David Woodley, Playmaker: educating and informing ‘brand loyal’ Gen Z bettors

As the US sports betting industry continues to grow and mature, the attention of many is shifting from customer acquisition to customer retention
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As the US sports betting industry continues to grow and mature, the attention of many is shifting from customer acquisition to customer retention.

For the traditional demographic of bettors in the US, all industry stakeholders are trying to hold on to customers long-term in the prolonged effort for profitability and sustainability long term. 

Yet, for Gen Z bettors, it is a tougher predicament, with younger bettors having specific demands and influences, especially coming from the rapidly evolving world of social media. 

Reaching Gen Z bettors where they are active

“It’s a tougher reach audience in general,” explained Playmaker President and CRO, David Woodley. “You’re not really getting them on TV, I don’t know if they’d be following too many affiliate links. 

“So first of all, you make a strong effort to go get them. Second of all, if you get them now, and you retain them, you’re talking about a 40-year betting journey.”

And onboarding Gen Z bettors can be a difficult task if one is unaware of what motivates younger bettors and young people in general. 

Playmaker is reaching Gen Z bettors exactly where they are. The media and management company with a wide range of sports brands and influencers on its roster creates social media content aimed at those aged between 21-29 with a razor-sharp focus on sports.

For Woodley, it is essential that content remains consistent with Gen Z values and what motivates them to engage with sports and sports betting.

“If Gen Z are nothing else, they are brand loyal. They won’t put up with b*****t, but they are brand loyal. So if you do good by them, they will stick around. And as long as they have a good experience, I’ll stick around.”

Woodley cited an ongoing study that Playmaker has contributed funds to at the University of Miami, Ohio, which has revealed that 80% of those aged 21-29 bet for the social aspect, entertainment, and for a challenge, rather than to make money. 

Emphasis on player education and authenticity

Whilst younger users are increasingly coming into the fray, it is essential – Woodley noted – to be honest with Gen Z bettors about betting and the risks associated. 

He outlined: “We said early on, we’re gonna really focus on being honest. Gen Z likes sports betting, (so we’ll) entertain them, inform them and educate them. For us, it’s all about, yes, you’re probably not gonna win money at this. If you want to win money on it, it takes a lot of time and a lot of effort to make a bankroll. It’s not sexy, by any means. 

“It should be a form of entertainment and should be looked at as a form of potentially increasing the value of watching the game.”

It is clear to see that, from Woodley’s thinking, authenticity is key for engaging with a younger audience about sports betting. And this is reflected in Playmaker’s content team, which is largely made up of those in a similar age category as those at who the content is aimed. 

This is to ensure that an authentic tone captures the attention of Gen Z bettors on social media, to make them stop scrolling and take something away from the content.

“It’s not me in my mid-30s, pretending to know what a 22-year-old wants to consume, I don’t know what content they like. The people that know are the content team who are creating that content every day.”

“Every time we put out a piece of content, we want you to feel like you would take that and share with your group chat, or share it with a family member. That’s how we grow our audience.”

Onboarding Gen Z bettors as US sports betting grows

Sports betting in the US is going through another wave of expansion, with Ohio, Maryland, and Massachusetts all set for launches in the coming months, just after Kansas went live last month. 

For Playmaker, all expansion provides an excellent opportunity to get more users into the sports betting space. The next challenge is having an appropriate strategy in place to capitalize on that growth.

Woodley outlined: “Every new market that comes out, it’s great for us because a large percentage of our audience now is able to bet. But we’ve already taken strategies too on Twitter specifically. We know that Ohio is coming on Jan. 1, so we’ve been able to build up. we have a Twitter account called SN Ohio – it has 500,000 followers. 

Are they all in Ohio? No, absolutely not. But 50%+ are or they have family there. We can hit them directly as it goes live, whether that’s content like ‘Hey, here’s some cool bonuses’, or, ‘Hey, here’s where to bet.’”

Despite the brewing excitement over those markets that are set to open soon, brands are having to brace for the inevitable failure of both California propositions in the upcoming elections.

As stakeholders in the industry enjoy growth and the possibility of onboarding millions of new customers, they also share the disappointment when legislation doesn’t come to fruition.

Woodley concluded: “It’s good across the board. It’s good for everybody. In the meantime, though, who knows? Who knows where things go live? When it’s going live in California? 

“The California news that came out recently, it’s not great, and a lot of people are counting on that who will have to readjust now. That’s part of it, too. We tried to be nimble enough for it doesn’t affect us.”