The betting and gaming industry has undergone a number of significant developments and trends in 2021, and data in particular has become substantially more important as the sector continues to shift towards online verticals.
In a Q&A for SBC Leaders, Daniel Jurilj, Head of Sales at SofaScore, detailed why mobile app usage and data-driven strategies are becoming all the more important for those in the betting and gaming industry.
SBC: Can you tell us more about SofaScore and your role in the industry? How do you ensure that you stand out from the competition?
Daniel Jurilj: SofaScore is a premium sports app that provides live results and sports stats to its 20 million monthly active users worldwide. Although football is by far its most followed sport, SofaScore covers more than 20 sports and is translated into more than 30 languages.
Our secret sauce to being the best rated app among the competition, both on the App Store (4.9), and on Google Play (4.8), are our constant efforts to turn raw data into valuable insights that help users immediately figure out what’s going on in the match.
That is, SofaScore is known to offer not only detailed stats for every single match, player and team, but also for its visualisation of statistics in the form of insightful graphics.
SBC: In a world with so many different betting operators, how important are odds-comparison sites for streamlining the overall betting experience?
DJ: I would say that odds-comparison sites are more for a niche audience of semi-professional punters who are looking for best odds and who usually have a dozen accounts at the most popular betting sites. An average punter is more focused on reliability of the site and consumer protection which guarantees him stress free thrill of playing.
SofaScore is more tailored to the latter as we do not offer odds comparison, but we try to empower our users with knowledge to make the best possible bet on the most popular sites.
When a gambling brand is advertised in SofaScore, it is sort of “verified” by SofaScore given our users further confidence in the brand. We have seen this in collaboration with several industry veterans who launched new brands in the past two years.
SBC: How has SofaScore capitalised on this growth of mobile betting? And how can betting apps help elevate the overall betting experience?
DJ: We are living in a mobile-first world, and we have worked with several brands who have struggled with this switch to online betting, with many of them still heavily focused on retail.
However, a seamless mobile experience is a must if you are going to survive in the ever-growing competitive landscape. SofaScore has long realised that our users use the app as a second screen when watching the game on TV, or at the stadium for that matter, and punters expect the same from betting apps.
Not just straight odds, but stats to help them place the bets. Many brands have recognised this and offered us collaborations for integrating our widgets in their sites/apps.
SBC: Data has become increasingly important for sports bettors, with more and more punters wanting to know every detail about every match. But how important is it that data is correctly utilised when it comes to driving fan engagement?
DJ: SofaScore has enormous databases for every team, player, competition… but all that is just raw material you need to transform into something useful. This is what we do, and when we want to launch a new feature, we work on it for a long time to make it just right.
The final outcome must not be suggestive, but empower the user to interpret the data himself in a meaningful way, and what is really important is that you listen to users. We have a support team that is available 24/7 to our users and we make many changes according to the feedback we receive.
SBC: As more US states, and most recently Canada, begin to legalise betting, from a European perspective are sports fans looking towards markets on US sports at all? If so, which sports are proving to be the most popular?
DJ: Absolutely. US sports have always been very popular for betting, most notably NBA. I think it is fair to say US sports drove this data driven approach to sports and betting and punters nowadays rarely bet on the final outcome but look for individual player lines.
This is clearly visible in our app where NBA individual player stats have the most views during and post-game.
SBC: Esports has grown exponentially in the last few years. Has SofaScore witnessed a rise in popularity of esports betting and do you see any future trends in this sector?
DJ: Esports is here to stay. There are whole new generations coming that will view esports on par with traditional sports and betting operators as well as sports publishers need to follow suit.
SofaScore has used the COVID period to introduce an esports section which has been growing ever since. Our plan for the long run is to have innovative features in this section as well as in traditional sports.
SBC: Concerns have been raised throughout the pandemic about the prospect of online sports betting activity increasing substantially. Has SofaScore encountered any data that would back this hypothesis?
DJ: The sports betting industry suffered a lot during the pandemic with sports being cancelled, but the recovery has been reasonable. We have not seen any dramatic changes in the craving for sports or betting for that matter.
One interesting thing though is that we have seen a decreased interest in Euro 2020, which is usually a heavy traffic driver. We have received the same feedback from many brands. On the other hand, the casino industry is the one that really profited in the lockdown and there were some concerning numbers on a larger scale which again bring into question player protection.