PaddyPower Takes the Grand National Cup With Its Excellent PPC Strategy

Lorna Rose Gill Posted by Lorna Rose Gill

PaddyPower demonstrated how big budgets can offer up big results, but it probably doesn’t utilise the most intelligent, long-term strategy.

March and April are two of the the busiest months for horse racing, with both the Grand National and Cheltenham Festival offering fantastic opportunities for bookmakers to rake in the cash from those who don’t normally gamble.

Although the Cheltenham Festival offers a whole week of racing action for fans, the Grand National is a single, intense race that the majority of non-regular gamblers will place their bets on.

Therefore, it would seem appropriate that bookmakers would alter their sponsored search efforts to attract these potential customers.

Let’s take a look at the horse racing industry over the last 30 days to see whether or not the Grand National gave bookmakers Ladbrokes, PaddyPower, William Hill, and Betway – the four most active sponsored search companies during the Grand National weekend – the visibility they would hope to gain from such a prodigious event.

Overall Performance

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Top racing bookmakers share of voice, Adthena data

Taking a look at the overall trend graph, it’s apparent that the competitors have relatively sporadic strategies, with lots of highs and lows across the entire period. This suggests that they’re all changing their strategy according to general market conditions – exactly as a solid PPC should be played.

The most dramatic detail to note from this graph is that PaddyPower eclipsed all other competitors on the actual day of the Grand National, taking around 85% of all horse racing-related clicks and leaving Ladbrokes, William Hill and Betway with less than 10% SOV each.

So what exactly caused PaddyPower’s easy win on the day itself, and what happened to the other competitors?

A Two Horse Race?

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Top racing bookmakers ad frequency trend, Adthena data
[lightbox rel=”group1″ width=”860″ href=”” title=”Top racing bookmakers average ad position trend, Adthena data” src=””][/lightbox]
Top racing bookmakers average ad position trend, Adthena data

Taking a look at the average position of PaddyPower’s ads compared to its frequency, we can see that it prioritized the quantity of ads, rather than simply gunning for the top position.

Although its average position on the day was eighth, it still managed to pull back its visibility to become the most-clicked company, because its ads were shown so often. This essentially means that it owned most of the keywords related to horse racing.

This is actually a trend that repeatedly occurred throughout the month – the company almost always had the lowest ad position, but at the beginning of April, it began accelerating its spend to ensure it became the most frequently served ad. For a time, it even managed to get its position up to fourth, although this didn’t have much sway on the overall SOV.

Even if an ad is at the number one position, that doesn’t mean it’s going to improve performance, as Betway’s strategy illustrates pretty clearly. Although it logged a significantly lower frequency than PaddyPower’s on the day of the Grand National, Betway’s top position earned the broker a higher SOV than William Hill and Ladbrokes – two better-known brands.

Getting the Balance Right: Frequency, Position, and SOV

This quick analysis of the gambling industry over one of the busiest weekends in the horseracing calendar demonstrates that by dominating either position of ads or the frequency of ads being displayed, you can drastically improve your overall SOV. Especially when reacting to seasonal trends such as this two horse racing events.

Although Betway maintained the top position for much of the day itself, it was unable to compete with the might of PaddyPower, which, as a better-known brand with a bigger budget, could afford to spend more displaying its ads more frequently.

Paying such a high amount to win one day’s business, however, isn’t the most intelligent strategy, and isn’t sustainable over a long period of time.

To try and keep up with PaddyPower, Betway might consider placing its bets (no pun intended) on a smaller selection of keywords, which would boost frequency without hugely changing its position. This way, it could try and regain some control without completely breaking the bank.

(Main image credit: Flickr/paul)

No Adthena client data was used in this insight.

About the author

Lorna Rose Gill
Lorna Rose Gill
Lorna is responsible for acquisition marketing at Adthena, communicating their award-winning product and generating demand. She has developed her career in fast-paced, start-up environments, including two tech track 100 companies. She is curious and passionate and likes to find stories in data and technology.