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Experts in the Room Podcast – Episode 1

The Experts in the Room podcast explores the evolving worlds of customer experience, retention and data with some of the leading minds in some of the fastest-growing and most competitive industries in the world.

To listen to the first episode, Fan Engagement, featuring the director of retention and loyalty at LiveScore Group, Steve Talbot, click here. Alternatively, you can read the full transcript below.

00:00:04:05 – 00:00:21:01
Will
I’m Will Hansen and welcome to the Experts in the Room podcast brought to you by Xtremepush. In this series, we chat with some of the leading minds working in the customer experience, retention and data space in some of the most competitive and fastest-growing industries in the world.

00:00:24:21 – 00:00:49:03
Will
In this episode, Fan Engagement, I spoke to the director of retention and loyalty at LiveScore Group, Steve Talbot. Steve is one of the sports betting and gaming industry’s leading loyalty experts, and he talks with us about the changing nature of fan engagement, LiveScore’s success stories so far, and what it means to be a truly data-led business. Welcome to Experts in the Room.

00:00:49:03 – 00:00:58:04
Will
I’m with Steve Talbot, director of Retention Loyalty at LiveScore Group. Steve, you’re very welcome to the podcast today. Awesome to have you on board. Thanks for joining us.

00:00:58:06 – 00:00:59:13
Steve
Thanks for having me. Really appreciate it, Will.

00:00:59:13 – 00:01:19:20
Will
Steve, I think the best way to kick off today is maybe just to give a little introduction to yourself and your position within LiveScore. We’d love to understand just a little bit more about your background, particularly around the wider experience in the sports betting and gaming industry, but also understand a little bit about what you’re doing with LiveScore at the moment as well.

00:01:20:01 – 00:02:03:09
Steve
Yeah, no problem at all. So I guess I started in the industry probably around 13 years ago. I started off at Sporting Bet and my original brief there was actually as I come from sort of a travel, banking and telecommunications world, in terms of e-commerce and digital marketing. And that’s when 13 years ago, my brief really for Sporting Bet was to look at conversion rate optimisation in terms of sort of digital customer journeys, sign-up processes, depositing processes, bet journeys and just looking at how we could use data analytics, UX UI changes, A/B multivariate testing to try and, I guess, just increase the efficiency of those funnels for betting and gaming.

00:02:03:09 – 00:02:29:10
Steve
I hadn’t really been exposed to it prior to that. I was an absolute sports nut and sort of jumped at the chance given that I’d worked in a few industries already and that I had a set of skills that it was worth giving it a go. So Sporting Bet was the start, 13 years ago. I was there for probably three and a half years before GVC bought out Sporting Bet and they started their march to sort of global dominance.

00:02:29:10 – 00:03:00:03
Steve
So that was an interesting time. I then moved down to Gibraltar and worked for Coral as their head of retention and head of conversion rate optimisation. And by that time in Sporting Bet, I guess, my sort of experience had changed over my time at Sporting Bet and during Coral, where I’d moved to more focus on CRM and digital marketing as well as the Crowe elements of my original assignment at Sporting Bet.

00:03:00:03 – 00:03:30:13
Steve
Loved it down there, worked in Spain for a couple of years, Spain and Gibraltar for a couple of years down there. Really good time. Got a lot of stuff done. We did some really exciting stuff in terms of the speed of growth, I guess at Coral. Then my next sort of venture after that coming back to the UK was at an Asian operator called 188bet they were looking to effectively grow their UK business and I was part of the team that kicked off I guess trying to grow the UK business for 188Bet.

00:03:30:14 – 00:04:19:03
Steve
Part of the marketing team there, where I headed up the sports marketing team. So at that point smaller team but was looking after all aspects. So everything from brand sponsorship through to CRM digital but a lot, a lot smaller teams that gave me exposure to, I guess, the wider elements that I hadn’t managed personally the previous two roles. And then yeah, I’ve been with, lastly been with LiveScore Group now for just under four years. Came in originally on the Virgin Bet brand, which was the original brand, I guess the LiveScore Group launched the first sports book and then has been on the project to effectively, I guess, monetise the LiveScore media purchase

00:04:19:03 – 00:04:37:02
Steve
that the group made. And how we could effectively grow sort of sports book revenues on the back of LiveScore media since that point. And as you’re probably aware, we’ve grown I guess five sports books now under the LiveScore group and we also manage the core LiveScore Media brand as well.

00:04:37:07 – 00:04:59:17
Will
Yeah, it’s a hugely exciting brand and it obviously speaks to your experience, Steve, across the industry. I do find it funny being an ex-pat myself, living in Dublin, the opportunities that the sports industry gives, particularly in Europe to move around. So you hear a lot of stories about guys going out to Malta or Gibraltar or Spain or wherever and having those opportunities to do something a bit different.

00:04:59:17 – 00:05:03:05
Steve
Definitely, yes. It’s a small bowl that we all swim in for sure.

00:05:03:05 – 00:05:20:13
Will
Yeah, yeah, definitely. And it’s one of those things I think when you’re encouraging people to take that step and move into it and being sports fans too is interesting. Um, I want to dig in on the LiveScore piece and we’ll talk about a few things today. But you know, you’ve got such a vast experience, I think.

00:05:20:16 – 00:05:47:19
Will
I think one of the big trends that we’re seeing within the industry at the moment is this merger or this convergence of media and entertainment or betting brands, either coming together. Books create media, media elements to what they’re doing, or media elements create sports books and entertainment offerings. Is that something that you see as a wider industry trend, or do you think it’s being driven particularly by the big boys?

00:05:47:19 – 00:05:52:00
Will
Like, how do you guys see that as an opportunity, particularly the way that you cover it?

00:05:52:05 – 00:06:15:08
Steve
Yeah, I mean, if you’re working, I guess outside of an actual sports club in terms of yeah. Having worked in sports for a long time, I think this is wider than just, you know, media and gaming companies. I think there’s a general trend towards several industries looking at sports and sports entertainment as real growth opportunities.

00:06:15:08 – 00:06:36:06
Steve
And clearly, that makes sense in terms of the fans’ engagement and the number of people that are engaged in sports. Mind-altering in terms of the number of people that are engaged in sport and their passion for it. I think only in the last couple of years are people tapping into the opportunities that are there to monetise that and commercialise it, I guess.

00:06:36:06 – 00:07:02:13
Steve
So I guess from our side, you know, LiveScore Media originally as a publisher and any other publishers that are looking at this space, I think there is a number of them in the sports space have generally been 100% focused on advertising revenue and are seeing I guess, the ends of where they can grow that advertising revenue at the pace they their shareholders or they believe they could move out if they were to diversify their model.

00:07:04:07 – 00:07:27:03
Steve
And from a sports betting perspective, I guess again the limits given in regulation in several territories are putting on sports betting brands means that their ability to grow engagement by being more of a publisher or taking, you know, media content into their product has meant they’re able to create stickier experiences for the sports betting customers.

00:07:27:03 – 00:08:07:10
Steve
So for those two brands, I think there’s a natural, natural synergy. Wider than that, though, I think you see the likes of retailers moving into the sports entertainment space. And I think the likes of Amazon with Prime and what they’ve done with, you know, delving- dipping their toe in the water with obviously sports, media rights, etc. That sports media rights area is, is the real battleground, I guess, in terms of the really big opportunities for super brands to come out of that, I guess, whereby, you know, the ability to stream sport, given that that’s been a very terrestrial or satellite-based activity to this point with the sky or terrestrial channels in different countries.

00:08:07:10 – 00:08:33:03
Steve
But now you’ve got Internet streaming giants that are eyeing up that space. And they’ve also got very, you know, the Internet streaming giants can probably you have got platforms and investment in technology that allows them to- and big, big bases that allow them to maybe move into that space. So I think that’s another one to watch very keenly over the next few years and then direct sports, you know, sports brands themselves.

00:08:33:03 – 00:08:53:11
Steve
So clubs in their own right have got TV revenues, you know, retail revenues via merchandise and tickets. But I guess there’s also the opportunity down the line that they could look at betting revenues as a way that they could directly get more for their money out of them, given their potential ties with sports betting and gaming.

00:08:53:11 – 00:09:18:06
Steve
But I think that that would depend a lot more on regulation as to how closely sport can align itself with betting going forward, given some of the challenges that are there, especially in the UK. But, yeah there are some definite, I think opportunities for betting companies to integrate with wider sports entertainment providers to I guess generate new revenue streams.

00:09:18:06 – 00:09:28:05
Steve
And I think, you know, we see that at LiveScore group and it’s a big part of our model and our future vision, I guess, is that we’re open to seeing where that might take us.

00:09:28:14 – 00:09:47:10
Will
Yeah, I think it’s massively interesting, Steve, and I think you’re right to touch on that. There are so many elements that can be taken up with this from regulation all the way down to, you know, I remember talking to someone about it from the media perspective, talking about the change to streaming and who owns the hardware to have the filming of games within stadia.

00:09:47:11 – 00:10:04:18
Will
That’s something that a lot of people don’t consider when they’re looking at this type of thing. I am a big admirer of pivoting to a different sport. The World Surf League, I think, have done a really interesting thing where they’ve taken their whole offering and platform completely free online to watch because of the type of product that they’re doing.

00:10:04:18 – 00:10:11:22
Will
Yeah. So I think even for brands themselves, owning, owning their product and being able to look at it and partner with the right partners is huge.

00:10:12:04 – 00:10:41:24
Steve
I guess the other platforms, the interesting bit for all of us here in sports, is the diversification of sports content as well. So whereas there is such an emphasis on live sport previously, it’s the most expensive form in terms of, you know, rights, etc. is there are so many new newer formats that scale, be it documentary series or sports podcasts that look back at historical events and the massive catalogue of sports content that’s gone before?

00:10:42:09 – 00:11:04:10
Steve
And looking at that in different ways and monetising that, that again for content writers or publishers or media outlets. You know, we’re on the real cusp of a wave of just a lot of creativity in terms of generating sports content that’s not just about live as well, I think. Yes, the betting side of it will always have a very close link with live.

00:11:04:10 – 00:11:14:21
Steve
But as a publisher, I think there are unlimited opportunities in terms of the back catalogue of sports and what new technology can do to bring those to life and what these new platforms can do to bring that to life.

00:11:15:00 – 00:11:37:10
Will
Yeah, if we take off our industry hat, and I know you’re a big sports fan yourself as well, Steve, like, has there ever been a better time to be a fan to engage with the sport that you’re interested in at the moment? Like, look at the growth within the traditional big markets in the big marketplace sports.

00:11:37:10 – 00:11:54:24
Will
But like look at the growth of women’s sports at the moment and topical today. Ireland obviously qualifying for the first-ever women’s World Cup and all of the stuff that comes with that, the behind-the-scenes Rugby World Cup going on in New Zealand at the moment for women’s sports, I think as a sports fan you have so much on offer now.

00:11:55:15 – 00:12:01:19
Will
Obviously, getting those fans to engage with your product is hugely important, but no better time to be a fan at the moment.

00:12:01:19 – 00:12:35:08
Steve
Oh, no, no, definitely. I think there are some really great things coming together at the same time. As I said, I think these platforms really help in terms of giving a voice to a lot of content that would have been wouldn’t have got aired on, you know, maybe terrestrial or satellite. So there’s just a bigger pie that people can watch for one. Women’s sport, massive moves there in terms of, you know, I think we’ve seen it in other sports already like tennis for example, where it’s almost been on equal billing with men’s sport for a long time.

00:12:35:08 – 00:13:00:12
Steve
But there’s, you know, the rise of women’s football, etcetera, and just the opportunities that are out there. I mean, I think, you know, we’re just going to see that explode in terms of the volume of content and the interest and whether you’re in the betting and gaming space or the publishing space or the retail space or all of that explosion of content, if you like, an appetite for it is a massive opportunity.

00:13:00:12 – 00:13:21:17
Steve
I think the other thing, just generally the sport is healthy now. I think we’re just becoming a lot more aware of our health. So sports participation at the same time seems to be getting a lot more, you know, just a lot more air time in terms of it as a pastime and the opportunities that people can spend their time playing sport and engaging with it both socially and watching it.

00:13:21:17 – 00:13:25:04
Steve
So it’s a very exciting time from that perspective.

00:13:25:16 – 00:13:46:23
Will
It’s probably a good segue for me. Look, you sit with your digital hat on with what you do as obviously a retention specialist and a CRM specialist and a loyalty specialist. How much of what your fans are looking for is driving what you guys are producing even from a sports betting perspective in your product roadmap?

00:13:46:23 – 00:13:56:07
Will
Or is it a case of you guys building products to meet expectations in and around what sports fans are looking at? Like I think that’s a really interesting push and pull there.

00:13:56:19 – 00:14:39:10
Steve
Yeah, absolutely. I think my overall experience and the experience now is that you need a blend of a few areas. So I guess innovation and new solutions, definitely a massive part of that is getting your customer research, your customer feedback loops, right, so that your ideas are informed and you know, any data or analytics that you’ve got, which may be harder data around customer trends or customer behaviour, is also backed up by quantitative and qualitative customer feedback, be it surveys, insight groups, forums, you know, we use the likes of Trustpilot, for example, customer surveys extensively to try and I guess qualify that our ideas are going to land with consumers.

00:14:39:10 – 00:15:03:09
Steve
But at the same time, I’m a big believer that, you know, companies that some are true innovators out there about actually anticipating and looking into the data and insights that are given by customers and giving them solutions that maybe they’re not aware of. You know, I think things like the iPhone, for example, etc., when you look at those inventions, they for me were more about looking at a bunch of customer needs and frustrations.

00:15:03:18 – 00:15:22:07
Steve
No one was probably asking for the iPhone, but there was an element of, okay, what is the solution to these bunch of customer problems that people are telling us about when they’re using mobile phones or managing their day-to-day lives? So there’s still an element of, you know, just giving customers what they want and what they’re telling you isn’t always the way to go.

00:15:22:07 – 00:15:48:18
Steve
I think you’ve got to look a little bit deeper and say a few areas might line up and give us hints that there’s a wider problem or a wider void that we could fill with our products or our solutions. And if we do that, we can find USPs or niche spaces that potentially our competitors are not in. Whereas I think you’d find, you know, a lot of this customer feedback you get would be for similar things that you’d get across all sports books or businesses.

00:15:48:18 – 00:15:55:09
Steve
And if you just played back to that, then it’s quite difficult to find USPs or niches or new product opportunities. Yeah.

00:15:55:17 – 00:16:11:15
Will
It’s funny. I think as marketers a lot of it is we kind of forget the common sense in behind when we talk about testing and we talk about going to market like, you know, 100 years ago Henry Ford saying things like if I’d asked them what they wanted, they would have said, well faster horses, right?

00:16:12:02 – 00:16:14:08
Steve
Exactly faster horses. Yeah. I mean, that’s exactly it.

00:16:14:08 – 00:16:42:23
Will
Yeah, exactly. Nothing. Nothing old is new and nothing new is old. But let’s talk about niches and get into what you guys are doing in the weeds in LiveScore. Sports betting and gaming obviously have a real drive with bonusing, a real drive with competition at the acquisition level for players. LiveScore. Renowned as an industry leader for your retention rates of your customers and what you’re doing there to make sure that people are engaged with your brand.

00:16:43:09 – 00:16:58:20
Will
What are some of the tactics that you guys have been employing, particularly over the last year or a couple of years, to drive that fan engagement and get people using the platform regularly? Like is it purely a race to the bottom with bonusing or is it more than that? I know you have a big free-to-play element.

00:16:58:23 – 00:17:28:24
Steve
I think yeah, there are a few elements to it. I think you know in our in the space that we’re in from a sports betting and gaming perspective, I think there are some fundamentals for me in terms of one, just understanding player value and player value in terms of the potential for that player to create value. And that can mean rather than just waiting and looking for someone to give you, you know, a very, very clear steer that they’re going to be worth X based on what they’re doing.

00:17:29:00 – 00:18:00:11
Steve
It’s, I guess, having your data lined up early on and your capability to identify consumers that have a potential value very early on and making sure that you’ve got a system, processes, teams, campaigns in place to, you know, give them that early onboarding experience, which means you’re giving that potential time to shine. And some of that’s just about getting I think your data in the right place, understanding your customers in terms of value and having a lined-up view of that value across the organisation.

00:18:00:11 – 00:18:30:09
Steve
Be it, your commercial trading marketing customer service teams. I think we do that pretty well at LiveScore. And then it’s about having the platform and the operational capability to act on that data. And I think that’s probably one of the big differentiators is the companies that can get the operational and technical elements right. To be able to act on the data are the ones that, I think, wins out there. Because I think a lot of people have the analysis and insight on the value and they’re able to tell who is valuable, and who isn’t. But being able to act on that in real-time and at the pace, we need in our industry is often the challenge.

00:18:30:09 – 00:18:58:12
Steve
And I think most of the big operators in our space have nailed that and that’s where they’ve built successful businesses from. I think the differentiators and the interesting bits you touched on it are around there. Once you’ve got the insights and an understanding of your customer or your customer base and the ones that are potential of more value versus less value is really about how do you then engage that customer.

00:18:58:12 – 00:19:21:15
Steve
So we’ve got, you might have a very good idea of the value you’re willing to give back to someone, to reward them for their loyalty. But I think there’s an element of customers moving away from just that being something whereby it’s very tangible. I’ve spent X, I’m getting Y back. I think it’s a lot more for me about the experience of how that’s given back.

00:19:21:15 – 00:19:45:11
Steve
So and I think that’s where free-to-play works very, very well. And why several people in our industry have used it is that you know, it’s something that people enjoy and they’re able to earn rewards off the back of it and it gets them coming back more frequently again. And not just linked to live sport, that they’re coming back for the fun and the experience of playing those free-to-play games rather than just coming back to place a bet on a live event which is not happening all the time.

00:19:45:11 – 00:20:10:23
Steve
So free to play definitely plays a big part, but I think more and more it’s an element of, how do you make that- how do you make someone feel rewarded or special or valued? And again, I go back to the point of that’s where I think your teams have to be creative and a lot of teams are focused on the data and the analytical element of knowing who to reward when and how much.

00:20:11:10 – 00:20:39:05
Steve
But, again, I think that the point of difference is the experience you give back to them. So whether that’s through customer services, CRM communications, promotions, the product experience, you know, and I think there’s a lot you can learn from different, different sectors there I think, you know, some retailers, for example, the in-shop experience now, they’ve been able to tie that up with their data and their digital data from the digital experience and they’re offering nice integrated experiences between the two.

00:20:39:05 – 00:20:57:13
Steve
And I think, you know, that’s something that the sports experience that we spoke about grows. I think for fans, that ability to tie up the thing they’re most interested in, which is their club, their team, the event they’re going to watch, as well as a reward for, you know, what they’ve played in terms of their sports betting wallet or casino wallet.

00:20:57:23 – 00:21:26:19
Steve
If you can tie that up into not just bonuses and free bets, which are, you know, to a certain extent everyone’s doing, but into actual experiences which are more engaging and link back to the core- core thing they enjoy, which is following the sport. I think there’s a lot to still to play with that, which is not just free to play but potentially more engaging experiences that mean that we’re not just rewarded with free bets or cash, but giving more lifestyle benefits or benefits that enhance their experience of watching or following sports.

00:21:27:01 – 00:21:53:15
Will
There are a couple of really good threads in there, Steve, that I want to pull on a little bit. From your experience, I think that shift in mentality around making sure that a brand has I won’t say my French, the “raison d’etre” to be a be around as a brand like all brands want to have commercial success but being able to understand that, putting your customer first and your player first and the experience first is so important.

00:21:54:01 – 00:22:02:22
Will
Have you found that that is a difficult conversation to have at a commercial level, at a board level, higher up? When you’re talking from a marketing perspective, in your experience?

00:22:04:05 – 00:22:37:18
Steve
No, no, not so much. I think generally at LiveScore, we understand it, I think and research it as well. We talk about fans and we understand that you know, the LiveScore product is fundamentally grown out of the fact that it fills a need for sports fans. You know, if you’re not watching live sport, you’re not listening to it on the radio, then our product sits right in the middle there where you’re able to stay engaged and up to date with, you know, one of the things that you care most about in the world a lot of time for, you know, for our users and our players.

00:22:38:04 – 00:23:00:10
Steve
And I think we’re trying to add to that in terms of like I said, the ecosystem that we move away from just being seen as a great scores provider. But we’re now, you know, looking to we’ve started streaming content over the last couple of years. We’ve grown our news and our publishing section. And so we’re trying to be more of football fans, especially more of a one-stop shop for football content and consumption, as much as possible.

00:23:00:19 – 00:23:19:18
Steve
When we’re talking about it internally, I think that the challenge is that bit for us to say we can play a more active role in the sports fan’s life. There’s a chance. And going back to the original question about, you know, the growth of publishers and the emergence of sports betting with publishers, etc., is that just there are just more doors.

00:23:19:18 – 00:23:42:07
Steve
So rather than sports bonuses, free bets, casino free spins, etc., being the core reward elements of a sports book or casino. If we’re going to be a bigger player in a fan’s, you know, sports consumption, then in terms of rewards and loyalty, I believe that you know, there’s a big opportunity to give a wider range of benefits that engender loyalty out of our customer base.

00:23:42:07 – 00:24:04:14
Steve
If we can access that and give that to them so that, you know, it’s not just about free bets and bonuses, which have to a certain extent been done for a long time. And again, everyone’s doing it. Some of the opportunities, I think were around actually thinking about the fan experience and how you could help or support that more in terms of a reward or a way of giving back that engenders loyalty out of them.

00:24:04:14 – 00:24:04:23
Steve
Yeah.

00:24:05:06 – 00:24:25:08
Will
That focus on value and relevance to your fan is so important rather than just looking at, you know, fans, players or customers as, as a revenue number. Look, obviously that plays into it. And I think we’ve got savvy fans now and savvy customers that are looking for that. They’re looking to be part of a tribe, part of the community and have a need fulfilled.

00:24:25:08 – 00:24:32:02
Will
And so they’re demanding better things, better products, better offerings. Yeah. And better value. So I think yeah, yeah.

00:24:32:02 – 00:24:53:19
Steve
I think I think in general, just to add to the point is, you know, if you look at loyalty programs historically very much borne mainly out of retailers whereby it’s again the spend X, get X and that was normally geared towards a long term commitment so that brands to save up for something big like a free flight, you know, via a frequent flier scheme or you know, or whatever it might be for a store.

00:24:53:19 – 00:25:30:06
Steve
Yeah, I think more and more loyalty programs and the good ones are tied into more everyday rewards and they play an active role in customers getting- feeling something and getting something back more tangible, more frequently, which builds that brand engagement on a more regular, regular basis. And I think for sports betting whereby, you know, we’ve got our core customers coming back three or four times a week, for example, you know, if we’re looking at loyalty programs or propositions, then it’s about stuff that can play more of an active part in their lives rather than a typical, as I say, spend X and I can see, you know, a year down the line, I’ll get something

00:25:30:06 – 00:25:46:03
Steve
back tangible, it’s like I think given the times that we’re living in, there’s much more of a need for sort of surprise and delight and more tangible, smaller incentives and rewards more frequently that keeps consumers engaged in the brand, that makes them feel more, more rewarded and engaged.

00:25:46:08 – 00:26:22:11
Will
I like that term; surprise and delight. That’s a cracking term. I think it’s hugely relevant. How much do you think that strong brand recognition and brand building also play into a huge coup for you guys? This year with Ronaldo coming on in your first TV ads and your ads. Yeah. And your overall brand recognition for you specifically sitting on the CRM and loyalty side, must play a huge role in helping you guys be able to build that, do you think or is that just one element of the arsenal that you guys have to work with?

00:26:22:12 – 00:26:57:07
Steve
Yeah, it’s a big investment and a big, big part of the strategy in terms of what we delivered last year with that piece. I think what that was the Ronaldo deal for me was I guess an amalgamation of two or three years of really hard work by the teams in building the foundations around LiveScore media and almost announcing our arrival, I guess to a certain extent because LiveScore media as a, as a product and an app had grown organically. It wasn’t something that was built off of massive, you know, acquisition marketing budgets or anything like that.

00:26:57:07 – 00:27:27:15
Steve
It just built up- they had a product that met a real need and it built over time and built up a really good reputation. I guess, across sports fans across the globe. But weirdly, when you ask people, there are still a lot of people that probably don’t think of LiveScore as a sort of B2C consumer brand and I think also with our investments in streaming and content that the Ronaldo campaign was really about saying, look, we’re here and we’re more than a score.

00:27:27:15 – 00:27:57:02
Steve
So, you know, it’s for schools. But, you know, we’ve invested in and what we’re trying to build is more of this one-stop shop for sports fans over time. And we believe we can play a lot bigger part. And we’ve got products and services that can meet their needs in a lot of other ways, just in schools. So yeah, there are now the campaign has been about talking to our audience about that and making them aware that LiveScore is more than what they’ve just used it for previously.

00:27:57:13 – 00:28:08:09
Steve
But also the first start of making LiveScore more of a global, globally recognised B2C consumer brand that we can build trust in as we grow out the commercialisation of it.

00:28:08:12 – 00:28:30:03
Will
It’s probably a good segue I can’t leave a section talking to a big sports fan without talking about the upcoming World Cup. First off, predictions, who’s going to win it? Who are your top teams to take it away? Is it coming home? I’m sure that’s probably the question everyone’s asking. It’s certainly not going to Canberra in Australia.

00:28:30:03 – 00:28:36:12
Will
But sure, I’d be surprised if the Socceroos score a goal. But I hope I eat my words after that. What do you think?

00:28:37:17 – 00:29:12:19
Steve
Yeah, obviously. I mean, just massive for us. One, work-wise, personally, for most sports fans around the world, a World Cup in November is, you know, just absolutely changing the calendar in terms of having worked in the industry for 13 years. It’s been, you know, a real challenge to think about it in November because a lot of the classic things of barbecues, beer parties in the way you’d normally market, you know, a World Cup go out the window so you can see some interesting creative across the industry around the World Cup with some new ideas for once.

00:29:12:19 – 00:29:42:23
Steve
So that’ll be that’d be great from our side. In terms of my views on it. Listen, England of course me as I’m sure most people would say, no end of heartache over the years. So backing them is not going to do them any favours whatsoever. But Spain, Spain would be my tip I think just as a football team, their national team to me have had a way of playing for a long, long time, which is a set, set method which has paid off with trophies around ten years ago.

00:29:42:23 – 00:29:53:04
Steve
But I still feel they’ve got a great bunch of players and a squad that if they can hit a bit of form, then the way they play the game I think gives them a very good chance and they’re a half-decent price as well.

00:29:53:08 – 00:30:22:08
Will
If I was about to say you’ve heard it here first, sports fans get on Spain. I think that’s what I’ll be doing this afternoon. Great to hear that. It’s such a different environment for such a big event, particularly for football-focused brands like yours. Do you have specific programs that you’ve got lined up? And obviously without revealing everything that you’ve got in your hand that you’re going to be running in and around the World Cup for your current customers, like around your loyalty programs.

00:30:22:14 – 00:30:24:12
Will
Does that give you a huge boost?

00:30:24:12 – 00:30:52:04
Steve
Yeah, absolutely. So you can’t give away trade secrets given that we have launched anything. But I think the big bit for me is like I said around the Ronaldo campaign, we’re still very much in the process, I think, of educating our users about our ecosystem in terms of the fact that, you know, LiveScore media, LiveScore bet are a part of the same company and trying to, I guess, talk to our users across both brands about the benefits of using both apps.

00:30:52:04 – 00:31:01:15
Steve
And I think, you know, for the World Cup, that’s really something that will help us cement that given the size of the event. But yeah, I’d have to say watch this space on any specifics.

00:31:01:16 – 00:31:29:07
Will
Perfect, perfect. What about predictions for the future? Let’s look past 2022 and into the future for maybe the wider industry, but also specifically for LiveScore Group. What do you think are going to be some of the emerging trends that we’re going to see, you know, come out of the back of the next couple of years? I think there’s been so much talk around COVID and all of the disruption, particularly in the sporting space, but also the way that sport has kind of galvanised communities.

00:31:29:07 – 00:31:46:18
Will
And was that touchstone? Yeah. What are your big predictions in and around some of the stuff that’s going to be happening around technology for fan engagement? You know, I think even one of the big ones and I know you’re a passionate fan of this, like going to a rugby game or a football game or a cricket match after not being able to do it for two years.

00:31:46:18 – 00:31:58:05
Will
Like it was revolutionary and having forgotten how good it is to go and sit in a stand, wear your team shirt and cheer on your team, like how much do you think that’s going to keep playing into it?

00:31:59:01 – 00:32:19:17
Steve
A lot. I mean, I just I guess the big the two big areas that really interest me in terms of wouldn’t say I really know where they’re going, but basically in terms of sort of what social channels and platforms have done for fans in terms of their space, in the publishing space and then the data that’s available across sports as well.

00:32:19:17 – 00:32:41:00
Steve
So I mean, yeah, if we touch on the social platform bit first it’s like, you know, we’re in a space now where you’ve got content creators who effectively just would have been armchair fans ten or 15 years ago that are becoming now the faces or the go-to people for an opinion on the biggest sports teams in the world.

00:32:41:10 – 00:33:03:15
Steve
Whereas previously that would have been, you know, journalists of a certain stature, broadsheets, broadcasters you know fans are playing such a lot more of an active part in terms of swaying fans’ opinion because of the platforms and the followings they’ve been able to build up on social. And I think a lot of that has come from the knowledge that’s available for them.

00:33:03:15 – 00:33:35:08
Steve
So if you look at sports data in the I think I’ve touched on this. Yeah. So what have you guys before are the march of sports bet data and its availability the knowledge that fans have now I mean you know whether it’s my son playing the X-Box and looking at player stats or, you know, the access to player stats or team stats, fans are just so much more knowledgeable about, you know, how far their teams run, what they’re like in the first half versus second half, what they do when they go north of the country, south of the country.

00:33:35:19 – 00:34:01:01
Steve
These are trends or analyses that were never available previously. So it’s just not stuff you’d really think about or be able to contemplate or form an opinion around. Whereas I think fans of today now in terms of what they’ve got access to, means that they’re very well informed. Everyone seems to be the next Pep Guardiola or Jurgen Klopp in terms of you know, we used to talk about let’s get it up top to the big striker, we’ll get it in the goal.

00:34:01:01 – 00:34:21:24
Steve
Now we’re talking about we’re not pressing at the right rate or you know, we’re not great when it comes to the last 10 minutes of the second half in terms of this or that, it’s like, the detail and the understanding that sports fans have got about their teams in the game is huge. And again, that’s just generating more and more noise content that people are tapping into.

00:34:22:10 – 00:34:45:05
Steve
And I think, you know, that growth of content that we spoke about right back at the start means that there are areas of opportunity that, you know, I certainly don’t understand yet, but seems to be coming down the road that if brands can tap into that partner with, you know, content producers, be it big firms or individuals on their social platforms and get fans engaging.

00:34:45:05 – 00:35:02:20
Steve
I think that the big bet is what those social platforms have done is they’ve given fans a voice and I think that’s the bit that brands have missed is they need to give their users, and customers a voice and the more they can do that and make them part of the brand, I think, and get users talking to each other I think could be a really big opportunity.

00:35:02:20 – 00:35:23:02
Steve
So not something we’re actively working on, but I definitely think it’s a watch this space in terms of corporate brands and how they can learn from maybe some of the social media platforms in the social content producers on those platforms in terms of how they’ve nailed engagement and how brands might be able to do that and tap into that.

00:35:23:02 – 00:35:51:12
Will
It’s a funny one without we won’t go too deep into it. But that pendulum shifts back that kind of was missing when sports have become fully professional, that pendulum shifts back to fan power is strong I think at the moment. As you look at the reaction to the Super League last year, I think it was with the clubs gone and not consulting with their fans on what they were going to do, you know, putting their sport in a bit of jeopardy the around the democratisation of it, you know, that everyone has a chance with it.

00:35:51:22 – 00:36:01:04
Will
I think that that shift is coming because there’s more ability to be engaged with it. You’re exactly right. You can be so much more engaged than you were ten, 20, or 30 years ago.

00:36:01:14 – 00:36:27:01
Steve
I mean, yeah. I mean, one of the interesting things as well as we talked about was customer research and fan feedback. And, you know, there’s no doubt where we are going that sports entities, i.e. leagues or clubs themselves are getting a lot better at CRM data collection and fan engagement. And as they do that, it’ll be interesting to see whether that starts to be an active part of decision-making.

00:36:27:03 – 00:37:04:23
Steve
You know, I could see clubs that are potentially built with a customer feedback element down the line that actually influences decisions around, who knows, selection, managers, whatever it might be. That might be 25 years down the line, 100 years down the line, or it could happen in the next couple of years, I don’t know. But it feels like that element, that data would be available, that they’d be able to read the room with their fans and be able to make a lot more risk-based decisions about how their fans are feeling and whether they feel that is impacting their business model or revenues and whether that plays into it.

00:37:05:01 – 00:37:27:05
Steve
But that’s one area that fans engagement that could come back a lot more rather than just board representation. It might be actual polling of fans in the stadium via club apps, etc. may well be a way that we see decisions go in terms of selection. I know a lot of fans would love to see that, but it feels like that’s not pie in the sky anymore.

00:37:27:05 – 00:37:28:11
Steve
It could happen potentially.

00:37:28:17 – 00:37:53:08
Will
Yeah, I think it’s a super interesting space and a good way to end it, particularly given where you guys play as well. The technology advancements as well in the ability to be able to do this is so important and having the right partnerships to be able to enable all of that is so important both for fans and clubs, but also for platforms and, and businesses like LiveScore Group to be able to go forward.

00:37:53:08 – 00:38:10:06
Will
So that’s, I think, a huge area around being able to pick the right partners. You can never future-proof yourself completely, but you know, working with the right people is important. Yeah. Is there anything else that you wanted to cover, Steve? I think I’m pretty happy that we’ve covered a lot, and that it was good.

00:38:10:06 – 00:38:30:00
Will
I think we went down to some different rabbit holes, which is really cool. Cheers guys, enjoyed that. All right, bye-bye. Thanks for joining us for the Experts in the Room podcast brought to you by Xtremepush, subscribe now for more episodes in our series. This podcast was produced by Record Media.

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