NFL Marketing Blitz: Has it Led to Substantial Gains for Sportsbooks?

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While the NFL season has just begun, another battle is happening on a different playing field, with sportsbooks marketing heavily to try and entice users to try their product. The NFL being back means that a marketing blitz has started, with iSpot reporting that around 74% of sportsbook TV ad impressions occurred during the NFL season, showing just how important this time is for operators who are trying to increase their share of the ever expanding North American market.

With that in mind, we decided to look at how sportsbooks are marketing to users this NFL season, how it compares to last year and if they’ve been successful with their approaches.

Differences in Marketing from Year to Year:

As the market has matured in regulated states over the last couple of years, this year’s ad campaigns for sportsbooks and betting on the NFL have been less focused on introducing users to their product and the capabilities of their app or website.

Instead, the focus appears to be on the player experience and the joys of using these apps compared to the more mundane aspects of regular day life. Take for example the largest TV ads being run by the   biggest sportsbooks during the start of the NFL season:

  • BetMGM has an ad where Jamie Foxx asks a variety of his celebrity friends for tips, showcasing how fun it can be to play and discuss your bets with friends.
  • Kevin Hart and DraftKings have combined for ads focused on how easy DraftKings makes things for users, with free bets instantly being added to user’s accounts.
  • FanDuel decided against a massive celebrity partnership for their video ads, but created ones focused on how users place bets every day, like giving 2-1 odds that a person you’re meeting needs a mint or 6-1 odds that they’ll be a close talker.
  • Caesars Entertainment maintained their partnership with J.B. Smoove and the Manning family from last season, with their main video ad showing Smoove and the Manning family playing a game of charades. The ad ends with the Manning’s lesser-known brother Cooper guessing that Caesars provide great value to users.

Outside of these commonly seen video ads, sportsbooks are really driving the idea home of offering free bets to their users, along with the excitement of using their product. It’s important to note that both are actively avoiding the sign up offers that were extremely costly last year.

The Landscape for the 2022-23 Season

With sportsbooks having had a chance to establish an audience of NFL fans over the last couple of years, it’s a good time to look at where all of this has led. So far, FanDuel is off to a fast start with the US audience, as they recently reported that they have 51% of the market share in the 15 states that they operate in. If that wasn’t enough, they also reported that they’re in first position in 13 of those 15 states, reaffirming their dominance thus far. This is a large chunk for FanDuel, as they, DraftKings, BetMGM and Caesars Entertainment combine for more than 80% of the market share across the US. Quite simply, these four brands are dominating the US landscape, with FanDuel leading the pack.

Due to that dominance, the expectation is that marketing costs for major sportsbooks in the US will be somewhat reduced. A WSJ report states that industry executives from those brands told them marketing costs have been reduced in states that have been established for the coming months/years. This makes sense considering the heavy costs endured by sportsbooks when they were offering inflated sign-ups bonuses, particularly during the launch of the regulated market in New York.

Looking Ahead

While the expectation is that marketing spend will plateau for the rest of the foreseeable future, if a new market were to go live with sports betting that may change things… especially if that market is California. However, if things stay the way they are, the focus for sportsbooks is no longer to make users aware they exist, but to get them to understand the value they provide and how exciting it can be to use their product.