Jessica James on optimizing in the online gaming space and what she misses about the UK

Rommil from Experiment Nation: Hi Jessica! Thanks for chatting with me today. Let’s start with you sharing a bit about yourself with our readers.

Jessica James: Hello, I was born in Mexico and moved to Europe in my early teens. Currently work in Gibraltar for Entain, one of the giants in the entertainment industry. My mission is to improve customer journeys and drive growth through incremental uplifts.

Very cool. You’ve definitely been around. I’d love to know a bit about your path to where you are today?

I studied Philosophy and during this time also worked in hospitality where I became aware of effective communication so went on to study a master’s in marketing and fell in love with data-driven, customer-centric decision making in the digital space. My first role in marketing combined digital and print for Carluccio’s, the Italian restaurant chain. I learnt a lot from my time there and even without knowing it my passion for CRO started then when we completely revamped the website.

After a few years, I got an offer to move to sunny Gibraltar and work in gambling where after 6 months I became Conversion Manager for Ladbrokes. The main thing that I enjoy from working in experimentation is that I can learn something new every day and sometimes the customer behaviour does make you acutely aware of the assumptions we make.

Coming from sometimes very snowy Canada, I do envy your sun there. You make a great point about how experimentation highlights our assumptions, and you know what they say about, “assumptions” haha.

Moving on, as someone from Gibraltar, what is the Experimentation community like there?

Gibraltar is a tiny country, with only 16 km and less than 35 k inhabitants. However, we do have a strong community of digital marketers, although the sessions were impacted by the lockdowns. Previously I joined meetings with GibDevs and Girls in Tech but now that you mention it we need to organise a meet-up soon.

“Mistakes and assumptions.” – Jessica James when asked what comes to mind when she hears the term “Best Practices”

Let’s get into your work at Ladbrokes. As someone who works in Online Gaming, what are some of the unique challenges or considerations CROs face in that industry?

Well, the acquisition funnel is a lot more complex and there are many compliance considerations we need to keep in mind. The terms and conditions have to be one click away from any offers and there is a whole process of getting to know our customers to ensure they bet within their means. I am proud to say Entain is leading in the responsible gambling space with more personalised controls on customer spend levels.

That’s a good point. I guess you work in one of the few places where you actually don’t want users to spend too much. Which is the responsible thing to do, I’d say.

Considering the nature of your industry, do you find that your different products require different approaches to optimization? Is there a product that you find the hardest to optimize for?

Our products are sports, slots, poker, bingo, live casino, and game shows. All of them have different challenges for optimization as we need to look at the customers from a segmented level and check the different ways that they interact with our site. Poker is one of the most challenging as we have a smaller cohort of customers that are very engaged with the product, so that’s more about finding the bigger ticket items rather than low-hanging fruit.

Now, tell us the truth. Are there any hidden tips for winning these games you can share with us? haha

Haha, I wish there was a secret trick to winning but it’s mostly down to luck! What I would recommend is understanding the game that you are playing and reading the rules. There are so many games nowadays each with a slight twist on how to win.

I’ve read that you moved from UK to Gibraltar. What was that experience like and is there anything you miss?

Entain supported me with the move with a great relocation package, but it did come with challenges as first we stayed in a studio flat until we found a bigger space. London will always hold a special place in my heart and I try to go back every 2-3 months, but I do appreciate the change of lifestyles. In Gibraltar, we go to Spain every weekend and explore the beautiful countryside. We could be at the beach one weekend and skiing in Sierra Nevada the next, that’s the benefit of living here.

It’s time for the Lightning Round! Just answer the next few questions with the first thing that comes to your mind.

Frequentist or Bayesian?


What comes to mind when you hear, “Best Practices?”

Mistakes and assumptions.

Love it. Should we have a way to show potential employers and clients that we are qualified to perform CRO work?

Yes. To really run a good CRO programme you need to know how to identify the pitfalls and the focus on learnings, not wins – and it’s not easy, especially if it’s a small team too close to the experiment then there is an intrinsic bias unless they have the right process.

If you couldn’t work in Experimentation, what would you be doing today?

I enjoy organising group activities so I might have gone the event planner route instead. Luckily at work, I am also part of the fun committee so I get to satisfy that itch.

What do you have going on that you feel our audience should know about?

I am planning on applying to DLT talents in the next round and recommend it to any women looking to get into crypto/blockchain:

There are also some great opportunities to join Entain around the world so if anyone is interested I will leave the link here

Very nice! Who should we interview next?

Fabricio Migues from Small World. He is a champion of experimentation, leading a team to improve the experience of sending money worldwide. I’d be interested to hear the limitations of optimization in different countries.

Sounds good – We’ll reach out. Thanks for taking the time to chat today!

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Rommil Santiago