Dana passed along an article today on the twitter about marketing on the web. Generally, it's about the buying process and how things have to be pretty seamless in this new world we live in. Give it a read if you're interested.
For sports' properties, this is paramount. NHL.com, MLBTV, NFL.com all work towards not only keeping you engaged, but allowing you to purchase their products - tickets, jerseys etc - and, if you wish, watching their games right on the web. It's a one stop shop, and they do what needs to be done for you as a customer to maximize your utility (and their bottom line).
In racing, It doesn't quite work like that.
DRF.com is the granddaddy of all racing websites. Not only does it have a history, it supplies past performances, news, up to date betting information and of late, through DRFbets.com, a betting platform.
What every customer wants is included in their offerings, and just announced, it gets even better. DRF will be offering lower takeout to their customers.
So, this is great, right? An industry portal - in effect a face of the sport that's extremely recognizable, even to newbies or non-fans - has everything everyone would need; has everything an NHL.com, or MLBTV, or NBA.com has.
Not so fast. It doesn't have Churchill Downs content; Arlington, Fairgrounds, CD itself. CDI doesn't sell them their signal.
You can signup, want to become a fan with a flagship website, but you can't bet the Risen Star or the Arlington Million. To do that, you as a customer, have to sign up for another ADW account. This isn't a website that isn't working seamlessly, with a poor landing page, or a hard to find button to complete a call to action. This is having to go to a complete other site and signing up all over again, depositing money, and all the rest.
Back in 2008, when the Horseplayers Association of North America was formed, one of the planks, written by members and confirmed through polling, was that all racing companies should sell their product to all ADW's - you can't pick and choose, as long as they are accredited, legal sites - so customers do not have to have three or four accounts to bet all tracks.
8 years later, DRF.com - the biggest site in racing - does not even have all tracks.
We understand why; we get it. This is how racing works, and I don't want to get into legal mumbo-jumbo about anti-trust. But in the big picture (which in my view racing pays little attention to) : When your sport is trying to compete for gambling dollars, when you are trying to keep money onshore, and not going offshore (where all sites take bets on everything, with a nice rebate), where today's internet customer demands seamlessness and a great user experience, you're poking them in the eye with a stick.
Customers win when sites like the DRF and many others have all content - these sites promote, offer price breaks to cash-starved players, and compete for betting dollars and new customers. If you, as a racetrack, are not selling your signal at a fair price to all other legal outlets, you should be. When customers win the sport wins, and the sport of racing needs to start winning a hell of a lot more often.
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