This year’s Better Collective Awards will deliver a market-by-market comparison to celebrate the performance of the best bookmakers, Shona Mackenzie O’Donnell told SBC News.
For this month’s Better Collective Spotlight, Mackenzie O’Donnell – the company’s Head of Strategic Events – explained why it adopts a data-first approach to crowning its winners, before revealing that Spain, UK, New Jersey and German speaking markets are the next planned additions to the roster of regulated markets in 2022.
SBC: Denmark and Sweden are two of the countries taking centre stage at the Better Collective Bookmaker Awards 2021; what’s the key to success in the two more liberalised Scandinavian gambling markets?
SMO: Danes don’t fall for a template-like approach, but expect operators to be genuine in communication as well as market offerings. The majority want to bet on markets with a Danish angle.
When it comes to Sweden, trustworthy, transparent and generous bonuses have always been the key elements to successful customer acquisition in the Swedish gambling market. Since the Covid gambling restrictions have been implemented in Sweden, users are now, more than ever, looking for alternative benefits from bookmakers.
From unique games or features to different forms of payments, everything extra that a bookmaker is providing is making a big impact with Swedish bettors at the moment. We have experienced that many gamblers in our betting communities are looking for bookmakers with quick and simple deposit and withdrawal methods, when looking for a bookmaker to sign up with. We expect this trend to continue.
Today, any bookmaker not offering quick payment methods and electronic identification sign-up (BankID) will have a very difficult time competing in Scandinavia.
We have done extensive research for the annual Bookmaker Awards 2021 and have collected a massive pool of data. Users have pointed out that the most important aspects driving their satisfaction is the market selection, as well as the overall betting experience, in which mobile apps and live streaming play an important role.
Additional outcomes from the research shows that football odds are important and, as mentioned earlier, banking options are essential when choosing a bookmaker.
SBC: Does success in one necessarily predetermine success in the other? Is it common for bookmakers to go after success in both given the clear differences in regulation?
SMO: I don’t think that success is predetermined. Local brands tend to do well in their respective markets. I think this is in part due to the depth of local knowledge and a deeper understanding of the market. There is also a loyalty to local brands.
On the other hand, big brands are trusted globally and where they invest heavily in localisation and understanding the markets they enter, we see real benefits from this. In the end, anyone has the possibility to come out on top, so if a bookmaker has the resources and know-how to enter new markets, they will pursue it regardless of the differences in regulations.
SBC: The concept of the Better Collective Bookmaker Awards is to provide more transparency to the end user; what are they typically most keen to know? Does this pertain directly to the prize categories you’ve created?
SMO: Every year, we start the process of the awards with extensive research in the markets since we need to find out what is important to the end users, and this may change over time. We then create the relevant categories on the basis of these findings.
Ease of use, customer service and banking are important universally, but what differs are the sports that people bet on. Football is the most popular across all five markets included in this year’s Bookmaker Awards 2021 but the second most popular sports usually differ.
To give an example, knowing that a certain bookmaker had won an award in the category of tennis betting from a trusted affiliate provides a huge benefit to the bookmaker since reassurance and reliability are very important values in the betting industry.
SBC: How do you balance judging of these Awards with the relationships you hold with partner bookmakers; can you remain truly impartial?
SMO: As far as we are aware, we are the only awards show of this kind that uses data rather than judges – this way we ensure there is no bias with our data-based awards, and it is our priority to remain impartial. That is also the reason why we collect so much data – for this year’s awards we have collected over 150 000 pieces of data across different markets over a 12 month period, which gives us a full picture of the markets, not only snapshots.
When it comes to the relationships with bookmakers, of course not everyone can win, and we are very transparent about our methodology.. We share this, so that everybody can understand the process, and we are also very happy to give individual feedback to our partners and let them know in which areas they could use improvements in order to perform to the best of their abilities.
It is also important to mention that we created the awards in order to help bettors, develop and improve the brands and the betting markets. We don’t charge anything for attending, we don’t have sponsorships – ultimately, we don’t make any revenue from the awards. We believe this is important in order to maintain our impartiality so that players can really use these awards as a proof of quality when deciding on the bookmaker to play with.
SBC: You started off with a focus on Greece in 2020; you have five countries in 2021 and plans to add at least Spain, UK, New Jersey and German speaking markets in 2022; how big can this become?
SMO: Ultimately we would like to create awards for all the regulated markets we operate in, but since we collect a lot of data manually, and we want to make sure everything is accurate, this is simply not possible.
We will, however, be adding markets continuously and we already have plans for 2023 where we want to add three states in the US, one more European market, and potentially a market in Latin America, depending on the pace of the regulation.
SBC: And just finally, if we are to assume that the Awards can help players navigate the market and choose bookmakers that fit their criteria, what about how this impacts the approach of the bookmakers? Do you think, for example, that the outcome might bring about changes to the range of markets, welcome promotions, margins etc.?
SMO: I think it will give all bookmakers an idea of what is important in their respective markets, thus allowing them to manage their resources more efficiently, and improve what needs to be improved, depending on their KPIs.
The awards are also meant to allow bookmakers to align with leading affiliates in the market, and the winners are encouraged to use the award branding on their marketing materials which will make them more reliable to the customers. The ultimate goal is to create transparency in the betting industry for the bettors and we definitely want to take a lead in that.