The dust has now settled on a landmark event for the sports betting & gaming industry; the SBC Digital Summit.
We really have to tip our hat to the effort put in by the team there. To create a digital event at that scale, and at relatively short notice, was no mean feat!
From our perspective here at Xtremepush, we thought it was a resounding success. The calibre of the panels was excellent, with a huge variety of topics covered. The programme offered some really terrific insights and advice for industry professionals at all levels.
I’m sure the remote-networking events each evening were a first for many of us. It’s impossible to replicate the buzz and interaction of the live events, but it was great to see SBC make an effort to facilitate some sort of socialising.
We’ve put together a quick recap of the major talking points from across the week. What really stood out overall however, was the overwhelming sense of community shown by people in the industry. There was a real sense that we’re all in this together, and that ultimately brands will pull through.
Sports betting…without the sports?
There are no prizes for guessing the biggest theme of all; what has been the impact of Covid-19 on the industry?
That particular picture is becoming clearer week by week for operators, with revenue down across the board. There’s no doubt that sportsbooks and sports fans are desperate for some sort of action to resume! But in the meantime, it has been interesting to see how customers have reacted and which products they’ve migrated to. There are some definite learnings here that can still be leveraged when things get back to normal.
Poker has seen a huge rise in player numbers, almost matching the dizzying heights of a decade or so ago. The general consensus though was that we’ll see those numbers decline as the weeks drag on.
Continuity and future-planning
Following on from Carston Koerl’s inspiring keynote speech, the event kicked off in earnest with a really frank conversation about business continuity in the current landscape.
We heard from c-level executives from brands like Stoximan and the Betsson group about how they had adapted to the current challenges. The message emphasised was one of positivity; this crisis will pass, but for now it is about returning to basics. No operator is immune to what’s happening, and some cost-cutting is to be expected.
We found throughout the week that many vendors were using this time to reassess and improve other aspects of their strategy, particularly their tech stack. In normal circumstances, it can be difficult to find the right window to make these kinds of changes, but there’s an opportunity right now to do so.
It makes sense; get yourself in shape for when live sports resume and players eagerly return in their droves!
The rise of the machines: Virtual Sports and eSports
So it was no surprise that they came up time and time again in conversation with other delegates. The vendors that have crafted a really strong marketing strategy to promote these games to their players have seen a significant return on investment.
Vendors are sitting on a huge pile of customer data, but are they doing enough with it to personalise their content and offers? It’s all about getting the right virtual product in front of the right player through campaign segmentation.
What’s clear is that there is an appetite for virtual sports right now. To what extent will that be the case several months from now? It’s hard to see it sustaining current levels, but it’s quite possibly the best option vendors have in the short-term.
On the other side of the coin, there’s eSports. It’s something that a few of the major sportsbooks have been circling around for a couple of years, but few have really rowed in behind it in a major way.
I’d really recommend reading our recent article on the eSports betting market if it’s something you’re considering.
What’s next for the U.S. and Latin American markets?
For those vendors focusing on the emerging Latin American opportunities, the roadmap for success seems pretty clear.
The potential on offer across Brazil, Argentina, Columbia and Mexico is staggering. Huge sports-mad populations, with fast-growing economies. Though it must be acknowledged that they are each at different stages with it comes to actually legalising sports betting.
Whatever about the legislative challenges that need to be overcome on a country-by-country basis, the marketing strategy is a well-thumbed blueprint; prioritise soccer, focus on the customer experience, go mobile-first.
Vendors with European experience will be able to leverage the things they’ve learned with minimal tweaking. It’s all about getting to market as quickly as possible with a seamless product.
In the U.S., things are not quite as clear cut. The popularity of soccer, although growing, is dwarfed by American Football, Basketball et al.
It’s a very different landscape compared to Europe, with a unique set of challenges. We recommend checking out the webinar we recently ran with SBC to get a full picture of what’s needed to succeed stateside.
Huge congratulations again to our friends at SBC on a fantastic event. We’re already looking forward to the next one! Although, hopefully we’ll be able to meet everyone in person sooner rather than later.
In the meantime, if you’re interested in exploring any of the topics discussed here, or have some specific use cases you’re hoping to roll out, please do get in touch.