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Sports betting, affiliates, and the World Cup

Sports betting, affiliates, and the World Cup

In this edition of our interview series with the award-winning bet365 Performance Marketing operation, we caught up with sports-focused team member Faye Evans.

Published 12th October 2016

What are the main differences between working in the sports area of performance marketing for bet365, compared to casino, bingo or poker?

Working in performance marketing in sports, casino, bingo and poker are similar in that the same ultimate objectives are applied across all of the products. With this said, there are different challenges that sports affiliates can face compared with gaming affiliates. Seasonality plays an important role
with sports-focused affiliates as the demand for content relating to a particular sport or event can affect the influx of new customers, depending on their sports preference and the updates they are providing to their users during these times. Whereas the gaming products, although also impacted by seasonality, are different in that they new games, updates and releases are provided throughout the year, which can significantly impact what might be described as the traditional seasonality of the product. The sports product is set to a yearly calendar and shapes my work as a sportsbook manager
during the year, and the difference in content provided to affiliates is based on working to more rigid dates. The impressive depth of bet365’s sportsbook provides affiliates with great acquisition opportunities, and we look to focus on peak times for sporting search terms around major events in sports including football, horse racing and tennis, so we can prepare tailored promotions and content for events such as such as the World Cup, the Grand National and Wimbledon, when trending. This requires pre-planning at our end with consistent communication remaining key with our sports affiliates, to ensure they are aware of the latest bet365 offers, which can contribute overwhelmingly to their overall performance.

How successful has this World Cup been from an acquisition perspective, compared to the last? What factors do you think are responsible for this?

bet365 took the appropriate measures to prepare for an upward spike in onsite activity during the World Cup’s six-week window. The World Cup engages a wide base of international customers and the bet365 site is translated into 17 languages.

Betting activity on international sporting events has evolved since the last World Cup, four years ago. The launch of live betting on mobile devices has quickly become an easily accessible function for customers to access on the move and is a key change bet365 have adapted to over the last few years, as consumer behaviour in online gambling takes a new direction. In order to optimise acquisition levels for affi liates during events such as the World Cup, the bet365 affiliate programme reacted in quick time to ensure content was up to date, and affiliates had a great selection of offers to promote to their target market. bet365 have developed their overall product offering in the last four years by enhancing features on our premium website, including greater navigation, speed in placing bets and increasing the number of platforms which bet365 is available to
customers on. In addition, bet365 launched our new ‘Team Betting Soccer Pages’ on-site, whereby emphasis was placed on enhanced navigation, allowing customers to easily identify all markets available for a particular team. Customers can also select favourite teams etc. from these pages,
which provides a highly personalised betting experience. Social media has led the way in providing innovative methods for affiliates to interact with customers.

With social media becoming more mainstream, there has been a steady rise in the amount of content being shared online between networks, and this has influenced acquisition levels for affiliates in the online gambling industry today. With bet365’s World Cup odds, retention and acquisition promotions, and added features such as In-play being reviewed and listed on affiliates’ sites and within social media, we have seen great success in acquisition by the programme. Such factors have helped provide bet365 with consistent growth, albeit being faced with global competition in the gambling marketplace.

How was bet365 impacted by England’s premature exit from the tournament?

We have seen a great level of acquisition for bet365 affi liates, from first time customers betting on the World Cup with an allegiance to England. Our international presence means that although England did not progress past the group stages of the tournament and may have influenced any further bets in this area, we have not been affected by a drop in activity, as we support a wide variety of languages onsite and accept customers from 170 countries. This has resulted in a consistent level of play during this time, from an international base of customers.

Do sports bettors acquired via affiliates and other channels still offer the most potential when it comes to cross-selling into other products? And is the cross-sell most effective into poker, casino or bingo?

Sports customers acquired through affiliates enjoy the alternative experiences that the bet365 Gaming products provide them. For many bet365 Sports customers, their daily activity involves an element of using other verticals within the bet365 product range, including our new Vegas product, added
recently. Although cross selling has become popular across all bet365 products for many of our affiliates, it’s the casino product that is the front runner when providing affiliates with a fantastic second commission; whilst still focusing on their sports offering. With the bet365 Playtech Casino product, offering over 180 Instant play games on-site and 250 on the downloadable casino client, including a vast selection of slots, card games, jackpots, table games, video poker and games, bet365 have invested into the products’ rich design and functionality to provide a premium product to our customers.

With an ever-growing popularity for live elements, bet365 also provides customers with a live dealer option, which instils the social component which remains at the forefront of evolution for the bet365 Casino product. As the casino product is available across desktop and compatible on portable devices, bet365 customers have been able to make the most of our fantastic opening account offers and retention bonuses, such as the Bonus Brasilia, which ran in conjunction with selected fixtures during the World Cup. As well as giving casino affiliates the opportunity to earn a great level of commission from the World Cup with this one-off promotion, it has given sports customers the opportunity to cross promote into casino. The casino incentive gave customers the chance to net a 25% bonus up to £250 on every day that England played in the group stages of the tournament, and gave affiliates the chance to cross promote from sports to casino during this vital time.

In-play has proved transformative for bet365’s sports betting business. What do you see as the main transformative issues in sports betting over the next 12-24 months?

As we see consistent and continued growth in the number of bets being placed on mobile devices, there will be a natural transformation to mobile sports betting, as we continue to develop our product offering for mobile customers. Mobile phones are owned by six billion of the world’s population, and with many companies placing greater emphasis towards mobile optimisation, this is a crucial area which bet365 continues to focus upon to ensure long-term success. bet365 is available on all Internet-enabled mobile phone devices, and over the last 12 months, we have seen the rise of bets on mobile devices increase as our mobile offering has further expanded.

bet365’s premium sports site for mobile provides customers with the choice of 12 different payment options available in 25 different currencies and of course, in-play and live streaming is at the centre of bet365’s mobile sports product. Where once, these features were only available on desktop, bet365 is now fully compatible on portable devices, giving customers the option to access the full extent of the bet365 sports offering without being constrained to one location. bet365 affiliates have been able to enhance their recommendation to bet365 by providing information about our latest offerings on mobile as the, ‘Quick Bet,’ ‘Quick Deposit,’ and ‘Quick Links’ features appeal to an ever-growing mobile user base.

As well as this, bet365 mobile betting has had a positive effect on areas such as live streaming, where bet365 have the widest selection of live sports events available on iPhone, iPad and Android platforms.

bet365 also have full In-play coverage with every market available to customers on mobile, allowing affiliates to benefit from the retention on live matches with in-play.

The cash-out feature was introduced across mobile platforms in 2013, and gives our customers control over their bets in soccer, tennis and basketball, and this will be adopted for more sports in the near future.

The cash-out function is a firm favourite, as it allows customers to cash out their bets before they have reached settlement. During the last 24 months, bet365 have prepared for transformative issues in sports betting by staying on-top of technological changes in the sports betting industry, and focusing
on our customer’s experience. These two factors alone will assist bet365 to continue to lead from a customer and affiliate perspective, and maintain a strong position going forward for the foreseeable future.

What impacts, if any, are you seeing on your affiliates from Google’s constant algorithm updates? What advice are you giving them?

Google’s constant algorithm updates provide a challenging environment for our affiliates to work in, as our partners set strategies to improve their page rankings when working on the website design and integration of content. Although every bet365 affiliate’s weekly SEO status cannot be closely regulated internally, we can provide ideas and advice into what can be done to prevent their site(s) from receiving a penalty and losing out to their competition. The key point we make to affiliates is to increase the amount of unique content they post and share with their users, and to work consistently
towards eliminating any spam from their profile, which will reduce any risk posed to the affiliate during future algorithm updates. It is important that bet365 and our affiliates’ visions are mirrored, and the customer is at the heart of our updates, by providing relevant and interesting content onsite at all times.

By advising affiliates to follow the basic rules of SEO, such as optimising keyword research, building quality links and developing the bet365 product information and promotional content to interest their users, they are fulfilling Google’s requirements, and they will be in a great position to increase their rankings and long term success on the affiliate programme.

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