Paddy Power looking at taking bets via Twitter and iPhone

27 Feb 2009

The leading Ireland and UK bookmaker Paddy Power is planning to launch a Twitter service that will provide horse-racing fans with instant tips, odds and results in time for the Cheltenham Festival.

The company is also looking at expanding the Twitter channel to include customers of its spread-betting service to give them updates on the performance of companies on the FTSE market, for example.

Paddy Power’s content and user experience manager Stephen Lovell told that over half of the betting firm’s revenues now come from online channels.

As a result, the internet team at Paddy Power are investigating and researching new online services and channels that punters will enjoy.

In recent days, the team developed a Paddy Power widget for users of the iGoogle personal portal, and the company has set up a dedicated RSS server so punters can get updates in the form of news feeds.

“We constantly keep an eye on social-media developments to see how we can capitalise and use these channels to better serve customers,” Lovell explained.

“In terms of RSS, we decided that a growing number of customers would prefer to have content delivered to them, rather than them coming to the site. We are very much looking at making content distributed, rather than having a destination you’d have to go to.

“That’s why we’re experimenting with Twitter. At Cheltenham, we aim to send back updates or tweets about who’s backing who on races. We aim to capitalise on the current zeitgeist.

“We’d like to think we’re ahead of the curve. You can’t ignore online, and Twitter is proving to be an irresistible trend.

“We are focusing on every channel possible because, in terms of profits, the highest proportion come from our online channels.

“I don’t think we can ignore these trends at any point in time. If we stand still, competitors will overtake us, so we have to keep it moving. We keep a close eye on public perceptions and have begun writing blogs and making videos.

“Rather than Paddy Power being a company-based website, our plan is to turn it into a community-based site,” Lovell said.

Internally, Paddy Power uses social-media technologies such as wikis to share information between workers. “We use wikis quite extensively, as well as Messenger and Skype.”

Returning to the subject of Twitter, Lovell said that the idea to use the micro-blogging service originated with the company’s blogging strategy. “We started blogging tentatively in recent months, and decided to leverage the Twitter medium in time for Cheltenham and the Irish Open.

“We are also planning to support our financial spread-betting service via Twitter to distribute information on market developments on the FTSE.”

Lovell revealed that Paddy Power is also hard at work developing an iPhone application for its customers. “We’ve just upgraded all our mobile products, and we’re working on a Java client that users can download. The iPhone application should be available in the next six months.”

By John Kennedy

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years