In the 1930s, William Hill founded the business as a postal and telephone betting service, opening his first shop in 1966 when betting shops became legal. Over the next few decades, the brand saw rapid growth through acquisition and by the late 1980s, they had thousands of betting shops around the UK.
William Hill were early adopters of adding an online platform in 1998 to their business with the launch of the betting service, Sportsbook, and by early 2000, they launched an online casino. With many more acquisitions in the digital space, they are now one of the leading global online gambling platforms available on the internet and on apps, with a workforce of over 12,000 employees.
Retail Closures During Lockdown Brought Fresh New Opportunities Online
Over the past year, any business with a retail presence has understandably seen a shift in consumer behaviours. While William Hill believes their betting shops still have a vital role to play for customers in the future, they understand the importance of a robust digital marketing strategy to engage new and existing customers online, especially as a result of this behavioural change.
Polly Nash leads William Hill’s digital media team, whose main objective is to drive profitable traffic to their website and app. At the Programmatic Pioneers Virtual Summit 2021, Alex Mills, Quantcast Head of Partnerships, spoke with Polly about William Hill’s collaboration with Quantcast and how it has helped them to address recent digital marketing challenges. From William Hill’s perspective, these challenges are a big opportunity to embrace the changing digital media landscape. They shifted their focus to look at attribution models and baked different ways of seeing the media into their marketing plans. Instead of relying solely on last-click measurement for decision making, they started looking at the way that they approached multi-touch attribution and marketing mix modeling. Given the current industry trends, Polly believes that being more open to probabilistic–versus deterministic–measurement is the way forward.
Importance of First-Party Data
According to Polly, a huge focus of William Hill over the last three years has been “how we leverage our first-party data to make our programmatic buying as useful as possible for our customer base.” Being able to serve a performance ad to a potential customer at the right moment resonates with the company. Polly explained: “We break down our audiences by various criteria, but the biggest one is product preference. And we’ve seen that we’re able to achieve so much more by understanding how our individual customers prioritise their interests, and then, how do we surface offers to them in the right context? From an acquisition point of view, leveraging Quantcast first-party data has really amplified our ability to prospect new in-market audiences.”
The Demise of the Third-Party Cookie
When asked about whether her industry is prepared for the demise of the third-party cookie, Polly acknowledged with a smile that that’s “the million dollar question!” Polly shared her team’s approach: “We started preparing towards the end of last year, and we’ve done the due diligence by exploring the approach that various technology providers have taken and by really understanding what will work best with our existing partners.” Quantcast has already been testing third-party cookieless solutions in Safari’s ITP environment, and Polly expressed that it’s been “really exciting for us” to “collaborat[e] with them.”
Polly also observed that tech companies are making strides in building probabilistic solutions and bringing them to market: “I am seeing huge leaps in innovation and digital marketing.” She considers Quantcast, in particular, to be “in a favorable position as they stand on a very solid foundation with Quantcast Measure.”
The Quantcast Platform
In August 2019, William Hill was an early adopter of the Quantcast Platform and has seen huge benefits from in-housing their performance marketing. Polly shared her experience of working with the platform: “The performance marketing team at William Hill [has] really aggressive CPA targets, and Quantcast has been instrumental in helping us achieve those targets. The ease of use of the platform has been extremely helpful, and it’s really made its adoption a no-brainer for us. The way that the campaigns are set up somewhat resembles how social media campaigns are built, in a sense that it’s quite intuitive, and simple, but it’s really powerful. And when we started using the platform at the beginning, actually, there were some features that were missing–for example, data partners and keyword blocking capabilities. We’ve worked with the Quantcast team in adding these features for us, and we’ve found the team to be super helpful and very responsive.”
William Hill, with its strong offline and online brand reputation and their in-house expertise, is using programmatic advertising to play a key role in driving new customer acquisitions and success in the changing digital landscape.
Watch the full interview from Programmatic Pioneers here.