Incubeta Insider: 5 Minutes with Charlie Rowe, Incubeta’s US Head of BD

In our latest Incubeta Insider piece, we sat down with Charlie Rowe who, after four years in our London office, hopped over the pond to join our wonderful team out in New York as their resident Head of Business Development, and iGaming hero. Charlie spoke to us about Incubeta’s rise to prominence in the Sports Betting and Online Casino market, top tips for sales and what it was like to transition from London to NYC mid-Covid.

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Question 1: After a long wait, you finally made it over to the United States! How did the transition go? Is there anything that you didn’t expect about living in New York and the states in general?

Unsurprisingly the transition was mainly affected by COVID! With the UK going into lockdown all visa appointments were cancelled indefinitely so my trip over the pond (as with many others) was delayed. It took a year and half to get everything approved, so in that time I’ve been working east coast hours and having to build and manage both a sales strategy and team virtually. All things considered though, it’s been an amazing experience as it’s always been a lifelong dream to live and work in America, made all the more exciting with the opportunity that Incubeta has in the US market. Living in New York has been everything I’d expected and more! It’s such a diverse and ambitious city, which really motivates you to want to put yourself out there and be successful. Having not lived in another country before, I didn’t really know what to expect in terms of meeting new people and making friends, but turns out in the US all you need is a beer and a pack of uno cards!

Question 2: What are you most excited about now that you’re physically in the US?

Having worked in sales for nearly 10 years, you learn that it’s the relationships you forge that will allow for long term successful partnerships, especially in agency sales. This starts with meeting people in person, which typically means events and other networking opportunities. For me, I’m excited to finally be back meeting with clients, partners and new prospects. This has always been the foundation of my role and it’s great to finally be out there doing it after so long!

I believe that working from home is, in some capacity, here to stay, but I’m a huge advocate for returning to the office. As a company we’ve achieved so much working in a virtual environment, but with things slowly returning to normal I feel like we’ve really only scratched the surface of what we can achieve in the US. I’m really looking forward to getting back into a working space, meeting with my colleagues and cultivating new ideas!

Question 3: How did you become Incubeta’s resident iGaming expert? What keeps you interested in the industry?

Prior to Incubeta I worked for an iGaming data company, specifically in their digital marketing team. During this time it was obvious that the industry was crying out for agency partners that truly understood the nuances and complexities of managing a successful iGaming digital strategy. I’d done my research on Incubeta and learnt about how they’d evolved as a company from an affiliate PPC agency to a full service media, creative and technology partner. The company had a significant presence within retail and had worked with a number of sports merchandisers and football clubs, including Fanatics and Liverpool FC. Marrying this experience within sports marketing and a message that at the time led with performance first, I saw relatable stories and potential for them to be successful within the sports betting industry. I took my chances and reached out to the business, eventually meeting with Damien Bennett and Luke Judge, and I guess they liked what I had to say…

Since then the business has been hugely supportive in driving growth within this industry, and it’s been an incredible ride so far! Initially working with a number of sportsbooks and casino operators in the EU market, including LeoVegas and Hero Gaming, the US eventually came calling. We were really fortunate timing wise, and were able to pivot our strategy mid year and go all in, with the government repealing PASPA August of 2018 (law restricting online sports wagering in the US). It’s been remarkable our trajectory in the US market, initially obtaining our first license in New Jersey and working with Pala Interactive, we’ve since gone on to work with DraftKings, Golden Nugget, Hard Rock, Parx Casino and theScore, with a number of new projects coming on board next year. 

What keeps me interested is the amazing growth opportunity the US sports betting market offers us. We’re currently managing campaigns across every service layer we offer and have the largest roster of clients than any other agency in the US market. The investment in our teams and product innovation, as well as our industry experience has put us in the best position to continue our momentum within this industry and keep delivering excellent performance for our clients.       

Question 4: What digital trends or changes do you think will be most important/prevalent to marketeers in the iGaming industry and beyond in 2022?  

With the changes that iOS14 brought in and the deprecation of third party cookies, privacy has become the most prominent talking point this year – across all industries. In the iGaming space, operators will always have a spotlight on them for how they’re targeting betting customers, so it’s crucial businesses fast-track privacy to the forefront of their strategy. Check out Incubeta’s recent blog about privacy strategy; How to Survive in a Privacy First World.

The sports betting landscape within the US is growing at such a rapid pace – even the analysts didn’t predict the number of states that are currently live. For me, what’s been interesting is the amount of licenses that have been granted to foreign operators, which will bring a new wave of competition to the market next year. Marketers are going to need to be smarter or have deeper pockets in order to compete; which not only means getting the basic analytics and setup of their campaigns done correctly, but also maximizing performance across emerging channels. For us, CTV offers an amazing opportunity as it allows operators to bridge the gap between TV being an awareness channel to one that offers measurable conversions. Again, if any operators are looking into CTV as a channel, check out this article detailing why you need to be building it into your strategy now; Why CTV offers advertisers more than just an awareness play.

Question 5: Over your time at Incubeta, you’ve progressed to become Head of Business Development in the US. What insights or wisdom can you share about working with the wider BD team and finding success in sales?

For me there are two sides to sales; the first being your own personal skills that you can bring to the job, and the second understanding the strengths and weaknesses of the company/product you’re selling. It seems simple enough, but when new to a company it can be challenging to find a balance between the two. Agency sales is complex and does not offer a  “one size fits all” approach. There are many variables and services that need to be considered, so it’s important that you’re aware of your own capabilities when preparing for whatever stage of the sales cycle you’re at. When it comes to sales, leave your pride at the door. If you need someone to come in and help close a sale or help tweak an email – do it, because at the end of the day you’re measured on numbers!

Finally, find your niche within the business. The company loves people who specialize in certain areas; whether that’s a platform, channel, app or industry. If you come to them with ideas that you believe will drive growth, then more often than not they’ll back you as they really encourage entrepreneurial style thinking. Brands really respond to it as well, so you should start to see your numbers going up once you get more confident in your chosen field.

Want to learn more about life at Incubeta? Explore our previous blog in the series where we sat down with Holly and Chloe from our UK Mental Wellbeing Committee (MWC) to see what the committee has been up to in the last year to support their mission of ‘actively improving employee mental health support at Incubeta’; Incubeta Insider: Sitting Down with the Mental Wellbeing Committee.

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