TMR POV with…Phillip de Winter, FanHub Media

How Can Brands Nail Casual Gaming in 2020?

Here’s a Pathway to Success

Take your brand.

Now place that brand in front of millions of fans. Each week, they come back to interact with your brand in a fun and organic way. They share your brand with their friends. Everybody wins.

Welcome to casual gaming.

A billion-dollar industry, casual games have taken the world by storm. Brands across the world are diving into the space with bracket challenges, fantasy games and predictor products popping up for everything from the NFL to “The Bachelor.”

With significant investment in technology centered around the fan experience, it’s no wonder that sports brands and their partners are leading the charge in casual gaming. Some estimates place the sports tech industry at $30 billion in value by 2024 with fan engagement technologies packing the biggest punch in the next 12 months.

Tens of millions of fans already play, and brands are coming out with new games each week to target those that haven’t played yet.

Partnership Activator for Buffalo Wild Wings and BetMGM

Picks and Props is a casual game resulting from the Buffalo Wild Wings and BetMGM partnership that brings real odds and prizes to fans across the country. It’s their first foray into the sports betting world, the ultimate fan engagement tool.

Fans that make picks from inside Buffalo Wild Wings restaurants are eligible for exclusive prizes and discounts. Further, fans that live in areas where sports betting is legal can place bets on their predictions through the game.

By gamifying the in-store experience, Buffalo Wild Wings drives more people to their locations and affirms their brand as “the great American sports bar.”

Along with Buffalo Wild Wings branding, BetMGM has their fingerprints all over this product with logos and ad placements on every page, piggybacking off of the success of the game and creating familiarity with their own brand. However, the activation goes far beyond your typical ad placements. Buffalo Wild Wings also displays live BetMGM odds within the game.

These odds are then personalized and contextualized based on the user’s behavior within the product. Fans that live in areas where betting is legal can place a bet through a pre-filled bet slip that displays the fan’s expected returns from a wager on their picks.

In international markets, where sports betting is more mature, FanHub have seen casual gaming users over-index by over 40% when it comes to placing a wager.

Beyond the bets fans are already making, BetMGM is accruing a substantial database of names, emails and locations they can look to activate once sports betting becomes legal in more states.

But the benefits don’t stop there.

Casual gaming can also place your brand in front of an entirely different audience.

An NFL Education Tool

The NFL has put a special emphasis on casual gaming in international markets. They see this as a great education tool for a more novice fan. What better way to learn about a sport than becoming an avid Fantasy player?

In the past three years, the NFL released three games distributed to six international markets. These games came in five different languages. Localizing the products allows the new fans to engage with their brand in the easiest possible way.

The NFL Super Bowl Challenge is one of the three games designed to engage casual and avid fans. Casual fans can learn about the format and rules surrounding the Super Bowl while avid fans can analyze each and every prediction in pursuit of the perfect bracket.

Released in five versions, most versions are paired with the local broadcast partner (Sky Sports, Proseiben) elevating the brand of the NFL and it’s chosen media partner in that market.

And many of these fans will want to share their picks with their friends – especially if they get them right. That’s the ultimate branding exercise, when fans advocate to their friends and family about an experience they’ve had, all brought to you by their favorite brand. That’s the power of casual gaming.



Phillip de Winter is Head, Business Development, Americas, at FanHub Media. The native Australian was the second full-time employee at FanHub Media in 2013. He was just named one of Sports Business Journal's "New Voices Under 30" for 2019.