With a new set of customers being exposed to racing for the first time, attracting them will take hard work.
by Dean Towers
In Part 1 last week, we examined how, through increased reach and massive marketing spend, sports betting has grown over the last year. While this new customer growth might startle racing (because it’s a competitor), we also learned there may be a silver lining.
Firms like FanDuel (who control TVG) are planning to implement a “shared wallet,” where sports betting customers can use their deposits to seamlessly bet horse racing. In other words, racing will have a new, funded, engaged audience, some of whom will hopefully wager, at least on the sport’s biggest days.
We also examined how thoroughbred racing is positioned fairly well to take advantage of this. That sport is not only on television weekly, it also has some iconic events that deliver strong ratings, sometimes eclipsing those of professional sports. The sport also has vast amounts of content, both in print and pushed on TVG.
For harness racing, the task is much tougher. This sport is not nearly as well-known nor is it televised much at all. In the cutthroat world of wagering between a late-night NBA halftime point spread or a thoroughbred horse race on TVG, harness racing would be the show bet.
Can this sport do anything to land on these new users’ radar so it isn’t shut out? I’ll share a few ideas.
CONTENT AND AWARENESS MARKETING
If someone walked up to you on the street and asked how they could learn to wager on harness racing, you’d probably struggle with a response.
There are trade sites, ADWs, DRF Harness, or a perhaps a betting blog, but these are what marketers call mid or down funnel mediums. They are not built for awareness.
Harness racing has always relied on others to sell the wagering side, and has never really taken control of its own content. A website, solely dedicated to wagering on the sport, updated daily, with strategies, techniques, information and free past performances is the top of funnel store-front for new users. One is needed.
Even with strong content, awareness is very difficult to achieve in a crowded landscape, and it’s what many marketers and new businesses bang their heads against each day. Sure, you’ve built something good, but how do people find you? That takes some top funnel marketing investment, and fortunately it’s fairly cost-effective. Programmatic marketing through the Trade Desk, or YouTube Brand Marketing are just two sources for this strategy.
Implementing the above takes time, patience and some investment, yes. But one thing is for sure: if you don’t build it and market it, people can’t come.
COOPERATE WITH SHARED WALLET SPORTS BETTING COMPANIES
Around 2006, Apple’s new iPhone OS was taking over the handheld space, and Google was worried. Google already had a near monopoly on desktop search which supplied them with over 90 per cent of their revenues, but what if Apple’s new app space and Safari ecosystem crowded them out in the changing world?
Their response was one of cooperation. They, along with phone makers not named Apple, created the Open Handset Alliance. This group leaned on other networks to grow the Android OS which many of us use today.
In the current gambling landscape, sports betting companies crave content and partnership.
Hop on Twitter or visit betting portals and you’ll be inundated with podcasts, betting strategy, selections, and real time commentary. Places like DraftKings post numerous news and strategy pieces for DFS on football Sunday. Hockey and other lower trafficked sports all have content. And a lot of this publishing is derived directly from partner sites.
Harness racing should, in my view, use the content and team they created in step one to cooperate with the shared wallet betting sites. Does harness racing have a carryover tonight? What are some positive EV betting strategies? How do you bet a Pick 5 the right way? Here’s some free content for you to publish (or link in email blasts).
This type of content is zero-cost to the betting company, it engages their users, and it sells the sport.
KNOW YOUR NEW POTENTIAL CUSTOMER AND DELIVER WHAT THEY WANT
Harness racing has built a funnel and has distributed content, but what’s next is probably the most important part of the equation – delivering what the user wants, and encouraging them to wager.
In Part 1, we learned that 70 per cent of FanDuel bettors are 40 years of age or younger, and this demographic is a different animal. They are smart bettors who’ve grown up with gambling information at their fingertips. They know good wagers and bad wagers.
Jeff Hwang explored this in a great piece called ‘The Millennial Problem – Why We Don’t Gamble’. There, he introduced a theory that because this demographic is so intelligent, offering them sub-par negative expected value bets is a non-starter. In our interview with Garett Skiba, the gentleman who won the $1 million DraftKings Golf Championship in DFS last year, he spoke similarly. This group doesn’t gamble just to gamble, they seek a way to win.
Although harness racing at 20 per cent juice and small pools is a pretty tough sell, this sport does regularly offer an advantage that Hwang and Skiba are alluding to – the carryover. They understand perfectly how $10,000 added to a 20 per cent takeout pool with $40,000 bet into it is an edge.
What else can be done to inject value? Cashbacks and bonuses, seeded pools, new low-vig wagers? If the sport is thinking like this, it’s speaking the millennial sports bettor language.
In Part 1 we examined shared wallets, which (in theory at least) will expose horse racing to millions of new users.
In Part 2 we examined how harness racing should be positioned to take advantage of this new potential revenue stream: Create content portals with awareness marketing and partner with sports betting sites to foster and cultivate demand.
And importantly, this sport can create all the content it wants and market until it’s blue in the face but if the product is not good, it won’t attract dollars. Creating value bets for the demographic you’ve spent money and sweat equity attracting is paramount.
We all understand the sport needs to cooperate and invest to accomplish tasks like this, and that’s long been elusive. And, attracting new customers in the current betting landscape is a very tough row to hoe in the first place. But, how can we expect these new potential customers to choose harness racing if they don’t know it exists? How can we expect a savvy demographic to make wagers on bad bets even if they do find the sport? Without hard work and cooperation, we can’t.
If you’ve made it through these two long-form pieces, I am fairly certain you have your own opinions. If you’d like to share them, please email email@example.com and we’ll publish them in our feedback section next week. I’d love to hear your views.