Affiliate Marketing Today: Sports Betting

8 May 2008

The evolution of sports betting affiliate marketing has been influenced markedly by government involvement and well-established land-based operations. Particularly, geography-based promotion of sports books in the European market and comprehensive affiliate software are playing a major role in shaping the industry today.

Sports betting has a tendency to be a localized activity. No matter the sport, bettors are putting their money on their preferred teams and athletes, with each of those entities being closely tied to a particular city or region. This emphasis on localization ties into a number of different strategies that can benefit everyone involved in affiliate marketing for sports books.

To support a focus on localization to boost your results, operators need market-driven affiliate software flexible enough to accommodate the sports-book-specific aspects of affiliate promotion. This includes an evolving suite of reports that speaks to the unique needs of sports betting operators and their affiliates.

Customer Recruitment

Affiliates wanting to focus on localization stand to gain from developing a land-based marketing strategy when attracting and acquiring new customers for their Web sites. For example, affiliates can target sports betting enthusiasts -- or would-be sports betting enthusiasts -- at particular locations (e.g., sporting events, pubs and bars) during certain times making it easy to target them with flyers, posters, branded merchandise, and newspaper advertisements. As an operator, the right tracking and depth of reporting in your software will allow the analysis of affiliates’ results for online versus offline promotions to clearly demonstrate return on investment.

Inspiration from Soft Gaming

Sports betting affiliates can also draw from the community-oriented approach of some soft gaming sites when building their marketing plans. is one example of such a site, having built a strong social element into the gaming experience through chat and forums. This social element can also be built into your promotional strategy as a sports book affiliate by recruiting players locally and then making your Web site a resource for them to find out about sports stats and odds, events, and general talk of the game. Specifically, you can offer a forum or chat for sports enthusiasts in your city to talk sports, complete with jumping-off points for betting online.

Relationship Building

The brand of a sports book plays a major role in attracting and converting bettors. Affiliates use trusted brands and content to maintain and build relationships with their databases. One way to do this is to keep in regular contact with customers through e-mail newsletters, blogs, and the latest content via feeds. During off-seasons, affiliates can also introduce their customers to other sports, or send players to other gaming-related entertainment sites such as poker, casino, or skill games sites.

Capitalization on Localization

One of the simplest but most effective things that operators and affiliate managers can do to capitalize on the localization aspect of sports betting is to build comprehensive libraries of marketing tools and ensure that their affiliate marketing software can support a diversity of creatives. Marketing tools -- including banners that focus on the brand and target specific countries and teams, using the appropriate languages and cultural references -- allow affiliates to localize their marketing strategy and attract players.

Sports-Book-Optimized Creatives

Producing a wide range of creatives for different sporting events and focusing on different teams and athletes is a great place to start improving a sports book marketing strategy. Affiliates can then use these highly targeted marketing tools on their sites to increase conversions and commissions.

When creating banners and content-based marketing tools, operators should also keep their target customers’ motives in mind. If you know that a big game is coming up, create banners on this theme, make them available through your affiliate system, and ensure your affiliates get them up on their sites with enough time for these themed banners to be deployed. This type of marketing-tool segmentation can be further bolstered by geo-targeting settings, which affiliate software like Income Access’ also provides.

Dynamic Banners

Something else to keep in mind is that allowing affiliates to present the latest stats and betting rates on their sites is crucial to the success of any sports book. If you can make this information readily available to affiliates so that it’s easy for them to place it on their Web sites, you’ll be ahead of the game. One way to do this is to use dynamically-populated banners, which you can create with the help of a number of third party banner-serving companies.

Sportingbet, the London-listed sports betting operator and Income Access client, does this, and their affiliates benefit from the resulting financial return. "Quick Bet" banners are especially popular, as they allow visitors to place a bet using a form embedded in the banner on the affiliate site, and then to pass directly through to the sports book site to put their money down. Using these banners gives customers immediate satisfaction, and also results in less registration abandonment than in the traditional bettor sign-up process.

Stats and Odds through Datafeeds

Affiliate managers can also encourage the use of datafeeds to keep stats and odds content fresh on affiliate pages, as Lasseters' sports book does. Affiliates simply need to know the Web address of the feed, and once implemented on their sites, they’ll have all the latest sports betting content automatically presented to their visitors. This type of marketing tool adds credibility and visual appeal to affiliate sites, enhancing conversions.

Recognizing affiliate marketing’s huge growth potential, Nicky Senyard acted swiftly to launch Income Access in 2002 as owner and chief executive, driving notable enterprise growth and profitability every year since. Ms. Senyard's solution-focused philosophy is the motivation behind the Income Access software platform and its affiliate management services. She can be reached at