You’ve heard the adage at every postgame: athletes train their whole lives for a single moment. All of the workouts, the tournaments, the coaching, the dieting, the hours watching tape — it’s all for that moment of truth in which the big game is on the line. That’s part of the mythos of sports, and one of the most enduring qualities of that world. We watch because we know that lifetimes of effort are being put on the line. We watch because sports test the outer limits of what a human body can do.
The U.S. Supreme Court’s vote to overturn the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) opened up a multi-billion-dollar market for online sports betting in the U.S. It has also opened up a new market for dynamic, real-time messaging that will test the outer limits of what digital marketing can do. The surging realm of sports betting is the challenge that digital marketing has been training for over the last 20 years of its development. Put simply: sports betting is the major leagues for digital advertising technology, and it’s where its limits will be tested.
New Venues for Dynamic Creative
Sports betting presents a challenge for marketers, even in its basic incarnations. In seeking to reach bettors, marketers have to address hundreds of games every day, each with their own betting lines. There are multiple wagers that can be placed on each game, by multiple adults across multiple devices and time zones. A programmatic strategy for delivering messages to prospective bettors would already test the outer limits of what marketers expect from their tech stacks today.
But it gets more complex and vigorous still. Sports betting has now evolved into an in-game experience, with in-game (or in-play) wagering opportunities with odds that update in real time. The practical realities of adjusting creative to reflect the changing opportunities require absolute mastery of dynamic creative on multiple levels. Consider:
- Basic context: To reach potential bettors, marketers must understand user identity, as well as fundamental contextual elements, such as the time and a person’s location. For a regular campaign, these elements already demand a high level of sophistication. For a sports betting campaign, this becomes table stakes.
- Decision Trees: Then, of course, a sports betting campaign must be able to serve appropriate creative to the potential bettor. This isn’t a simple matter of Creative A vs. Creative B. A single betting prompt represents the need for a complex multivariate algorithm that can be adjusted on the fly according to what’s going on in a given game.
- Frequency Signaling: For any campaign, frequency capping and suppression are essential to reducing wasted ad impressions. With sports betting, these elements become a matter of regulatory compliance as well as efficiency. Being able to suppress impressions to underage and known problematic gamblers is absolutely essential.
Beyond Betting: Elevating Other Real-Time Experiences
Sports have always been the venue of the highest achievement for marketing, the major league of our competitive industry. That’s because of sports command eyeballs like no other shared media experience. For decades, marketers have experimented and innovated with their campaigns around sporting events because sports viewers demand more from their ad experiences. Historically, it was the flashy TV spots that ran alongside major sporting events. Today, it’s the digital sophistication to message at the pace of a game.
The upside of being pushed to the limit in sports environments is that the learnings and successes have then translated to campaigns and initiatives across other industries and events.
The dynamic creative sophistication described above is necessary for advertising within the sports betting vertical. But it’s endlessly applicable. Mastering the ability to react in real time to a sports game and render creative dynamically — and to do so in a way that is compliant with regulations, respectful of user privacy, and efficient for the marketer’s bottom line — will represent the culmination of marketing achievement.
We’ve been training for this for a long time, and programmatic has come a long way. We can target users across devices. We can dynamically adjust creative based on a range of environmental factors. We can measure, verify, and understand with a greater degree of transparency than ever before.
Now it’s time to put all of those skills to the test. Welcome to the major leagues of digital marketing.
If you can play here, you can play anywhere.