BLOG | by Oliver Rowe

Football bettors tell us they are influenced by form and odds – but marketers should know about the other factors at play too

It’s interesting to note that the number of gambling companies represented on the front of Premier League shirts is down to eight for 2020-21 – from ten last season.

But this change in the currents of shirt sponsorship doesn’t necessarily reflect a downturn in the market for football betting. The market for shirt sponsorship – which in any case is largely aimed at audiences outside of the UK – is unlikely to alter habits on that front.

But that brings us neatly to an interesting question – what does drive the betting habits of UK football gamblers? From the point of view of marketers, this is a vital question. What levers can they pull to take custom away from competitors or responsibly increase engagement from existing customers?

Well, this month we asked the public what factors were important to them when it came placing a bet on a professional football game? We also asked the same questions of recent gamblers (those who have placed a bet in the last year). The results made for interesting reading.

The order of the popularity of factors was largely the same between the two groups and only two factors switched places – form of individual players and injuries.

For both groups, the recent form of each team came out as the most important factor (34% of general population v 63% of gamblers) – and that makes sense since it’s a commonly-received predictor of future form. But price or odds is also important, and it takes second place amongst both groups, albeit with significantly less importance (22% v 47%). Interestingly, the citing of odds may feel slightly counter-intuitive to non-gamblers who might think that a gambler should back a bet they believe will be successful, whatever the odds may be.

Next up, comes results of previous head-to-head meetings – again a widely accepted predictor of future form. It’s certainly not one that marketers can influence, but like recent form, it’s a factor that they may wish to highlight as a way of making customers feel informed and in control of their betting.

At this point, injuries and form of players come into play but with the former more important for recent bettors. Both factors are about as important for both groups but significantly less important than higher ranking pieces of information like form, odds etc.

Tips from pundits are deemed even less important (10% v 17%). (And although respondents’ own hunches were an optional factor we haven’t included them here as it’s not what we would consider actual information.) However, at YouGov we also know that, even though many respondents say they are not, people are influenced by advertising – and the same may be the case with pundits.

Punditry is joined in this pile of lower-order factors by other pieces of information, like whether a team has a new manager, whether it is well-liked (or disliked) by the gambler and the number of games since a team’s last match. It’s interesting that this final factor comes last in the pecking order for both segments, given how often it is cited as a factor in performance by managers, players and pundits.

We also think it’s notable that so few people place a high value on whether they like a team or not, although it’s possible that sub-conscious bias may come into play here when it comes to placing a bet.

Overall, though, it’s clear that form and price drive decision-making among gamblers. And while that’s perhaps no surprise, this data also reveals a longer tail of other factors where imaginative marketers might take action to drive business advantage.

Photo by Alex Motoc

BLOG | by Oliver Rowe

Global Sector Head – Leisure and Entertainment

Having worked with YouGov for more than a decade, Oliver has advised companies including Tesco and Barclays on their reputation management. He now brings that experience to bear on a sector which includes the betting and gaming industry in his role as Global Sector Head for Leisure and Entertainment.


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