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EDO TeamJuly 27, 20236 min read

Double or Nothing: Sports Betting's Battle for TV Ad Engagement

As far as TV ads go, one of Kevin Hart's DraftKings spots shines in its simplicity. In the spot, the celebrated comedian relaxes on a couch, delivers humor effortlessly, and gets a gambling credit on the DraftKings app. It may seem ordinary at first glance, but according to data from EDO, this ad holds much more appeal than meets the eye. 

According to an EDO analysis of TV advertising during the months of January-April of 2023, this DraftKings commercial was the top performer for the entire online sports betting category. Through our investment-grade TV advertising data and proprietary data modeling, we’re able to determine just how effective each ad that runs on linear or streaming television is at inspiring consumers to engage with a brand online or visit its website. So much so that during the slice of time we measured, we know Hart’s commercial drove double the engagement of a typical online sports betting TV ad - and now, so do you.

So, what are sports betting companies like DraftKings and FanDuel doing right, and what can other companies learn from them? Here’s the inside scoop on online sports betting’s bet on TV advertising.

DraftKings and FanDuel lead the way

In sports betting, DraftKings and FanDuel are the all-stars of engagement. They are the top two online gambling platforms—though FOX Bet, Caesars Sportsbook, and BetMGM are all vying for market share. DraftKings and FanDuel had the largest presence among advertisers, with over 1 billion impressions each during live sports programming since the beginning of the 2023.

And part of this success is due to volume. No sports gambling site advertises more heavily than DraftKings and FanDuel, with FanDuel leading with the most airings and the highest cumulative engagement. Meanwhile, DraftKings had the highest engagement per person, outperforming the category by an average of 30%.

What’s the secret to their success?

Celebrity ads and free credit offers drive the best results

We know from looking at other ad categories that celebrities often spike engagement. In the credit card industry, we found that ads with celebrities were the most popular, sometimes driving more than double the usual engagement.

It’s no surprise, then, that no sports gambling commercial performed better than Hart’s spot promoting a $200 credit with DraftKings. The creative was more than twice as effective at driving engagement than the average sports betting commercial and involved a classic value proposition for gamblers: Place a $5 wager with DraftKings, and you’ll get a $200 credit to place more bets.

EDO has also seen value props perform very well for other categories like credit card rewards and even fast-food deals. And while almost every sports betting site offers some kind of gambling credit for new users, this ad likely stands out from the pack for one simple reason: $200 is a lot of money, and sports betters, from first-timers to seasoned legends, might have been partially enticed by the size of the credit.

The second-best-performing sports betting ad this year featured Rob Gronkowski announcing the Kentucky Derby as the first pick in the sportsbook draft. Viewers of the 30-second ad were 76% more likely to engage with the brand than viewers of the average sports betting ad.

Here, it’s key to note that although the Gronkowski ad featured the pairing of a celebrity and a value proposition, it also featured exclusivity. FanDuel was the only sportsbook app that allowed users to bet on the Kentucky Derby, and it aired immediately preceding the race, giving it a galloping head start on other gambling sites advertising during that time period.

However, even without value props and exclusivity, EDO can see that celebrities bring real value to gambling advertising. So far, in 2023, FanDuel has split its 10,000-plus national TV ad airings between commercials featuring Gronkowski or Charles Barkley and commercials that have no celebrities at all. On average, viewers were 13% more likely to engage with FanDuel after seeing an ad with a celebrity than an ad without.

What are the odds that sports programming delivers the goods for sports betting? Good.

It may seem obvious that gambling ads run during live sports programming are effective, but it gets interesting when you know just how effective they are. An evident starting point is the Super Bowl, where both DraftKings and FanDuel aired betting ads.

DraftKings had the greatest impact, with a celebrity-laden commercial that produced the equivalent engagement of a whopping 565 primetime ad units. That success was just the capstone for DraftKings’ NFL efforts. The playoffs were particularly huge for DraftKings, with an average DraftKings commercial providing the same impact as 79 primetime ad units.

FanDuel had similar success in the NFL playoffs, where its airings outperformed the brand's primetime average by 85%. However, even though FanDuel saw success with the NFL, it seemed to find its niche in the NBA. FanDuel’s airings during NBA games accounted for over one-third of the brand’s live sports impressions since the start of 2023. And viewers liked what they saw, showing 21% more engagement with FanDuel’s ads during NBA games than FanDuel's average primetime ad.

Sports betting from the top rope?

Sports programming is one of the most competitive markets in television advertising, so it makes sense that the leading gambling companies are trying to branch out into additional sports leagues — including the world of professional wrestling. DraftKings has sponsorship deals with both of the two largest U.S. companies in the industry, World Wrestling Entertainment, and All Elite Wrestling.

While it’s presently illegal to gamble on pro wrestling in the United States, DraftKings runs in-show promotions for free-to-play pools that drive fans to download its app in hopes of winning a free prize by guessing the outcomes of the matches. And World Wrestling Entertainment is currently lobbying state legislatures to make it legal for fans to bet on pro wrestling matches in the U.S.

As the push to legalize pro wrestling gambling continues, look for the big sports betting companies to consider going double or nothing on their investments in WWE and AEW.

Sports betting takeaways you can cash in on

There are lessons for everybody as legalized sports betting continues its explosive growth. Consumers are clearly drawn to celebrities associating themselves with their favorite products, and they also like a good value proposition. Even better still if they’re paired together. And, of course, it’s important to hone in on what types of programs are providing both you and your customers the most bang for their buck.

These are just some of the insights available through EDO’s investment-grade TV advertising performance data. With comprehensive, reliable, predictive data on what drives outcomes by advertiser, network, daypart, programming genre, and more, EDO provides invaluable guidance on how advertisers can spark purchase intent and optimize creative performance.

For more information on how we can take your TV advertising to the next level, all you have to do is reach out via our website. Don’t gamble on your next campaign’s future. Know what works.