Why content automation is the next leg in BetMGM’s marketing strategy

Matt Prevost on BetMGM's Sports Betting Content Plans

In his role as BetMGM’s Chief Revenue Officer Matt Prevost is responsible for driving revenue across all channels of business by acquiring and retaining customers and providing superior experiences. He brings a unique combination of brand leadership experience and expertise in Europe’s most competitive betting environment with a deep understanding of the US consumer and media landscape.

In a chat with Rachel Smith from Hashtag Sports, Prevost shares why content automation will play a leading role in BetMGM’s evolving marketing strategy, why team logos and IP drive more engagement for the brand’s advertising, and learnings from the year 2020.

What have been the biggest marketing challenges for BetMGM since launch?

There are really two main challenges for us – one is to build a team and a brand largely while in the middle of a pandemic and to do so with a very strange, very different sporting calendar. Second, which is most important for the marketing team, is to build an organization when the majority of people have been hired and are all now working remotely. It is quite a challenge, particularly as it relates to training and trying to build a culture while the vast majority of individuals are remote.

How has your marketing strategy evolved for the better as a result of the pandemic and sports pause?

There’s been a shift to digital channels more broadly, and we’ve seen quite a bit of activity in the states where we have both a retail presence and an online presence. A lot of the business that we traditionally transacted within retail moved online, as perhaps would be expected. From a brand perspective for us, as we’ve launched in additional states, we’ve come to realize the difference that our brand might resonate with different parts of the country in a slightly different way, according to their relationship with the legacy of MGM Resorts. For example, some states have an MGM property nearby and have a history with MGM, and others might be getting introducing the brand for the very first time.

BetMGM has announced partnerships with the PGA Tour, NASCAR, New York Jets, Detroit Lions, Tennessee Titans and many more sports properties. In most every press release, the partnership is mentioned as a way for both sides to “deepen engagement” with fans. How does BetMGM define and measure engagement?

The objective of all of our partnerships is really to resonate and engage with fans. We define engagement by the number of individuals who sign up for BetMGM in that state. That’s one sign of engagement. Another form of measurement is how often people engage with our social media posts or the team or leagues’ social media posts around a given betting topic. Lastly, we look at the advertising performance where we’re using a team’s IP or logo in an ad versus those ads that don’t feature a team. And we typically see that the ads with a team logo on a click-through basis perform better than those that don’t. When we are stitching together a larger brand across the country, having the ability to localize our brand to an individual state’s fan base is incredibly important.

The sports betting market was set to boom in 2020. In states like New Jersey, record amounts have already been wagered as sports returned. What do you think the effects of the sports hiatus will mean for the near-term and long-term future of sports betting’s relationship with the industry and with fans?

The shutdown of the various leagues and whatnot is an unfortunate aspect of COVID but has actually had a positive effect, in the sense that it drove interest in sports that would typically only garner that level of attention in a more mature betting market. So those longer tail events got raised in importance more than they would have in a typical year. We’ve seen a big take-up in European soccer that we attributed partially to the time period where soccer was on globally and other US sports were not. Then there are perhaps more obscure examples of things like table tennis and Korean baseball, that are well-documented from the early days of COVID, but I think on a more ongoing basis for the longtail of sports we’ll have a higher interest in our business and we’ll see more engagement with a more diverse set of sports offerings.

As I look ahead to 2021, certainly the return to a normal sporting calendar is something we are all looking forward to. The predictability of having the NBA have their Finals when you think they’re going to have their Finals and not be on top of a number of other sports, like having the Masters in April. That degree of normalcy is something that we’re all looking forward to.

The sports betting landscape in the United States is rapidly changing as new states continue to legalize gambling and/or launch online & mobile sports betting. What is BetMGM’s approach to entering new markets?

Our approach is to get ourselves into as many markets as possible. We want to be in each state at the start of sports betting and iGaming being legal. We want to be there when the market opens and we work very diligently with our technical teams and our regulatory teams in order to get into new markets. Ahead of going live in a new market, we want to engage ourselves with local celebrities, teams, or members of the community in a way that allows us to connect with that state in advance of the launch.

Where does content automation fit into BetMGM’s broader fan engagement funnel?

We view content automation and the development of content as the next leg in our overall marketing strategy. We know that increasingly as companies and as operators move out of a straight transactional relationship where a brand is mostly a transactional brand to something that has more personality, we know that content will play a big role for us. We’re going to continue to make investments in content, both in terms of ambassadors and owned content. We’re currently working hard to build out a breadth of content.

We’ve made a selection—the first of several—to partner with a company called Data Skrive to help with that journey. What Data Skrive technology allows us to do is ingest several disparate data streams and produce cohesive fluid content for our blog and social channels. In doing so, we’re able to condense our odds feeds and betting data into a consumer-friendly format, while also enabling us to rank for a wider breadth of keywords from an SEO perspective. We’re really excited to continue to explore this relationship.

How has automated content helped empower your sales, marketing and or partnership teams?

Content automation will allow our teams to then take custom content that we’ve created and then push it out to our consumers. We found that our consumers might want a preview of a given sporting event and have that come from the brand, and we’ve been using some of that content to push out directly to our consumers.

BetMGM announced an exclusive partnership with Verizon Media last year to power the Yahoo Sportsbook. What types of collaborative content have driven market share for this?

We’ve done quite a bit of work with Yahoo around developing a product within the Yahoo Sportsbook that makes the connection with BetMGM very clear, but also allows the consumer on the sports side to have betting content delivered in a way that feels very much continuous within the experience of Yahoo Sports, and to drive that point home we’ve introduced an embedded slip within the Yahoo Sports product. We’ve done single sign-on within Yahoo Sports back to BetMGM and our product development teams work hand in hand with the team at Yahoo to build out an experience that feels very joined up.

How as a marketer do you ensure you’re staying on top of the latest trends and technologies?

What’s happening in the space is often through innovation and small startups that we have the benefit of seeing. Data Skrive is a prime example as they’ve evolved the idea of content automation in such a way that it may become a ubiquitous part of any content strategy a few years down the line. Outside of that, we have a big network of individuals who are now like others in our category approaching us with great ideas.

A big part of working with BetMGM is that we have a relatively flat organizational structure, and we’re reasonably quick to make decisions as to whether there’s an innovative idea that we can take into the marketplace, and if it’s something that will resonate with our consumers. So first and foremost cast a big net and have a number of people helping us innovate to the latest trends. As to what’s the next greatest technology, I think we’re going to see more innovation in the in-play betting world, and we’re going to see more innovation around how video and betting get delivered. For example, we were involved in a great trial with the PGA where we were actually embedding odds into the broadcast on the Golf Channel. I think over time, for the consumers who want that type of experience, you’ll see more and more of that digital and linear delivery of gambling content.

Learn more about how to effectively engage the modern fan & consumer at Hashtag Sports, an annual conference designed for media and marketing professionals.