Differentiate or Die
Among the numerous sectors of the betting and gaming industry that have experienced a big scale evolution since their introduction, in-play betting is the one with the highest degree of transformation, not only in terms of volume and quality of service, but also in terms of importance within the sportsbook.
From the time when pre-game was the only available betting mode and bettors could only imagine what the odds would be during a match, to the first steps towards fully manual in-play trading, algorithmic pricing models, live odds monitoring tools
and fully automated high volume solutions, rich in-play content has become available to essentially every operator at reasonable cost, attracting increasingly larger sales share in the process.
As a result, offering a high volume of events, while still easily measurable and widely advertised, may not be the most determining USP any more. Even more sophisticated features, such as live streaming services and cash-out are becoming more
common by the day, and may gradually cease to deliver a significant advantage to the operators providing them.
It is a human tendency to benchmark primarily in terms of size and quantity, but the sports betting business may have reached a ceiling when it comes to the volume of events, meaning focus will need to shift to quality. Sooner rather than later,
operators will have to pay greater attention to consumers’ specific needs and preferences instead of offering generic, white-label solutions characterised by the quantity of events and add-on features. With a plethora of available and easy accessible options to choose from, attracting new customers, and more importantly maintaining a solid customer base, has become increasingly challenging.
The degree of personalization they are able to offer will need to become a key feature for operators when it comes to engaging players and providing them with a complete gaming experience, rather than a traditional and onedimensional betting environment. Personal preferences, betting and browsing patterns, as well as demographics, can be used to create a player-betting profile based on behavioural data. That could be used to drive a bilateral interactive relationship between operators
and customers, thus creating value. Operators with insights into what each customer prefers to bet on next will be in the advantageous position of being able to present players with the easiest navigation. Knowing players’ preferences will maximize their amusement and satisfaction, will allow them to define their gaming path and experience while simultaneously saving them time to proceed with more selections, and keep them longer engaged. Features such as news notifications related to documented personal preferences, highlights of acknowledged betting trends, alerts related to specific sporting events and timely advertisements on high traffic websites could help stimulate the interest of the customer base.
Finding ways to extend players’ betting in-play activity outside the time of the actual event through pre-defined selections on specific scenarios could also help improve engagement. Despite the increasing penetration of the internet, sports betting
players are often distracted by the fast-paced and busy nature of modern life and the myriad other entertainment options available.
This especially rings true with respect to in-play betting, where a few seconds of missed action results in losing the chance to place a bet at the desired odds. Moreover, the industry has to work towards countering the existing opinion about gaming in general, and highlighting the merits of betting as an entertainment medium. Maximizing the potential of players via techniques and options that enable seamless and continuous betting activity, such as alerts on potential interesting betting options ahead of the event, will keep players more engaged regardless of their other social activities, and really distinguish operators which are able to achieve this from the competition. Mastering such techniques could become the vehicle to fully capitalising on the huge potential of the mobile channel.
In general, building a cutting-edge gaming platform and offering a broad in-play offer will not be sufficient if one wishes to become a leader among sports betting operators. The key direction in which innovation must be headed is personalization, so as to make existing and potential customers more engaged, more involved and ultimately masters of their own gaming experience.