Mike Smith, Sportradar: our goal to create ‘differentiated experience’ for sports fans

Sportradar’s ad:s marketing service is a complex, powerful tool. Yet it comes with a very simple message. The firm’s Head of ad:s, Mike Smith, explained that the messaging is ‘clever’, even if it does read a little simplistic
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Sportradar’s ad:s marketing service is a complex, powerful tool. Yet it comes with a very simple message. The firm’s Head of ad:s, Mike Smith, explained that the messaging is ‘clever’, even if it a little simplistic. 

“It’s actually quite clever once you dig into it. It (stands) for advertising and sponsorships. At first, I thought we could have picked a more original name, but it’s quite clever.

“I think it brings out the fact that we offer that sponsorship expertise in brokerage globally. And it’s a really important part of the business to stay close to the leagues and teams.”

Branding aside, ad:s is a tool to bring a full-service marketing offer for sports betting operators and streamline the marketing processes for those clients. 

In typical Sportradar fashion, data is the beating heart of the offering, collecting the interests and habits of users’ betting activity to curate a highly personalized experience. 

And the messaging can get granular, as Smith explained: “Sportradar sits on more sports data than anybody else on the planet. So our goal is to really take that sports data and create a differentiated experience for the fan because nobody complains about advertising that speaks really well to that. Everybody complains about ads that don’t make any sense. 

“We can get as granular as displaying a line (for one’s preferred sports team) because you’re a fan and we’ve noticed your behavior if we’re working for a sportsbook.

“When you’re reading an article about (the team one supports), we can display an ad next to it that has upcoming fixture stats for the team scores, ads, whatever the case may be. It’s really meant to be eye-catching and engage your fan at any screen thereafter.

“So we can also take that from a smartphone to a computer, to a connected TV, and even to a billboard or a transit stop shelter as long as it’s a digital screen inside or outside the house.”

Specialized marketing techniques can often be an expensive task, not least scaling those operations onto a global level. However, with improving technology and investment in emerging technologies, those costs can be brought down to a more manageable degree. 

Smith detailed that, whilst marketing ploys are often made in the affiliate space, this is traditionally not easy to scale up, given the associated costs and time consumed to onboard new users. 

Therefore, he argues, technology must come into the fray to fill the supercharge the scaling, and ad:s lends itself to helping operators to elevate their marketing capabilities.

“The great part about programmatic and really the idea behind it, both in the sports and sportsbook industry, and then every other industry is that scale – and the ability to serve up the right content, in the right manner, at the right time. 

“It allows us to really increase reach and get that message in front of a new potential consumer. I think that’s where the industry, particularly some of the operators in the UK, do a really good job of pushing the brand and not necessarily pushing direct response.”

Sportradar also offers a Publisher Product for partnered publishers and operators to capitalize on users who are reading about sports online. Publishers can ultilize this product, Smith outlined, to activate customers for their sportsbook partners.

“They’ll actually display the match and the odds for the article that the user is reading. And that’s based on contextual cues from the page and the URL, which then trigger the ad to smartly display, for example, Packers v Jets, because someone’s reading about the Packers v Jets.

“If you’re an operator, and you’re looking to either increase retention or get somebody who maybe hasn’t completed their first-time deposit, we can actually display the fixtures for either the most bet-on games that day.”

Whilst the ads are an essential part of the service, sponsorships are equally vital for Sportradar to help its partners grow their brands. 

In 2020, BetMGM became the official sports betting partner of the NFL franchise Tennessee Titans; this deal was brokered in part by Sportradar and its ad:s services, as it aims to ‘play matchmaker’ and ‘power sports’. 

“We helped (by) play(ing) matchmaker,” Smith remarked. “We brought our expertise and helped BetMGM find a partner in Tennessee for the launch of sportsbooks there.”

But it isn’t just sportsbooks and sports teams that Sportradar are targeting in the future, as Smith referenced that the company is helping the New York Jets to activate both sportsbook and non-sportsbook partners, something that he believes can offer significant opportunity.

“I think that’s what’s really exciting,” Smith noted about being able to reach non-sportsbook partners. “I think as Sportradar grows, and as the platform grows it’s those brands that are trying to reach sports fans that are the next wave of brands who are gonna really care about our platform.”

Smith was enthused about the possibility of reaching out to non-sportsbook and even non-sporting companies all together to partner with using the ad:s program and outlined that those brands and companies could be the next clients to onboard. 

“Sportsbooks are a logical fit, right? We list basically every sportsbook on the planet as a customer. It’s the easiest phone call to make ‘Hello, customer, we have this incredible platform, the proof is in the pudding come and use it’. 

“When we talk about brands outside of the operator ecosystem, and even to an extent outside of the sports ecosystem. They’re the ones that we need to get a hold of and show them really how differentiated we are offering.”