For decades, the NFL has distanced itself from illegal sports betting activities and offshore sports betting shops. But the tides turned during the 2021-22 season, when sports betting ads aired for the first time ever during nationally televised NFL games. Even The NFL Network included betting lines on its ticker for the first time.
With 26 states and counting legalizing sports betting – Nevada, New York, Washington and New Jersey among them – others such as California are also expected to pass laws in the coming year. The industry will undoubtedly continue to grow, as will its presence in the contextually relevant NFL TV environment.
Phil Gaughran, global head of brand and communications for Dentsu, told Adweek last year: “We see explosive growth on the horizon for the sports betting category in the U.S…Now that the laws are changing, and rapidly, state by state, there is huge money to be made, and marketing dollars will follow.”
EDO has seen the trend in sports betting TV advertising come to life, particularly in live sports programming. Brands like DraftKings and FanDuel have come out on top in terms of overall investment, but other contenders such as Caesars Sportsbook, MGM Bet, and fellow gambling category brand Underdog Fantasy have also seen significant airtime.
Sports Betting Trends in NFL
Ad spend from sports betting brands through week 3 of the NFL Regular Season 2022 is down 5% from 2021. Total number of category searches in 2022 are also down 10%.
However, on a per-second per-person basis, ad performance has actually increased year over year. TV viewers are 25% more likely to engage with sports betting ads aired during 2022 NFL football games through week 3 as compared to 2021. So, while total searches are down, ad effectiveness is up – which is not a bad thing for advertisers.
Caesars Sportsbook pulled back on the number of ads aired in 2022 NFL games (5 in 2022 vs. 12 in 2021), while DraftKings (20 vs. 9) and FanDuel (40 vs. 29) increased theirs.
DraftKings pulled ahead of the pack, while advertisers such as Caesers and Bet MGM have seen their ads generate less effectiveness year over year.
DraftKings, Kevin Hart, and the Power of an Irresistible Offer
Through week 3, EDO data shows that DraftKings’ ads aired during NFL games have outperformed last year’s by 12%, with over 300,000 searches generated as a result of its TV advertising in NFL during the same period. This success is primarily thanks to two factors.
First, the addition of celebrity spokesperson Kevin Hart. Nearly 10 creatives featuring Hart – like this one, featuring the comedian poolside – are resonating with viewers and helping to drive brand awareness and interest. The investment in Hart as an authentic, genuine spokesperson is clearly paying off in terms of increased ad performance.
The second factor in DraftKings’ NFL advertising success is their amazing offer to ‘Bet $5 to get $200 in free bets instantly.’ This is an incredibly attractive offer for anyone even remotely interested in betting on NFL games. The offer, that was live for customers through NFL week 6, required new qualifying customers to bet $5 on any college football or pro football game and automatically score a $200 bonus if their chosen team wins. Easy money, right?
FanDuel Opts For Timely Offers
Timing is everything when it comes to sports betting ads, as seen by DraftKings’ $200 offer spot. FanDuel has been running similar promotions and uber timely ads, including:
- An animated :30s spot where fans can sign up for a chance to win $1 million that’s seen 43 airings during NFL games this season
- Another :30s spot with a slightly lower cash offering than DraftKings (bet $5 for $150) that’s aired just over 400 times
- Lastly, FanDuel aired an incredibly timely spot promoting the Browns vs. Buccaneers Thursday Night Football game – which only aired more than 10 times on TBS and NFL Network programming since debuting on September 20.
By carefully timing their ads, sportsbooks can ensure that they are reaching the widest possible audience and giving bettors the best chance to take advantage of their offers. And as EDO anticipates sports betting advertisers getting more creative with NFL activations and campaigns, the opportunities are endless.
“Over the next 10 years, this is going to be a more than $1 billion opportunity for the league and our clubs,” said Christopher Halpin, chief strategy and growth officer for the NFL, told the New York Times.
Want to see this week’s top ads by category in the NFL? Check out our public TV ad dashboard, updated each Friday through the NFL regular season.