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Michael Pedersen, Chief Commercial Officer at Livespins, says US operators are changing tack in how they market to players and that streaming presents a big opportunity to acquire customers at scale for a strong ROI

Operators have spent big to maximise the first-mover advantage on the table in the US states that have legalised online sports betting and casino for the first time. This has seen many become locked in a fierce battle with their rival brands over market share – a battle they have, in some instances, been keen to win at all costs.

Everyone is aware of the significant TAM and opportunity of the North American market and this in turn has led them to buy their way to the largest slice of the pie. For some with deep pockets, this has absolutely been the right approach to take as there’s a significant advantage to be gained from being among the first brands to be associated with the new horizon of OSB and iGaming in the mind of the consumers trying to navigate the space.

This is because it allows the operator to capture the early interest in legal sports betting and casino when the market opens up and to present their brand as being the best play to sign up and wager at.

But this is an expensive game to play and requires very deep pockets indeed. In past months, we have seen a shift in investor sentiment with many starting to question whether the open chequebook approach will ultimately pay off. Brand building takes time, but investors need to see a path to profitability and right now the path ahead appears to be a little bumpy.

This has seen operators rethink their marketing strategies and reel in the free-spending approach they have relied on to date. Brand awareness and customer acquisition can also be achieved in many medium-sized pushes, by spending smart and not necessarily spending big. Channels such as streaming have the potential to turbo-charge acquisition and retention and deliver the ROI operators are looking for.

Until now, operators have remained cautious when it comes to streaming – especially following Twitch’s decision last year to ban certain operators from using its platform. But this is where Livespins comes in. Because it sits within the casino lobby, operators have full control and players are afforded the same responsible gambling tools required under their state licence as when accessing the sportsbook or casino.

This means that operators can tap into the huge and growing demand for streaming among a wide and varied consumer base while being confident, they are doing so compliantly at all times.

Streaming is highly effective at allowing operators to engage the lucrative but hard-to-reach Millennial and Generation Z demographics, and to introduce them to their brands and the entertainment experiences they offer for the first time. These really are hard-to-reach consumers, with many already engaged with other entertainment options like video streaming, mobile gaming and social media.

Just as important, streaming products such as Livespins can be used to retain players and also unlock more value from existing marketing partnerships operators have in place.

Livespins allows players to bet behind their favourite streamer, meaning they are directly involved in the action playing out across the reels. Of course, streamers can also be brand ambassadors, allowing operators to deploy celebrities and influencers within the Livespins experience. This means that players can join their favourite celebrities during the stream and bet with them.

Not only that, but they can chat with them and the other players throughout the broadcast while also dropping reactions and emojis. This changes brand ambassador marketing from passive to active and allows operators to monetise directly and instantly through the bet behinds being placed. It can also be a great way for land based operators to utilise their on-property talent inside their online offering and hence strengthening their omnichannel strategy.

There is another potential upside for operators, especially mid-level brands that might not have the budgets to work with household name sports stars and celebrities. So long as they have a very clear understanding of their target audience, micro-influencers and streamers can be onboarded as brand ambassadors with an attractive ROI generated from day one.

The marketing winds are now blowing in a different direction, and it will be interesting to see the channels operators turn to for acquisition and retention. Streaming can move the needle in both areas while allowing operators to stand out from their rivals by proving player experiences that are unique to their brand. And this ultimately makes it a must-have in an operator’s marketing mix.