When creating SharpLink, the company’s Founder and CEO Rob Phythian identified a unique opportunity to help connect sports fans, leagues, and sports websites to “relevant and timely sports betting content”.
To do this, Phythian told SBC Americas, there are four cornerstones – or Cs – at the core of its proprietary AI-enabled behavioral modeling technology (known as the “C4 Sports Betting Conversion Platform” or “C4 Engine”) that connects users with real-time personalized betting offers.
SBC: For those that might not know, can you tell us a little bit about SharpLink? What is the background story as to how this company was created?
RP: SharpLink is a leading online sports technology company that connects sports fans, leagues, and sports websites to relevant and timely sports betting content. We provide our customers with the technology and the tools to expose their users to the world of sports betting through free-to-play and fantasy sports games and relevant, personalized bet offers. It is through this technology and tools that sports media publishers, leagues, and teams can begin to monetize their audiences through better conversion.
We created SharpLink because we saw a unique opportunity in the market. The biggest problem we discovered is digital advertising is both expensive and highly ineffective in converting audiences. We see three key factors exacerbating this problem:
- Platforms focusing on gaining users but not retaining them
- Overspend and underperformance of generic banner ads and buttons
- Extremely difficult to evolve, pivot, and innovate when many platforms are built and managed by European technology companies for the far more mature European sports betting market.
By developing nimble technology — built from the ground-up for the emerging U.S. sports betting market — that creates a stronger user experience by utilizing the user’s behavior, our clients are seeing exceptional returns.
SBC: How does SharpLink stand out from the competition? How are you enabling sports media publishers, leagues, and teams to scale their sports betting revenue channels?
RP: Our proprietary C4 Sports Betting Conversion technology clearly separates us from our competitors.
C4 is our proprietary AI-enabled behavioral modeling technology that connects users with real-time personalized betting offers. C4 stands for Collect, Connect, Convert and Capitalize.
C4 enables sports media publishers, leagues, and teams to capitalize on opportunities to exponentially scale their sports betting revenue channels by collecting and analyzing behavioral insights on their online users. Our C4 platform replaces generic banner ads and buttons and produces significantly higher conversion rates of sports fans to sports bettors at significantly lower costs.
This is the core value proposition for our current and future clients – and it is the key for driving potentially exponential market adoption of our technology solutions by the U.S. sports betting market as it matures.
A fantastic example of our C4 technology at work is our long-standing relationship with NASCAR. SharpLink creates free-to-play games for NASCAR.com. These games allow NASCAR fans to interact with the league on a deeper level, as well as provide these users with the ability to acclimate to the emerging US sports betting industry. The results of the integration have been impressive.
NASCAR is thrilled with the user engagement we are creating for them and their sportsbook partners at BetMGM are excited by the downstream effect that these games have in providing users with real-time information on bets that they could make based on their user behaviors. We feel that our C4 product really lifts all boats, creating a win-win scenario for our customers.
SBC: What importance does artificial intelligence have at SharpLink when it comes to driving engagement and retention among sports bettors?
RP: AI plays a very important role in driving engagement. The acquisition and retention of users shouldn’t be a scattershot strategy of one-off promotions. AI grants us the ability to learn from the users themselves and use that knowledge to better attract and retain those users.
Our C4 engine allows for the collection of user data and user data is a dramatically undervalued commodity in the sports betting industry. This data can be used to create more strategic messaging and communications for users, converting them into repeat customers. This investment in the top of the sales funnel can help bring these engaged users straight to the betting ranks once online sports betting is legalized in more states across the nation.
SBC: In your opinion, what role does technology play in the growth, adoption, and sustainability of the US sports betting market?
RP: If you look at the sports betting landscape in America, you’ll notice that a lot of the sportsbook digital interfaces look the same or present the same type of product. That is in essence because the back-end technology these sportsbooks run on is created by third-party European providers. With third-party providers, it’s harder to be nimble or create new offerings because you’re at the mercy of your provider.
However, if you look at the sports betting M&A market, you’ll notice that the majority of deals are larger platforms purchasing smaller companies to “own their own technology.” This signals to the market that platforms understand that they need to own their technology in order to innovate faster and create new and exciting experiences for their users in order to separate and differentiate from their competitors.
Technology isn’t just a factor in the growth of sports betting in America, it is THE factor.