The State of Digital Marketing in the US Sports Betting Market

Read Time: 3 Minutes

By Danielle Moyer

As sports betting continues to spread across the United States, digital marketing will become even more of a key differentiator for brands looking to cut through the noise and engage users. Those that leverage industry-leading innovations and solutions will be poised to excel as the market expands, leaving competitors in the dust. Incubeta recently joined experts from Google and theScore to explore the current state of digital marketing in sports betting, common challenges, and acquisition strategies, as well as what’s to come next year and beyond.

Challenges in the First Year

It’s been just over a year since Google opened up advertising to sports betting companies in the US, and advertisers and platforms have had to work through different challenges as they ramp up operations. A lack of sophistication in tracking and measurement has been a common hurdle for brands, as the sector continues to evolve and advance.

Niall MacKenzie, Head of US Gambling at Google, also touched on the importance of following policy, including simple distinctions between Daily Fantasy Sports, Real-Money Gambling, and Social Casino, as well as educating internal teams that have never worked in the industry before. Aubrey Levy, theScore’s VP of Content & Marketing, has also faced the challenge of being exclusively app-based, which means that users need to be mobile-first.

Standing Out from the Competition

Given the piecemeal expansion of sports betting across US states, brands have taken a variety of approaches to acquire new users and beat their competitors. In theScore’s case, their digital media property allows them to directly reach and engage consumers that are more likely to be interested in sports betting and are already aware of the brand. They also better understand their target audience and can apply their firsthand expertise and data to find new users.

Our Innovation Director, Max Flajsner, also spoke to how Incubeta has helped companies stand out from the competition with inventive digital marketing strategies. Leveraging live data has been consistently effective at engaging consumers, such as when we incorporated live betting odds into ad copy.

The Impact of COVID-19

COVID definitely had a significant impact on the sports betting industry as major sports were canceled or postponed back in March. The pause on most US sporting events resulted in an increased interest in more niche sports, such as UFC, table tennis in Russia, and Belarusian ice hockey. It also led to increased activity on the Casino side, with searches for poker up 130% year-over-year in April. 

Advertisers also spent much of the downtime preparing for the return of major sports and related betting. The groundswell of interest didn’t disappoint, as theScore saw the same level of betting demand in the first week of baseball as they did during the Super Bowl. As sports have gone through bubbles and made a comeback, interest has returned to a more normal state.

What’s Coming Next

As sports betting advertising moves into its second year, there’s plenty to look forward to in the industry. As the market matures, many are hoping for more advanced measurement, attribution, and automation that will propel sportsbooks and their marketing efforts forward. This will be especially important as competition within the space grows and a potential #3 brand emerges behind DraftKings and FanDuel.

2021 is also poised to be a big year for the legal expansion of sports betting across the US, so brands can expect a wider pool of potential users in new states, and advertising platforms will likely see a significant increase in marketing spend. The sector is incredibly dynamic, and it’s hard not to be excited about the opportunities that are coming next year and beyond!