Data professional: Ottokar Rosenberger, global sports marketing director, Betfair

”I’ve got about 24 per cent of football betting customers at the moment in the UK who use both the exchange and the sports book. That alone says I need to take care that I understand that customer holistically.”

Marketing Week (MW): What are your biggest challenges when it comes to marketing data?

Ottokar Rosenberger (OR): We have two products [the betting exchange, where gamblers ‘trade’ competing bets, and the traditional sports book, where Betfair offers odds] and we have various platforms, including a mobile website and apps. We also have an open-source API, so you can plug into the exchange and have your own trading interfaces. If you think about all that, we don’t have a simple interface with our customers when it comes to data.

My challenge across my channels, my platforms, my API and mobile is: what do I do with the marketing data? I need to connect all of those, make sure I understand it, have it available at the right time and have a holistic view, which is quite complex. They all come in different formats and in various ways – some are fed instantly, some are fed on a daily basis – and it’s also ‘big data’, especially with betting behaviour.

MW: How difficult does that make it to get a single view of each customer’s data?

OR: I’ve got about 24 per cent of football betting customers at the moment in the UK who use both the exchange and the sports book. That alone says I need to take care that I understand that customer holistically. I can’t just understand the exchange behaviour and then separate the sports book behaviour. I guess all marketers are facing a similar challenge. I can’t think of any company that has really cracked that, but analytics has moved on and we’re at the line where maybe it is possible. Two or three years ago, Google wouldn’t track mobile and you wouldn’t have understood social nearly as well.

MW: What is the importance of having a data-driven culture within the marketing department to address these issues?

OR: The danger in digital marketing is to analyse everything because you can. You can analyse yesterday’s email to 10 customers and find out what happened but you lose the big picture. I think the digital industry is working on how to focus its analytics and go from data, but what does it tell me?

Traditional marketers don’t necessarily come from that angle – I worked for 10 years in FMCG marketing for Procter & Gamble and made the journey to online, start-up and digital marketing. I am a digital immigrant, not a native.


MW: You’ve recently started hiring a team of data scientists to analyse your marketing data. Where do they fit in?

OR: A data-driven culture needs to be supported by hiring the right talent, but I also think the connection between the chief marketing officer and the chief information officer needs to become a really strong one. Hiring the right talent and learning to speak the language of data becomes really important.

MW: So what should the relationship between CMOs and CIOs look like?

OR: If it’s a customer-centric organisation, the CIO won’t make the decision [about buying technology] without the marketer. We used to have product-driven, technology-driven or marketing-driven organisations. I think none of these are right. If you have a customer-centric organisation, then you’re talking, and if you do that you understand that tech investment needs to be customer-facing. That’s a shift away from CIOs making the decision in silos.

MW: Do marketers themselves need to be more data-oriented and learn to back up their decisions with numbers?

OR: As a language, it is much better understood. It speaks more to commercial functions, it speaks more to data-driven technology people. Marketing departments in general have been a bit slow to wake up to the fact that talking about holistic campaigns is not the right way. “We’ll engage with our customers across all touchpoints through holistic campaigns” is not a sentence that somebody can engage with unless they went to marketing school.

MW: How can marketers be encouraged to adopt a data-driven mindset?

OR: When you talk about data-driven marketing, you need to make sure that people understand that concept really well. Then you need to think, if people understand that concept, what do you bring to the table? The closer you bring data o marketing, the better that works. A complete divide doesn’t work: marketers who don’t understand data at all don’t work, and data people who don’t understand marketing don’t work.

I wonder where the new generation of marketers is going to come from, because you need to be really good in maths and statistics, you need to understand the user experience, you need to understand tech. Even if you sell products that aren’t tech, you need to understand tech.

MW: Why is it so important for marketers to understand the possibilities of technology?

OR: Retailers now know the detailed GPS co- ordinates of every aisle in their store and they can follow you around [using anonymised mobile phone data]. Before, they just used to figure out that you came into the store. Now, they follow you through and know who exactly moves where. If you’re a marketing guy, you need to understand that data. The analyst needs to understand that this translates into customer experience.

MW: How easy is it to use data to measure the effectiveness of offline marketing in general?

OR: It’s not easy, but it’s increasingly possible. I’ve been on this soapbox before: I think the way we buy TV is wasteful. I think it should be at least biddable, if not better targeted. I do think that when we all understand that more of our spend is directed towards the right audience, the better the marketing return on investment (ROI) for everybody will become. At the moment there are too many conflicting interests.

MW: What about those who argue TV has retained its impact and its audience, in spite of these criticisms?

OR: TV viewership has remained stable. That’s a very interesting thought. If internet usage becomes 40 or 50 hours a week, TV becomes the minority, and at some point that will mean that eyeball isn’t worth as much any more. Even if people say: “It’s mass advertising, it still works to build your brand”, what everybody forgets is that those 50 hours online used to be text. Now they will be video, and once you are at 50 hours – which is mostly YouTube, iPlayer and other on-demand video – you can build a brand and get emotional impact.

That mass TV buying model will crumble at some point, and hopefully sales houses will wake up to that. Yes, TV viewership remains the same, but it is split between two or three screens at the same time. I worked in America last year and spent $70m on TV advertising, but it wasn’t called ‘TV advertising’, it was called ‘video’. It’s combined – they will sell you the classic TV channel, plus mobile, plus video on demand.

MW: Are you more interested in data that illustrates your customers’ experiences with the Betfair brand, or which relates to the effectiveness of your marketing?

OR: It’s literally all one thing. I can’t distinguish between the marketing I do and the customer experience, especially if you think about an app – 80 per cent of mobile usage is app usage. The app in itself is almost like a marketing tool, through push notifications. It’s the product but it’s also the communication tool. App marketing is in its infancy, in my mind. The churn rate is pretty big, but I don’t have the exact data [on our apps] because I don’t know when you uninstall – I don’t get that tag. The interesting thing, though, is how do I keep you, and keep you moving through the app.

MW: How big a differentiator is the ability to personalise an app, so everyone’s experience is determined by their individual preferences?

OR: People think personalisation is really nice, but is there a real benefit for you as a consumer? There is a benefit showing you what markets are live right now, because if you open the Betfair app you probably want to put a bet on. If you launch the Betfair app in the morning or the afternoon, depending on what’s coming up next, you always have a different experience.

Interest surges ahead of games. User experience is important, but there’s a real question about what is the output? As long as it’s benefit-driven, personalisation is the right thing to do. In general, I sometimes feel it’s a bit of a buzzword. Try and find an ROI study on personalisation. You’ll find it’s very hard. You can look at A/B testing and that kind of stuff, find out if you could do things differently and be better tailored to consumers – that’s great – but if you move relentlessly towards one-to-one, that’s a huge task and the benefit is not entirely clear.

MW: Are there any dangers in personalisation?

OR: As marketers, we shouldn’t presume to know everything about you because you are a different person in different states of minds at different times of day. You might be the same customer ID, but that doesn’t mean you are the same person.

For example, taxis can have different meanings for me. If I need to get to the airport, the cab has to be absolutely on time and if it’s a business trip I have to be very cost-conscious, so hopefully it’s cheap. Don’t show up late, not by a minute. But at another time, if I go out on a Friday night, I don’t mind ifI wait for a cab or if I flag it down and it costs more.

I’m using the same service, but it’s very different. At 7am, I would never use [taxi booking app] Hailo, because am I going to stand here with my app until something maybe shows up? No way. But if I’m out after a dinner I’d probably use Hailo. The person who logs in at 7am is not the same person who logs in at 7pm. They have different needs.

MW: How do you think consumers feel about brands using their personal data?

OR: I don’t think the majority of the industry acts with bad intent – it’s interested in ROI and delivering a better message, and that concept is good. We want to deliver a tailored message to you – if you’re not a gambler I don’t want to serve you a gambling ad, but if you’re looking for a lawnmower and I know that, then I want to [serve you a lawnmower ad]. But at times it feels intrusive.

Currently, the conversation is being driven by [Firefox web browser developer] Mozilla and [Apple browser] Safari removing third-party cookies. What does a zero-cookie internet look like? How does that feel for marketers? What you are going to have, which Mozilla doesn’t quite realise, is a paid-for internet, because the advertising industry underwrites the majority of free content. The alternative to this is a subscription, so more content providers move to a subscription-based service and the cost of using the internet goes up substantially.


Global sports marketing director, Betfair
February 2013 – present

VP international and North America marketing,
August 2012 – October 2012

Country manager UK,
October 2010 – July 2012

Commercial director, Rated People
May 2008 – August 2010

Head of retention – consumer voice, British Telecom
January 2007 – April 2008

Brand manager, Procter & Gamble
July 1997 – December 2006

Vote for the data professional of the year

Here’s Marketing Week’s shortlist for Data Professional of The Year 2014. Cast your vote at

Peter Briffett, managing director, UK and Ireland, Livingsocial
Called “consistently clear-headed and far- sighted” by colleagues, Peter has built a fast- growing business from a zero base in three years. He is a respected speaker in the fields of social media, marketing, data management and mobile marketing.

Zoe Eastwell, group head of CRM and marketing data, Johnston Press
Zoe is said to have “vision plus tenacity” and is credited with securing a major investment in new marketing data capabilities while Johnston Press was going through a great period of change. “Her sheer determination to set out the case and break down the barriers to changing the status quo was inspiring,” says one of her nominators.

Bob Francis, senior insight manager, fundraising strategy unit, NSPCC
Bob is considered “an inspiring visionary when it comes to the application of marketing analysis and insight”. With a track record in uplifting income by hundreds of thousands, he has an integrated view of insight, spanning analytics, research and newer social techniques.

Lee Gisbourne, database marketing manager, RNLI
Lee is regarded as a cultural change expert. “He is a natural when it comes to stakeholder management, courting views from senior fundraisers,” says one nominator. He is recognised for his ability to challenge long-held beliefs about what will work, developing new programmes in areas such as mobile fundraising.

Mike Leverington, head of customer data analytics, Guardian News and Media
Mike is described as having a real understanding of how data and business aims must be aligned, with a nominator saying: “He is always thinking with his business strategy head rather than just his data head.” His no-nonsense ability to present complex data ideas means he is often called upon for panel debates and live presentations.

Darren Robertson, data scientist, Action for Children
Darren is nominated for a second year running, having gained corporate support for a ‘big data’ engine that will provide Action for Children with new business intelligence and fundraising modelling opportunities. Colleagues say that without his vision, Action for Children would not have the ability to drive this project forward.

Voting closes on 22 November and the winners will be announced at the Data Strategy Awards on 6 February 2014.

Rosenberger on…

Media Buying
AOL has a model where it says that for every dollar that an advertiser spends, only 60 cents are spent with the publisher, or actually ‘see’ the customer. In between, there is 40 per cent comprised of people taking [payment to make a profit on their services]. That is going to be compressed because we on the advertiser side are going to look to spend more with the end consumer and what’s in between doesn’t really add anything.

Real-time data
Using real-time data to actually make decisions for consumers, that’s the next frontier – Cash Out [where Betfair customers can take winnings before a result comes in] is a use of real-time data. If you think about that, it continually adjusts the customer proposition throughout the game. From a product point of view, it’s like changing the product second by second. People are always checking – they’re interested, that makes it more exciting.

Consumer trust in data processing
It has had no impact on Betfair, but I think consumers don’t trust the online world or brands online. The same brand they might trust offline they don’t trust online. Best practice isn’t nearly as prevalent online as it is offline – it is too complex. The online industry needs to find a way to gain the trust of consumers, so they will give away their data. Consumers are slowly waking up to the fact that ‘you’ve taken all my data, and you haven’t told me’. I’m trying to be provocative for a reason because I think the agenda is: how are we going to gain their trust?



A future view of packaging

Michael Barnett

Given the costs involved, it’s vital that changes in packaging stand the test of time. For marketers, three long-term trends stand out, writes Nick Dormon, managing director of Echo. 


    Leave a comment