Get with the programmatic | Felix Geyr, Sportradar

Felix Geyr, managing director, sports media at Sportradar talks about how automated tech can cut through the online advertising noise.

Marketing and sports industry professionals worldwide will likely be aware of John Wanamaker’s now-infamous quote, uttered in the 1800s: “half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half.”

It’s considered to have laid the foundations for marketing as we know it today and, while it seems churlish to point out that message may now be nearing its expiration date, advances in AI, machine learning and programmatic advertising could potentially sound the death knell for ‘blind marketing’.

Programmatic advertising is nothing exceptionally new nor ground-breaking, but technological advancements, such as those we’ve incorporated into our ad:s marketing service for bookmakers, is helping that ensure advertisers – in Sportradar’s case within the betting industry – can pinpoint where their marketing spend is going and how much it’s bringing back in return.

Anyone who has engaged with sports content online will be aware of just how crowded the digital betting space is in terms of marketing and advertising. Many rights-holders, publishers and outlets, of all sizes, now invariably showcase pop-ups, banners and pre-rolls all offering the latest offers and odds.

In the UK, the recent whistle-to-whistle advertising ban, coupled with greater scrutiny around shirt sponsorships following Paddy Power’s ‘unsponsoring’ of various football clubs, has led to a stronger emphasis on digital for many operators.

However, shrewd bookmakers are increasingly becoming more targeted with their spend and, with AI now able to process data and automate algorithms in real-time, bookmakers of all tiers can focus in on their specific goals and target audiences.

It’s not just punters who can be segmented by differing needs and requirements either.

Operators will also have varying specifications in terms of their pain points, challenges and goals. Whether it’s individually-tailored products that have to guarantee success for tier one bookies or smaller operations that perhaps lack big resources or specialised marketing expertise, a scalable programmatic solution has the capacity to enhance and facilitate growth across the board.

That’s especially true in the betting space, given its crowded nature and the regulatory and legal obstacles that can exist in certain regions. Programmatic ensures operators and their clients both benefit by targeting relevant and appropriate content at the right audiences.

Efficiency and return on investment should be at the heart of any good strategy, while your chosen platform should have the ability to be constantly refined in order to improve and enhance targeting capabilities.

The true power comes from access to user profiles, unique data insights and strategic media partnerships – encapsulating what is sometimes overlooked when it comes to digital advertising: the combination of tech and human expertise.

Any programmatic platform worth its salt should be a blend of sophisticated technology and business experience, while for operators their marketing efforts need to be a strong mix of good creative and tech-driven automation.

The ethos of Wanamaker’s quote may never go completely out of fashion, with certain elements of advertising unlikely to ever show full transparency when it comes to their effectiveness. But, automating quality advertising content is a sure-fire way of driving up that efficiency.

The human element, either when it comes to crafting copy, design, or building relationships for a brand, is something AI and automation won’t ever replace, not fully. However, the automation and targeting of that advertising is where programmatic and ad:s can offer an edge, especially in crowded online environments.

Human expertise is also a fundamental requirement when it comes to the implementation of data security, particularly in the age of GDPR. Ensuring safety is paramount and something tech alone can’t promise.

The marriage of human knowledge and market-leading tech is one reason why ad:s is so special and why operators of all sizes should be looking towards programmatic to cut through the advertising clutter.

A recent IAB report found programmatic revenue grew by 33 per cent in 2018 to €16.7bn and, with that growth being fuelled by technological innovation and constant fine-tuning of monetisation strategies, bookmakers should look to get with the programme…or programmatic to be more precise.

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