We’re going through a very interesting time in sports in the U.S….we’re seeing sports betting open up for the first time for many states.
This shift has changed the entire trajectory of how sports are consumed, watched, and analyzed. It also will massively change the trajectory of sports sponsorship.
Gaming partners have been in our lives in sponsorship. Between casinos and state lotteries we’ve worked in the segment with sponsorship assets, so why is now it any more important to have new assets for this segment?
The difference is the number of sponsorship dollars that will be spent in the next 10 years from this category. With the gaming coming directly in sync with sports games the ability to reach your fans is gold for these organizations and worth mountains of money.
This week on The Inches podcast Rich and I dove into how you can build assets for your gaming partners that they will want to pour money into.
You can listen to the whole episode HERE, but as always some keys below.
What’s most important to gaming sponsors is your database.
In gaming, there are always talks about gamer lists. Casinos will have promoters that bring in whales and cut them in on the betting losses to the casino. Most of these promoters have a list of these whales that they can steer to casinos.
This is no different with your sponsorships. Your whales are your passionate and engaged fans.
The signage is cool… but when you go in to pitch your gaming partners you need to focus on your fans and how you will tap into that passion to drive them to use their gaming partner.
By understanding that your database is the most important part of any package you present to your gaming partners you are in the driver’s seat from square one. This should be the cornerstone of your strategy.
Build assets that engage and connect that database to the partner is gold.
You shouldn’t just hand over a list of engaged fans. Imagine if the casino promoter just handed over a list to the casino for them to contact.
This would be disastrous in two ways.
First, the casino would no longer think they needed the promoter. The value of these contacts is now in the hands of the casino and they can directly contact the whales.
But ultimately this would backfire…because these whales built a relationship with the promoter, not the casino. They would be coming in fairly cold.
The real value you have is the connection you have with your fans, not just the list of fans.
This is why building engaging assets is vital to the database you have. A list is not enough…you have to activate them to pull fans into the relationship.
Rich has done this beautifully with the Oregon Lottery and the Winterhawks app. The app has a list of fans who have opted in to push notifications who are highly engaged with the team.
Rich doesn’t just hand this list over to the Lottery if he did he would lose his leverage and when the fan got a message directly from the Lottery they would see it as spam.
Instead Rich sends a push notification to let the fans know if they download the Lottery sportsbook app and show it to the customer service booth the first 10 fans will get rinkside seats.
This is an experience mixed with a frictionless pull to interact with the sportsbook app and partner.
Situations like the one above are what you need to focus on when thinking about how you can tap into your database for your gaming partner. If you can create an engaging “pull” then your packages will work.
Digital is a HUGE part of that.
With building your list and engaging fans with the gaming sponsor, digital is a huge part of this having success. Why? Well, fans are on their phone, for one thing, it’s where their attention is. In order to engage them digital is a huge part of that.
Second, it is the easiest and most scalable way to build a list. Fans can enter their email to engage in seconds and you can have thousands added to your database in a short amount of time.
Does this mean all of your assets should be digital? No. I love the daily fantasy lounges that have been popping up in stadiums. Taking the in-stadium experience and making a comfortable place to engage is a key part of many packages.
But as I’ve chatted with gaming sponsors looking for assets, most of it revolves around a digital component. Signs and banners are great…and you should add them in…but the cornerstone should be digital assets that engage fans to build a database.
But what if my state doesn’t have sports betting yet?
In all likelihood, there will only be a few states who don’t adopt sports betting. The tax money is too high to ignore.
In the meantime, we can still build assets to get a head start.
You can start building assets that build a database and tie into the game to ensure that when the shift does come for your state you will be the best-equipped team to close the deal.
A prime example of this is the FOX & NBC Sports predictor apps. If you aren’t familiar with them each game you can make predictions on the score, who will score first, how many rushing yards a player will have, etc.
It has nothing to do with sports betting. You can win hard cash…but because you don’t put any up initially it falls under state sweepstakes law.
You have to imagine the networks will either open their own sportsbooks…or sell the sponsorship of the assets to gaming partners.
There is no reason you cannot do this now for your team.
It could be as easy as a Google form to predict the score of your game. It could be as integrated as a predictor or trivia digital game as we provide at SQWAD.
Either way, if you can start building these assets sponsors will increase their spend drastically with you.
Opportunity is the overall key here
As I said in the first paragraph, money is pouring into sponsorship from gaming brands because we have the raw, un-cut value of the attention of our fans.
As with any opportunity, there will be teams that take advantage of and are massively successful…and some who wait and sleep on the action. The amount of money on the table here means the people who wait may never recover.
I recently spoke with someone who was a part of one of the big gaming companies right when the sports betting law was taking a turn to open up bets. She told me that many of the assets described above weren’t even on the radar of most teams. Most of the assets were a huge mismatch to their needs.
But the teams who did have the correct assets they poured money into.
As always, we talk a lot about fit with our assets and sponsors and how vital it is to close the deal. The only difference with gaming partners is the amount of money we could lose by not having a fit.