Joining us as a repeat guest-blogger for a series of blogs on the history of the Grand National and free bet offers, is Spencer James of free-bets.co.uk. He is the director of Red Jack Media Ltd, who have been promoting free bets offers through a wide variety of sites for over a decade.
The Grand National, first run in 1839 has a special place in the hearts and minds of the UK public.
It takes its place amongst other UK events which raise sporting nostalgia to record levels , such as the FA Cup Final, Wimbledon Final or World Snooker Final.
With over 40 runners and almost any horse capable of winning, it’s a bumper day for the bookies.
The Grand National is a national event, for one day a year the general public take the trip the betting shop or pick up their laptops to make their all important selections. Some will place a bet on their phone. Nearly half the UK adult population will have a flutter on the National come April 14th, generating stakes of around £350m with women betting nearly as much as men. The Grand National does not discriminate.
Bookmakers can hope to make around £2m-£3m each on the race each year, as the general public dip into their pockets to make their annual bookmaker contributions and make their bets.
Mon Mome’s victory in the 2009 National at odds of 100-1 resulted in a cool £50m profit poured into bookmaker coffers. That’s a great shot in the arm for the industry, and plenty of new cigars for Victor Chandler.
Back in 2001, the betting affiliate industry was a much different marketing landscape, as bookmakers and affiliates themselves were in a stage of growth, taking their first steps into the online world, meeting the explosive demand as more and more punters were tempted by the ability to place a bet on the computer.
Tax Free betting was brought in in 2001, removing the 9% betting duty customers were required to pay, with the Government instead taxing bookies 15% on gross profits. Cheltenham had been cancelled due to foot and mouth, the Grand National was once again pushed into the spotlight. The timing of this could not have come at a better time, as internet betting began to flourish.
Why would you now walk to the high street when you could bet in the comfort of their own living room?
It was however, very much the infancy of online sports betting, with bookmakers putting much of the emphasis on acquisition, rather than quality and lifetime ‘value’ of internet customers, which at this point of infancy for the industry could not be measured.
Only 5% of punters Grand National stakes were taken online in 2001, the year before that only around 0.5%.
Remember these were the days when only a handful of bookmakers had made the leap online, today’s affiliates were your first affiliate managers and betfair was still called ‘flutter’.
In house programmes were almost unheard of, most were on the major publisher networks of the day, Commission Junction or Tradedoubler, and most offered a straight forward CPA. Unbelievably it would still take a whole decade later for some of these bookmakers to make the leap and create their own independent in house affiliate tracking platforms.
Affiliate managers concentrated on meeting targets as little emphasis was placed on the actual value of the customers betting on the National, and what better way to entice potential new customers than giving them something for free?
The free bet was born.
This new found acquisition outlet was a superb tool to reach out to new customers for affiliates, and to acquire new business for sportsbooks. The free bet and the Grand National went hand in hand, like a duck to water and the time was now ripe for affiliates to reap the rewards of high CPA’s, as bookmakers scrambled for a potential core user base, and it was not unheard of for certain bookies to offer £40 – £50 per sign up, sometimes for only a minimum £5 deposit, with the bookmaker already offering a free £10 bet!
This definitely was the boom period for UK sports affiliates, as more and more people were searching for a free bet for the very first time. This was the time of the monthly google dance, the social media concept was yet to be developed, and bookmakers were willing to throw big money at affiliates for hitting those all important acquisition numbers.
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s Blog – Part 2.
- The rise and fall of the Grand National Free bet (Part 2)
- The rise and fall of the Grand National Free Bet (Part 3)
- Brand Leveraging: The Grand National and You
- Meet the Horses of the 2012 Grand National
- How Affiliates Can Get the Most from the Grand National