Paddy to replicate mobile success in social as Facebook launch nears

28th August 2013 10:10 am GMT

Paddy Power will look to follow its success in mobile gaming by establishing a market-leading position in social channels, with the Irish operator set to beta-launch its real-money sports betting offering on the Facebook platform this week.

Following publication of the operator’s first half results this morning, Paddy Power chief executive Patrick Kennedy said the company would look to leverage its strong presence on the social network to drive growth in the new product, revealing that “every male over the age of 18 in the United Kingdom is connected to a Paddy Power fan on Facebook.”

Kennedy explained that the company’s 1m Facebook fans was more than double its nearest competitors, with a significant percentage of this figure comprising of existing Paddy Power customers. He credited this success to the operator’s ability to generate “more engaging content” for fans, which he described as “a key point of distinction” to rival bookmakers.

Kennedy said Facebook could also act as an acquisition channel for the brand, even giving the operator the chance to target fans of other betting brands, and was therefore a way to “grow [Paddy Power’s] share of customer wallets.”

This, he said, would contribute to the success of Paddy Power In-Play, which is set to beta-launch later this week, the first real-money betting product to go live on the Facebook platform. The product was developed internally in Bulgaria and Dublin and is being trialled as a Facebook app for desktop customers in the UK, which Facebook has chosen as the initial launch market for real-money gambling on its platform.

“We think the game will add a level of social engagement to online betting, and will give customers visibility of, and the opportunity to engage with, other users,” Kennedy said. “For the operators who will be able to get this right, Facebook will be a huge opportunity.”

Peter O’Donovan, managing director of Paddy Power Online, explained that the company viewed Facebook “predominantly as a mobile platform” and would treat it as such, with a 20-strong team of developers already working on a series of further updates to the product after the beta launch.

Once the game is live, product management will be overseen by a small team of up to six members of staff, in keeping with Facebook’s requirements.

However, O’Donovan was cautious about revealing the company’s long-term plans for the offering, saying it would “invest as we see success”, but would only do so “with growth and profitability in mind.”

Kennedy said that with mobile gaming projected to account for “around 90 per cent” of growth in the online gambling market, with social also potentially having an impact, the operator was “at the forefront of both markets” and well-placed to benefit from the development of each channel.

With around 49 per cent of sportsbook revenues coming from mobile, and two thirds of sportsbook customers transacting via devices in the UK, he said the company remained the market-leader, adding that growth in mobile gaming had risen 253 per cent year-on-year, aided by the launch of the first products developed by the company’s Bulgaria-based Cayetano Gaming subsidiary.

This, he continued, would be further enhanced by mobile growth in Australia and Italy, the markets with the first and second highest level of smartphone penetration worldwide respectively.

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