1on1 with Jonathan Power at Onionsack

1on1 with Jonathan Power at Onionsack

Tuesday, May 30, 2017
Jonathan Power: ‘Chatbots will prove to be a very effective retention tool for operators’

Earlier this month, bet messaging platform provider Onionsack unveiled an industry-first chatbot for Facebook Messenger, which allows players to place bets directly through the app.

Following the news that Paddy Power has become the first bookmaker to go live with the new product, Onionsack CEO Jonathan Power discusses the company’s tie-up with the operator, and the growth potential of chatbots in today’s mobile gaming industry.

Totally Gaming: How did your bet messaging partnership with tier-one operator Paddy Power come into play?

Jonathan Power: We’ve had a strong working relationship with Paddy Power for a number of years now, with the bookmaker enjoying success with our Instant Messaging and SMS text platform.

Using our technology, which can understand a customer’s message in their own natural language and convert into a transaction, Paddy Power customers have been able to place bets via SMS for some time now.

Since our foundation in 2005, the way we message one another has evolved dramatically thanks to the introduction of social media platforms. As well as texting, billions of people around the world send messages through messaging apps such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp.

Through our innovative new chatbot, Paddy Power will now be able to interact with their customers through Facebook Messenger and execute bets placed via the app in what is a genuine industry-first.

TG: Can you detail how your team built an effective and engaging chatbot for industry operators?

JP: The key moment for us came last year when Facebook took the decision to open up chatbot development to third-party content providers, such as Onionsack.

We could definitely see the potential in chatbots for the gambling industry, and our expertise in messaging technology meant that chatbots were the next logical step for us in our product offering.

The ability to place bets directly from Facebook Messenger app has never been done until now, but for this to be achievable the technology needs to be efficient enough to understand exactly the context of a message.

Messaging an operator’s chatbot with ‘£1 L15 Duke of Firenze Donncha Dontgiveuponbob & Graceland’ is something our software will understand and translate into a bet. You need to have complete confidence that the message has been interpreted correctly and utmost confidence the technology can work.

Central to our new service is a transaction bot, which has been approved by Facebook. It is able to read, understand and more importantly execute transactions directly from the app.

The Paddy Power chatbot replies instantly to messages, and can manage transactions quickly and effectively on a wide range of sports betting markets it offers.

TG: Where do you see your chatbot impacting the industry’s operational value chain, is this an acquisition or retention led product?

JP: Chatbots will prove to be a very effective retention tool for operators, as they can personalise content and send push notifications, with the customer deciding what he or she wants to receive.

Customers must initialise the first interaction by following Paddy Power on Facebook and then the bot will be able to send real-time messages to the customer, such as the latest news on jockeys, trainers, horses, team news and goal updates based on the interests of each customer.

For instance, if you’re a Liverpool fan, you’ll be able to receive the latest betting information related to the Reds. These push notifications will pop up on a user’s phone exactly the same way in which a friend messages them.

Push notifications are nothing new to the industry, but the key differentiator with our chatbot is that they will sit alongside an app which the customer is already using, and probably more likely to read and interact with.

Facebook comes into its own as an acquisition tool using Facebook’s ‘Send to Messenger’ button which can be embedded on any website to offer a very slick journey from web to chatbot. It can quickly prove to be a very sophisticated tool making other acquisition tools look very blunt.

TG: How will your partnership utilise Paddy Power’s existing marketing dynamics with Onionsack chatbot functions?

JP: Our transactional bot and software platform holds the key to interacting with customers and allowing them to place bets from the Messenger app.

What Paddy Power has done with its Facebook chatbot is tailor the content it pushes out to fit in line with its own brand. For instance, the bot sends out the same entertaining videos, witty responses and its own bespoke content which customers will be very familiar with from other Paddy Power media channels. Every brand can mould the experience for their customers in their own way.

TG: How do you see your partnership with Paddy Power developing in the coming months?

JP: We expect more and more Paddy Power customers to get involved with the chatbot, particularly as it’s another way they can access their account and place bets with ease.

Chatbots aren’t restricted to Facebook Messenger. We expect the technology to be used within other social media apps soon, in particular the opening up of the more popular WhatsApp messaging channel.

We’ve have also integrated our chatbot to the Twitter API which will allow for a very slick journey from twitter to bet placement through our proprietary twitter handle, which enables a brand’s twitter following to execute a bet transaction via the Onionsack platform.

The next step in terms of the product evolution, will be integrating the industry leading voice recognition software to our messaging platform. Needless to say, these are very exciting times and it’s great as a supplier to be at the cutting edge of this. 

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