Like a lot of New York residents during these early days of legal online sports gambling in the state, Geoff Reiss has been inundated with sportsbook commercials.
“I have the Caesars ads in my head when I brush my teeth in the morning,” Reiss said. “They’re all over the place.”
And like a lot of people who spend time positioning their companies to capitalize on the booming sports gambling industry, Reiss, the general manager of Yahoo Sports, also has to think about the next phase. Once the sportsbook operators begin to reduce their advertising budgets and scale back all the generous promotions they’re offering to snare New Yorkers, how do they keep their customers from bolting?
“The level of competition for these customers in emerging markets like New York is enormous,” Reiss said. “The fact of the matter is one of the challenges for these operators is they have folks signing up for bonuses and then taking off. It’s super easy to ghost any operator once you’ve gone through the initial process.”
Seeking years of customer loyalty
So where does Yahoo fit into all of this? Some sportsbook operators are finding that partnerships with traditional sports-media providers can help cement those customers’ loyalties. As they have sought to do in other states where they work together – and soon in Louisiana – Yahoo Sportsbook and BetMGM are hoping their partnership breeds customer loyalty, while a similar arrangement between PointsBet and NBCUniversal seems aimed at the same goals.
“Our hypothesis coming in, and we’ve seen it bearing out, is that your years-long relationship with Yahoo makes it kind of hard for you to skip out on that relationship,” Reiss said.
For media outlets like Yahoo, it’s another opportunity to increase fan engagement. For sportsbook operators, it’s a way to recruit new customers, as well as utilizing the content their media partners are built to produce.
Once they’ve registered with BetMGM, users can use their Yahoo account to place bets without having to download the BetMGM app. In turn, Yahoo is offering a six-pack of gambling possibilities as part of its typical game previews. In addition, BetMGM has introduced unique player prop odds based on fantasy point totals, leveraging Yahoo’s fantasy scoring system.
“We want it to be a friction-free, fun experience that allows us to create integrated betting opportunities within well-worn and established behaviors within Yahoo,” Reiss said.
Specialists in fan engagement
It’s hard to argue with Yahoo’s position in the fantasy sports world. In a given week of the NFL season, the site sees roughly 30 million fantasy transactions, Reiss said, and receives roughly 80 million impressions on its scoreboard pages.
Reiss added that 22% of Yahoo’s fantasy football players have been playing for 10 years or more and about half have been playing for five years or more. That plays into the loyalty Yahoo can promise BetMGM.
And because of Yahoo’s association with fantasy sports, its involvement in sports gambling makes sense, as the company increasingly looks to position itself as a leader in fan engagement.
“We don’t have tens of millions of neutrals who just sit on their hands watching the game,” Reiss said.