theScore Skyline Seats Blueprint Ontario Sportsbook Marketing Strategy
theScore Skyline Seats, Canadian Open (theScore)
TheScore’s sponsorship of the PGA Tour’s Canadian Open earlier this month included a crane that lifted spectators 100 feet above the first and 18th holes. theScore’s Skyline seats have been covered by sports and mainstream media.
“It wasn’t just golf media,” said theScore’s senior vice president of marketing and content, Aubrey Levy. “It wasn’t just industry media or Canadian media. This was picked up by ESPN, by CNN. I mean, it was everywhere.
— theScore (@theScore) June 8, 2022
Sportsbooks have struggled to create meaningful ads without using bonuses as a crutch. According to a PayNearMe survey, 48% of American punters were first attracted to a bookmaker because of their welcome bonus. It’s no wonder that Ontario, which prohibits sportsbooks from advertising welcome bonuses, has posed a challenge to US sportsbooks.
There is, however, a silver lining for new gaming apps in Ontario. In the same survey, 31% of US bettors signed up for an app because it was the first one they found. This figure is probably higher in Ontario since sportsbooks cannot advertise welcome bonuses. This makes theScore’s media attention a first major win in Ontario.
How theScore Skyline seats succeeded
TheScore’s Skyline seats respect three marketing principles: creativity, added value and ethics. This trifecta of marketing elements forms a model for sportsbooks that struggle to adapt to Ontario’s marketing rules.
Creativity doesn’t require sports betting to brainstorm ideas from scratch. “Creative” for Ontario marketing can be as simple as applying the idea of a different industry to sport.
“Look, dinner in the sky does exist, and they did it indoors,” Levy said. “But they haven’t done it at sporting events as far as I know.”
TheScore’s Skyline seats also show how creative action can be. Looking to other industries for something that hasn’t been applied to sporting events is one way to generate ideas. A creative offshoot of sky seats could be glass floor seats above a UFC event. It would be derivative, but pulling off such a feat could generate the kind of media that theScore’s Skyline seats did.
However, a creative idea can still fail to generate lasting media coverage and brand recognition. An additional ingredient that a creative idea needs is added value for the customer.
One of the hardest things about watching live golf is finding a good place to stand. Crowds are tight and there’s probably already someone standing in the best spot. The sky seats didn’t just show a crane on the golf course. It solved a lingering problem for golf spectators.
“If it was just a stunt, then after the first people came up they would have been like, ‘Yeah, that’s okay. I understood. Cool,” Levy said. “But universally what we heard was, ‘That was amazing. What a great view of the city, of course. So I think it tapped into something that went beyond the waterfall and touched users in a way that they appreciated…and how it added value to the tournament experience.
The difference between a stunt and a successful marketing event is the added value. Sky seats solved the problem of spectators jostling for a view of the green. Ontario sportsbooks should research common problems or inconveniences they can solve at other major events and use them to create a creative, value-added marketing idea.
An ethical marketing campaign naturally follows creative solutions to customer problems. When planned in good faith, these marketing tactics are extensions of a company’s best features.
“We do this with our product through the synchronization between our media and our betting products that allow you to…stay engaged with the game as betting options are made available to you,” Levy said. “So that [the sky seating] is really just the experiential version of that.
Solving a customer problem without gimmicks isn’t just a product strategy. It can turn a marketing stunt into a marketing event. Plus, it can elevate an ordinary marketing message to an ethical claim about what a brand can do for sports fans.
theScore Skyline Seats and Ontario Marketing
While Ontario regulations prohibit sportsbooks from advertising welcome bonuses, sportsbook operators are allowed to offer them, and customers are waiting for them. But they do not form the brand identity of Ontario sports betting.
“I think [welcome bonuses are] a unique piece of an overall value proposition that you have to prove,” Levy said. “If all you have is your sign-up offer, it’s only as good as the next sign-up offer that comes along. So you have to advocate for something more.
Ontario sports betting regulations attempt to limit the “spray and pray” bonus marketing that characterizes American sports betting marketing. Ontario sports betting was forced to differentiate based on brand first rather than initial bonus.
Transactional ease as a marketing tactic
One marketing niche that remains unclaimed is the deposit and withdrawal facility. PayNearMe’s survey found that one in six bettors whose failed deposit attempt ends up leaving and never coming back. That’s probably a conservative estimate. Bettors who tried to deposit later or tried the same deposit method again could also be gone after failing a second or third time.
Additionally, the withdrawal process was rated 10% less positively than deposits. Forty percent of bettors had to wait more than a day to withdraw their winnings. There are solutions to these problems, such as automated withdrawals for qualified customers. A bookmaker that could legitimately claim to offer instant payouts or more reliable deposit options could stand out in the Ontario market.
Wherever sports betting Ontario stands, theScore has already established a clear identity as a brand focused on its bettors, not just its bettors’ money.