OpenWager Boosts Conversion Rate by 2X by Betting on Behavioral Analytics

Mike DupuyJune 22, 2017

What happens in Vegas doesn’t have to stay in Vegas.

OpenWager, the San Francisco-based premier casino-style gaming company, brings the excitement of hitting the jackpot right to mobile devices with games like Hollywood Slots, LuckyLand and Spintopia.

Derek Brinkman, VP of Product, joined OpenWager four years ago when the company was just getting started to help the team build out and maintain its social gaming platform. Though the founding team hadn’t worked in the social casino industry before, they knew from their past experience working on free-to-play (F2P) mobile games that analytics would be a core competency for the company.

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Cutting down time to insight

“We knew having certain metrics like the cohort daily retention rates, average revenue per user, and conversion rate would be critical to our success, so we agreed from the very beginning to dedicate a member of our engineering team to analytics,” Derek said.

Having a dedicated engineering resource to handle analytics requests worked initially. Whenever Derek or a member on the team would realize they needed data to make a decision, they’d spec up what the report needed to be and would give it to the engineering team. In a few days, they’d get the new automated report they requested. But building out automated reports each and every time someone had a question or needed data just didn’t scale.

“There was too much of a delay between making a request and getting data out, and it was becoming a drag on our ability to look at data and make good decisions,” Derek said.

To solve that issue, the team tried building out quick dashboards to help reduce the time it took to get insights. But then they ran into another roadblock.

“The dashboards helped us answer high level questions,” Derek acknowledges, “but whenever you’d start to see something that looks exciting, or off, we’d have to ask someone to write reporting logic to drill down further.”

To build, or to buy? That is the question.

The team realized they needed a new way to answer their data questions, so they started evaluating whether they’d look to use a vendor or build something themselves.

Initially, they considered structuring their data themselves, putting it into Amazon Redshift and connecting it to a BI tool.

But that wasn’t going to be easy: OpenWager’s data was stored as a bunch of flat event files, not in a structured database. The ingestion and formatting process would take up too much of their time if they had to do it themselves.

That’s when they heard about Interana. As long as their event data had a timestamp and an actor associated with it, they could load it into Interana.

“One of the things we loved about Interana was that you could ingest our data and provide the frontend as if we had structured data,” said Derek.

For casino games, patience is key

With Interana, Derek and his team could finally start understanding user behavior. From which features were the most popular to how many spins it takes to get someone really invested in a game, behavioral analytics became a (literal) game-changer.

For instance, OpenWager explored trends across its apps and found that patience is key. Unlike most other “freemium” apps, when it comes to social casino-style gaming, getting someone to convert from a free user to a paid user right away isn’t the best strategy.

In OpenWager’s games, players can choose to purchase a package for a set amount when they run out of “coins,” or they can wait for a period of time.

“If I see people making two or three hundred dollars worth of purchases in their first day, I can tell you with almost certainty they will do that one time and never come back,” said Derek. “Instead, we found out that our biggest paying players come in and don’t buy anything for the first four to seven days. They dip their toe in and make a number of small purchases over time. The whales with $100,000 or more lifetime spends all follow this early purchase behavior”

Hollywood Slots, one of OpenWager’s leading mobile casino games

“With Interana in place, every single KPI we tracked went up.”

Understanding the players better was just the beginning.

“With Interana in place, every single KPI we tracked went up,” Derek said. “We’ve increased the conversion rate of free to paid users by 2X, grew our base of repeat monthly purchasers by 75%, and reduced the time it took to identify and fix issues from weeks to hours.”

Interana was also adopted across the company, from operations to support to the company’s CEO. Below are just a few of the ways the OpenWager team uses Interana:


  • Understand which slot games are most successful
    Prioritize new features based on effectiveness and adoption rate of recently released features
  • Verify and adjust the math model to change the overall payouts and expected payouts of the games to maximize player engagement
  • Tracking user cohorts over time to find trends in purchase behavior


  • Optimize event prizing and frequency to ensure players stay engaged during live events, tournaments, and quests
  • Understand players’ betting patterns and optimize game operations for maximum lifetime value


  • Optimize VIP player rewards to extend paying player lifetimes and average revenue per VIP player
  • Investigate whether issues are isolated incidents that affect a small group of users or more widespread

Building a winning culture around data

Discovering behavioral insights didn’t just yield quantifiable results, it also increased morale across the team.
“Data is a big motivator to people. When you tell them you’re making a decision based on data, they tend to go into the project feeling better,” Derek said. “Then, when you measure the impact of that decision and can tell your team, ‘Hey, all that effort you put in actually had this effect. Congrats!’ It’s a great feeling.”

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