How William Hill is using data to move to personal and portable betting

William Hill wants to use the reams of data flowing through it at any given time to create personalised bets in real-time for punters as it looks for new ways to grow in an increasingly competitive space.

While personalisation has long been viewed as a safe bet among gambling firms, William Hill thinks the industry has only scratched the surface. “You can do bet suggestion and any product recommendation quite simplistically or you can do it based on real, live data,” said director of corporate development and innovation Crispin Nieboer.

“We have more transactions per minute than Amazon in the UK; there’s a massive amount of data that’s coming through all the time. What we’re looking to do is harness that data in real time so that when you come to William Hill so that we can suggest to people the next bet we think they should make or the next five.”

The way it plans to do this is through an algorithm it’s developing at its innovation unit – William Hill Labs. The algorithm, which is currently being tested, takes a person’s historic bets and matches them to “three or four” people making similar bets at that moment to find something the group has bet on that the original punter hasn’t. “It’s not saying you look Manchester United so we’re going to only serve you content related to that,” said Nieboer. “It’s just saying right now the types of things you’re betting on, these guys are betting on these things that you aren’t.”

Development is two months in and its future is dependent on whether the proof of concept generates good KPIs.

It is part of the first burst of activity from its William Hill Labs division since it launched earlier this year. Opening new betting opportunities through technology is the aim of the initiative, with it working free from the short-term burden of business targets. This month sees a host of apps launched alongside the reveal of the finalists for its accelerator scheme and its VR initiative Get InThe Race.

Using Google Cardboard and Oculus Rift, the gambling business is using GPS technology to give customers a jockey’s view of the race they’ve just placed a bet on. GPS technology is used to recreate the race using 3D graphics that mimic the actual race. There’s also a ‘heads up display’ which gamblers can use to see additional details such as their horse’s heart rate, stride length and the distance remaining to the finish line.

Nieboer decribes the concept as “the thrill of the ride”. “I don’t mean ride as in horse ride,” he continue. “What we mean by the ‘thrill of the ride’ is that most betting companies don’t offer a customer much between them placing a bet and the bet result. It’s about how we can use technology to bring customers closer to sporting events.”

And by bringing punters closer to events it should create new things for people to bet on around the same match or race. “You can imagine the future would be something like where you put a GPS tracker into a football and simulate it in a 3D environment; people would then be able to bet on things like the way the ball moves or the speed the ball’s hit,” added Nieboer.

There would be huge rights issues to overcome to make this a reality. “We know it will be a challenge but we believe it’s about this kind of thinking that will get customers excited,” he continued.

Another area William Hill has primed for innovation is its tech stack. Betting firms are usually reliant on a big supplier like OpenBet to power their sites and so any changes need to be requested piecemeal. It’s why William Hill has taken control of its frontend, allowing it to make as many changes to the site that can help power personalisation. “We can basically provide a completely personalised service and it would be completely be in our control.”

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