PointsBet Canada: How PointsBet Used Granular Data to Gain Market Share with Canadian Sports Bettors


Campaign Summary

As online single-game sports betting was legalized in Ontario, PointsBet sought to enter the market and grow its customer base by driving new account sign-ups through a machine learning-powered digital advertising campaign with AdTheorent.



According to Deloitte Canada, the legalization of single-event sports betting in Canada could grow CA$28 billion within five years — with Ontario being the first Canadian province to expand its sports betting footprint. Due to Ontario's population size and market potential, the province is expected to rank second internationally behind New York in terms of sports betting revenue, creating an influx of competition because of the untapped market opportunity.

Canada's legal online sports betting market launched in Ontario on April 4, 2022, with more than 23 sportsbooks already approved to enter the market. This was a result of the low barrier to entry in Ontario compared to the United States, as Ontario does not require providers to partner with land-based gaming entities to enter the online market. The licensing fee ($100,000) for an operator to enter is on the lower side compared to most U.S. states, while the 20 percent tax rate isn't the lowest, but is much lower than New York's 51 percent.

The relatively low operating cost opened the door for a cluttered competitive landscape, making it crucial for PointsBet to gain early consumer adoption and establish a strong share of voice within each Canadian province market where single-game betting was legalized.

The strategic objective of the 2022 PointsBet "Legalization Digital Advertising" campaign was to drive new PointsBet account sign-ups in Ontario.

Target Audience:

Due to Ontario being an untapped sports-betting market, PointsBet had no historical consumer data as to which target segments would lead to adoption and to the highest consumer lifetime value. PointsBet had identified three key target segments based on U.S. market performance for its agency partner AdTheorent to leverage during the campaign. But PointsBet also wanted to leverage AdTheorent's machine learning technology to determine the incremental audiences that were most likely to convert — a conversion in this case being an account sign-up.

Using adults aged 19- to 44-years-old as a demographic foundation, PointsBet used AdTheorent's proprietary machine learning platform, which combined millions of data attributes into precise and accurate predictive targeting models to identify optimal audiences.

As the campaign progressed, the predictive targeting placements began heavily outperforming the third-party segments and budget was optimized to the predictive campaign, ultimately accounting for 97 percent of account sign-ups.

Creative Strategy:

To best drive the lower-funnel action of account sign ups, PointsBet utilized four display units with impact-driving, action-prompting copy. Regulations from the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario prohibit sportsbooks from marketing their incentives, such as "100 percent match" and "Bonus Credit" sign-up incentives. Regulations allow Canadian players to access promotions, but consumers can only receive incentive-based messaging once in-app.

To adhere to advertising regulations, PointsBet used promotional messaging that encouraged users to sign up for an account and be rewarded once logged into the site. To increase engagement, PointsBet used time-sensitive copy to encourage users to sign in and redeem their prizes, with language such as "Lock in Your Exclusive Offer Now" and "Claim Your Premium Welcome Offer Today."

PointsBet used four creative concepts, influenced by the active sports during the campaign timeframe: baseball, hockey, basketball, and golf. The imagery was complemented by a "Bet Now" call to action, creating a seamless user experience for consumers to sign up, deposit funds, and instantly bet on their favorite sporting teams and events.


Prior to the legalization of single-game sports betting in Ontario, PointsBet partnered with Salt Experiential Commerce and AdTheorent to execute a digital advertising campaign that drove awareness and email sign-ups for PointsBet. Consumers who completed email sign-ups were placed in a retargeting pool during the "Legalization Digital" campaign to encourage deposits and betting activity.

Some key learnings AdTheorent gained from the pre-legalization campaign centered on CPA performance efficiencies, such as implementing day-parting that aligned with consumer behavior for optimal KPI performance. AdTheorent also increased impression delivery in the Ontario cities with higher conversion rate cities, while also implementing frequency caps to increase conversion rate while decreasing CPA.


Overall Campaign Execution:

AdTheorent leveraged cross-device display to reach consumers within PointsBet's geographic and demographic parameters. AdTheorent's advanced predictive advertising platform leveraged custom machine learning models fueled by non-individualized statistics to identify and target consumers with the highest likelihood of conversion throughout the campaign.

To improve efficiency performance, AdTheorent's programmatic performance optimizers utilized myriad signals in the custom predictive models, such as ad position, publisher, geo-intelligence, non-individualized user device attributes, location DMA, time of day, connection signal, and many others to find the most qualified users. AdTheorent layered on real-time contextual signals to identify and reach consumers engaging with content related to sports and sports betting.

To improve CPA performance throughout the campaign, AdTheorent employed keyword and real-time signal strategies. The keyword strategy focused on competitor conquesting, increasing impression bidding on key market competitor keywords such as BetMGM, Caesars, DraftKings, FanDuel, and more. Based on insights during the campaign that the "Sports" content category was driving the most efficient sign-up CPA across tactics, AdTheorent integrated its first-party "Canadian Sports Enthusiast" real-time signal model into its targeting strategy to further qualify and reach an audience most likely to convert. The "Canadian Sports Enthusiast" publisher visitation model was comprised of users reading athlete statistics and ranking sites, high-value sports publishers, and sports speculation publishers.

Mobile Execution:

Mobile identifiers and the data available played a vital role in the campaign's overall targeting, as well as the creative execution. AdTheorent's location targeting used validated GPS signals derived directly from a consumer's device and could target GPS latitude/longitude data down to five decimal places (that is, within a three-foot radius of any specific point). This granularity of targeting ensured that the dynamic location data for the campaign was targeted toward users in Ontario only, as it is illegal to bet on single-game sporting events in other provinces within Canada. AdTheorent also stored and continually updated demographic age and gender information across all devices (intercepted from real-time data signals) to ensure that ads were being served within PointsBet's demographic parameters — which was vital given the legal betting age in Canada is 19 years old, and PointsBet would have received a hefty fine for messaging underage users.

The amount of data available on mobile allowed AdTheorent to build custom real-time signal models based on publisher visitation by users. AdTheorent matched location-based data and sports publisher visitation data to serve ads to audience members who had high predictive scores to take PointsBet's desired action of account sign-ups. This allowed the company to reach the right audience within targeting parameters at the right time and at scale.

AdTheorent also monitored the performance of each myriad mobile signal and optimized toward stronger performing CPA tactics throughout the campaign. Impression delivery was optimized toward mobile, as smartphones drove a significantly more efficient CPA than desktops and tablets, with mobile outperforming PointsBet's overall campaign target CPA by 40 percent.

Consumers on iOS devices drove sign-ups more than twice as efficiently as those on Android, with iOS devices outperforming PointsBet's overall campaign target CPA by 38 percent. AdTheorent also identified that mobile web inventory proved to be more conducive to driving efficient sign-ups compared to in-app inventory.

Business Impact (including context, evaluation, and market impact)

The results of the campaign proved that audience exposure to AdTheorent digital advertising efficiently drove new consumer account sign-ups. Upon campaign launch on April 4, 2022, AdTheorent's CPA was 5.5 times higher than PointsBet's CPA target goal. But as the campaign progressed and AdTheorent's predictive targeting tactics optimized toward higher converting CPA models, the campaign concluded at PointsBet's target CPA. This decline in CPA demonstrated AdTheorent's success in launching in a new market, with no prior brand recognition, and how AdTheorent's machine learning technology was able to efficiently optimize toward higher performing placements once exposed to new data sets.

AdTheorent also ran a 30-day lookback report of post-campaign performance to determine if ad exposure led to an efficient view-through conversion window for users who were exposed to an AdTheorent PointsBet digital ad but didn't necessarily convert during the initial campaign flight. The AdTheorent CPA during the 30-day lookback period significantly decreased, performing 2.3 times more efficiently than PointsBet's target CPA goal and exceeded the CPA metrics of PointsBet's paid social and SEM internal efforts during the same period.

The efficient new account sign-up CPA indicated that the AdTheorent campaign was successful in identifying, reaching, and driving new trial bettors for the PointsBet sportsbook in Ontario. AdTheorent initially dedicated partial budget and impression delivery toward pre-determined third-party target segments based on U.S. consumer lifetime value data, given Ontario was a new market and there were no prior performance insights. AdTheorent's predictive targeting and machine learning technology quickly outperformed these segments and demonstrated how predictive technology could identify incremental target audiences with high conversion likelihood and could ultimately lead to a more effective and efficient CPA campaign.

Categories: | Industries: | Objectives: Instant Impact, Lead Generation, Product/Services Launch | Awards: NA Finalist