Andrew Morgan: ICS – Leveraging content to maximise Cheltenham

Andrew Morgan, international manager and senior editor at Independent Content Services, suggests ways bookmakers can leverage content to get the jump on their rivals during and after the upcoming Cheltenham Festival.

With the Cheltenham Festival just a few weeks away, sportsbook operators will be putting the finishing touches to their battle plans as they do their utmost to stand out from the crowd. The usual methods will be deployed from quirky/outrageous television ads to overly generous welcome offers via special odds. While these techniques can be highly effective at driving new player sign-ups during the Festival, they do little to ensure they remain loyal after the event.

It must be remembered that bookmakers are no longer just facilitators of odds and markets; they must be information hubs that provide news, features, data, analysis and insights to their players. This content takes the form of written, audio, and visual, and allows players to remain constantly connected to a betting brand. So how can bookmakers use content to get the jump on their rivals during the Cheltenham Festival, and keep them engaged after?

It’s important to understand that horseracing fans are, almost by definition, likely to be punters. As such, they are invaluable to bookmakers, but they are savvy and tend to have many bookmaker accounts which is why differentiation – particularly via content – is vital to win them over and drive long-term loyalty.

One way this can be achieved is through racing commentary radio. Punters like to be informed and experience the thrills and spills associated with their bet, and audio coverage is the most effective way of doing this. This takes the form of a radio broadcast which provides all of the build-up and prices, as well as live commentary of all races. In addition, broadcasts from key events such as the Cheltenham Festival  can include big-name interviews with riders and trainers as well as general paddock observations.

It is about transporting the punter right to the heart of the action, adding an additional level of interaction and engagement with their bet. Of course, broadcasts must be available across desktop and mobile platforms – the latter is particularly important as it allows the punter to remain connected to the bookmaker while out and about (doing chores around the house, sat on a train, driving to work, walking the dog, etc) or while second screening.

Operators must also acknowledge the difference in content that horseracing punters are seeking compared with fans of other sports. A key consideration is stats and data; racing bettors like to study the form and get tips from a reliable source. While some operators do offer this type of content, the way information is presented is often hard to decipher. This led us to develop and launch beforetheoff.com (BTO), which provides data, stats and analysis via easy to digest visual pointers in an innovative new-style of racecard display.

This includes a brilliant media centre which delivers dynamic infographics and banners for each race and even for each horse running in all races, plus we use the data to deliver hand-crafted comments, verdicts and tips along with preview videos.

Beforetheoff.com can be white-labelled to great effect – we recently launched a branded version of the website for The Telegraph – which crunches thousands of pieces of information to produce ratings, trends and statistics that give punters a vital steer when it comes to making their wager. It also identifies value as it produces odds for each runner which can be compared against live prices. Other features include star ratings and other key indices.

In addition to audio and written content, bookmakers should also launch visual broadcasts from their sites. This can include previews of major events broadcast from a studio environment similar to Sky Sports Gillette Soccer Saturday. Pundits can discuss the event, the form of the horses and riders entered, as well as the latest odds and markets. These broadcasts are ideal for sharing on social media, providing another platform through which to engage punters.

These are just three ways in which horserace betting operators can leverage content to not only attract and retain players during blockbuster events such as Cheltenham Festival, but also to ensure they keep coming back for more in the long-term. Sure, operators also need to look more closely at product and marketing, but the power of content should not be overlooked.

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