FanDuel Doubles Down on Differentiation

The betting apps have been carpet-bombing every imaginable media channel for years. Many of them have deep VC-filled pockets that are buying up every nook and cranny of CTV terrain especially. Can anyone distinguish among all of these competitors and make any sense of the white noise they have created on our TV screens? That is where we started this week with Jennifer Matthews, VP of Brand Strategy at FanDuel, one of the most visible in the category. You can listen to the entire podcast at this link.



MediaPost: What are the grounds for brand differentiation? What are the key brand points of FanDuel in contrast to the rest?

Matthews: As you know, we’re America's number one sportsbook, and one thing we pride ourselves on is our product. At the end of the day, if you have money tied to an app product, it needs to work the best way it can, and it needs to be easy to use, have a good interface and all that. So that's something we really rely on. We also try and set ourselves apart, in the sense that we are not just sportsbook. I know that's what I oversee, but we do have a casino product, we also have skilled games, and then we also just launched FanDuel TV, which is the first network that's really geared towards watching and wagering. So, you think about FanDuel as the larger company, and that's really where we try and set ourselves apart. 

And even our relationships with the leagues and the teams. People love their leagues and teams. When they see those types of relationships, it feels legit, not this off-market kind of gambling. And also, one thing I'm really proud of  - responsible gaming is a really big part of FanDuel. Of course, we want you as a customer, but at the same time we want you to do it the right way. We have tools that we've set up. We spend a ton of money on media promoting it. It's really just about showing you that we want you here, because we want you to enjoy, and this is like a form of entertainment. We don't want you here to lose your shirt. They feel like, okay, they're not here because they want to take all my money, they've already given me all these things that I could do to make sure that I don't - setting time limits, and how much money you can bet, setting how many bets per week. Like I said, I'm proud of it as a company. We spend some serious media dollars against it, which is really great. It's not just about getting someone in the door. It's also about making sure they're doing it the right way. 

MP: It sounds like some of the key themes that come out of there, legitimacy is important, the partnerships, the betting responsibility, ease of use. Is that something that you also embed in your messaging or is that something that simply comes through you depend mostly on experience for?

Matthews: It's a little bit above. So, we have messaging across the brand, and in some of our commercials you'll hear like the easiest app to use, it depends on what spots we're creating. But then we do have tons of messaging that goes to current customers. There are emails, there's app, we have push notifications, things like that. We don't just focus on what you see or hear in commercials or a digital ad. There's so much more. We also have radio; we have all different types of media spend. And we make sure we're talking at the right time to the right people. So, to your point, just like throwing information at you and not understanding where it's coming from.

MP: You're raising a really good point which moves to my next question about media strategy, because from the uninitiated perspective, it feels like spray and pray. It feels like these brands are everywhere, that there's indiscriminate spending going on, and it is simply a massive land grab. How do you think about media allocation, how has it changed, what are the nuances there that may not be as apparent to those of us who simply feel like the ads are everywhere?

Matthews: There's a lot of rules. So, the ads actually aren't everywhere, and there's a lot of rules within each network about how many times they can run in certain games, not games, other kinds of content. This business, because it's not legalized in 50 states, the first few years we were not spending nationally. It was only in the local markets where you could access it. But now, given that we've grown to so many states, so have our competitors, it makes more sense to buy nationally because we know that we will be legal in other states. So, there should be brand awareness before we are even legal in your state. And that's so much of what we think about. 

We make sure that we or talking to people in the way [and] where they are. Our team is doing a really good job of leaning into where those people are and making sure we're spending those media dollars efficiently and not just throwing them out to say that we're spending the most. 

Years ago, nobody's spending money on YouTube. Now people are spending tons of money on YouTube. I think watching the way the media landscape and people are engaging with sports and consuming content is really important when you think about media strategy. We're going to spend it and where we're going to reach people.

MP: What kind of results do you see from that, in terms of either levels of activity, new customers? What are the places where you see the greatest market growth? 

Matthews: Here's a great example. So, we're partners with the NBA and also the NBA Players Association. That unlocks us to be able to use actual footage in any of our creative. You're watching TV, and you see also NBA footage paired with our brand. There's very much like, Oh, wow! That's awesome. They have a relationship where I recognize those players. Oh, that must mean that FanDuel has a relationship. There's so much of that that works. So, it does, it leads to acquisition, it leads to people betting more, it leads to people spending more time. Just because we're talking NBA. NBA is a really important sport for us. There are so many games each night, which also helps. It allows us to really stand apart from people that don't have that type of relationship. 

MP: And the creative piece is important. It's the difference between having footage of a guy gambling on an app. And showing people what they are there for to begin with. 

Matthews: Yeah. This year's NBA campaign is a lot of fun. When the team and I thought about the NBA we thought about multiple games per night. But how are people watching? How are they engaging with the NBA? And so much of it is group text. And you're texting with your buddies because you're all watching this, whether you have money on it or don't. We really tried to lean into that this year, like a watch party that FanDuel was creating. In the ad itself, you'll see it has tons of footage, and then we have text boxes popping up. And it's alluding to how you would be watching the game with your friends. Because as America's number one sportsbook, we want you to feel like we know you, you know us. So, it really leans into that watch party. 

And we also have an offer which we've done now with the NBA. This will be the second year we did something with the NFL earlier this year. If you bet $5 you get the three months of NBA League pass. 

For the NFL season, we offered Sunday tickets. These are things that we are doing to be different, and really being able to give our customers a way of engaging with us, and then engaging with the sport. Because if a game is a blow out, you're probably turning your TV off. But if you have money on it, and you have a bunch of bets there, you're not going to turn your TV off. There's a reason why you're going to stick around. So, we're both benefiting from this and I think that's why these relationships are so important as you see, both beneficial from both sides of the aisle.

MP: Let’s talk about who the target is. What is the core demo here? 

Matthews: Sure. At the end of day, it's 21+. That's who can legally bet, and that's our target. A lot of people think it's only men. It's not only men. We see huge influx of women betting. We've seen a huge jump. NFL and NBA as the big ones among women. Also, they’re celebrity driven leagues.

MP: Does it cut across all other demos?

Matthews: It does. What’s really interesting is like, we're always in season. There's always a sport being played, and every sport has different demos, too. And every sport is people who watch it. But then different people bet on it. I think that's what I actually find really fun about marketing in this industry is it isn't just talking to one person. You realize this is a form of entertainment, and you realize it's still relatively new, not everyone knows about it, not everyone knows what works. It's exciting to be able to find the place where you're really talking to people and making sure you're talking to them the right way. And I think that's really fun.

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