Peter Nolan's interview with iNTERGAMINGi
In the latest edition of Intergamingi’s Magazine, Digitain’s Research & Development Director, Peter Nolan, shares his thoughts on the key elements that need to be in place in order to build a successful sports betting business.
What are the major challenges when building a sports betting platform?
I think it’s easier to discuss what I believe you have to get right in order to develop (and by the way, continue to develop) a successful sports betting platform.
I won’t go into the technology stack required, someone more informed is best covering that, although aspects such as speed, security and stability are obviously paramount. From a customer perspective there are a number of key things that have to be delivered if you want a sportsbook to be successful and these include the effectiveness of on-boarding, the range and quality of the sports betting content, the overall user experience and the comprehensiveness of the payment solutions provided.
A lot of marketing money gets spent in acquiring customers, so it’s important that the first experience a user has is an excellent one, so the registration journey has to be seamless, logical and quick. Verification, depending on the local regulations, has to be as painless a process as you can make it, and communication to new customers needs to be as clear and reassuring as possible.
It goes without saying that content is king for a sports betting platform, so a comprehensive range of global sports betting opportunities has to be delivered. A full range of betting markets and competitive odds to go with these opportunities are also required, plus the trading skills to deliver sustainable revenue stream for your partners is pretty important too.
Live betting is the hero product, and this has got to be delivered instantly and accurately, along with other supporting content via, in our case, our Live Match tracker, to ensure the best experience for the customers. In our case AI technology as well as a suite of algorithms, as well as our large team of traders, are used to ensure our in-play service is among the best available.
A recent YouGov research article regarding the Champions League final indicated that for bettors, user experience was the main driver in their selection of bookmaker. Odds, especially in-play, can be commoditised, so user experience delivered is paramount. This includes many factors including delivering intuitive navigation, ease of bet placement, market availability and speed of bet settlement. Also includes ensuring all the above is fit for purpose for a range of international markets.
Finally, payments. Customers have to be able to transact effectively with the operators so providing a wide range of methods is a key capability. Processing deposits AND withdrawals quickly and securely is pretty obvious but are clear “moments of truth” for the customers.
Developing a platform which allows your partners the flexibility to provide a localised solution, no matter where they are in the world, so that they can successfully differentiate their offering is also a massive requirement. The challenge here from a provider perspective is to do this for all your partners on your network while maintaining and developing the overall technology to handle the change management and deliver the always-growing product roadmap.
How do you streamline your pre-match, live odds and live data services?
We have a large team of odds compilers, traders and risk managers involved in the process, who use a range of AI tools and feeds to manage this process. On average we supply around 90,000 live betting events each month to our partners, so speed and accuracy are obviously very important, and technology plays a large part in making this happen.
We have a very comprehensive Live Match tracker which combines a multitude of data feeds from 15,000 leagues and competitions globally, providing users with lots of useful stats and an interactive overview of live events.
What is the role played by digital marketing and gamification tools?
Not really my area of expertise, but I believe that having an effective digital marketing strategy and the capabilities and people to optimise it is a key strategic requirement for any sportsbook operator. Brand marketing is also important in order to gain trust and awareness for new ventures. However digital marketing (which is pretty multi-faceted) is most important for recruitment and retention of customers, via known approaches as SEO, paid search, social marketing. An effective CRM solution, where operators can develop a longer-term relationship with customers is another important requirement that needs to be part of the digital marketing toolbox.
Gamification is an interesting point. For a lot of customers, a sportsbook is a destination site – they arrive having a clear view what to bet they want to bet on, so the operator’s job is to make that an easy journey. Making the experience of placing a bet more gamified, or perhaps more entertaining – is an interesting discussion point. For me the entertainment delivered by having a bet is when watching the event, not in the transaction. However, I know that gamification is an area of interest for a lot of users and operators, and I hear lots of noise coming from the US about how this can be better introduced. Be interesting to see if there is any innovation emerging soon.
Where do affiliate systems and risk management fit into the picture?
Separately I’d say!
Affiliates are a vital part of the iGaming marketing ecosystem, generating new customer traffic streams for sportsbook operators, and even, in some cases, helping the long-term retention of customers. An effective affiliate system, where these partners are helped in the promotion of your business, and where communication and reporting of affiliate performance is available, can be an important part of the overall marketing strategy.
Rick management falls under the Trading umbrella. Provision of a wide range of sporting events, markets and competitive odds, as discussed above, is absolutely required if a sports betting business is to attract customers. An effective risk management team, and their supporting systems, is required if you want to have a successful, sustainable and profitable business.
In which markets does your company currently operate?
Digitain’s partner network of over 150 operators is mainly located in Europe, although we have partners also in Asia, Africa and Latam.
As the company continues to grow, which new markets are you looking to venture into and why?
We are building up our international sales team capabilities currently and are looking especially at new regulated markets, in Latam and elsewhere. We believe that we have the experience, technology and knowledge, as a business that started off as an operator, to be able to help new business be successful in these new emerging markets. Our flexible platform and our fantastic product and technology teams allow us to get our partners to market quickly, with a highly competitive offering, whatever the regulations require.
Why do you believe your company resonates with bettors?
As mentioned, we started off as operators ourselves, before becoming B2B suppliers. I think we understand well the operators needs and challenges, and we have built a business to ensure that our partners’ success is our success too. We have developed a highly effective and profitable sportsbook, delivered via Centrivo, our new fully featured iGaming platform which provides everything required to build a sustainable sports betting business. On top of that, we support our partners through the whole process, up to launch, with licensing, payment processing and marketing strategy guidance.
Where do you see the industry headed in the next year?
The economic challenges with cost-of -living increases globally are a concern, although, historically, sports betting business have been recession proof in the past. So, it will be interesting to see if there will be any reduction in consumer overall share of wallet for betting or recreational purposes.
On a positive note, innovation generally emerges from challenging periods, as business seek to be either more effective or more efficient – with the customers, hopefully, the main beneficiaries.
At Digitain, we have a team specialising in developing additional AI and machine-learning solutions to make our products even more advanced and more attractive to our partners.
Improving the speed and accuracy of sporting and odds and data, to improve the overall user experience seems to be a clear trajectory for the industry – as operators look to grow the live betting part of the business. Streaming will be focused upon, improved and made more immersive, with additional sports discovered.