Rob Painter – SkyBet – On Sponsorship

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Rob Painter – SkyBet Marketing Director

With the English football season starting on the 9th of August, SBC caught up with SkyBet Marketing Director Rob Painter, to discuss football betting sponsorship. In June 2013 SkyBet became the title sponsors of the English Football league, a deal which has seen the SkyBet brand covered through multiple channels.

Rob Painter has worked with some of the UK biggest brands as former Director of Marketing for The Sun. Team SBC discusses with Rob Painter, football betting sponsorship tactics, impacts, values/measurements and stadium Wifi issues.

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SBC: Rob pleasure to interview you, can you give our readers more insight into SkyBet’s  Title Sponsorship of the English Football League. What does a deal of this magnitude entail in preparation and execution?

Rob: It’s a sports betting sponsorship with 72 organisations, their fans and the leagues all combined. That’s what makes it difficult to put into action, there are n0t many sponsorships of this nature in the UK that need the support of so many parties for the title partner.  You have got to try and win all groups over to make an impact across the country.

SBC: In the May Betting on Football Conference, you stated that football sponsorship needed to be more than just ‘brand coverage’, what should operators do to maximise the value of their sponsorship’s with partner clubs?

Rob: Brand coverage is relatively easy. That’s about getting organised and using the inventory the sponsorship gives you in the best way. And for many operators this is enough. Raise awareness of your brand amongst a good and relevant audience. That’s great but you may see diminishing returns after a year of your sponsorship. To gain more custom or another step up in brand awareness and other measures you may need ideas and creativity to better engage with the audience. Give the audience a reason to talk about you and perhaps they will spend with you too.

SBC: How does SkyBet place a value on football betting sponsorship as a marketing practice? What key values and metrics in the sponsorship should operators look to measure?

Rob: It’s not easy but we look at brand awareness and key brand values that are tracked regularly. We compare audiences closer to our sponsorship compared to others with similar interests. Also looking at stakes made on the games we sponsor and how that has changed over time is useful. We have seen enough to encourage us in year one. But we need to see more progress next year.

SBC: Much criticism has been drawn towards the limited access of Football Stadium WIFI and 3G. Why is digital access still an issue for football clubs, and how should this issue be tackled and corrected?

Rob: Stadium Wifi is an issue for sponsors and football clubs as it’s a big financial commitment to get up and running. There are several logistical blocks that need to be overcome in order for stadiums to have efficient access to Wifi or 3G coverage, furthermore there are several stakeholders in this project so progress on this front will be no easy matter.  Ultimately I believe that the clubs will find a way to fund as their customers will expect it.

SBC: Finally with upcoming changes to UK betting laws and regulations, can brand centric football sponsorship survive against more ROI driven and acquisition focused marketing practices such as – ppc, media buying and affiliate?

Rob: That’s a tough question to answer, however I do suspect that some smaller operators will revert to the hard working and attritional marketing. Problem Is you have to grow your awareness and create a better understanding of your offer in the market. Without that you will struggle to grow share and the whole thing will be compounded by a slower rate of market growth.  I think larger operators will keep active in sponsorship as they try to differentiate. Sponsorship is playing a very different role to some of the acquisition channels we all spend in so I’m sure it will retain a place in many budgets out there.

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Rob Painter – SkyBet – Marketing Director

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