The World Cup is held every four years and this edition of the most famous football tournament on the planet is unique given the venue and the fact it sits right in the middle of the domestic season.
With that in mind, how does this affect user engagement and betting patterns over the course of this prestigious competition? We spoke to BETEGY CEO, Alex Kornilov who gives his insights into how successful engagement with players could be.
With football already Europe’s most popular sport, what new ways of user engagement have you put together for the World Cup?
This football season brought many ways to explore user engagement into the industry. The World Cup in Qatar is the real test to show the best approaches to customers’ experience. At BETEGY, we knew that online betting would thrive during the tournament, and we have managed to deliver creative visuals with live data from all the matches, which can be used in various formats and presented on different platforms.
The World Cup is being hosted right in the middle of the domestic football season across Europe. Does this make the World Cup more or less popular from a betting perspective?
The World Cup has always been one of the most significant events in the betting industry – and I see no reason for this iteration to be less popular than before. In addition, the tournament duration has been decreased to 28 days, meaning more matches squeezed into a shorter space of time. This is definitely going to help keep the audience’s excitement and engagement at their highest.
The only competitor for the attention of sports punters will be the upcoming holiday hustle when people will be getting all set for the festive season. However, I don’t see that as a big risk. With football fans watching the biggest football event of the year from the comfort of their own homes, it’s an excellent opportunity to attract a new audience to the betting market.
A Middle Eastern country is hosting the World Cup for the first time. How is this unique environment playing to BETEGY’s strengths, given the majority of fans are watching from home?
With more fans watching football from home, keeping them entertained with the most high-quality offering and products is very important. Players in the industry will compete for the fans’ attention and will do their best to build a scalable relationship with them beyond the World Cup. Live scores, statistics, and betting prices in various markets must be delivered to the users’ screens with no delay and with the best look and feel. This is one of the aspects BETEGY is the best at – and we have thoroughly prepared to help our clients solve the pain points related to it.
With Europe not due to host another World Cup until 2030 at the earliest, is it a positive for technology and engagement that the tournament is being held in nations where football popularity is on the rise?
The next World Cup will take place in 16 different cities across North America. This tournament is probably the most important in the context of how “soccer” has been promoted in the United States recently. On one side, the USSF and the MLS clubs have been working a lot to promote soccer locally by bringing top-class players into the league. On the other hand, the US has rarely stuck to the traditional European perception of sport and football in particular. Sport in the US serves its goal – to entertain the audience. Strategists at NBA or NFL would do almost anything to keep fans engaged and ensure all the remote viewers are enjoying the show.
Also, this new, next-gen audience is highly discerning – which pushes the market to deliver innovative solutions and ideas to engage, excite and entertain. For sports tech and entertainment companies, it’s a huge opportunity and a challenge at the same time to find a key to the hearts and minds of potential new football fans. Some best practices for the US market are already known, so bringing football to new horizons is a certain path to making this game even more beautiful.
How can companies capture this new wave of interest?
US sports fans are already used to high standards of the content delivered to them. Everyone who wants to surf this wave of delight should definitely focus on innovation and quality. I’ve noticed that people love to know what’s happening on the pitch and, at the same time, are always willing to guess what’s going to happen next. The rise of technology helps to understand the game better, it gives birth to new betting markets, but it also helps companies enhance the users’ involvement in the game.
With the US online betting market opening, many players from the industry are seeking an opportunity to test their best offering on new audiences. Since soccer is undoubtedly on the rise, a chance to attract American bettors became a significant pull factor for most industry members – and we’re very excited with what we’re doing at BETEGY.
It has been 20 years since a non-European country won the World Cup. Do you think a European nation will win this prestigious tournament this year given the first round of results?
The first round has shown that football has advanced at all levels, especially geographically. For example, some national teams from Asia have had tremendous results against supposedly much stronger rivals from South America and Europe. And it’s not only about the result – those teams’ performance and style of play are a delight to watch. At this stage, almost any underdog has the chance to proceed to the knockout stages and refute the odds.
In my opinion, some Latin American national teams have a high chance of winning the World Cup. Still, they’ll need to deliver their best performance against the highly-experienced European contenders. It will be fascinating to watch it all happening. And may the best team win!
How level five AI can help operators superscale efficiency and profitability in 2023
With Markor Technology recently partnering with Ibex.ai to strengthen the range of solutions it can supply to partners, we sat down with Thomas Aigner and Melissa Summerfield to discuss the benefits the tool offers CRM teams and the impacts of AI and machine learning in the wider iGaming industry
Before we get into how Markor will utilise Ibex.ai to strengthen its client offering, can you tell us a bit more about the company’s core concept and how it differs from other rule-based AI systems?
TA: When Ibex was started, our core focus was to really look at each player individually and come up with ways to maximise their lifetime value. We weren’t happy with the level of personalisation and automation that existing technology could deliver, so we set about re-thinking the process of a CRM campaign from the bottom up. With the machine learning models that Ibex utilises, it’s able to create a full profit/loss calculation for individual players that takes into account everything from the payment method they use to the costs of sending a bonus via SMS or email. From these calculations, the system is able to implement the action that has the highest impact for each player while also learning and optimising its models based on the previous outcomes. In this respect, Ibex differs from some of the more traditional, rule-based systems – where CRM teams usually still have to build a customer journey to trigger their desired action – as it provides a true level of automation by constantly A/B testing its approaches and evaluating their performance without the need for manual prompting from the user.
Last year, Ibex.ai was involved in a ground-breaking trial where it was pitted against a human CRM team and delivered some pretty convincing results – what factors helped contribute to its success?
TA: Over the course of that study, Ibex delivered a 20% increase in NGR and a 17% decrease in bonus spend when tested against what a human CRM team was doing. One of the keys to this success was the fact that our technology doesn’t need to create and target customer segments in the way that a traditional CRM team does. Instead, we looked to fundamentally overhaul the approach taken by CRM teams and place a greater emphasis on targeting each individual player, meaning that the bonuses Ibex offers are 100% personalised. Additionally, Ibex can look at how each player reacts to its offers and use this data to automatically decide and trigger the next best action specifically for them. This is known as level five automation and means it can build optimal models by itself, with CRM teams then being able to look at its choices, understand the actions and use them to come up with new campaigns.
Another perk of Ibex’s approach is that the system is able to quickly identify bonus abusers, who obviously have a big impact on a CRM team’s overall profit/loss figures during each campaign. Whereas manually rooting out bonus abusers and segmenting them accordingly is a costly and time-consuming process, Ibex’s personalised, player-by-player approach means the technology can easily spot signs of bonus abuse and decide that the best action in these cases is often not to issue any offer.
The increased use of AI in traditionally human operations is something of a hot topic at the moment – is Ibex.ai intended to replace CRM teams entirely or merely supplement what they currently do?
TA: This is a really important question and one we get asked a lot because of the high level of automation Ibex can deliver. Our AI is not at all intended to replace CRM teams or take away human jobs, but rather to enhance their current capabilities by removing some of the day-to-day legwork. This gives them more time to focus on building creative campaigns and optimising their overall strategy, which can in turn help them increase profits without taking on further costs. With this in mind, CRM teams shouldn’t be fearful about AI replacing them, but should instead be experimenting with it and learning its capabilities so they can better understand how to work alongside it in future.
How will automated technology such as Ibex.ai enable online operators to better structure their CRM teams going forward and will it allow for a more efficient distribution of resources in future?
TA: We’re already starting to see this with our current partners. By using an AI like Ibex, it’s possible to take some of the manual legwork out of the CRM process – i.e. defining a target group and then scheduling/executing a campaign – which in turn gives executives more time to focus on the creative side of things and how they refine their top-level strategy. One of the important things to remember about Ibex is that it’s not a content generating AI, but rather one takes all of the templates and bonuses that are already in place and combines them to get the most optimal results. As such, removing a lot of the manual admin can give CRM more freedom to focus on creating better content.
From Markor Technology’s point of view, how does partnering with highly-specialised companies such as Ibex.ai enable you to enhance the service that you’re currently able to offer your partners?
MS: Markor has always been focused on providing innovative solutions for our clients – and one of the value propositions that we pride ourselves on is that our iGaming technology is powered by AI and machine learning. The role of this technology is to make people’s lives easier, so by onboarding specialised partners such as Ibex, we can automate more, decrease human error and track data so it can drive informed, real-time business decisions. By streamlining operations in this way, we save our clients’ time so they can focus more on high level topics such as branding and business development.
Can you tell us a little bit about some of the advantages that Ibex.ai gives to your online casino partners and how the technology has been incorporated into your current PAM platform offering?
MS: One of the main benefits that Ibex has delivered for us is that it intelligently targets customers and increases their lifetime value – two things that have already been backed up by the company’s reports. By constantly A/B testing its actions and learning from the results, Ibex is able to consistently choose the optimal offer or reward based on the projected value of each player, meaning once a network of campaigns has been set up, CRM teams will be free to focus on their overall user strategy.
ALTENAR: OUTSTANDING 2022 PROVIDES SPRINGBOARD TO 2023
Last year proved to be a breakthrough one for Altenar. Growth in all parts of the business has epitomised the incredible work that continues at the world-leading sportsbook provider.
With the keys to success being attributed to a number of different factors, we sat down with Altenar’s Sales Manager, Alejandro Cazorla, to discuss why 2022 was such a landmark year for the business and what 2023 could hold. Read on to find out more…
To kick things off – Altenar had an outstanding 2022, can you talk us through last year’s highlights?
2022 was an amazing year. Our achievements came through hard work, staying dynamic, employing a growing team, overcoming challenges, and keeping the quality in everything we do.
An example of this is experiencing company-wide certification, new office spaces and global regions. With new clients and new hires, Altenar grew the company (employees) by 38% throughout the year, increasing sales by 70% at the same time, and a 75% increase in new users on our platforms. This was all achieved alongside launching new features and products.
What do you believe has been key to 2022’s success?
Our people! It’s undeniable that the results we’ve experienced have been the direct measure of their dedication, not only to Altenar but to their progression and interests in new projects, builds and new territories to delve into.
A great success example of this has been the full migration of our clients to our SB2 platform, which has doubled the number of bets placed. Thanks to this, we created a new department that monitors and builds the Altenar Data Feed where we can consume official scouting data and price betting markets accordingly.
Our native mobile app is also a project that was a proof of concept at the beginning of 2022, and the creation of the Altenar Intelligence Platform (AIP) will deliver high-impact analytics and insights. Altenar also released its new front end which is designed/built from widget technology and this is merely the tip of the iceberg for us this year.
Looking to 2023 – where have you got your eye on and which markets do you believe will be key to sports betting’s continued expansion?
We will be looking to expand our footprint across the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Romania, the UK, Spain, Portugal, Italy and Canada.
So, Europe is a key focus for us over the next 12 months, but we believe giant strides will be made across Canada, so we are excited about the prospect of accessing that region.
On the subject of the Balkans – the market has plenty of factors that can make it a success, what are the main drivers for this?
There’s a lot of appeal for iGaming, especially as many countries throughout the Balkans allow reputable companies to enter the space with the correct licensing that is often the same as other European countries. This regulation and call for gaming are two of the main drivers for success in this region.
Last but not least in the Netherlands, how do you see the latest regulatory measures shaping up and how will that affect operators’ approach?
Operators will need a very flexible approach for the Netherlands, but this changing regulatory scape is a positive as it enables greater attention to safer gaming and players. It also offers providers like us the opportunity to grow as we adapt to the market requirements, whether that’s through the technology in our solutions or what features/content we can offer.
Exclusive Pre-ICE interview with Nadiya Attard, CCO at Relax Gaming
Having been promoted to Chief Commercial Officer this time last year, European Gaming took the time to sit down with Nadiya Attard to take a look back at the record-breaking year enjoyed by Relax Gaming.
We also discussed her own philosophy as CCO of a major iGaming powerhouse and looked ahead to what Relax has in store for ICE 2023 and the rest of the year!
Relax has had a record-breaking 2022, before we get started, can you talk us through the secrets behind such fantastic success and some highlights, namely Relax Rush, Dream Drop and Money Train 3?
Relax Gaming has been fortunate to enjoy a phenomenal year in 2022 and exceed expectations on all fronts. If I had to boil it down to a few key qualities that lead to this success they would be – solid technical foundations that help us provide a stable platform, meeting key deadlines and bringing our unique ideas to life, integrity in our service, incredible quality standards, and the fantastic team behind it all. Each one of these forms a foundation block for our business.
Onto Relax and the team – I’m sure plenty of our European Gaming readers know you already, but for those who don’t, can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you lead as CCO?
I’d describe myself as very energetic and ambitious, throughout my 20 years of experience in the industry I’ve built up an extensive portfolio of deal closures and professional achievements. On a more personal level, I tend to do things differently and swim against the current in all aspects of my life, but especially in my management style.
I like to lead as a manager and operate as a teammate, ensuring that my colleagues are motivated, growing in their field and being rewarded effectively. In our sales team, you’ll notice some re-shuffling from time to time as I believe in letting people adjust their roles to their passions and investing in our current superstars before hiring externally.
Looking to ICE, which we’re sure Relax is very excited about, what’s in store for the show and what can visitors look forward to seeing at the Relax stand?
This will be the first ICE expo where Relax is physically present with a pop-up hub (N4-300) rather than meeting rooms, and we’re so excited to welcome new and existing customers throughout the 3 days. Our schedules are already almost full, and we can’t wait to give clients an exclusive sneak peek at what’s coming up in 2023.
On 2023 – we’re sure you’ve got plenty of exciting games lined up to delight players, without giving too much away, can you give us any hints or tips as to what we can expect to see this year?
There’s a lot to look forward to in 2023 including our star of the quarter Book of Power, which was produced in collaboration with CasinoGrounds and is piquing the interest of many operators at the moment.
We also have big plans to strengthen our foothold in regulated markets such as Ontario, Spain, Italy and Greece. Elsewhere Dream Drop Jackpots will be leveraging its strengths this year with a huge release over the Summer – We won’t give anything away here but pop by our stand for some juicy details!
Last but not least, Dream Drop has been absolutely revolutionary for players, how much of a difference do you see the Relax style of Jackpots making when it comes to inspiring future creations?
Our Dream Drop Jackpots product has been a great success since its debut in May 2022. Operators who integrated the promo tools and the famous Dream Drop Ticker (in-lobby jackpot status) have had recorded particularly positive results, and we’ll be boosting this further throughout the year with new promo tools that will be available across the Relax portfolio and P2P partners.
We’ve had jackpots dropping continuously and the numbers climb higher up the ranks each month. Emulating this level of success will prove tricky, as any supplier would require a vast distribution network combined with a secure and robust system of operation that extends well beyond the pure game mechanic and flow, there’s a lot more than meets the eye when it comes to a mechanic of this kind!
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