Probably the biggest single category investor into sports sponsorship over the last few years has been betting and gaming. The vast majority of this investment has gone into football through shirt sponsorship and LED perimeter advertising.
In today’s market the Premier League is dominated by brands that also have no interest in the UK market, purely sponsoring and advertising at the the clubs for exposure back into Asia where the laws on betting restrict advertising within the territory. Sites like Dafabet, TLC88 and Fun88 are not even currently accessible to UK punters.
Household name brands like Ladbrokes and William Hill have shifted more of their activity to “above the line” advertising and the focus for them is for mobile and in-play betting. “Second Screen” is becoming an important part of how viewers consume sport at home and betting is an integral part of this development. Stadia are also becoming wi-fi enabled which increases the potential for ROI from in stadia betting on mobile.
Category exclusivity is an ever growing concern. Watch any live football match on TV these days and there will be up to six or seven brands advertising on the LED perimeter; William Hill are the exclusive betting sponsor of the Football Association but even they cannot guarantee exclusivity at Cup games or national team matches. Bet Butler seemingly have the official and exclusive rights to the Football League, but dissect the deal further and its only exclusivity concerning the digital rights to the clubs in the Football League. It means a potential punter who attends a match can be exposed to one betting company on the concourse taking live bets, several more on the LED during the match and only find BetButler by going to the club’s website.
Effectiveness has to be measured by ROI and the different stage of the product lifecycle the brands are on. New brands tend to go for the mass awareness the Premier League can offer through high profile shirt sponsorship but betting brands are very protective of their data and rarely give access to actual “sign ups” of new accounts as a result of their sponsorships in sport.
One sign may be the shift where only a few years ago almost 50% of the Premier League clubs sported a gambling sponsor on the shirts. Coming into the 2013/14 season it is likely to be less than 20%.
Whilst in the early days of betting there was a huge land grab for the rights where share of voice was hugely important, these days the betting companies are employing media savvy individuals whose focus on ROI is under more scrutiny means that clubs are not seeing the same “windfalls” they did historically. Allied to that is the influx of new money into football from the Middle East which is “gazumping” the big betting shirt sponsorships, for example where Emirates has taken over the profile shirt deals once enjoyed by BWIN at clubs like Real Madrid and AC Milan.
The ever changing regulatory situation in different countries means betting brands have to find ways of creating standout and ROI at the same time in markets where they can advertise. It is not easy in an increasingly cluttered market place but the synergy between betting and sport, especially football will always be there, which is why brands to some degree cannot afford not to be present and why the Premier League, which offers a “one stop shop” to global exposure will always attract brands in this sector.
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