Tapping into the US market presents a tough challenge for sportsbooks, however one key way to get ahead in what will be a saturated market is by maximising engaging content.
SBC Americas caught up with Andrew Morgan, International Director at Independent Content Services to discuss what type of content he feels will best position sportsbooks to engage US customers, as well as why a strong social media presence will increase an operator’s chances of succeeding in the market.
SBC Americas: How difficult will it be for those putting out content to abide by different regulations within each state?
Andrew Morgan: It really depends on what those regulations are, but the fact they are likely to be different from state to state means it will be complicated. From a content perspective, you need to understand fully what you can and cannot do, particularly when it comes to promoting gambling products and associated special offers. Whether a state legalizes online, mobile and in-play betting will again affect the type of content you would produce. In addition, affiliates looking to enter the US market may also have to apply for licenses in the states where they intend to target players.
SBC Americas: For sportsbook operators, how important a role will having strong social media have, and what platforms will be most popular in the US market?
Andrew Morgan: Despite the huge sums being wagered in the unregulated online market in the US, trust is still likely to play a huge part in convincing punters to switch to licensed sites, largely because they will offer additional protections.
However, licensed operators must also offer a superior experience – platform, game choice, payment options, bonuses/rewards, security – otherwise players who are used to the unlicensed options will likely stay put. This is particularly tricky as licensed operators often incur additional expenses, such as license fees and taxation, and this tends to mean less money to spend on R&D. More often than not, these costs are passed on to the customer so a good marketing strategy is important too as a licensed bookmaker may have less value in their odds than their unlicensed rivals.
One way of encouraging punters to make the move is to create a distinct product and you can do this through engaging and unique content – written, audio and video – alongside a strong social media campaign. This can make a sportsbook a go-to destination for sports news and commentary, enhancing the brand.
This is particularly the case for operators who are unknown in the US, or who are only known in a handful of states. From a UK bookmaker perspective, one way to be known quickly is to merge with an established DFS operator as they are already trusted and have databases of sports fans who could be open to sports betting. As an example, DraftKings claims to have a database of 10 million Americans who are active and like to stake money on predicting sports events.
In addition, both Twitter and Facebook are making moves into the broadcasting of live games meaning sports fans will already be active on those social media channels. This is another opportunity for operators to engage punters and drive them towards their sportsbooks, odds and markets – provided they employ a tactical and creative marketing campaign.
SBC Americas: How much will worthwhile content about US sports rely on data and statistics?
Andrew Morgan: Stat services have been the gambling play for sophisticated investors for years now, as the right information is the new oil. Mark Cuban, Washington Wizards and Capitals owner Ted Leonsis, and Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan are among the early investors in Sportradar, for example.
The companies that have relationships with the leagues and already understand what gamblers want are in prime position. Genius Sports, Perform and Sportradar, to take three examples, already have partnerships with the major sports leagues. They also have the infrastructure in place to gather and disseminate data. In the future, that data will be currency, with the speed and reliability of it adding to its value.
Indeed, the explosion of DFS in the US over the last ten years highlights the strong interest in data and statistical analysis, with such information already part of the sporting fabric in the country.
There is no reason why this will not translate to sports betting, like it has done in Europe. This will be for the same reasons as it allows operators to highlight good value bets and impart interesting information, which is an important aspect of engendering trust and making a brand the go-to place for sports fans.
In relation to this, the news that Paddy Power Betfair is in talks with FanDuel regarding combining the two businesses suggests there is a natural translation between betting and DFS. And, of course, some sports in the US, specifically NFL and MLB, are data-heavy by their very nature.
SBC Americas: What advice do you have for affiliates looking to enter the US market?
Andrew Morgan: As with anywhere, it’s important to know your market – both in terms of the legal restrictions within each state you are targeting along with key demographics and interests. The patchwork nature of broadcasting rights in the US is also likely to influence which events are popular from a betting perspective and which ones are not, so any marketing strategy would need to be tailored around this.