain reliable and ever-growing channels for operators to drive FTDs and hit CPA targets.
Programmatic marketing is highly effective because it enables extremely targeted and relevant campaigns. When operators work with an agency or DSP that truly specialises in iGaming, they can get really smart with how they use first-party audiences and machine learning to find and prospect players and align creative with upcoming fixtures.
The last 15 years have shown us that precision of budget pacing and bidding sets the best campaigns apart. Sports audiences engage to varying degrees through the match week and off-season. It’s vital to keep pace with this in real-time with your media buying – but this is only possible with the right data, models and genuine sector know-how.
SBC: It’s no secret that the advertising world is noisy at major sporting events. How can operators efficiently target online sports audiences in such a competitive landscape?
JJ: The nature of the sporting calendar means user behaviour and CPM rates fluctuate constantly, so the traditional DSP approach of making generic daily budget adjustments simply doesn’t cut it.
Using a proprietary spend pacing algorithm, our programmatic traders adjust hourly bidding decisions based on contextual sports-centric inputs like kick-off times, betting turnover, live game scores and sports publisher traffic. This drives hyper-personalised targeting and maximises spend efficiency.
Many vendors now say they use AI for media buying but it’s the added sporting and iGaming context that makes our campaigns unique.
There are a range of ways we help operators beat market demand. As an example, we’ve developed a bespoke sports DSP which provides access to key inventory, including exclusive high-impact slots for whichever audience you’re targeting.
SBC: Genius Sports has helped operators drive customer acquisition for 20 years. What sets your programmatic media buying service apart?
JJ: First-and-foremost, our clients value our specialist expertise. We’ve targeted sports audiences for 15 years and work with over 150 sportsbook and casino operators. Our global team of programmatic traders really get to know each brand. In 2022 alone, we managed over 800 campaigns.
So it’s our iGaming proficiency but then also the proprietary tech stack that backs it up. We have a bespoke DSP with custom bid modifiers, an automated machine learning pacing model and our own ad server, as well as proprietary look-a-like models and exclusive inventory. Through our official sports partnerships, we have exclusive access to millions of sports fans.
Genius Sports is more than a trade desk. We cover the entire funnel across display, audio, video, DOOH and CTV. We even have a dynamic creative service, including H2H, live odds and other live data creative as standard.
SBC: What’s the benefit to an operator of working with an agency or DSP that specialises in the betting & gaming industry?
JJ: A few agencies now say they’re specialist but for us this is more than a buzzword. Over the last 15 years, we’ve developed sector-specific algorithms that apply millions of contextual and historical datasets we’ve gathered in that time. This enables us to optimise bidding and deliver a much higher return on ad spend.
The benefit is in data, tech and campaign context. Your digital campaign might perform well on a Wednesday and even better on a given Saturday – but why? Is it due to the big Champions League match week and busy domestic schedule, or another factor?
Focusing on iGaming means variables like CPM rises around the sporting calendar, the likelihood of a player converting and best performing domains are layered into our tech.
SBC: 60% of marketers say reaching audiences without cookies is their biggest concern. How can operators get ahead of Google’s 2024 cookie phaseout?
JJ: Third-party cookie data is already in massive decline as tighter regulation comes into effect across North America and Europe, so we’ve been working with operators to test new strategies for some time. If you’re still reliant on cookie targeting, then you’re missing out on numerous devices, browsers and potential users.
One way we’re helping marketers combat the cookie phaseout is through our first-party data relationships and owned sports audiences. Our official partnerships with hundreds of sports leagues give us an exclusive audience data network to target.
We also enable our clients to run cookie and cookieless tracking side by side, and have relationships with data connectivity platforms like LiveRamp to connect and activate owned audiences.
In time, we’re confident that cookie-less alternatives can actually deliver greater audience reach and targeting for operators, becoming less reliant on Google Chrome.
Josh Jolliffe, Senior Sales Director @ Genius Sports