FanDuel's marketing science director cautions on the dangers of making assumptions

Ahead of his presentation at this year's AI & Big Data for Marketing Summit, we sat down with Dominic Williamson, director of marketing science at FanDuel


FanDuel is a New York-based fantasy sports provider and bookmaker. Since its launch in 2009 in Texas by its five co-founders, the company has gone from strength to strength and is now a leader in a multibillion-dollar industry. It currently has more than 1 million registered users and hosts a myriad one-day, weekly and season-long game options for NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, Golf, WNBA and the EPL.

In recent years, fantasy sports sites have garnered more and more interest from sports fans. Users create custom teams of players assembled from within a professional sport and can gain points, prizes and cash when their players perform well.

In the highly competitive landscape of fantasy sports sites, companies are having to find ever more inventive and exciting ways to appeal and retain users and this is increasingly being achieved through the utilization of data and analytics. We spoke to Dominic Williamson, director of marketing science at FanDuel to understand how the company has succeeded in such a cut-throat industry.

Innovation Enterprise: Fantasy football has exploded in popularity over the last few years. From your perspective, what has been the strongest driving force behind it?

Dominic Williamson: Simply put, our company goal is to make sports more exciting and fantasy sports, in particular, really tap into that. With fantasy sports, fans are basically the GM of their own team. They can build their own team and compete against friends. And they can win money, experiences or bragging rights as they play.

IE: How do you use marketing to set FanDuel apart from other fantasy football companies?

DW: FanDuel's marketing strategy has evolved over the years. An important part of our marketing is showcasing that there is something for everyone on FanDuel. We offer so many different games and we want to ensure everyone finds the right match for them. This comes through in the creative, but also in the way we use more targeted channels to ensure people are receiving tailored content.

IE: What are some of the interesting ways you use analytics to incentivize users?

DW: We avoid treating our audience as a monolith and look to segment people, based off interests and behavior. We then run multicell testing to identify which incentives resonate most with which each group. Fantasy sports is ever evolving and we want to make sure players get the experience that is right for them.

IE: Have there been any interesting or surprising revelations the data has uncovered in your time with FanDuel about user habits?

DW: We try to make as few assumptions about people as possible and use the data to draw out an objective view. It is interesting to see the breadth of sports that people follow and the popularity of infrequent events like the FIFA World Cup.

IE: How are AI and machine learning applications transforming marketing science within the fantasy sports field?

DW: Gaming has long been a forerunner in the use of machine learning and that helps shape marketing and marketing science. Anyone who plays fantasy sports knows they need to look at data holistically and objectively to succeed, and we like to apply that same mindset to marketing. Ultimately, we're looking to match the message to the person, and that's something that machine learning will scale much more effectively than a manual decision-making process.

To find out more about how to elevate your marketing strategy by utilizing data science solutions, see Dominic Williamson speak at Innovation Enterprise's AI & Big Data for Marketing Summit at this year's DATAx New York Festival on December 12–13, 2018.

Book your place HERE.

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