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october/november 2012

october/november 2012

Spain: An Affiliate Market Focus Plus: Facebook Debuts Real Money Gaming Jon Friedberg on Being the First Licensed Affiliate in the US Fantomaster, Ralph Tegtmeier, on the Evolution of Search Marketing INFORMATION, INSIGHT AND ANALYSIS FOR THE BUSINESS OF INTERACTIVE GAMING

CONTENTS 04 Events Calendar 06 Webmaster News 12 Backlink Profiling Strategy 16 Affiliate Website Critiques 20 SEO: Follow the Path or Leave a Trail 22 Minimising Organic Losses when Switching Domains 24 Aligning Conversion Goals, User Experience and Search 28 Interview: Sara Lelli, Affiliate Manager, 31 Bingo Focus The affiliate market continues to be a dynamic and opportunity-rich segment of the iGaming industry. Emerging from the doldrums of Black Friday and preregulation in several European markets, the affiliate sector is finally back on track, and for the innovative affiliate there is a plethora of opportunities. This month, we specifically look at opportunities in the Spanish market, the bingo market, the regulated US market, and of course, in the social sphere.

40 Market Focus: Spain – the Legal Dynamics 42 Regulated Spain: How the has Market Affected Affiliates 44 Optimising your Business in Spain 46 Is Spain Right for your Marketing Strategy? 48 Affiliate Strategies for New Markets and Niches 51 Interview: Ralph Tegtmeier, AKA, Fantomaster 55 Opinion: Facebook and Real Money Gaming 56 What Makes a Successful Affiliate Program? 58 Facebook Debuts Real Money Gambling – Introduction 59 Overview of Facebook Partnership with Gamesys 63 Mobile Optimisation 64 The App Factor

Ladies and gentlemen, I look forward to seeing you at the Barcelona Affiliate Conference where I hope to hear about your innovations in these, and the other newly emerging paths to affiliate success. I predict that there will be surprises in the affiliate market in 2013, and I suspect that it’s the truly innovative affiliates that we will be reading about in these pages in the upcoming issues. Michael Caselli, Editor in Chief

66 Driving Traffic to Social Applications 68 Virgin Games on Facebook’s Real Money Venture 70 America’s first Licensed Affiliate, Jon Friedberg 72 State Update on US Regulation Progress 74 Optimising Your Websites with Authority 76 Creating More Player Conversions in Online Bingo 78 Market Place 80 Responsive Design on Mobile 82 Bingo Friendzy: the Start of a Social Gambling Landslide?

Editor in Chief: Michael Caselli Editor: James McKeown

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under the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. Application to reproduce extracts in other published works shall be made to the publishers. Full acknowledgement of author, publisher and source must be given. iGaming Business Affiliate Magazine is published by iGaming Business Limited of 33-41 Dallington Street, London, EC1V 0BB, UK. The views expressed by contributors and correspondents are their own. Editorial opinions expressed in this magazine are not necessarily those of the Publisher. The Publisher does not accept responsibility for advertising content. Cover image:




affiliate events calendar Due to their popularity and wealth of information, analysis and discussion, conferences have become an integral part of the affiliate industry and a key communications bridge between affiliates and affiliate managers. Whether used for networking, education or just an excuse to meet up with friends, the affiliate conferences listed below provide all the tools you need to improve your business.

Mobile and Tablet Gambling Summit London November 21 – 22 Hear insight from the likes of Probability, Betfair, Paddy Power, Google, Aurasma and many more. The event will cover areas such as: Effectively marketing mobile products; Evaluating the latest advances in mobile; Smart TV; and creating an innovative mobile offering that works on both apps and HTML5.

Social Gambling Conference London November 16 The Social Gambling Conference is the first event dedicated to the social casino-style gaming space. The conference will cover topics such as regulation, privacy and data protection, the transition between social and real money gambling and the operational dilemma – marketing, monetisation and retention. Among the confirmed speakers are Andrew Hughes, CEO and Co-Founder of AbZorba Games; Brock Pierce, CEO of Playsino and a Managing Director of the Clearstone Global Gaming Fund; Jez San OBE, President and Founder of PKR; Manu Gambhir, Founder and CEO of Ryzing; and Rich Roberts, CEO of Slingo.

Russian Affiliate Conference & Expo Moscow November 7 – 8 This event is designed to educate domestic and foreign vendors and affiliates on how to successfully work in the field of affiliate marketing, as well as those who are planning to master this area, the owners of products, brands, portals and services, Internet marketing leaders, heads of Internet projects, SEM/SEO professionals, webmasters, affiliate programs, vendor sites, marketing and advertising agencies.

London Affiliate Conference London February 7 – 10, 2013 The 7th annual London Affiliate Conference moves to February in 2013, and promises to build on the success of the hugely successful 2012 event. Details for iGB Affiliate’s flagship conference and expo are currently being finalised but affiliates can expect the same high level insight and analysis from the key people and personalities in the industry while networking with all of the major programs and operators in the expo hall. LAC 2013 will once again be opened by the prestigious iGB Affiliate Award ceremony that honours the people and programs driving innovation and growth within the sector.


iGB Affiliate october/november 2012

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Meet us at the Barcelona Affiliate Conference 11th - 14th October - Stand F13

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webmaster news

Proposed Federal US Poker Legislation Revealed In the United States, a summary of The Internet Gambling Prohibition, Poker Consumer Protection and Strengthening UIGEA Act of 2012 legislation has been released outlining what future federal online gaming regulation could look like. The brainchild of Senators Harry Reid and Jon Kyl, the measure, which must be passed by both houses of Congress before being signed into law by the President, would prohibit all forms of unlicensed gambling while creating ‘carve-outs’ for online poker and horseracing off-track betting. If approved, the proposed legislation would establish the Office of Online Poker Oversight (OOPO) as part of the Department of Commerce in order to supervise the control of online poker while additional regulators could be appointed to help with the issuance of licences. It would also require that states wishing to

offer online poker and off-track betting opt-in via an election involving a majority vote in both local legislative chambers. Doing nothing would see a state opt-out while aboriginal groups could apply only if the state in which they operate has selected to take part. While authorising continued online lottery ticket sales, The Internet Gambling Prohibition, Poker Consumer Protection and Strengthening UIGEA Act of 2012 would prohibit states from offering games that mimic casino or slot titles and also ban online poker international player pools. It would also outlaw Internet gambling cafes and only licence landbased casino operators that have met certain criteria for the purposes of offering online poker over its first two years. Additionally, some gaming machine device manufacturers would be licensed to offer online poker services.

The Act also includes a five-year ban provision for any entity that offered online gambling to US residents after 2006 in breach of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA). Operators would face such a sanction unless a federal court was convinced that no federal or state law had been breached. The proposed legislation will require licensed online poker operators to pay a 16 percent tax with two percent destined for the federal coffers while the remainder would go to the individual state or tribe. This duty would be exercised on ‘eligible online poker receipts’ while illegal operators would face stiffer financial penalties. No licensee would be able to begin operations until at least 15 months after the bill was enacted to make sure of a level playing field and to prevent any one licensee from gaining a ‘first mover’s advantage’.

Las Vegas Deal for Double Down Casino Gaming technology provider International Game Technology (IGT) has signed an agreement that will see its Double Down Casino social application hosted on the website for the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Las Vegas. The deal represents the first for Double Down at a Las Vegas-based venue and will see players at given the opportunity to compete against friends and try their hand at winning virtual chips. “Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Las Vegas is

giving players more entertainment even when they’re not on the casino floor,” said Eric Tom, Global Sales Executive Vice-President for IGT. “Engaging through the website allows players to remain connected to the property they know and trust with Double Down Casino simply providing the gaming entertainment.” IGT stated that its Double Down Casino app provides customers with casino-style game play online via access to its full roster of games including the Da Vinci Diamonds

and Cleopatra slots as well as multi-player poker. The service will also soon feature other well-known and proven slot titles alongside a new bingo game. “Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Las Vegas is constantly looking for ways to enhance our players’ experiences,” said Bill Warner, President of WG-Harmon, the property’s manager. “What the relationship with Double Down Casino enables us to do is provide just that; more fun, more play, more entertainment.”

Nordeus and in Sportsbetting PARTNERSHIP Digital Entertainment has signed a deal that will see it develop a social sportsbetting application in partnership with Serbian firm Nordeus. Following the launch of its bespoke Win business unit in May, stated that the agreement is a “further step forward” in the execution of its social gaming strategy as it looks to capitalise on its “strong presence in real-money sportsbetting”. “Nordeus has demonstrated that there is great demand for social sports games around the world through its Top Eleven game,” said Norbert Teufelberger, Co-Chief Executive Officer for “We will leverage our unrivalled sports brand and products as well as our online


betting and gaming expertise. Nordeus and are two European companies with global footprints and share an aspiration to become clear leaders in social sports gaming.” Based in Belgrade, Nordeus was established in March of 2010 by former Microsoft engineers Branko Milutinovic, Ivan Stojisavljevic and Milan Jovovic and concentrates on the development of social sports games. Its Top Eleven title is now one of the most-played games of its type in the world with in excess of six million monthly active users via the web and Android and iOS devices. “Following the successful release of Top Eleven, we recognised a huge opportunity for social sportsbetting games based on

the feedback from millions of our customers,” said Milutinovic, Chief Executive Officer for Nordeus. “Since then, we have been seeking the right partner and we are thrilled to have an opportunity to work with, a market-leader in online sportsbetting and one of the most known brands in sports. “With Top Eleven, we have proven that our unique approach in social games design is highly engaging and successful. With that in mind, we are convinced that leveraging our development experience in combination with’s expertise in real-money betting will lead to a highly successful title and establish our companies as the leaders in social sports gaming.”

iGB Affiliate october/november 2012

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webmaster news

Friedberg Becomes First Licensed US Affiliate Jon Friedberg, professional poker player and President and CEO of PokerTrip Enterprises has been granted America’s first iGaming affiliate license by the Nevada Gaming Commission. PokerTrip Enterprises, which houses and ThePokerAtlas. com, was granted the licence on September 20 giving Friedberg the honour of becoming the first affiliate to be licensed in the US. You can read an exclusive interview with Jon Friedberg on pages 70-71 of this issue. The news preceded an announcement from WMS that it too had been successful in gaining a Nevada licence. The interactive gaming manufacturer and service provider licence will enable the 60-year-old company to service the operator licences that will be offering online poker to Nevada’s residents. “The granting of WMS Gaming’s interactive gaming licenses in Nevada is an important milestone in the initiatives we’ve undertaken to support our casino customers’ online gaming entertainment

needs,” said Orrin Edidin, President for WMS Industries. “We can now offer casino operators in Nevada an online realmoney poker platform along with a comprehensive industry-leading suite of ‘white-label’ casino-branded interactive play-for-fun gaming entertainment products and managed services. These products and services are fully expandable to provide a proven foundation for the eventual transition to other online real-money gaming capabilities when it becomes legally enabled in other markets. “Just as WMS has a legacy of developing innovative products to meet our customers’ in-casino needs, we are committed to offering our customers the interactive products and services they need to provide their players a great online gaming entertainment experience, support their unique brand online and establish a strong distinctive online gaming community.”

Social Gambling Conference Dedicated to Casino-Style Social Games The Social Gambling Conference, organised by iGaming Business, will host the innovators of social gaming and the giants of online gambling on November 16 at Dexter House, just minutes from London’s ‘Silicon Roundabout’. Bringing the games and gambling industry together, the Social Gambling Conference will cover a range of topics including the regulatory debate surrounding social games, analysis of the business models used, the real economics of success in the space and ‘big casinos’ discussing their interest in the social gambling market. “The conference will bring together the worlds of social gaming, online gambling and terrestrial casinos. Attendees will not only meet today’s major players in this space, but tomorrow’s winners. We will be covering what’s happening right now in this fast-moving space, but perhaps more importantly, we will probe the experts about what the future holds during our CEO Panel Visions of the Future,” promised conference Chairman

and iGaming Business Editor in Chief, Michael Caselli. “The Social Gambling Conference will bring together social experts from the iGaming and social games industries,” said Alex Pratt, Head of iGaming Business. “They will be focusing on key themes which determine the success or failure of a Gaming company entering the social gambling sphere.” “We’ve brought in renowned industry experts to advise delegates on topics that are critical to their success in the social gambling space” continued Pratt. “It’s the first event dedicated solely to this space, and it’s one of the few must-attend event for the industry.” The Social Gambling Conference will be held at Dexter House on the November 16, 2012. Anyone with an interest in the social games space, the online gambling space, and the intersection and opportunities between the two, including investors, suppliers, developers and operators can register to attend at

Spielo International Signs PopCap Games Deal

Spielo International has announced that it will soon launch four new slot titles on an exclusive basis after signing a licensing agreement with developer PopCap Games. A designer, manufacturer and distributor of gaming machines, software and central system solutions, Spielo International used October’s Global Gaming Exhibition (G2E) 2012 event in Las Vegas to unveil the four slots games themed on the Plants Vs. Zombies, Zuma and Bejeweled brands from PopCap. “Spielo International immediately recognised the strength behind PopCap Games’ casual games, which are known for their creativity, humour and attention to detail,” said Walter Bugno, President and Chief Executive Officer for Spielo International. “They’re played by billions of people worldwide and appeal equally to both men and women. We know our customers want compelling and entertaining content that will intrigue current players while also growing the player base, so we’ve worked closely with PopCap Games to stay true to the spirit of its brands and create terrifically fun and engaging new slot gaming experiences.”

Full Tilt Player Repayment Plan Released

PokerStars has unveiled details of a $184 million repayment plan for Full Tilt’s non-US players and confirmed that will re-open for business in the first week of November. The repayment programme will see former Full Tilt Poker players in France, Spain, Denmark, Estonia and Belgium repaid through the locally-licensed PokerStars platform. Players will ‘pair’ a PokerStars account with their Full Tilt account which will enable them to withdraw or use their balances on the licensed PokerStars site. The situation for Italian players is less clear after PokerStars revealed that is still in discussions with Italian regulators regarding the withdrawal procedure. Players in all other jurisdictions (including the UK and Ireland but excluding the US) will have full access to their accounts when re-opens for business during the opening week of November.

iGB Affiliate october/november 2012

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Mobile Wagering Helps Bottom Line at Betfair Betfair has released its interim financial results for its first quarter showing a 13 percent year-on-year increase in overall revenues to £91.6 million driven by sportsbetting. Betfair recently announced that it will be launching a Canada-focused free-play domain and revealed that average revenues per user for the three-month period, which ended on July 31, increased slightly year-on-year to £188 million although the number of active customers rose by 13 percent when compared with the same period in 2011 to 485,000. London-based Betfair stated that the improvement in ‘actives’ for the quarter was due to the 2012 UEFA European Football Championship and ‘continued growth in new customer activations’ particularly in the UK. “Revenue growth in the first quarter was primarily driven by Euro 2012, improved monetisation of exchange activity, continued mobile growth and a recovery in risk-sports margins,” said Stephen Morana, Chief Financial Officer for Betfair, who also announced he is to step down from his role with the company once a successor is found.

“The resulting growth was partially offset by the impact of regulation. The UK, our largest market, was our strongest performing region, driven by the continued success of the Don’t Settle For Less advertising campaign and a great summer of sport.” Betfair said that its mobile channel continued to “deliver strong usage and revenue growth” as the number of bets placed increased by 114 percent year-on-year to 15.8 million while revenues swelled by 98 percent when compared with the same period last year to £8.2 million. This was the first full quarter the operator offered a mobile casino with the firm declaring that the service had begun to deliver meaningful revenues. “Mobile betting goes from strength to strength, reflecting increasing Smartphone penetration, product enhancements and customer familiarity,” continued Morana. “Mobile usage and revenues doubled and half of all customers in the UK and Ireland placed a mobile bet in the first quarter. We have also continued to deliver important new product upgrades in recent months including new Android and iPad apps that include our popular Cash Out functionality.”

These improvements offset the poor quarterly performance of Betfair’s games and poker offerings as revenues dropped by seven and four percent year-on-year respectively to £13.7 million and £5.1 million. Betfair called these segments a ‘drag’ on its overall growth rate and blamed the disappointing showing on “regulatory factors in Italy, Cyprus and Spain”. “Change in the regulatory environment in which we operate has brought challenges in the form of product restrictions and higher levels of taxation,” said Morana. “This has recently been illustrated in Spain and Cyprus, which have sought to restrict the products that operators can offer, and in Germany, where a turnover tax has been implemented that purports to cover all sportsbetting. “Like-for-like net gaming revenues, adjusting for the impact of regulation, was marginally higher in the second quarter to date compared to the same period last year. A slower start to the football season and reduced interest in other sports during the Olympics resulted in slower revenue growth in August. After a strong first quarter, this leaves year-todate revenues in line with our expectations.”

Live Casino Comes to Facebook Live dealer games and services developer Smart Gaming Group has launched the world’s first real-time roulette service for Facebook complete with automated and live stream games available via Sky TV Channel 863. London-based Smart Gaming is the firm behind the Smart Live Casino interactive gaming television channel and recently launched a live roulette app designed for mobile devices powered by both the Android and iOS operating systems. The company stated that its new roulette Facebook app connects players to its Smart Live Casino platform where they can select

to take part in one of four live televised games in Rapid Roulette, Social Roulette, Auto Brown Roulette and Auto Black Roulette while interacting with presenters through a live chat function. The developer declared that its new live roulette game aims to “create a fun and social environment for players” where chips can be earned by playing games, inviting friends or “through Facebook payment methods”. Competitors will also be given the chance to spin the Wheel of Fortune and take part in an hourly lottery draw for the chance to take home virtual prizes and credits.

“We want to reach out to users through unique entertainment and have developed the very first live roulette Facebook game with the intention of raising awareness of our live dealer product among Facebook users,” said Darwyn Palenzuela, Chief Executive Officer for Smart Gaming. “A player can have one account with four ways to bet; online, social, tablet or mobile phone and on the telephone with a play-for-fun or with real-money through the Facebook option. Our regular players also get a thrill out of chatting with live dealers as it’s all televised and in real time.”

Cozy Games Pens FremantleMedia Deal Specialist online, mobile and social gaming solutions provider Cozy Games has signed a deal that will see it develop a suite of branded mobile and tablet games for FremantleMedia Enterprises. The new agreement will see Cozy Games convert popular titles including The Price is Right, Family Fortunes, Play Your Cards Right and The X Factor: Steps to Stardom for use on a wide range of iPad and Smartphone units.


“FremantleMedia Enterprises is one of the largest creators and producers of entertainment brands in the world and offers well-known branded games content to the gaming industry,” said Tim Green, Chief Operating Officer for Cozy Games. “This latest partnership proves that we are the mobile developer of choice and we welcome the opportunity to work with Simon and the team and add FremantleMedia Enterprises content to

our growing library of third-party content as we strive to become the game content aggregator of choice.” FremantleMedia Enterprises is the brand extension arm of London-based television production, licensing and distribution firm FremantleMedia Limited and the new suite of mobile and tablet games developed by Cozy Games is set to be made available to operators seeking branded content.

iGB Affiliate october/november 2012

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webmaster news

Amended Complaint IssueD Against Lederer and Bitar The US Department of Justice has filed a second amended civil complaint against Full Tilt Poker directors Howard Lederer and Ray Bitar that features a raft of new forfeiture charges. Originally charged under the ‘Black Friday’ affair brought by the federal government on April 15, 2011, the original civil indictments were then amended in late-September of the same year to include allegations that the pair had been operating a multi-million dollar Ponzi scheme that had awarded $444 million of customer money to themselves and the owners of the website. The second amended civil complaint against Lederer and Bitar now claims the duo used the ‘illegal proceeds’ from the Full Tilt Poker enterprise to purchase houses and cars while also including provisions of the Travel Act of 1952 that prohibits “interstate and foreign travel of transportation in aid of racketeering enterprises”. “There is probable cause to believe that the Defendant Properties constitute or are traceable to property used in illegal gambling businesses,” reads the amended complaint. All told, the federal government is now seeking $42.5 million in forfeitures from Lederer while Bitar is being asked to hand over $40.8 million. The amended action also contains eight additional ‘claims for relief’ charges to bring the total to twelve and encompassing: illegal gambling, Travel Act offenses, bank and wire fraud, wire fraud, promotion money laundering and conspiracy,

concealment money laundering and conspiracy, international money laundering and conspiracy, bulk money laundering and conspiracy, promotion money laundering and conspiracy relating to Full Tilt Poker fraud against players, concealment money laundering and conspiracy relating to Full Tilt Poker fraud against players, international money laundering and conspiracy relating to Full Tilt Poker fraud against players and bulk money laundering and conspiracy relating to Full Tilt Poker fraud against players. “A review of bank records from the Howard Lederer account noted above at Wells Fargo Bank NA held in the name of HH Lederer Consulting LLC numbered 7655741861 (the “Lederer Consulting Account”), reflects that from approximately December 2006 through September 2011 at least $44,314,997.31 in United States currency that was directly tied to the criminal conduct described above was deposited into the Lederer Consulting Account,” read the new complaint against Lederer. The amended complaint against Bitar stated, “A review of real property and banking records reflects that on or about April 19, 2010, Raymond Bitar ordered that a wire transfer of $566,388.36 be made from Pocket Kings Limited to Master’s Realty Services Incorporated d/b/a Premier Service Escrow as escrow for the purchase of the real property known as 1506 Forest Oaks Drive, Glendora, California 91741 (California APN: 8659-001006) (the “Forest Oaks Property”).”

South Point Poker Becomes First Licensed US Poker Room

The Nevada Gaming Commission (NGC) has awarded South Point Poker and Monarch Interactive the state’s first interactive gaming licenses to operate intra-state online poker. Payments provider Global Cash Access Holdings was also given the green light by the NGC at August’s hearing. South Point Poker, which also received manufacturer and service provider licenses, has developed its own in-house software and hopes to have a real-money site up and running by the autumn, subject to its technology being approved by a third-party testing lab. Speaking to iGaming Business North America recently, South Point COO, Lawrence Vaughan, explained, “Vegas has been the definer of many trends in the US over the last 60 years, and in the case of online gambling, it will be again. Being a part of that at the beginning means being a major player in something that will becomes very significant.” Monarch Interactive, a subsidiary for the Monarch Casino and Resort, said that it intends to partner with a third-party and is “evaluating several interactive poker software providers”. Bally Technologies, IGT and Shuffle Master were awarded interactive gaming systems provider licenses earlier this year.

Nevada Gaming Chairman Resigns Mark Lipparelli has stood down as Chairman for the Nevada Gaming Control Board in order to allow a replacement to be installed ahead of the western state’s 2013 legislative session. Appointed to a four-year term by Governor Brian Sandoval in January of last year, Lipparelli had been a member of the regulator’s three-member board for two years before prior to his appointment; his resignation became effective as of September 28.  Lipparelli was President and Chief Executive Officer for technology firm Gioco Ventures before being appointed to the Nevada Gaming Control Board in January of 2009 and has also spent time with numerous companies in the sector including Shuffle Master Incorporated, Bally Technologies Incorporated and Casino Data

Systems Incorporated. “I have received and accepted Mark’s resignation as Chairman of the Nevada Gaming Control Board effective September 28,” read a statement from Governor Sandoval. “Mark has dedicated himself every day for four years to working to maintain Nevada’s leadership in the gaming industry and I thank him for his loyal service to the state.  His insight and foresight, particularly in the area of online gaming, has been an invaluable asset to my administration and he will be missed.  “A great advocate for the state, Mark’s leadership in pushing to modernise functions of the agency, a continuing priority for me, has helped move Nevada forward and set the groundwork for the next generation of gaming. I wish Mark the very best as he begins the next chapter of his career.”

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Backlink Profiling:the Right Strategy for the Right Links Webmasters in need of links for their iGaming sites can acquire them through a broad range of different techniques. However, different techniques typically lead to different kinds of links being acquired: here is how to make sure you are adopting the right technique to get exactly the kind of links you need. In the first instalment of this article series on backlink profiling, we showed you how to methodically remove crash-andburn spammers from your target list and focus on your real competitors. Then, we showed you how to discover what’s going on under their hoods: how many links they have, how natural they are, how they are distributed and how fast they have acquired them. Now, it is finally time for you to go out and get exactly what you need: whether you need a lot of keyword-rich, low-quality links, some spontaneous ‘natural’ or branded links or a few high-

trust, keyword-focused links, this article will show you the right techniques to adopt.

Low-trust, keyword-rich links Low-trust, keyword-rich links are the kind of links to which many affiliate sites owed their success, five to ten years ago. Improvements in Google’s algorithms have long rendered these kinds of links less effective (in terms of SEO) than they used to be, and the recent Penguin update turned them into a potential threat to any site. However, if you acquire these links in the right way you may still benefit from

them, especially if basing your analysis on what separates you from your competitors. The easiest (and most risky) way of acquiring these links is through linkbuying: on iGaming and online marketing forums, it is relatively easy to find webmasters willing to make a quick buck by selling you links with your anchor text of choice in their blog rolls, posts and pages. In the same forums, you can also find software allowing you to comment-spam your customised links across hundreds of blogs and forums; or people willing to do it for you for a small sum of money. These methods, however, all share footprints that are very easy for a search engines to spot, and will rarely be beneficial to you in the long-run. If you are looking for low-trust, keywordrich links, the safest thing you can do to buy them is to cherry-pick linking sites

“Apart from giving your site some extra ‘brand factor’, brand links are also one of the most natural ways of linking to a site, which makes them one of the safest kinds of links to acquire.”


iGB Affiliate october/november October/November 2012


from private linking networks. In other words, you can still contact webmasters running several sites on forums but make sure that you don’t overdo it; and don’t only choose sites they propose to you. The more ‘public’ and easy to spot the linking network is, the more risky the link acquisition will be. Just as dedicating time to manually contacting and selecting linking sites can improve the final outcome of your link-building efforts, turning forum and comment-spamming into a somewhat ‘cleaner’, manual version will make your comment links safer and more effective. Once you have identified a list of blogs and forums not implementing the ‘nofollow’ attribute in their links, you should identify posts and topics related to the page you want to link to, and register and link to your target page in a believable way. If done properly, this will pass any spam filter and allow you to get exactly the link you’re after. To speed things up, you may decide to outsource these tasks to a freelancer (e.g. from ODesk , Freelancer. com or MicroWorkers ), but you should make sure that you provide extremely clear instructions and always perform in-depth quality assurance checks.

Brand and ‘natural’ links Historically, brand links (i.e. links with your site’s name as anchor text) were not considered overly valuable by aggressive SEOs. However, the focus on brands of Google’s 2009 Vince Update made many webmasters eager to acquire brand links in order to build a link profile as similar to that of a ‘real’ brand as possible. This is one of the reasons why many brand links can today be found in the backlink profiles of both real brands and aggressive affiliate sites. Apart from giving your site some extra ‘brand factor’, brand links are also one of the most natural ways of linking to a site, which makes them one of the safest kinds of links to acquire. If the link profiles of your competitors are composed of proportionally more brand links than yours, the easiest way for you to acquire them and fill the gap is to get other sites and blogs to talk about your site, something usually accomplished via online PR and buzz-marketing (so ‘2005’, I know). When thinking about online PR and buzz-marketing, webmasters often make the mistake of only thinking about a few well-known blogs and niche sites as the

targets of their campaign. Your goal should instead be to get hundreds of mid-level, ‘real’ personal blogs to talk about you. In order to get these kinds of sites to mention your brand, it is often enough to launch and promote a giveaway competition, a blog contest, a series of interviews or to organise a niche event and invite them. Bloggers and webmasters finding your initiative will more or less spontaneously link to you in a natural way, and most of them will do so using the name of your site as anchor text. If you are an affiliate and you have the budget for it, you too can adopt a few marketing initiatives typical of operators. Examples of such initiatives are poker tournament sponsorship and co-branded sections on mainstream news and sports portals. These initiatives may not be cheap, but you can be sure that if well executed, they will not only bring you more visitors, trust and brand awareness but also a significant amount of highly valuable brand links from top-tier websites and blogs.

High-trust, keyword-rich links High-trust, keyword-rich links are the kind of links that made the fortunes of several big poker and casino affiliates and operators in the late 2000s. If you look at any small affiliate site you will hardly find any of these links, but if you lift the hood of some of the ‘big guys’, you can be sure to find a whole raft of them. These links that were once their secret weapon are possibly the same links that are causing them headaches today, after Google’s Penguin update made Mountain View’s search engine reconsider the value of many of these links. The acquisition of high-trust, keywordrich links has traditionally taken place via one-to-one link buying deals. These links were often placed in text boxes in sidebars or in the main areas of the pages, more or less blending in with the rest of the site’s content. The progressive improvements of Google’s algorithm mean that the safest way of acquiring these links now is not to buy a single link or text box, but to buy a whole blog post or, sometimes, even an entire site. To be on the safe side, these negotiations should always be conducted privately, avoiding link networks and wholesale deals. Apart from buying blog posts or entire websites, a cheaper (but harder) way to persuade webmasters to publish your links is to produce high-

quality content and offer it to them for free, in exchange for some links. However, this practice of advanced content syndication – essentially an evolution of guest-blogging – is hard to apply to iGaming websites. An additional way to build hightrust, keyword-rich links is to create and distribute embeddable content. Any kind of ‘viral’ embeddable content – be that videos, games, infographics or widgets – will allow you to have control of your links, as they will be part of the embed code you will distribute. However, heed caution: many people tend to overlook the amount of effort necessary for a successful link-bait, thinking a great idea is the key to success. Having a great idea is just the first step to a successful link-bait: great effort has to be placed in its development and, most of all, in its distribution. Producing a successful content-based link-bait in a market as competitive as gaming is definitely not easy, but can lead to great results in terms of high-trust, keyword-rich links. As we have seen, different techniques can be applied by webmasters to acquire links of different quality and with more (or less) focus on specific target keywords. Finding the mix that works for you will depend on your site, on who your competitors are and ultimately on how much effort you put in. Good luck.

Matteo Monari is the COO of BizUp, a result-driven Internet marketing agency specialising in competitive segments and international link building ( With a background in Languages and Human Computer Interaction, Matteo has been a successful Internet marketing specialist for more than six years. During his career, he has worked for some of the biggest affiliates and operators in the iGaming world, helping them to successfully expand their businesses across Europe. After heading the SEO department of Europe’s leading content-on-demand company, Matteo is now leading BizUp’s link building team, providing links in five languages to clients in more than fifteen different countries. You can follow him on Twitter as @matteo_monari and contact him at


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Affiliate Website Critiques John Wright, Editor at, returns to critique four affiliate websites and advise how they could be better structured to deliver on conversions, relevance and ranking in the search engines. 1. TIPSANDPICKS.COM is a website that focuses on betting tips and providing picks for sports such as NFL, NCAA football, tennis, MLB and AFL.

Overall impression Although the site uses a simple template and has a decent structure, the first impression on the homepage is that it is scattered and might throw off many users especially ones that are looking for picks on any sport. There is a basketball in the logo yet basketball or NBA picks don’t seem to be covered. Al Pacino from the movie Scarface is also there and although he is an iconic character in an iconic movie, it might be a little distracting from what the user is actually searching for. There is a lot of blank space all over the site, which for a sportsbetting related site is slightly against the grain, as most of them tend to be busier and, indeed, the recommendation here would be to have a busier look with more information for your visitors to digest, or to focus on one major call-to-action.

Conversion The homepage could be improved from a conversion perspective as there are no major calls-to-action above the fold and there is also a lot of empty space not being utilised. As mentioned in the overall impression, the distracting elements are the basketball (as is it one sport that doesn’t seem to be covered and might turn off your NFL fans, for example), the presence of Al Pacino and the fact that the menu options are not optimised. Regarding menus, most users read left to right and the items on the far left will, on average, get more clicks than the ones on the right. So organise your menu with this in mind and be aware of the users on your site and what information they do and don’t want to see. Since you cover North American sports heavily, the assumption is that your users will be from these locations; yet, you have Asian sportsbooks and betting from India in your secondary menu. This


iGB Affiliate october/november 2012

might tell your users they are on the wrong website. It is one thing if you want to rank for these phrases, but don’t do it at the expense of your core audience. More conversion elements missing on the homepage include any sportsbooks to select from or even a single sportsbook to bet on. With a topic like betting tips, this is a good opportunity to retain your users and collect their email addresses. Your benefit to them is to provide up-to-date bonuses, promotions and the latest tips and picks. Another option would be to provide a table of your latest picks which would summarise your top rated picks, perhaps making it easier for the user to digest the information and make a decision. The table could include the date, the pick or sports event, an icon showing the sports to make scanning a bit easier, a link to your pick if you have a detailed post about it and perhaps one sportsbook you recommend to bet on. Your Twitter feed is the closest thing you have to this as it is providing updated content on the homepage, but more can be done for converting your users and also ensuring that they don’t leave as quickly. Converting your users should help reduce your bounce rate.

table. If you are going to present the odds, this would be a good opportunity to place a banner near the information. At the middle and end of this page, you could add a call-to-action button or a banner.

Search engine optimisation SEO is always a great way to get free traffic, but the affiliate business is becoming very competitive and you’ll want to make sure your site is fully optimised to get any edge you can.

Page titles The homepage page title is ‘Home of Quality Sports Picks and Spread Information’. This title looks natural which means it is good but, perhaps, not fully optimised as your domain is ‘tips and picks’ and I’d expect to see both of those keywords in the title.

On the page highlighted above, you could have more calls-to-action to try to convert your users towards signing up at a sportsbook. You have links to various sportsbooks listing the odds but perhaps this would be better organised into a small

The page title here is just ‘Tennis’, but that isn’t reflective of your content. Be more specific; if this page contained ‘tennis picks’ then have a page title that reflects that. Otherwise, if the page contains information about betting on tennis and sportsbooks then a more suitable page title would be ‘Betting on tennis and recommended sportsbooks’.


Descriptions Most of the descriptions are well written for the majority of pages on your site, although the homepage description is short and could be longer and more descriptive.

Copywriting For both your page titles and descriptions, in addition to having natural looking phrases and the right keywords inside of them, most people tend not to think much about copywriting (or sales writing). When users are in a search engine, the results page they get lists the page title, URL and description. Being number one will naturally get you the most traffic but being on the first page gives you a chance of getting more click throughs. If you have strong and compelling sales text then you might be able to increase the number of clicks your site receives for that ranking. Just have a look at some of the page titles from a sample of sites in Google for the search term ‘tennis betting tips’. ●●●Free

Tennis Betting Tips Tennis Betting Tips, Predictions, Picks and Odds ●●●Five tips for Tennis Betting ●●●Tennis Betting Tips for Exchange Betting ●●●Tennis Betting Tips and Tennis Odds | Betfair | £20 Free Tennis Bet ●●●Free

Duplicate content Try to avoid any form of duplicate content on your site. Your homepage has summaries for sports like NFL, NCAAF, football, baseball, etc, and these summaries are about two sentences long and taken from the actual pages you have written. This is the lazy man’s approach towards populating a page with content to try to make your website appear to have more quality unique content. Otherwise, your homepage doesn’t have much unique content on it aside from the short summary at the top.

2. NIAGARA-CASINO-ONLINE.COM Marketing approach I could be wrong on my assumption and would be happy if you proved that I was, but I’m not sure I agree with the choice

of domain and the topic both for SEO and from a conversion point of view. Niagara Casino is a land-based casino in Niagara Falls, Canada and has 74,000 global monthly searches according to the Google Keyword tool. There was no data for ‘Niagara Casino Online’. Clearly, there are a lot of people that go to this casino and are searching for it but you have to understand how the user is going to find your site and what they are expecting. As your site says, you plan to offer information about the casinos, tourism, things to do in Niagara Falls and also list online casinos. So, if this is the case, I think your website would be better suited to call itself something like a ‘Guide for Casinos & Gambling in Niagara Falls’ and the online keyword in the domain would be better suited as ‘guide’. Just make sure you maintain a strong focus on the site and don’t try to throw half the information on the homepage about Niagara Falls and the other half about online casinos, which is clearly how you intend to earn your income. At the moment, your homepage is filled with about 75 percent content about online casinos and the rest about Niagara Falls itself. I would recommend you reverse this and try to get a better guide to the casinos, gambling and entertainment in Niagara Falls and use a more clever marketing approach towards turning these viewers into online gamblers. Some of your visitors might not have any interest in online gambling but you have a good selling point which is to teach them everything they need to know about Niagara Falls and everything they need to know about gambling – they can learn how to gamble online before hitting the physical casinos. There are a few websites that focus on land-based casinos as guides and have their own ways of converting the traffic for online gambling. One very good example of this is The casino ads are not so ‘in your face’ but it is a great guide for Las Vegas casinos and gambling. Its content is definitely worth sharing and it is an easy site to trust – and if you trust this site then you’ll trust its recommendations for where to gamble online. Your traffic

is expected to be a mix of Canadians and Americans so focus on these groups and let them know which casinos would be best suited for them. So, I like the idea of providing a gambling guide for the Niagara Falls region but I recommend that you focus more on the area, tourism, hotels, casinos and activities and leave the online gambling aspect to the side and either let your users decide to click on some links and banners or have an education section on gambling so you can make the conversion process a lot easier.

Choice of domain I’m not much of a fan of domains that are separated by a lot of hyphens and are, like this one. Since this domain is only six months old, I would recommend considering a new domain that perhaps replaces the keyword ‘online’ with something like ‘guide’. There are plenty of these domains still available. If your domain was two years old and already had a lot of links established, then I wouldn’t change a thing.

Design My preference for website design and style is one that has a white or light coloured background, especially for websites that are aimed at providing information. I expect something different for those that focus on entertainment, being an example. Your current site has a black background and there are many books written about conversion that say sites like this are perceived as being less trustworthy. People are just used to black text on a white background especially for information. Just imagine what, or would look like with black backgrounds and white text. It just isn’t as easy on the eyes. I think the design template is fine but I’d strongly recommend switching the text and background colours.

SEO and organisation Search traffic shouldn’t be your only source of traffic but it can be an important one. Your website could use a better structure and some important aspects of on-page SEO

iGB Affiliate october/nOvember 2012



are not being followed which could make it difficult for your pages to be found in any search engine, especially Google. There are two Gaffg guides I’d like to share which addresses some of the problems with the website: This maps out the pages and structure of your site so it is well organised. This is a quick guide on SEO to explain all the things you should be following.

Page titles The homepage title is just the domain and not a phrase. You don’t need your domain in all the pages titles.

Descriptions Most of them on the site are custom and good enough.

gambling guide and city guide for Niagara Falls, Canada. I would map out all of your pages and create a new URL structure so your pages are well organised and easy to follow. You can redirect your old URLs to the new one. I would focus the site at least 75 percent or more on the land-based casinos, restaurants, hotels and activities first and keep the online gambling information secondary. I would also use a brighter template to engender a greater sense of trust with your users. You can use the Las Vegas city guides as models and remember that you need a lot more pages for users and Google to take your site seriously.

3. THESPORTSGEEK.COM This affiliate asked for a critique but, without seeing their analytics and knowing their affiliate income, there isn’t much to dissect or correct.

URL structure Taking one page as an example: http:// live-dealer-casino-reviews. It looks like a mistake to have the index.php inside this URL.

Duplicate content Some of your casino reviews appear on multiple pages with exactly the same text. Try to keep all pages free of duplicate content as much as possible.

Redirecting your affiliate links One more note on organisation is to redirect your affiliate links. Imagine you have 50 affiliate links to one program spread throughout your website. If you have to update that link for any reason, you now have to change this 50 times and track down all of those links. This isn’t fun and there is a better way of organising your links by using a 301 redirect. This way, you just use your redirect link which could look something like this: http://niagaracasino-online/go/castle-casino.php, and set that up to redirect towards your affiliate link. You only need to do this in one location to redirect throughout your site.

Design The design of the site is great.

Conversion The in-page join form might irritate a few users but we know this affiliate does a lot of conversion testing and if it didn’t convert, they wouldn’t have it there. Not many affiliate sites have a video on any part of the page and this helps keep users on the site longer, reduces the bounce rate and gives them a chance to convert.

Duplicate content Your excerpts are not custom and this makes the text on this page duplicate content.

Sharing content Your posts are well written but there don’t seem to be any buttons for more social sharing of the content via Twitter, Facebook or Google+. More sharing of your content could lead to more traffic and possibly help your rankings.

4. RAKENEWS.COM Content This site is lacking a lot of content both in terms of the number of pages that exist and the small amount of text that are on them. The homepage has very little content on it and this should be one of the most important pages. In addition, there are no poker review pages. Not everyone wants to just click on an affiliate link – often, they may want to read more on the poker room before visiting. Rakeback is a nice bonus for players but you could answer more of the questions players might have by providing a comprehensive review. Your review could answer questions like which languages are supported/can I play on my Mac computer/can I deposit with credit cards/ how many players are on the network? Your homepage has a chance to get search traffic for rakeback, rakeback news and poker rakeback. If you had a review of Cake Poker, maybe that page could rank for Cake Poker review or Cake Poker rakeback. Another way to get the site more updated with content is to have more poker related news on the site. Your site is called RakeNews so I’d expect to see something related to poker, news and rakeback bonuses. On the homepage, there is less about news and more banners to click on which isn’t the best for conversion and certainly isn’t helping from an SEO point of view.

SEO Recommendations I would recommend going with a new domain to reflect that your website is a


iGB Affiliate october/november 2012

Overall, the site is doing a lot right from an SEO point of view. It has good links and quality content all around.

John Wright is Editor at and can be reached at

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SEO: Follow the Path or Leave a Trail In the last issue we looked at some of the problems which often plague SEOs at the top of their game. We highlighted some of the things to look out for and tried to understand the reasons why SEOs are prone to overinflated egos and how, when removed from the pack, can lose their confidence and become paralysed by fear. This article looks at the wider psychology of SEO which will provide a helpful insight to both iGaming affiliates and business owners generally. If you’ve noticed these articles moving away from how-to, or bullet pointed techniques, then this will begin to make more sense.


Many years ago, when I was


twenty-one, I met some interesting characters who shared a great deal of wisdom with me. To this day, I am thankful. A couple of quotes that stand out to me are as follows: 1) “Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” Napoleon Hill. These words have stayed with me ever since. 2) “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” Ralph Waldo Emerson. Before you start to think this is some kind of self-indulgent autobiographical article, it’s not… well, perhaps, a little bit. However, I believe it’s important to understand the mind of an SEO because we search engine optimisers are often an unusual bunch, coming from a broad spectrum of backgrounds. The common denominator being that we were curious to learn how to influence a search engine and none of us have a degree in SEO. There is no university, to my knowledge, which offers degrees in search engine optimisation. If a university were to offer such a degree, it would be a disaster. Given how fast SEO moves on, by the time a university degree has been accredited and taught, it would be out of date… massively. Remember, SEO is the fastest moving game in town. When my peers and I got into the SEO game, you wouldn’t hear school kids saying: “When I grow up I want to become an SEO”. Although I imagine it’s more likely to be heard these days especially given how cool a job it is. This absence of formal academic education led Barry Schwartz, an SEO/ blogger, to ask the question in October 2008: “What Type of Degree Is Best for an SEO or SEM?” The following table shows the resulting votes:

Marketing 53.1%


Programming 19.7%


Statistics 10.2%


English 9.6%


Maths 3.4%


iGB Affiliate october/november 2012

Percentage Votes


I wonder how these numbers would look today, with the abundance of available data. I suspect that statistics and maths would have more votes. Innovations to measure search engine volatility would never exist if it hadn’t been for Remo Biaggione’s degree and statistical analysis and, without him, we’d still be reliant on gossip and forum chatter. So getting back to the crux of the matter…

You can do your own SEO You don’t need a university degree to become an SEO. You only need a PC and an Internet connection. In fact, at a push (although I don’t recommend it) you can do it with a Smartphone… seriously. There is no barrier to entry, which is the main reason why the SEO industry is full of scam artists – zero barrier to entry can be a double-edged sword. If you don’t believe one can ‘do SEO’ with just a Smartphone, then allow me to demonstrate:

Client: I’ve got a CMS driven website and I want it to rank high on Google. SEO: What CMS is it and what keywords do you want to rank for? Client: We just moved it to WordPress and I’d like to rank for ‘Bingo Bonuses’. SEO: Have you installed the WordPress SEO plug-in? Client: Yes. SEO: Have you included ‘Bingo’ and ‘Bonuses’ in the homepage Title, Heading Tag, and a smattering in the content? Client: Yes.

SEO: Have you ever placed links or have any suspicions that you may have suffered from a penalty? Client: No and no. SEO: In that case you need to get loads of links, with the correct distribution of anchor texts, without getting rumbled by Google. Job done. The facts of the matter are that search engines are very smart these days. They are very good at understanding your content and crawling your site. It takes a particularly poor web developer (in this day and age) who still builds an SEO-unfriendly website. That said, I have recently seen an example of this, built by a large casino software vendor. The downside of search engines becoming smarter is their spam detection systems are equally smart and very easy to trigger. Depending on your style of SEO, there are two distinctions. There’s white hat SEO – i.e. follow the rulebook and believe the Google propaganda. Then there’s the style I prefer – the successful SEO who learns how Google ranks sites and detects spam and takes the jewels without getting caught each time.

Do I cut the red wire or the blue wire? Imagine Google as a booby-trapped bomb. SEOs who subscribe to the latter of the two aforementioned styles can be likened to a bomb disposal expert, defusing a device in the dark. Mess it up and you’re toast. Conversely, the former of the styles (the white hat) can be likened to any member of the crowd of onlookers who have been herded by the emergency services behind the safety perimeter.


Know Google Knowing how Google ranks a site is easy: relevancy and authority, or to put it another way: content and links. Knowing how to break Google Webmaster Guidelines without getting caught is the dangerous part. And these days the only guidelines which matter are: “Thou shall not buy links”, followed by “Thou shall not use tricky redirects to remove penalties (anymore).” Contrary to what many SEO consultants and agencies would have you believe, it really is that simple. What makes SEO sound complicated is the language of SEO, which to some degree has been proliferated to protect the ‘dark art’ from being stolen by non-SEOs in much the same way as law uses language to keep the laymen out and the practitioner’s hourly rate secured. This takes us seamlessly back to Ralph Waldo Emerson’s quote, “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” Over the past 13 years, as an Internet marketing practitioner with a specialty in search engines, I’ve been involved in a number of small yet significant innovations – not that I’m particularly clever, it’s just that

there was no path. It was often impossible to find words to describe the route of the path, so we made them up. One forensic SEO investigation required the invention of an entirely new type of link analysis to identify the cause of a penalty, which had been issued to a major poker brand. Now, given that I’m a big fan of Star Trek and since I was writing the 108 page, £28,000 document and had invented this forensic technique for the purpose of this assignment, I got to make the name up for this particular technique, so I called it: Temporal Relevancy Fingerprinting – which analyses the page content of the entire backlink profile and how it evolves over time. In this case, we analysed the words surrounding a link text for millions of links and took monthly snapshots of these patterns. The point I’m making is when you go where there is no path, you will leave a trail. I always advise following your own instincts as there are no real experts… just people like you and me who are comfortable trying things out, experimenting, breaking things and trying to fix them again. Most important of all

is the belief, which supports our curiosity and provides the confidence to leave the path. So, I’ll leave you with the wise words of Napoleon Hill: “What ever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” With over 12 years’ experience in Search Engine Optimisation, PAUL REILLY is amongst the most experienced and influential professionals in the industry. With a wealth of experience in highly-competitive sectors, Paul has worked on many of the UK’s largest brands in the toughest spaces, both in-house and at large reputable search marketing agencies. In most recent years Paul has focused and specialised in online gaming, delivering consistent results that matter, time after time. Paul is the founder of MediaSkunkWorks, a new and pioneering service provider which dissects the traditional agency model, building world-class, handpicked specialist teams either inhouse or as outsourced think tank and creative problem solving service. MediaSkunkWorks which has built its reputation on innovation and optimised methodologies that really do deliver results.

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Switching Domains or Optimising the Structure? How to minimise organic losses, by Kay Schaefer, Founder, There are multiple reasons why a restructuring of a website is necessary, for example:

3. Going live 4. Updating the most important backlinks 5. Monitoring the switch


1. Prepare the new domain


Before executing the domain change, it is a good idea to prepare the new domain for the switch by getting some content up and adding it your statistical tools, as well those in Google Webmaster. You could even start building some links up to smooth the impact of changing domains.

the structure for SEO the usability for the website ●●Moving to a new domain When there is a change to the URL structure of a website, there is always the possibility of losing organic traffic as the search engines need to adapt to the new page structure. The goal is to minimise the losses of organic traffic by preparing the switch in the right way as failing to do so can easily result in severe traffic losses of up to 50 percent and more. You need a battle plan, a strategy to prepare the best way possible for the change: 1. Prepare the new domain if you are carrying out a domain change 2. Prepare the 301 redirects


iGB Affiliate october/november 2012

This has to be done for the whole of the page structure that is about to be changed, and for a domain switch, obviously for the whole domain. In most cases, a lot of the redirects can be simplified by applying rules (using regular expressions) to the redirects, like “all reviews can be now found in the new subfolder”. When mapping out all redirects, make sure to prepare the rules either for the server site or using the ‘.htaccess’ and make sure that they are implemented as a 301 permanent redirect.

2. Prepare the 301 redirects Explaining to the search engines as well as the users which old page moved to which new page is the most important step. Mapping old pages to new ones has to be done before the actual change takes place: Old URL New URL /music/bardsong.html /music/metal/ blind-guardian/bard-song /music/metalmusic.html /music/metal

Use the switch to repair broken links You can also use the event of switching to repair broken links in your old content structure. Use a tool like Xenu Link Sleuth to identify the broken links as well as the information you can find in the Google Webmasters tool. Implement this knowledge into the switch by redirecting or changing the broken links.


Do not forget to change the internal links to the new structure to avoid link juice losses due to internal 301 redirects.

3. Going live When everything is ready to go live, the 301 rules have to be implemented. It is recommended to submit a xml sitemap using the Google Webmasters tool of the new site structure. If changing to a new domain, make use of the ‘Change of Address’ option on the Google Webmasters Tool which is available to the owner of each website. Also, make sure that this form is filled out correctly; this step is very important in minimising the time it takes Google to recognise the change of domain. The other search engines do not have such a service at the moment, but they will be acknowledged through the 301 redirect.

4. updating the most important backlinks Backlinks are still the most important ranking factor for Google. The link juice transferred from a link to the linked website will be reduced if 301 redirects are

in between. The amount of reduction is unknown, as is whether using the ‘Change of Address’ form will reduce this loss or not. Therefore, it is recommended to change the most important links to the new domain or new webpage location by either contacting the webmasters or changing them yourself, if it is within your influence. Acquiring new links to the new domain and/or structure by announcing the changes officially should help promote the changes. The use of press releases, newsletters and social media channels would be a good idea.

5. monitoring the switch Besides mapping, this is one of the most important steps as mistakes show up quickly and can therefore be fixed just as swiftly. You should monitor your traffic using a statistics tool, like Google Analytics, and check Google Webmaster regularly to address crawl error problems and fix them as soon as possible. A ranking checker to monitor your positions in Google with the old and new domains can be very helpful as well, but you must make sure you gather ranking data before the change to have a comparison.

If you stick to those steps, a switch can be carried out with a minimum of organic traffic loss. This is normal, as search engines have to adapt to the new structure (which hopefully is better than the old one) to increase traffic and conversions by having a better optimised website for both users and search engines. If you have any detailed questions on the topic of changing a website structure, switching domains or any other SEO topic, do not hesitate to contact me.

KaY SChaeFer is Founder of Kay studied business administration and marketing before he settled on internet marketing and SEO in 2004. His main specialty is improving a company’s search engine visibility using creative and unique link building strategies. His client portfolio includes companies in online gaming and other industries outside of gaming. In 2007, he started building his own SEO company and currently resides in Barcelona, Spain.

iGB Affiliate october/november 2012



That’s not what I was looking for… How aligning conversion goals, user experience and search makes for a better site. On just about every site that I’ve worked on, I come across a recurring theme on a daily basis: site owners tend to focus so much on traffic acquisition, whether it is organic or paid search (or even a media buy) that they forget to account and design for the whole experience. An experience that began from the expectations that were raised by your pages search result listing that was then clicked on by the user. This oversight, although very subtle, has obvious consequences further down the click stream and for the conversion process as a whole. So what can you, as a site owner, do to avoid these pitfalls? The answer can be as simple jotting down a few ideas on a piece of paper and good old fashioned planning.

A reason for being: defining your conversion goals The first thing that you need clarification on is the reason for your site’s existence. As ridiculous as this might sound, it will help solidify, in your own mind at least, what the site should be doing and how you are going to go about attaining those goals. Writing down a couple of primary and secondary goals is essential as this will help give you macro and micro conversion points on-site to create and determine total economic value1 that a site is generating.

feedback messages3 that a site may display when a user is doing something right; such as correctly inputting data on a sign up form4 .

Keyword research: intent and user psychology All great sites have heaps of research (specifically of the keyword variety) done before they are officially launched. Your site (at all levels of web mastery) should be no exception to this rule. Whatever your tools of choice, make sure to group related terms together to define what your key pages are going to be. Also, try to gain an insight into the intent and possible mindset behind the search query: is the user looking for something specific or something a bit broader in nature? Think about where they are in the information gathering process and how you can try to satisfy second search queries as well. The ability to differentiate between a navigational or informational query could help develop the tone, approach and blending of different content types to be displayed on a page, so that it, above all others, satisfies a user’s query. Tools to help visualise your site’s information architecture can be a simple excel or a Freemind5 for mind mapping.

Build your site with speed in mind Although connection speeds to the web are getting quicker, one can’t underestimate the importance of a site that responds and loads quickly, as nothing is more frustrating than a slow sloth-like site. Some tweaks can be as simple as making use of a Content Delivery Network, or ensuring that a page loads CSS and JavaScripts in the correct sequence, possibly even minifying6 them, all the way to the more technical modifications of web servers and platform configurations. When you realise that a user’s experience of your site begins with what they read and then clicked on in the search result, you will naturally begin to align how your site’s search strategy begins to flow down to influence the whole conversion process. Don’t be the webmaster who overpromises and under-delivers. Build a site that has a strong sense of purpose, is easy to use and that uses search as an insight into the user’s psychology. With that in mind, your site will start to gravitate towards stronger conversions and higher returns on investment.

The art of data analysis Wireframes and designing for user experience From your conversion goals, begin to wireframe2 how your site is going to layout and function. Wireframes are great for incorporating not only how information is going to be displayed but also where you are going to be placing your conversion points on different page templates. Also, try to detail the user experience and how a user interacts with the site. A very simple example of this is use of positive

The ability to make better business decisions can, and will only happen when you as a webmaster can effectively analyse and interpret the data that is being captured in your analytics package. Sometimes, insights can be made via standard reports but generally, the real magic happens with custom reports and filtering, where a webmaster can gain actionable insights in to what you should be doing and not what you think you should be doing. is one such online wireframing tool to help you get started. 4 A great example of this is on the sign up form. 5 is a free java based mind mapping tool. 1



iGB Affiliate october/november 2012

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WHO WILL WIN? YOU DECIDE. THE SIXTH ANNUAL iGB AFFILIATE AWARDS FRIDAY 8TH FEBRUARY 2013 THE BREWERY, LONDON Every year over 500 people from the iGaming affiliate community gather to honour the ongoing success within the industry at the iGB Affiliate Awards. This elegant black tie event has sold out in both 2011 & 2012 so book today to ensure your attendance at this event.

New for 2013 • Streamlined Judging Process – All categories are open for voting. The top 10 with the most votes will then be shortlisted and go to a judging panel of industry experts • The Best Award Categories – From the Best Affiliate Manager to the Best Affiliate split by vertical, the categories highlight the best in the business • Premium Venue – This year’s Awards will once again be hosted at an exclusive 5* glamourous setting • Professional Compere – A well-known comedian will be presenting this year’s Awards, keeping you captivated throughout the night • More Networking – More time to socialise following the Awards Ceremony, giving attendees time to network, celebrate and congratulate the winners



Making Your Own Luck This issue, iGB Affiliate puts its questions to Sara Lelli, Affiliate Manager at

What is the background to and your experience in the online gaming space. The team behind has been involved in the gaming business for almost 15 years. We started with online casinos and got into online bingo very early on. We are the team that brought Globalcom bingo software to the marketplace, of which notable clients included Foxybingo. com and We later launched and operated At the present time, we have developed our own gaming platform that allows us to select from different providers. We have also released our latest bingo software and scratch cards. There is a lot more in the pipeline but we are keeping that under wraps for the moment. A lot of exciting news is going to be coming out in due course. What was your background prior to Prior to, I worked in Italy in event organising for a few years and when I moved to the UK in 2004, I worked for William Hill in their brand new (at the time) Internet department. For me, the gaming world was a great surprise and with, I have moved around in different departments, which has been great in giving me a great overview of all aspects of the business. How has the bingo sector has evolved since you started out? When we worked with Wink, it was a work in progress at all the time – you have to try and test things out and see what happens. Back then, the explosion of bingo was due mainly to the chat functionality and it was great to see the players having such good fun in the chat rooms. Since then, we have seen the introduction new innovations such as live callers or celebrities in the chat rooms, but the overall offering has stayed the same. I think it is a very interesting time for bingo now; it really needs to step up and modernise itself a bit.


iGB Affiliate october/november 2012

Indeed, for new-to-market affiliates or those new to gaming, is bingo a product that could be a good starting point given the current interest and its cross marketing potential to other casino-type side games? For new affiliates the path is always hard as the competition in the bingo and gambling verticals is really strong. Bingo could be an easier starting point as it’s not considered to be hardcore gaming, and it’s easier to write content about and to promote to non-gaming databases. My suggestion to new affiliates would be to start building up their blog/community and expand from there or introduce bingo focusing on the social aspects. Do you feel that the convergence of social and real money gaming is giving the bingo product a new lease of life because of the game’s inherently social nature – which has seen it become the first product launched for real money on Facebook? The social aspect of bingo has always been one of its leading forces and the growing number and importance of the networking sites has opened a new social sphere for interaction. I am not surprised that bingo was launched in real money as its social aspect makes it perfect for social gaming. What opportunities does this present to affiliates in the space? I think a lot of affiliates were already on the right path for this as they have been building their communities and have a customer base that follows their advice and their news. Many sites have been providing the opportunity to share news and images on the major social portals, and this has to increase. Content is key to the social aspect; the more that gets shared the better. Real money gambling in the social sphere is still in its infancy and, as of now, there is very little scope for affiliates to earn from the current operator of these social gambling games. Hopefully this will change moving forward when more operators inhabit the space.

In terms of marketing, what are the best ways for affiliates to approach the social space – I guess with the bingo product, the aspect of community building and integration are key components? As we touched on, affiliates have already started interacting with the social space, and they have to keep on doing this and create even stronger interactive communities utilising all of the tools at their disposal. Site or page content that gets shared needs to able to bring customers back to their website in order for them to monetise these efforts. We have seen in the last few algorithm updates just how important building and maintaining a community is for a webmaster and the fact that social signals now play an ever increasing role means that a holistic approach to the social aspect of sites is required. So, what we are saying is that social tools such as Twitter, Facebook and Google+ need to be fully integrated into sites and webmasters need to be making maximum use of these platforms. This issue of the magazine will land at the Barcelona Affiliate Conference where many of the industry’s new and leading affiliates and programs will converge to discuss business and catch up. How


“We have seen in the last few algorithm updates just how important building and maintaining a community is for a webmaster and the fact that social signals now play an ever increasing role means that a holistic approach to the social aspect of sites is required.”

important do these dates on the calendar remain for everyone involved in the affiliate sector of iGaming? The Barcelona Affiliate Conference dates are very well established in the industry diaries. Everyone needs to meet up a couple of times per year to have a catch up and exchange information and discuss business in person. I think that even if technology permits us to be in touch via ‘virtual’ methods, nothing is better than meeting your partners in person to create trust in each other.

Are those entering the industry for the first time entering in an environment ripe with potential? For newcomers in the industry I think life is hard but the industry always has potential. If you are a new operator, you need to establish yourself as a trusted business and offer good products; if you are an affiliate you have to be up-to-date and very proactive.

and lottery are the most played games on the Internet and represent both good value and entertainment which is, of course, the business that we are all involved in. With the increase of social gaming, we will see more and more integration between bingo and social platforms and this will increasingly go mobile as well.

Will bingo remain an important vertical in the global iGaming industry? I think bingo is here to stay and will always be a big part of the iGaming industry. Bingo

Finally, what would your advise an affiliate starting their business in today’s gaming industry? Have a good back-up plan and be patient.

More than just a magazine.

We’re committed to bringing out the super affiliate in you

Go to for free videos, articles and resources on the affiliate market. “An invaluable resource for anyone in the online gambling affiliate industry” JUNE/JULY 2012

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iGB Affiliate october/november 2012


bingo focus

Bingo: a New Era of Relevance Rob Wheeler, Commercial Director at Cozy Games, explores bingo’s relationship with the social space, its viability as a free-toplay and real money product and how the Facebook/Gamesys partnership will alter the landscape.

achievement, status and recognition within the community will all be key to social bingo’s success, and these factors will mould and morph the game away from its real money origins.

By its very nature, bingo is a social

Uncharted territory

game whether played in a real money environment or as a social gambling game. Players come to a specific bingo site to play in that particular community, to chat, to have fun and to enjoy a varied gaming experience with their online friends. In the real money scenario, the player has the chance of winning hard cash with an array of prizes on offer; from the smaller bingo games with smaller prizes but a better chance of winning, to the bigger networked games which offer eye-catching prize levels but a far reduced chance of winning, together providing a rich spectrum of price points and prize levels to attract a variety of different players. In addition, while they wait for a bingo game to play out, players enjoy the embedded side games on offer; normally a mixture of slots, scratch cards, roulette and blackjack. On average, 80 percent of a player’s spend goes through the side games offering, with the remainder spent on the core bingo product. Once the different ‘hold’ percentages have been blended and calculated, a site’s gross win is normally a ratio of 50 percent side games to 50 percent bingo, due to the much greater hold percentage of bingo games. Players are promiscuous and tend to play on three or four different sites. The UK bingo market is becoming increasingly saturated but there is still a large bingo playing audience out there to be fought over by the different players in the market with all operators experiencing a high rate of player churn. Jackpotjoy (Gamesys), Tombola, Mecca, Gala, Bet365, Ladbrokes, William Hill, Costa and Foxy Bingo all run very successful bingo sites and together constitute a large percentage of the UK market, however, there is also a multitude of smaller sites that have carved out very significant bingo businesses of their own, pitching more niche, personalised offers to players. With the competitive nature of the online bingo landscape in mind, it is little wonder that

Jackpot Joy and Gamesys are looking for a new player acquisition channel to further grow what is unquestionably already a very successful business.

Facebook launch The launch of Bingo and Slots Friendzy via the Facebook/Gamesys partnership is going to make fascinating viewing. There have been rumours for some time that Facebook would make a move into the real money online gambling arena. Given the pressure that the money men will be putting on Facebook following a far from successful flotation (the last time I looked the shares were trading nearly 50 percent down in value) it does not come as much of a surprise. Facebook will be looking at real money gambling in regulated markets as an additional revenue stream, and it will have done in-depth analysis to make sure it is not affecting its existing social gambling businesses which we know provide some of the best performing virtual currency sites within the facebook ecosystem and a large amount of the platform’s existing revenue stream. So what does this mean for bingo as a social game, and how will the different offerings play out against one another now that you can play for real money? It is important to note that Bingo and Slots Friendzy is for the regulated UK market only. It will undoubtedly affect other providers who have pitched a social bingo product specifically at a UK-based playing audience. Virtual currency is purchased most for social gambling in jurisdictions where online gaming is not currently legal such as the US market. When we look at the two game types, social bingo will start to further differentiate itself away from its real money counterpart. There will be a greater element of skill; just watching a bingo game play out when there is no money to be won will not be enough to retain a player’s interest. Speed daubing, greater animation, levelling up, reward models,

Real money gaming on facebook is unchartered water, so we have no data to reference to accurately gauge how this will play out. What will the percentage player conversion be like? Will acquisition and retention be better or worse than a site operating outside of Facebook? How will this affect the lifetime value of the players? Will the results justify the deal Gamesys has cut with Facebook? Surely, if I want to play for real money I go direct to a real money gambling site… I don’t go to Facebook. However, perhaps it will be the opposite. Facebook provides a huge funnel of players and its heaviest users fit exactly into the bingo playing demographic (the average user is a forty-year-old female); the theory being they don’t have to leave their beloved facebook to enjoy a game of real money bingo. There are rumoured to be a large number of new social gambling operators launching within Facebook over the next six months. The challenge Facebook will have is keeping those social operators enthused to market their sites whilst still allowing real money operators in. At the moment, the commercial model in social gambling is high with Facebook taking 30 percent of net revenue once the operators have already forked out for marketing within the Facebook ecosystem. Time will tell how this new dynamic will play out and what impact it will have on the industry at large.

Rob Wheeler is Commercial Director at Cozy Games. Having worked in the gaming industry for the last nine years, Rob has played an integral role at a number of highly respected gaming companies including IGT Interactive (formerly WagerWorks) and Virtue Fusion. He recently joined Cozy Games as Commercial Director and is primarily responsible for the development of commercial relationships with new and existing customers.

iGB Affiliate october/november 2012


bingo focus

The Business of Online Bingo By Andrew Housego, Operations Manager at With nearly 450,000 players and £90 million wagered on online bingo tickets every month, bingo is no longer the black sheep of the online gaming family. Bingo is now viewed as a compulsory part of the product mix for all major gaming companies, thanks to its lower player acquisition costs and the perceived player crossover to slots and games. With its increasing popularity, however, comes increased competition and establishing a foothold in the UK’s online bingo market is as difficult a task as it’s ever been. So, what does it take to make it big in online bingo and just where is online bingo heading? At the time of writing, there were over 250 online bingo websites in operation in the UK; a surprising number, even to those involved in the online gaming industry, most of whom would be hard pressed to name a handful of them. Likewise, the vast majority of UK consumers would be astonished to learn that bingo sites outnumber online sportsbook operators in the UK, ten to one. This is no indication of online bingo rivalling sportsbetting in either wagering or player terms, but is a direct result of the commercial accessibility of networked bingo solutions, allowing operators to launch a bingo site with ready-made room liquidity, before acquiring a single player.


iGB Affiliate october/november 2012

The rise of the bingo network The vast majority of bingo sites are networked in some form or another, with the only point of difference for many being a uniquely themed, but similarly laid out homepage. These particular sites share the same rooms and promotions and are effectively skins of a core bingo site, but there are many other sites that share rooms with other sites, but maintain a unique identity through different promotions and hosting their own rooms alongside networked rooms. Some of the biggest names in the business operate networked bingo rooms, with brands such as Ladbrokes, William Hill, Paddy Power and Mecca Bingo all operating on the Virtue Fusion platform and sharing rooms or individual games at certain times of the day. In recent months, industry giant Gala Bingo also made the move to a networked bingo solution, joining the Virtue Fusion platform and removing many of their standalone rooms in favour of networked rooms. Virtue Fusion is not the only provider of networked bingo rooms, with the 888-owned Dragonfish also hosting numerous networked sites. A host of lesser-known brands share the common rooms and promotions of the

Globalcom network, while the bwin.partyowned Cashcade also hosts a network on Dragonfish, featuring ailing brands Think Bingo and ITV Bingo.

Networked room model 20 PLayers for £10

50 PLayers for £25

100 PLayers for £50

200 PLayers for £100

2000 PLayers for £1000

So, what is the appeal of the networked room model? There is an argument that players find rooms with greater pots and player numbers more appealing, but our research indicates the opposite. In a survey conducted for our Q3 2011 Bingo Trends Report, respondents were presented with the following choices, each representing a bingo room with an equal ticket price of 10 pence. The choices are all mathematically the same, in terms of value for money. Each pot is equivalent to 50 pence per player in the room.

bingo focus

Given the absence of mathematical advantage in any room, the common misconception would be that the player would choose the highest value pot. In actuality, players chose the lowest value pot, focusing more on the number of players in the room, than the value of the pot. By far the greatest appeal of the networking of rooms is the cost savings to the operator. Chat hosting is an expensive undertaking and for most smaller operators, a cost too great to offset. By sharing the costs of chat hosting between ten or more sites, the cost to the operator is greatly reduced, but sharing chat hosts is not the ideal scenario for player satisfaction. Our player sentiment data reveals that chat hosts have a significant impact on players’ decisions on where they play and that the welcoming nature of the playing community is paramount to an enjoyable bingo experience. Research published in our Q4 2011 Bingo Trends Report showed that even players who don’t participate in the chat rooms are still influenced by the ‘chatmosphere’. 82 percent of players quote the atmosphere in a bingo chat room as having some level of influence in their decision on where to play their bingo. Although not an impossible task, it is certainly a more challenging one for a chat host to create this environment when hosting players from numerous sites in the one room, many of whom are unaware that the room they are playing in is accessible from numerous other sites. The most successful online bingo brand in the UK is Tombola, which, interestingly, hasn’t gone down the networking path. Granted, its player numbers and room liquidity don’t necessitate linking with other sites, but

perhaps the site’s strongest asset is its uniqueness in an otherwise ‘cookie cutter’ market. It would appear that the genuinely successful online bingo brands have the player liquidity to run commercially viable standalone rooms and have identified the value of doing so. While there may be some advantages to running the occasional networked jackpot game, it’s an insurmountable task for an operator to build a loyal bingo community and establish a unique brand identity when running only networked rooms.

Corporate consolidation in online bingo I recently completed an audit of contact information for affiliate managers from the 250-plus bingo sites featured on and the effects of corporate consolidation has never been more evident. The acquisition of Cashcade by in late 2010 saw the entire suite of Cashcade’s products come under the control of, whilst almost simultaneously, the Joy of Bingo brands were snapped up by 888 Holdings. These two significant corporate purchases presented the two biggest gaming companies in the UK with a formidable portion of the UK’s online bingo market, but as is so often the case with consolidation, the changes are not without their negative implications. In the early years of affiliate marketing, affiliate managers were tasked with the responsibility of managing one brand, or at a stretch, two or three. Since the onset of corporate consolidation in the industry, affiliate managers are now responsible for as many as 20 different brands, presenting considerable challenges to affiliate managers and affiliates alike. It’s not surprising to see some brands falling away as a result.

Of the 250 contact details I updated recently, I identified less than 25 affiliate managers servicing those 250 brands, and where once my inbox was filled with hundreds of affiliate updates each week, I’m now lucky to receive a handful. It seems the corporate squeeze has taken its toll on affiliate management in the online bingo sector and this will surely impact on revenues for the affected brands. The question remains whether the cost savings achieved by consolidating this important business function outweighs the loss in revenue that will no doubt result. It’s perhaps no coincidence that the best performing operators in the UK’s online bingo industry are those that remain committed to the success of a single brand, with Tombola, Gala Bingo and Mecca Bingo leading the way. From an affiliate’s perspective, the strength of an operator’s brand cannot be underestimated. Despite the myriad of choices and countless pounds in bonus cash being offered to consumers, big brands perform best, often with less attractive welcome offers. Establishing and maintaining a point of difference in this industry is the greatest challenge facing bingo operators and will only become more relevant as the market matures further.

Andrew Housego is the Operations Manager of the hugely successful online bingo portal Along with providing consumers with a valuable resource to find online bingo sites, the portal also provides industry data to online bingo operators, consultants and media organisations through their Bingo Trends product. Andrew can be contacted at

iGB Affiliate october/november 2012


bingo focus

Online Bingo: its Future in Technology The 14 year history of online bingo is dotted with significant milestones. In comparison to other sectors of online gaming, bingo was slower to join the mainstream. From its inception in 1998, it took nearly seven years until it became part of the ‘must have’ offering of major operators. However, as we have clearly seen, online bingo flourishes in regulated markets, and the UK market is a great proof of that. Since 2005, online bingo has enjoyed incredible growth, surpassing online poker in the UK in 2011 by market value. Whilst this growth has been phenomenal, the technology that powers it has surprisingly little to show in terms of advancement. It should be noted that today’s bingo platforms, which are powering over 90 percent of the UK market, were each developed and commercialised between 1998 and 2003. The inconsistencies of the Internet during that period, along with the technologies available to programmers at the time, presented a monumental task in overcoming the issues that plague software. The software needed to address what was required of it at the time; massive multi-directional communication and synchronisation of data in a live environment. While many companies failed to produce a reliable product, there were the few that succeeded, many of which today bear the name of a big brand as a result of the market consolidation that followed. The few success stories, however, have come at a price. As a trade off to a working piece of software, bingo developers had to mimic a real-time gaming environment by the use of ‘tricks’ that often included playing out the game on the servers, and then packaging the data and sending it off to the end user computer client. The game would then simulate a live game by playing out the result in a harmonised fashion synched only to a timer on the operator’s servers. While this appears to have fixed the issues and enabled bingo to be played as we know it over the Internet, it has little flexibility because by the time the game begins for the player, in reality, the game has long finished and the player only sees a play-back of an event from the past. While we have seen some announcements as of late, including the launch of bingo on mobile apps and such, the core engines of the game, as described, have barely changed.


iGB Affiliate october/november 2012

In a mature market such as the UK, where product differentiation and unique player experience will be the driving factor behind future success stories, new and innovative developments in the bingo sector are inevitable and a must.

Meaningful developments With the emergence of social gambling, and its inherently similar attributes to the online bingo industry, we are now beginning to see some meaningful developments in the bingo market. Some of these developments have been around the social components of the gaming platform and the development of social media functionalities surrounding the community aspect of a bingo platform. With new entrants to online bingo such as Zynga, IGT, and others with massive development budgets, we expect to see this 800-year-old game delivered in many new formats. The competition to win the hearts and minds of the average bingo player in this soon-to-be ultra-competitive market will also breed new and exciting developments in the sector. For those affiliates looking to evaluate the new and the old, a great suggestion would be to keep your eyes on the usability of the software. A good indication that a platform has been well developed is the similarities in player experience it is able to deliver across multiple platforms (mobile, tablet and desktop). While it is hard to imagine that the average bingo player will actually buy bingo cards and participate in a bingo game from his/her iPhone, it is quite conceivable that the players would love to continue to communicate with his/ her friends from the bingo community

while away from the computer using an iPhone or tablet. While there remains much room for development of the capabilities of the bingo games offered today, the majority of the features we will see in the near future will encompass the social stimulations that inherently surround the game.

Looking forward Looking forward, there is a great deal of momentum in creating gaming platforms whereby content developers can, for the first time, develop games that can be available for real money play within a regulated environment. This approach will very likely resemble a ‘Facebook-like’ platform, but regulated. Historically, this approach served to create a great vehicle in driving forward new ideas and innovation in technology. We have seen large investments made into the social gaming sector as of late by major online gaming developers and operators. If successful, we can expect an entirely new form of networked gaming to evolve. A platform where content developers will be just as important to network operators as affiliates.

Daniel F Kajouie is the current CEO of Isis Lab, a Canadian company that has successfully developed the next generation of online bingo software, fully equipped to face the new and exciting opportunities of our rapidly expanding gaming market. Having implemented true ‘push technology’, Isis Lab has been able to produce real-time bingo events over the Internet for the first time enabling a truly unique player experience.




UK IGAMING SEARCH TRENDS Search marketing agency, Greenlight, has kindly supplied iGB Affiliate with a report into its annual search traffic trends within the gaming sector from July 2011 to July 2012. Here, we can see the latest from the UK market in relation to search queries for our featured vertical of bingo and how it fares in comparison to its traditional counterparts, casino, poker and sportsbetting. GREENLIGHT’S ANNUAL REPORT into UK search trends shows a reasonably stable period in the overall number of searches for the combined keywords casino, poker, bingo and sportsbetting. However, these figures are significantly below volumes in 2010 when both July and August saw monthly search volumes of over 2.5 million, compared with July 2012’s total of just over 646,000, which is the second lowest in the year reporting period. Since August 2010, combined monthly search volumes have experienced sharp decline; in fact, September 2010’s figures fell by a notable 1.24 million to 1.3 million and despite some uplift in the following two months, average totals hovered around the 800,000 mark until July 2011 – the start of the latest annual reporting period (Figure 1).

Since then, we have seen a uniform decrease in monthly averages with the exception of April 2012, where a spike in sportsbetting related searches accounted for more than 859,000 – by far the highest monthly total this period and more on par with results seen in 2011. The uniform decrease in search volumes can be attributed to any number of factors, one of the likeliest being the changing search patterns of the UK betting demographic. As consumers become more aware of how they navigate between the sites they use to bet or play at, their reliance on search engines decreases for short-tail terms such as those detailed here, but may increase for more specific, longer-tail keywords for which is it almost impossible to monitor and chart successfully. Many of the searches recorded for these core

keywords such as ‘casino’, ‘bingo’ and ‘poker’ are more likely to be the reserve of those new to betting online, or those seeking information rather than ‘action’, hence the constant presence of Wikipedia at the head of the Greenlight results. The results for sportsbetting are also slightly muddied by the presence of short-tail terms such as ‘bet’ and ‘betting’ which although are grouped into the sports results, don’t necessarily represent accurate sports betting traffic.

July 2011 to July 2012 As we can see from Figures 2 and 3, aside from the sportsbetting influenced spike in April 2012 and a small jump for casino in November 2011, search levels have been largely stable, despite continuing on the general downturn from the previous

Figure 1 3,000,000 2,500,000 2,000,000 1,500,000 1,000,000 500,000 0

Series 1


Jul 10

Sep 10

Oct 10

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bingo focus

Figure 2 350,000







0 7-11





11-11 BINGO

year. Bingo has arguably been the most stable of all four products, undulating in and around the 250,000 mark, peaking at 288,883 in February and seeing its lowest point just two months earlier at 218,316. Sportsbetting would have laid claim to be the most consistent throughout the period were it not for April’s anomaly of 314,512 searches against its average of around 120,000 to 130,000, and a period low of 101,298. This anomaly pushes its yearly average up to 144,255 which isn’t reflective the year as a whole – finishing as it does with the lowest total for July 2012. The graph would indicate the poker has experienced the biggest drop off in searches, having eclipsed bingo-related searches at the start of period at 277,120 only to gradually decline to a period low of 148,417, finishing with an average of











201,128 which despite the decline, is still the second highest average for the year. Casino has the lowest average annual search figures at 118,492, peaking at 181,411 in November and seeing its period low back in August 2011 at just 92,437.

Summary All of these products are prone to seasonality, perhaps none more so than sportsbetting, whose peaks and troughs can be attributed to the sporting events, or lack thereof, taking place within certain months. The spike in search volumes in April (which began to rise in March) can be attributed to a number of factors, such as the appearance of events such as the Grand National, the end of the Premier League football season and Champions League Final (this year involving Premier League side Chelsea), and perhaps more

specifically the onset of the Euro 2012 Football Championships; although the decline in numbers in May and June, when the tournament took place, may argue against this assumption. For bingo, these figures seem to describe a product that holds consistent interest with Internet users throughout the year and one that is less prone to seasonal shifts due to events, as with sportsbetting and poker (tournaments). Understanding just what these users are searching for requires a deeper level of analysis of longer tail keywords but these short-tail results do give us a valuable snapshot into the general interest levels of each product in the UK market. Bingo, it would seem, has much potential still for marketers to explore, particularly as many of these searches could well be from first-time or inexperienced players.

Figure 3 Gaming Sector Report



























229,249 3,276,517















129,359 1,540,397














166,252 2,614,664

Sports betting













122,005 1,875,311

Grand Total













646,865 9,306,889

Source: Greenlight

iGB Affiliate october/november 2012


bingo focus

The Psychology of Online and Offline Bingo Professor Mark Griffiths observes what the latest research can tell us about the changing land-based and online bingo demographic. Given the popularity of bingo in numerous countries throughout the world, it is surprising how little scientific research has been carried out on the activity. To date, most of the research has examined offline bingo (which is unsurprising given that playing bingo online is a relatively new phenomenon), and most of the published research is from a sociological perspective typically involving small-scale interview studies and/or observation of players in bingo halls. Research carried out between 1980 and 2005 has tended to report that the majority of bingo players are working class women who play the game primarily to socialise with their friends in what they perceive to be a very ‘safe’ (and somewhat non-masculine) environment. Research conducted by the American sociologists Constance Chapple and Stacey Nofziger confirm these general findings but add that winning money eventually becomes an important motivation, as constant losing leads to the bingo playing ceasing (even if the main reason for playing bingo is sociability). Their research also reported that loneliness and boredom can also be critical factors in why women play bingo. Through the alleviation of boredom, bingo playing leads to the meeting of other like-minded people, and also helps to alleviate the loneliness. Online bingo sites have attempted to facilitate the sociability element by incorporating online chat options; the social rules are different online compared to offline. Whereas in offline bingo chatting is typically forbidden during game play, it is actively encouraged when playing bingo online. Online chat functions appear to be an effective retention tool for online bingo operators, and are specifically aimed at female players.

Demographics Online and offline bingo appear to have many similarities in terms of demographics. Online bingo sites (and the marketing and advertising they produce)


iGB Affiliate october/november 2012

tend to target women – particularly because bingo is the only form of gambling where women significantly outnumber men. For instance, we found in the most recent British Gambling Prevalence Survey (BGPS) published in 2011, that nine percent of the British adult population had played online and/or offline bingo in last year. Although men were more likely than women to participate in most forms of gambling activity, twice as many women (12 percent) had played bingo in the last year compared to men (six percent).

Feminisation One of the most noticeable trends I have written about in the last few years is the feminisation of gambling. I have argued that one of the reasons that greater numbers of women are gambling is because remote gambling environments (such as Internet gambling and mobile phone gambling) are gender-neutral. In the same way that female bingo players view the offline environments in which they play as ‘safe’, their attitude is even more prevalent online. While playing online bingo, females do not feel alienated and stigmatised as they sometimes feel in more male-dominated gambling environments such as betting shops and casinos. Furthermore, the perceived anonymity of playing online is another key factor that facilitates the playing of bingo online. In the same way that online poker sites are now trying to attract more women, some online bingo sites appear to be trying to attract more men. This is being done on many levels including the use of more neutral (unisex) colours in website design, non-cash prizes that appeal across gender lines, and less female-centric marketing and advertising. There is also an increasing number of online casinos that have introduced online bingo to its game portfolio. Such tactics are what we psychologists call ‘foot-in-thedoor’ techniques (the most obvious of

which are marketing tactics like sign-up cash bonuses or ‘play-for-free and win real money’ offers) where acquisition incentives are given in an attempt to either cross-sell games and/or create longer-term repeat business.

New player profile There also appears to be a new type of bingo player – one that only plays bingo online. In our most recent BGPS study, we found that 19 percent of all bingo players gambled online only (with four percent playing both online and offline, and the majority – 77 percent – playing offline bingo only). As we predicted, playing bingo was highest among older people with 11 percent of those over 75 years having played bingo in the last year. However, more interesting was the fact that the bingo playing was almost as popular among the younger demographic, with ten percent of those aged 16 to 24 years having played bingo in the 12 months prior to the survey. Interestingly (and perhaps unsurprisingly), this group (being arguably more tech-savvy) was more likely to be playing bingo online, and women were significantly more likely than men to play bingo online at least once a week. Journalistic stories about the rise in popularity of online bingo sites claim that the most recent statistics suggest that many men also enjoy online bingo and that the numbers of men playing online are on the increase. However, I have not been able to verify such claims, and even if I could, statistics never tell the whole story. As Ebbe Skovdah (a Danish football manager) once stated – “statistics are like mini-skirts, they give you good ideas but they hide the most important things.”

Mark Griffiths is Professor of Gambling Studies at the International Gaming Research Unit at Nottingham Trent University.


ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW AS AN AFFILIATE IN SPAIN With the opening of the regulated Spanish iGaming market earlier this year and with October’s BAC and iGB Espana conferences seeking to provide a comprehensive analysis of the market as it stands, iGB Affiliate sought to provide affiliates with some key insight into the landscape that awaits them in Europe’s latest major iGaming marketplace. To begin, Cristina Romero de Alba, Partner at LOYRA law firm and Alvaro Alonso, Partner at Fractal Consultancy, provide the legal lowdown to being an affiliate in Spain.

Unusual competitive dynamics Everybody knows that online gaming in Spain has finally been regulated and licensed at the federal level. A closer glance at the current state of play, however, reveals that the convoluted and rushed licensing process has brought about an atypical situation where a series of so-called traditional (i.e. pure land-based) players will have to launch their websites in competition with another group of entities that, due to their past operations in the black market, are now miles ahead in terms of experience, technical capabilities and have ready-made brands and databases. Regardless of how this situation is going to be dealt with by the supervisory and antitrust authorities, whenever they get around to scrutinising the new competitive arena, the truth is that the Spanish online gaming market is, to say the least, lopsided. Affiliate management is, undoubtedly, key to success in online gaming and even more so if we take into account this unusual competitive situation where new operators derive most of their income (over 50 percent) from traffic generated by affiliates.



Who is an affiliate and who needs a licence? Article 3 of Royal Decree 1614/2011 on Licensing, states that anybody carrying out gaming activities in Spain will have to obtain a licence, provided that their profit is linked to income derived from such activities and that they undertake any kind of marketing activities. However, paragraph 4 of that same article expressly excludes those entities that “exclusively carry out affiliate activities”. Activities regarding potential player promotion or acquisition will be considered as pure ‘affiliate activities’, provided that affiliates do not take on player registration or are party to any gaming contract with customers.

Features of a perfect affiliate… and a reliable operator Affiliation activities in Spain date back to 2005 (approximately) and are inexorably tied to the advent of online gaming activities in the (then) black market in Spain. During this period, affiliates have attained more knowhow concerning SEO and, although to a lesser extent, SEM

capabilities than the operators themselves. The majority of these entities did not come from what we would term sound professional business backgrounds, but have succeeded in achieving impressive growth and value capitalisation under the wing of the operators.



“There are tremendous opportunities for affiliates wishing to carry out a successful operation in Spain, particularly regarding the newly licensed operators who lack the relevant Internet experience.”

Most operators would agree on three main characteristics that would make for the perfect affiliate: physical presence in the target market; proven track record in the gaming industry; and flexible capabilities allowing for tailor-made fee structures. The operator, in turn, will have to implement independent and suitable tools to monitor traffic and income (affiliate software) and an adequate product offering. Affiliate software needs to be bullet proof against manipulation, needs to be simple, powerful and robust regarding ad-serving capabilities, monetisation reporting and monitoring and to be able to manage partners, affiliates and marketing actions in an effective way.

Marketing and promotion of gaming in Spain: applicable regulations The publicised project of the Spanish General Directorate of Gaming of the Ministry of Finance (DGOJ) to regulate the marketing and promotion of gaming activities in a consolidated piece of independent legislation has not yet come into force. Instead, the DGOJ has signed up to a so-called Code of Conduct with the Asociación para la Autorregulación de la Comunicación Comercial (AUTOCONTROL), which is an independent self-regulation organisation made up by advertising associations, agencies and other media. Most of the licensed operators have, to this date, adhered to the Code of Conduct. Widely based on its UK and Italian predecessors, the Code applies to any advertising, promotion, sponsorship or any other type of marketing. Despite this, any such communications obviously remain subject to the regulations and provisions on publicity and promotion contained in relevant applicable laws, such as the General Law on Publicity, the Unfair Competition Act, General Law on Audiovisual Communications and the Law on Information Society Services.

General principles and best practices for marketing gaming activities Any marketing of gaming activities must be conducted in good faith, be easily recognisable as gaming activities, fair, not misleading and contain all of the relevant information. They have to be made according to the principles of social responsibility, meaning that they will not stimulate anti-social behaviour, market unlicensed or prohibited games, spur irresponsible gambling or present gaming as indispensable or as a priority. The general principles for responsible gaming laid down in the Code prohibit any commercial communications inciting pathological gaming or suggesting gaming as an escape from everyday life, personal or professional difficulty or as a relief from financial distress. Naturally, they must not encourage compulsive gambling or mislead the player as to the chances of winning. For the protection of minors, the Code contains a series of provisions regarding specific types of TV or other media programs and certain timeframes where marketing of gaming activities will be banned, depending on the type of game.

When are affiliates liable? The general principle laid down in Royal Decree 1614/2011 is that licensed operators will be held liable for any infringement of applicable gaming laws for the regulation of advertising and promotion of games in the event that affiliates who commit them are acting on their behalf. However, this evidently does not mean that affiliates may conduct their business as they see fit. Apart from the general principles of Spanish law and the Spanish Civil Code, a series of back-to-back provisions will make them liable vis-à-vis the operator and, eventually, also the end user. The entities that have signed up to the AUTOCONTROL Code will be subject to any resolutions issued by the Publicity Jury of AUTOCONTROL, which is the relevant

department that will deal with any claims regarding commercial communications made by such entities and may also seek Copy Advice from AUTOCONTROL before conducting any marketing activities to ensure compliance. As always, it is advisable to seek local legal and business advice to make sure that affiliation activities conform to the legal framework and general practice in Spain.

Current market status The affiliation business has been entirely focused on the online sphere, which, as far as gaming is concerned, was illegal in Spain until the first licenses were awarded in June, and which meant that activities were carried out without need for compliance. This is now changing, and affiliates should keep it on their radar as some of their business parameters may suffer substantial modifications. It will be interesting to see how the Spanish Tax authorities deal with this activity now that it has been put on the regulatory map. To the contrary, the offline business has never relied on affiliates due to the strict advertising and marketing restrictions that have historically applied to their ways of conducting their operations. Affiliates started appearing in Spain with the advent of the online phenomenon towards the end of the 1990s and quickly developed as experts in SEO and SEM keyword positioning in parallel with Google’s expansion. Their triumph and their strength has been, and continues to be to make themselves indispensable as the middleman between the operator and the player. There are tremendous opportunities for affiliates wishing to carry out a successful operation in Spain, particularly regarding many newly licensed operators who lack the relevant Internet experience. The downside is the recent and aggressive entry into the market of foreign operators with substantial financial firepower and who are taking up the affiliate market slowly but steadily.




How has the regulated Market Affected Affiliates? Due to the regulation of the Spanish market on July 1, 2012, affiliates have had to re-evaluate and adapt their businesses, or cease trading. Christian Khoury from Cmedia, Daniel Fernandez Soutullo from Apuestas10 and Vicente Muñoz from Sublime Networks discuss how they are dealing with a regulated Spain with Jacqueline Becker, Gambling Consultant for the Spanish and Latin American markets. Jaki Becker (JB): How has the Spanish market changed since regulation in July? Christian Khoury (CK): The number of potential customers has diminished, as many operators have chosen not to enter the regulated market right from the start. The high tax rates imposed on operators since the regulation has lowered the income generated by affiliation deals. New communication channels have opened up to operators (media, Google AdWords, etc…) reducing affiliation budgets. Daniel Fernandez Soutullo (DFS): Not enough time has passed to fully evaluate the market, but my first impression is that operators are trying to position themselves in the regulated market differently from before; some with very clear strategies and budgets and others still trying to find their space. Naturally, some are establishing a strong foothold while others are struggling. Regarding the existing players, initially there was a drop in activity due to the lack of clarification on the taxes, but this is slowly rising. It’s too early to quantify the ‘player values’, especially from the newly permitted TV channel. Small affiliates are suffering from operator cutbacks and many have disappeared. The big affiliates are changing strategy and trying new channels. Shortly, we will see media owners and large businesses partnering with operators. I think this is the how the market will emerge. Vicente Muñoz (VM): The regulation of the Spanish market has hit affiliates and operators very hard. Operators have not migrated old player databases over and the affiliates in the market have lost many of their players and revenue share earnings. We have had to start all over again with the various brands. For new affiliates, it has been an opportunity to acquire players that had already been recruited by old affiliates. With the new regulations, the operators now have less marketing budget and create



less affiliate led promotions, concentrating exclusively on the top affiliates and big media channels such as TV and radio. JB: How has that affected you commercially? CK: We have changed the way we work by creating new products: ●●Retargeting ●●SEM/SEO services ●●Opened up to new business units, such as Soda Poker, our free poker site ●●Offers for combining online and offline promotions

DFS: We suffered initially when the law first came in. The operators took a step backwards and held back budgets for big campaigns, mainly TV. However, bit by bit they are increasing their dedicated resources to profit from spend over the coming months. VM: The regulation has lowered the income of all affiliates, especially those promoting casino and bingo as without slots, which have yet to be regulated, they are nowhere near as profitable. The limitations that the DGOJ (La Direction del Ordenacion del Juego – Spanish regulatory board) has applied to player deposits means that the player value is lower. Players must now obtain permission to increase limits, which takes seven days. JB: How have you adapted your business to accommodate the regulation? CK: We anticipated the change in the market and during 2011, launched a B2C offering to compensate for the lower incomes from our traditional B2B/affiliation model. DFS: We have increased the quality of our own product and invested in innovative projects that allow us to compete in a regulated market. We are offering consultancy services and allowing others to use our tools and knowledge to optimise their traffic. Certainly, the market is shrinking but we are also certain that with a good product we will carve out a niche.

VM: The first thing we have had to do is to separate the traffic that comes from other countries from our Spanish traffic with a GeoIP script. After several months of updating our websites, they are now all prepared to pass casino traffic to different casinos segregated by country; that way, we don’t’ lose non-Spanish traffic. We have also had to re-negotiate all of our deals with operators under the new conditions, especially in the case of poker which depends on liquidity and conversion capacity. We work with CPA, Rev Share and Fixed fee models. JB: How do you see the affiliate market evolving in Spain? CK: The market will grow with the arrival of bricks-and-mortar operators into the online scene. The market will then condense, as strategic mergers will become more and more common. Based on what happened in France, acquisition costs will be high in the first year which is strategic for reaching critical mass and market share, and then will decline by two to three times after the first 12-18 months. DFS: Small affiliates will struggle. Some will look to change the way they work by requesting a fixed fee with a revenue share but with operators dedicating their budgets to large media campaigns, it will be difficult. The bigger affiliates will add third-party products to their own. Operators will merge to survive in a competitive market. Over the next three years, I think many operators will leave the Spanish market, and that will be defined by their strategies over the next few months and their ability to adapt. There will be a boom and saturation which will last for a few years, and then stabilise. VM: This market may appear to be developing quickly, however, this simply isn’t the case. There are more and more affiliates appearing but very few quality ones. There are many webmasters that create poker or sportsbetting websites, but it’s a subject you really need to know a lot about to offer interesting content to the user. As soon as they realise the work involved to get results, they lose enthusiasm and close down. Others are looking for ways to counteract the losses caused by the regulation. I, for example, offer consulting services to operators including SEM, SEO and web performance optimisation.

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Optimising your Business in Spain So, you’ve looked at Spain, you’ve analysed the demand, you’ve analysed the competition, you’ve weighed up the business model and you’ve said… “¡Vamos por ello!” (Let’s go for it). Well done you, we all like a tryer… and with over 30 million online users and only 65 percent of the country covered in terms of Internet usage, you’ve picked a place with lots of opportunity get your teeth stuck into, and one that has great potential to grow over the coming years. First and foremost when looking at Spain for SEO, you should be aware that it is a Google dominated market, with around a 95 percent market share. There is no Yandex, Baidu, Seznam equivalent in Spain (well, one that’s well used anyway). Therefore, your SEO strategy needs to follow a Google optimisation route and for this reason, the basic ‘dos’ are the same in Spain as they are in other Google markets – make your site nice and easy to crawl, optimise your pages with target keywords, build quality links and preferably avoid any kind of activity that’s likely to be slapped down on and given a zoo animal label – such as over optimisation, using link farms, etc. However, it’s important to be aware that any SEO strategy you implement in any market should be localised to that market. The basic check points might be the same, but when you’re up against rigorous competition it’s not enough just to do the basics. The most efficient and effective multilingual search SEO campaigns are those that are thought



out by market and where local search behaviours, trends and conversion habits are considered and steer key points of the campaign.

Research and set-up When companies look to target international markets, the process of ‘keyword research’ is mostly lost, becoming instead ‘keyword translation’ or ‘keyword duplication’. Rather than research a market’s unique phraseology, competition and search stats, the bold assumption is made that whatever a

Spanish person tells you ‘NFL picks’ is in Spanish, that’s what the Spanish search for and that’s what you should target. This is, of course, nonsense but 50 percent of the multilingual campaigns OBAN takeover requires us to go right back to SEO kindergarten and look again at what is being targeted. Are you sure you looked at each market as much as you did your primary market? The perfect translation for ‘online slot machines’ in Spanish, as detailed in the table below, is ‘tragamonedas online’, however, in Spain the slang

Here’s an example of how easy it is to slip up: Spanish Keyword

English Translation


Local search volume Spain

tragamonedas online

online slots machines



tragaperras online

online slots machines



maquinas tragamonedas

slot machines



maquinas tragaperras

slot machines



Argentinean Keyword

English Translation


Local Search Volume - Argentina

tragamonedas online

online slots machines



tragaperras online

online slots machines





“The most efficient and effective multilingual SEO campaigns are those that are thought out by market and where local search behaviours, trends and conversion habits steer the key points of the campaign.”

term ‘Tragaperras online’ is more highly searched. Firstly, if you’d just used translation you’d be targeting the wrong term in Spain. Secondly, if you look at the Argentinean search, it’s the other way around – ‘tragamonedas online’ is the much more searched term. Therefore, if you’re running SEO campaigns in ‘Spanish’, this is overlooking cultural differences between Spanish speaking markets of which there are many – you should be running SEO campaigns for Spain, then Argentina, then Chile; there is no ‘global Spanish SEO solution’ to all Spanish speaking markets. Ideally, you should target each market uniquely, and that’s how Google works (and is increasingly going this way; the Venice update being an example). The final takeaway point is that the competition scores in Spain for ‘tragamonedas online’ are about the same as ‘tragaperras online’, showing that a significant number of people in Spain are targeting the wrong term. Opportunity? In terms of other set-up/on-site aspects, the other big question you should be asking yourself is one of my favourites – ‘do I use, es.mysite. com or’ In other words, local ccTLD, subdomain or subfolder? The reason this is a favourite is that there is no one answer that is true for every scenario and it should be looked at in great detail. Google itself provides information on the pros and cons of the various models but on top of this, a rule of thumb should be, ‘is every site ranking one to ten for my target keywords using a local ccTLD?’ If the answer is ‘yes’, there is strong reason to believe you will need one to rank there too. If there is a mixture of subdomains and subfolders, then you’re in a position to look at cost implications and weigh up the difference between the localisation boost you’d get from the local ccTLD domain against

the lower cost it would be to running a subdomain and subfolder – but then the extra SEO you’d have to do on those to rank well locally at the highest level. Subdomains and subfolders are often good in the short-term but getting ranked one to five without a ccTLD for a competitive term is generally very tough.

Off-site work In terms of your off-site approach, I’ll echo a previous point I made about Google being locally focused and going more so, backed up in most recent times by the Venice update. Good multilingual looks at SEO by market; it doesn’t look at ‘Spanish’, it looks at ‘Spain’ because that’s how most search engines work. Therefore, with your link building strategy in Spain, you should be targeting ‘.es’ domains that are ideally hosted in Spain, not ‘.mx’ domains hosted in Mexico. Now, a big part of good link building is relevancy and context so building links around relevant Spanish content in Mexico is going to be better than doing it in French in France, and by a long way. However, you don’t want to get wrapped up into thinking a global Spanish approach is the way to go; it isn’t. The primary opportunity is the host market and you’ll get better results building locally. If you’re competing in a space like gaming, which is very competitive, this is paramount. Another consideration to make for Spain is that whilst the top-level social media landscape is similar with Facebook and YouTube being very popular, there are also a number of local social media that are unique to this market. If social is becoming an important part of your SEO strategy then it’s important to make sure you’re using the right social media in each market and that you’re leveraging the most you can out of this activity; just rolling out Twitter and Facebook

campaigns in every market is going to have limited impact. The most notable example for Spain would be Tuenti, which is a similar style platform to Facebook and has over ten million users in Spain.

Summary In summary, Spain is a big online market with lots of opportunity but also a fair level of competition. Your main ‘tick boxes’ are similar to that of other Google dominated markets but if you’re going to compete at the highest level then you need to do more than this. Key check points: ●●Avoid translation bias and do your research locally when it comes to keywords and creating meta copy – don’t assume that your Chilean IT manager is going to be able to tell you how someone’s searching in Spain, or what will make that person click. ●●Make a clear distinction in all your activity from what you’re doing in LatAm to what you’re doing in Spain – a ‘one size fits all’ strategy to Spanish SEO is ultimately flawed when it comes to reasonably competitive areas and above. ●●Analyse the unique competition in the market paying particular attention to the localisation of those sites and their domain extensions. This will be key when you start to compete at positions one to five. ●●Build local links in Spain and be aware of opportunities that lie in local social media and that you’ve the right team in place to uncover those little pearls of opportunity. Jonathan Murphy is Account Director at OBAN Multilingual and is a regular speaker on the iGB Affiliate conference circuit. Jonathan can be reached at




Is the Spanish Market Right for you? Is Spain the right fit for your marketing strategy and if it isn’t, then where should you be looking? Spain is far from being the land of opportunity that it used to be; in fact, it is clearly one of the more competitive markets from an SEO perspective, which is many affiliates’ bread and butter in terms of traffic. But, that is not to say that you shouldn’t really be looking at Spain as a legitimate area to expand your business. Mike Litson investigates. The Spanish language market is softer than the English language market Based on Internet World’s estimates1, around eight percent of the Internet’s users speak Spanish as a first language, but according to w32, only four percent of web content is in Spanish. This ratio is essentially reversed for the English web, with 27 percent of users speaking English and 54 percent of web content being in the English language. Of course, the benefit



of English is that it is the global second language, but when it comes to logically targeting any market you will clearly have an advantage if you use the native tongue. Whilst the percentage of sites in Spanish is growing it should also be stated that the South American market is also seeing large growth in terms of Internet usage; it has undergone growth of 15 percent between 2010 and 2011 and is predicted to grow by a further ten percent by the end of 20123.

There is a place for bingo affiliates If you’re a bingo affiliate then Spain is certainly the logical market for you to enter if you’re looking outside of the English speaking sphere. Due to the recent legislation, the smart move is probably to promote those bingo halls that already have their ‘.es’ domains and Spanish licences, as you don’t want to be left with someone exiting the market and you losing out on future revenue. Spain has,



“This is going to be something of a controversial stance for someone who stands up as an SEO expert, but don’t rely on Google. That isn’t to say don’t rely on search, but if you are really looking to diversify your business then why not mitigate your risk, not just through having different websites, but different algorithms watching them.”

for a long time, been widely considered the second largest legal bingo market after the UK, with an estimated $255 million in gross gambling yields in 20094. This is hugely important if bingo is your product of choice, as focusing on this niche does limit the number of markets worth entering.

What do I need to know about Spanish SEO? The fact is that things aren’t much different than anywhere else in Europe; the basic principles of SEO are the same as the dominant search engine is still, after all, Google. Links still matter, good content is still important and social signals are still the way forward. Which brings me to my next point: if you want to SEO for Spain make sure you promote your social content like a native. Of course, the global giants are still in play and it would be foolish to ignore Facebook, Google+ or Twitter, all of which have significant roles to play in the market, but there are other players to be aware of. The most notable of these is Tuenti and based on its Spanish market share, it is probably going to be hanging round for a while. Currently, it is estimated that Tuenti has a user base of around 13 million people5. The downside is that Facebook does seem to be slowly chipping into this market share, however, there is probably a reasonable longevity in the Spanish social network and it’s certainly worth investing some time into at the moment.

Why you should stay away from Spain and look to Russia or China This is going to be something of a controversial stance for someone who stands up as an SEO expert, but don’t rely on Google. That isn’t to say don’t rely on search, but if you are really looking to diversify your business then why not mitigate your risk, not just through having different websites, but different algorithms watching them.

This is personally my top tip for the coming months: look to Yandex and Baidu as methods of stabilising your business model. The issue that a lot of affiliates have is that they implement similar if not the same marketing (whether that be SEO, PPC, social and so on) across all their domains. If you rely solely on markets ruled by Google and you get hit by a penalty in one of the territories then you can bet that the rest will follow suit. This then results in a domino effect and the whole business potentially going under. Whereas, by relying on a different set of search engines you may never even be hit by the same sort of penalties; Yandex has said that it won’t penalise link buying (well, more specifically, trading): “We also do not guarantee that the ranking of link trading sites will not be decreased.”6 The search engine does intend to attach more value to editorially given links, so that means no penguin; assuming you don’t carry out any really stupid link buying. To refer back to the same statistics looking at the Chinese stats, 25 percent of Internet users browse in Chinese and only 4.5 percent of the web is in Chinese.

Legislation Back to Spain, the recent legislation changes could potentially stand to cause a lot of upheaval in the market and many affiliates may want to wait until the storm is fully weathered before actually committing time, money and resource to competing in an unstable market.

The point The Spanish market may seem like the obvious decision for a Western European marketer and the familiar character system and reasonably decipherable grammar does make it more appealing to a native English speaker. However, whilst the initial risks are greater in other markets, there does stand to be a much greater reward and if you get it right, the long-term risks to your business as a whole could be significantly lowered through increased diversification. 1. Number of Internet Users by Language, Internet World Stats, Miniwatts Marketing Group, 31st May 2011, accessed 22 April 2012 2. Usage of content languages for websites,, 30th December 2011 3. Emarketer Study,, July 26th 2012 4. eGaming Report H2 Gambling Capital July 2009 5. Research and Insight, WTM Vision, June 2012 6. What does Yandex think about SEO links?, Yandex Help,, date unkown

Costs You also need to remember that copywriters from these countries are remarkably cheap, although as always with foreign writers, make sure to get the first few batches checked by a third-party before placing any trust in the writer.

What about Korea? It should be noted that not mentioning the Korean market was deliberate. Whilst Naver and Daum (the Korean Search Engines of choice) again run on different algorithms, Korea is a market that is far more complicated than I can run through in the space of this article – I’m not saying that it isn’t worth the investment, just that it will take an article in itself to examine this market.

Mike Litson has been in Search Engine Optimisation for several years and specialises in competitive markets, predominantly iGaming. Having worked with many major players in the sector he has a solid understanding of what goes into making a successful campaign, both on and off site. Focusing mainly on SEO, Mike is also very well versed in SMO, PPC, Affiliate Management and Email Marketing believing that none of the skills are mutually exclusive and that having strong knowledge across online marketing channels can provide unique opportunities. Mike currently heads up the Blueclaw iGaming and affiliate department.




Affiliate Strategies for Exploring New Markets and Niches With the US now considered something of a re-emerging market, the affiliates and operators that previously served into the industry’s once dominant market know all too well the challenges that await businesses looking to expand their reach into new regulated geographic markets, such as Spain. Jeremy Enke, Founder of Poker Affiliate Listings, shares his experience of adapting affiliate operations for new marketplaces. Once among the most lucrative affiliate markets in the world, the online poker industry within the US has progressively slid into a ‘Great Depression’ since Black Friday in April of 2011. Gone are the days of US online poker players and enthusiasts having easy access to the world’s largest poker rooms. And it’s not only the poker players and enthusiasts who have been affected during this time of uncertainty; gambling affiliates have been hit especially hard. Unlike many recreational poker players who play online



with disposable income, gambling affiliates rely on the industry to make a living. Many gambling affiliates who relied on revenues from the US operators seized on Black Friday have had to rapidly change their business plans and direct their core strengths into new markets or niches. Although the events of April 2011 undoubtedly contributed to many affiliates leaving the industry altogether, one thing is certain: being successful as a gambling affiliate is extremely challenging. If an individual can make it in the gambling

industry, they more than likely can parlay their skills and find the same level of success in a less competitive niche. The US is not the only country that presents uncertainty for affiliates either. As the online gambling industry continues to mature, so does global regulation. Recently, we’ve see countries such as France, Italy and Spain regulate their licensed online poker operators by ring fencing players who reside within their borders. This does, however, present a unique opportunity for affiliates to capitalise in these countries.


“Given the global uncertainties in the gambling affiliate market, there has never been a better time to diversify your affiliate business and explore new markets and niches.” Exploring new markets Driving traffic and promoting inside new markets can be one of the most exciting, yet challenging tasks a gambling affiliate will undertake. The affiliates in the industry who have found success entering new markets all share five similar traits:

1. Research: research, research and more research. They have a comprehensive understanding of the market as well as the demographic of gamblers within it. 2. Existing strengths: these affiliates haven’t tried to re-invent the wheel. Instead, they have simply leveraged their existing talents and resources to emulate what has already made them successful. 3. Networking: whether with other affiliates or operators, these affiliates have networked with others in these new markets to ensure that they have a full understanding of both the challenges and opportunities presented by their entry. 4. Choose wisely: regardless of what new market an affiliate might enter, there are usually several operators to promote. It’s important for affiliates to choose the programs they promote based on research and not just commission rates. 5. Overcoming language barriers: even in English speaking countries, the dialects and words can vary greatly. When producing content to attract new players in these countries, it is imperative that the affiliate uses the proper language and accepted terminology in those regions. When researching and analysing new markets, it can often be helpful to simply look at what other successful affiliates inside that market are currently doing. Likewise, this is a great way to learn what the top brands being promoted in this region are. Another great source of information when exploring new markets can be speaking with your affiliate managers. Often, they have an inside view of the various markets and which convert better than others. When initially entering a non-English speaking market, one of the fastest and most effective ways to begin driving traffic and conversions is via translation of existing content. If you have an existing portal that for years has converted traffic in different languages or countries, it may

be easier than you think to begin attracting a more global audience. These sites are often already aged and ranked in the search engines, so half the battle is already won. Most experienced affiliates can probably tell you the exact five pages in order that convert traffic at the highest rate. These are the pages that should be focused on and experimented with first when having content translated. When speaking of translation, it is also extremely important to make sure that your translations are of the highest quality and translated by someone who speaks the native language. If possible, it also important that the translator understands gambling and the various gambling terms that are used in that country. Time and research can be your best friend when choosing a translator. Also, it’s always best to get a sample of the translator’s work or testimonials from other affiliates before committing to having an entire site translated.

When choosing a new niche to explore, it’s important to establish if you’re going to be investing a great deal of time and money, or if you are just going to test the waters. One thing that has held many affiliates back is that they fall in love, or become attached to a certain niche which keeps them from exploring new markets or products. There is no doubt that trends and fads can be very profitable, but if you’re looking to build a long-term business in an individual niche, you should choose one with a record of sustainability. It’s easiest to begin promoting affiliate products in a niche that you’re familiar with. It’s even better if you have a passion for it. Some of the biggest poker affiliates in the world got their start at the table, and parlayed their passion of the game into extremely successful Internet businesses. Three reasons it’s beneficial to choose a new niche that you are knowledgeable and passionate about:

Diversifying into new niches outside of gambling

●●Your excitement and enthusiasm will allow

A niche is essentially a specialised market containing a group of people who share a common interest or quality. As mentioned previously, the gambling affiliate market is indeed one of the most competitive niches in the world. Instead of entering new markets, many gambling affiliates have decided to venture out into new niches both inside and outside of gambling where they can leverage their existing affiliate skills to find success elsewhere. When diversifying into a new niche, it is important to choose products or brands to promote that are not overly saturated. Many traditional gaming affiliates have been experiencing an exceptional amount of success in niches such as binary option trading, penny auction sites and, with the large sportsbetting season here, sportsbooks, sports picks, and handicapping. Certainly, there are thousands of different niches affiliates can diversify into. However, many gaming affiliates have found that emerging affiliate markets (such as the ones mentioned) which involve both risk and skill can be an easy transition to promote from online gambling.

you to create better content that delivers a more powerful message to your traffic. ●●You can relate to the market you are promoting within and can build your brand around being a trusted expert or authority. ●●It is much easier to engage with your audience or others who share that common interest. Given the global uncertainties in the gambling affiliate market, there has never been a better time to diversify your affiliate business and explore new markets and niches. Often, taking a break from the normal routine and learning new markets and niches can also help sharpen your overall affiliate marketing skills. There is no doubt that, over time, the uncertainty that gambling affiliates are facing will indeed be challenging. And with new regulations and markets constantly changing, there will always be opportunities to be successful in the online gambling industry. Depending on what transpires in the US market, we could very well see another gold rush for affiliates. In the meantime, however, gambling affiliates should take advantage of the opportunity to learn new markets and niches.



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Fantomaster Ahead of his appearance at October’s Barcelona Affiliate Conference, iGB Affiliate sat down with Ralph Tegtmeier, AKA fantomaster, to talk about his path to success, the evolution of the online marketing landscape and how he would approach starting out in today’s environment. What were you doing before you entered the search space? Having worked for many years as a freelance translator, I discovered Internet commerce in the autumn of 1995. Initially, it was all about affiliate programs, then I started to focus on the offshore finance and privacy protection market. Tells us a little about one of your earlier AKAs, ‘taxBomber’… In-line with my offshore provider activities, I adopted the ‘taxBomber’ handle which became a bit of a household name in the industry for a while. At least, my sales copy was widely pirated so I guess I must have been doing something right. What did online marketing consist of back then and have any practices stood the test of time to remain relevant in today’s market? While it may seem that things have changed dramatically since then, the basic tenets actually haven’t. To this day, it’s all about addressing customers’ needs, building trust and offering good service; in short – the works. Obviously, we now have a slew of neat and fast technology at our disposal to smoothen the process and scale it up. Data analysis is far more advanced, split testing is a realistic option even for smallish web outfits, as are database driven ecommerce sites which were once prohibitively expensive. But, if you can’t really relate to your clientele, if you cannot pinpoint their requirements and service them with what they need and want, if you cannot sell, then all of this fancy tech will be to preciously little avail. Looking at website optimisation specifically, what was the early landscape like and what techniques were employed that have laid the foundations for what many webmasters and SEOs are doing today? Ironically, even before the term ‘search engine optimisation’ formally came about, everything used to focus on stuff that would later be classed ‘black hat’. Webmasters in the know (of

which there were really only a few at the time) would use just about every trick in the book as long as it helped them achieve top rankings (i.e. outdo their competition). This included techniques like invisible text, keyword and meta tag stuffing, duplicate title tags, etc. Almost all of these were later demoted by the major search engines, of course. But this only happened when engineers at the search engines started to realise that their respective set-ups were actually liable to this type of manipulation. I still remember the times when the same engineers would attend conferences and listen to the geeks sharing the latest tricks in a contest of different mindsets, as it were. There were even inadvertent tools offered by the search engines themselves that assisted the process. For example, Infoseek would update its index in real-time – so when you started to experiment with some onpage trick of this ilk, it would only take seconds to see how effective it was. What they call the good old days…

a half’s worth of research and development, the company was founded and hit the market with industrial-strength cloaking software. What factors gave your first business its initial success? Initially, in the taxBomber era, it wasn’t really that difficult making an impact online as competition, while quite real, was still pretty small overall. Moreover, hardly anyone took the search engines too seriously at first. Many people were flabbergasted when they learnt that search engine results could actually be influenced at all if you knew how.

How did you get into the search space? From a certain point onwards it became advisable to get into some less controversial business rather than international tax minimisation schemes. We managed to convert high tax Sweden into a virtual tax haven until they actually had to change their legislation because of us. Big Brother certainly wasn’t amused… So, after conducting about a year and

iGB Affiliate october/november 2012



In my later fantomaster incarnation, the two chief factors were probably our superior technology (mostly focused on IP delivery aka ‘cloaking’) and my fairly outspoken public stance dedicated to demystifying the entire search engine optimisation process. This came in tandem with a no-holds-barred critical view of what is essentially the search engines’ parasitical remit which all too many people tend to ignore or at the very least will brush over, if not hush up. Since you’ve been in the business, you’ve seen first-hand the evolution that SEO and its various techniques and practices has undergone. How has the landscape changed from the early days and what would you say has been the biggest change to have impacted the search environment? Like with all computer based technology, the fairly unsophisticated early days were gradually superseded by plenty of innovation, disruptive new approaches and downright reversals of earlier positions. Thus, many of the SEO techniques that worked like a song initially have long been demoted as ‘spam’ and will no longer do you any good. (This, remember, was before Google was officially launched.) Equally unsurprisingly, the industry has literally exploded: it’s a mega business today, as SEOs are having far less of a hard time convincing demurring corporate clients that they require SEO campaigns at all. Along with this came a lot of different communication platforms, an entire conference industry, the development of scores of SEO specific tools and applications, extensive networking, courses, seminars, book publications, main stream media buzz – and last but not least, interviews such as this one. Today, most if not quite yet all companies are aware of the necessity an effective SEO policy. A lot of the mystique surrounding it has thankfully been abandoned and overall, it’s a very lively and colourful scene with plenty of discussions, great educative material and just about everything that signifies a maturing industry that’s finally finding its place in online commerce. Do you think the definition of SEO has changed with the mobilisation of search engines, websites and, indeed, the consumers using them? Definitions of SEO are a dime a dozen but at the end of the day, it’s about having your pages being found and preferably ranked well by whatever search mechanism is being employed.


iGB Affiliate october/november 2012

It doesn’t have to be crawler-based all-purpose search engines only, of course. Take price comparison platforms, social networks or ‘answer engines’ such as Wofram Alpha – search comes in many flavours and the mobile telephony space is adding its own specific touch by developing closed apps and similar conduits. This is nothing fundamentally new, however; search has always been in flux, ever since Yahoo! launched its human editor driven directory and triggered the entire search technology arms race. Are there components of optimisation that will always remain important, regardless of the digital channel it is being optimised for? For all we know, SEO will always require the generation of good content. This is not the same as clamouring the time worn ‘content is king’ mantra, but whatever your individual take on SEO may be, there’s hardly any contention about the fact that good landing pages are quite critical. Other trends may come and go. It was essentially Google that instigated an overweighting of links, for example. This, in turn, led to the link selling and buying industry popping up which Google immediately took a dislike to. What we are presently witnessing is the re-emergence of the importance of onpage factors, at least to a significant extent. Pushing your rankings via links alone has become quite a bit more complex and risky since the recent Google updates – another example of how ranking factors tend to waver over the course of time. We’re talking prior to the 2012 Barcelona Affiliate Conference where you’ll be providing insight on automating content for web pages, blogs, Facebook and other platforms. The importance of content quality will not be lost on anyone post-Panda, but what are the key considerations to creating and building high quality content? In terms of automation, the number one factor to consider here is to take a very sober, realistic view of the limitations of automatic content creation. To cut a long story short, it would actually be more precise to speak of automation aided content creation: it still requires a lot of human brain input, editorial interference and quality control. Once this is being applied in an intelligent manner, however, you’re fine with scalability issues. Generating content on a quality level equal to that of human writers is no different from tasking human copywriters with it. Hence, it allows you to effectively pump up the volume and expand your online marketing activities in an unprecedented profitable manner.

One of the major trends currently affecting the online gaming space is the convergence of the real money and social gaming industries. In terms of strategy, how can gaming affiliates/webmasters/marketers address the social space to maximise their effectiveness there? I guess content plays a big part here due to the community aspect of social networks… Indeed, I couldn’t agree more. Between Google trashing thin affiliate sites and real humans’ typical behaviour on social networks, when it comes to handling content, conversations, and interaction, it’s really all about content once more. Take Twitter as a single example: here, it’s great to automate your content posting schedules – very much less so to automate your interaction with tweets. This is where things evolve into a regular tradecraft requiring specific skills, tools and the abidance by generally accepted rules of etiquette just like any other specialist field. Ignoring this will always backfire, as all too many marketers have already experienced. Where do you believe SEO, or asset optimisation is headed in the future and how will marketers have to adapt? Not being psychic, I’d say it’s anybody’s guess which way we are heading exactly in SEO or asset optimisation. But by way of an educated guess, it’s probably safe to assume that mobile search will impact the industry quite a lot more than it is currently. Also, social networks aren’t set to go away anytime soon, in my view. Personally, I was very much at home on the CompuServe platform, in the BBS and FidoNet and Usenet space before the WWW proper became accessible: these may now have mutated via chat rooms and forums into Facebook and Twitter and so on, but surfers’ fundamental interest in forging and joining communities and targeting searches at these remains. If anything, this will actually get stronger. Nowadays, whether I want to buy a digital camera or inquire about a specific taxi service in London, a restaurant in Barcelona or a hotel in Kiev, I will typically ask my Twitter followers rather than hunt about forever on dated, very often irrelevant Google results pages. The response I receive will be somewhat more subjective, but at least it’s fast, fresh and generally not driven by commercial interests. If you were starting out in today’s market, what path would you take and how different would the challenges be to those you experienced in the early 90s?


campaigns targeting traffic and conversions more than rankings. For example, I’m pursuing a concept I’ve tagged ‘SERP Saturation’ – it’s no longer about achieving position number one but about dominating at least 60 percent to 75 percent of the search results pages. Talk about scaling up sales… And on the subject of cloaking, I guess that has evolved like anything else in search terms, but how relevant is it in today’s environment? Contrary to common belief, modern IP delivery or, as I like to call it, ‘Cloaking 3.0’ works like gangbusters if you do it right – far from being demoted or ‘easily detected’, as the search engines would make you believe. Actually, our current attrition rate for cloaked sites is less than three percent per year – about 80 percent less than it used to be. The reasons for this are manifold, so let me summarise them under the tag ‘progress’. Admittedly, it’s a bit more complex than it used to be, so you’ll have to know what you’re doing. But once you do – or once you let some pro do it for you – the results are quite spectacular. Now, of course, I’m admittedly not impartial here but since you’re asking, I’d say that cloaking is actually more important than ever, at least in highly competitive environments. For your average mom-andpop website it’s still generally overkill. But if you’re working in the gambling, travel or forex space, to name but a few, I really cannot see how you expect to survive and make a profit without it.

“SEO will always require the generation of good content. This is not the same as clamouring the time worn ‘content is king’ mantra, but whatever your individual take on SEO may be, there’s hardly any contention about the fact that good landing pages are quite critical.” I’d probably focus on social media more than on general purpose crawler engines such as Google or Bing. Obviously, this would depend on the specific markets I’d be targeting, including the languages I’d be working in. Also note that there’s still a lot of search technological arbitrage that can be leveraged. For example, techniques that won’t work in an English, German or Spanish search space are still quite effective in Polish, Romanian or Simplified Chinese. Polyglot SEOs have known about this for a long time, and I don’t see this changing anytime soon. So this would definitely be worth investigating in greater depth. As for the specific challenges facing us today, I don’t really see that they’re all that different from the early 90s. You’ll still have to test things

out again and again, fail, start anew and eventually enjoy what works fine until things change dramatically once more, as they’ve always done. What’s next for you? Obviously, you’re renowned for your cloaking applications, but what other developments do you have in the pipeline? I’m currently engaged on multiple fronts. First and foremost is the ContentMango webshop for SEO content which my new partners and I will be launching soon. Here, top quality content can be sourced at fire sale prices and it’s all 100 percent unique as each text will only ever be sold once. Another focus of mine is pushing the envelope in terms of fully fledged SEO

And finally, what would be your advice for someone starting-up a business in today’s market? Easy and classic, really: take a close look at what the markets are like, what they have already, what they need but don’t have – see if you can better your potential competition and if so, go for it. Due diligence or, put more simply, ‘doing your homework’ is of the essence. For everything else, the standard rules of successful commerce apply. So learn your marketing, clue up on stats analysis, hone your social and salesperson skills and make sure to opt for doing something that stands a fair chance of not boring you mindless after six months or so. Whether or not you have to be ‘passionate’ about things may depend on temperament and cultural bias. But do make sure that you can handle all the un-nifty, grinding routine stuff that comes with every business, online or off. And familiarise yourself with the concept of outsourcing Vs micro management as the latter will gradually drive you crazy if you don’t.

iGB Affiliate october/november 2012



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Real Money Gaming on facebook Online gaming consultant, Matthew Castillo, examines the impact of the launch of real money gaming on Facebook on the wider iGaming sector. On August 7, 2012, Facebook opened its doors to real money gaming, by allowing Gamesys to offer its Bingo Friendzy app to all UK users aged 18 years and over – the UK market seen as a well regulated market where gaming is very popular. In order to ensure conformity with gaming regulations in the UK, Facebook will also be using its fan-gating technology to ensure that activity related to the game will only be shown to users that are allowed to register and use this app. So, what does this mean to the gaming community in general?

The market Facebook is the largest social network platform with over 950 million users (as reported in the last quarterly earnings report). This makes it one of the largest markets to tap into for any industry. If we look at the UK market where Facebook has chosen to roll out real money gaming, there are about 31 million users who are registered as living in the UK and are over 18 years of age. According to an Experian Hitwise study, UK Facebook visitors have an average session time of 22 minutes on the website. The study also revealed that a quarter of those visiting Facebook visit an entertainment website, such as games and music, immediately after leaving the website. Such statistics show that there is definitely a good market size to access and that users could be quite receptive to gaming on the same site.

The opportunity Facebook had limited success with its credit system. In fact, the revenues from the system have been hovering around the $190 million mark with little improvement. The advent of real money gaming presents a gamble for Facebook too, as it tries to find alternative ways of monetising further in an attempt to improve shareholder sentiment. This means that Facebook will surely be looking at other potential companies who wish to offer real money social

gaming in order to increase its revenue. Companies such as Zynga are already exploring this possibility. As for gaming companies, especially those that target the UK market, Facebook could represent another significant channel. Like mobile gaming, social gaming could be another way of increasing a company’s visibility and attracting people towards a company’s website, where players would then be able to choose from the full suite of products. Facebook could thus be treated as a partner that introduces the company offering to new players and offers the social user a taster of what they can later find on the actual company website.

“The move by Facebook will surely create a number of interesting opportunities for operators and affiliates who wish to take a more active role in the online social media space.” The challenges Although Facebook provides a great opportunity to tap into the social crowd, this does not come without its challenges. The first and most pressing concern is that related to the legal and regulatory framework. Offering gaming via Facebook does not preclude operators from adhering to the relative regulations that different countries are starting to implement and this poses a significant challenge for the growth of this medium. Suffice to say that the US, for example, has the highest number of active users on Facebook and would thus represent a natural target market. However, real money social gaming is not allowed and only certain states have recently started to open up to online gaming.

Additionally, although Facebook is using all the tools at its disposal to make sure gaming products are targeted towards the right people, there is an issue for those Facebook members that do not sign up with the correct details and perhaps claim an erroneous age. These will be able to view the adverts and the game although they would still be required to go through the normal sign-up procedure with the operator in order to deposit and register an account.

The medium Facebook is a social network where, among other activities, users check on friends’ latest updates and connect and chat to each other. This type of user profile, combined with the fact that the average user spends an average session time of 22 minutes, makes Facebook a good platform for certain types of game, such as bingo. Online bingo rooms offer chat forums alongside the bingo room in order to cater for the inherently social element of the game. Facebook offers the same functionality, together with the world’s largest online community. Thus, for an operator offering bingo as a product (and for the affiliates that promote it), the opening up of Facebook as an additional sales channel represents a good opportunity and a natural match. Other products that are well suited to the Facebook platform are casino games such as blackjack and slots, as these games are quite fast to play and could represent a ‘break’ from normal Facebook activities, without leaving the main website. In conclusion, it is evident that the move by Facebook will surely create a number of interesting opportunities for operators and affiliates who wish to take a more active role in the online social media space. These opportunities will be better still if some of the obstacles, such as legislative regulations in different countries, are tackled effectively. Obviously, as in most business cases, those who are first to react stand the best chance to capture market share.

iGB Affiliate october/november 2012


INSIGHT Operator Focus

A Program for Success Strategies for developing a successful iGaming affiliate program, by iGaming Consultant, Marius Filip. Affiliate programs can be extraordinarily effective when operated, promoted, and managed wisely. Recent years indicate that online gaming has grown tremendously, resulting in a higher number of operators giving more attention to developing their affiliate programs. Online affiliates have expanded from affinity and deal sites to content, odds comparison, product review, social platforms, forums and blogs with the potential to deliver up to 45 percent of net profit for any given affiliate program, regardless of the sector. Consequently, it’s imperative for the operators developing their affiliate programs to focus on affiliate marketing, where special attention is given to the acquisition/ retention channels, and the recruitment of experienced affiliate marketing professionals that will help to achieve and maintain the desired results. Talented affiliate managers that can recruit quality affiliates and develop joint ventures with super affiliates are crucial for any operations aiming to reach their potential. In this article, I would like to focus on the importance of the following two key points: 1. Regular performance monitoring 2. P  erformance vital for affiliate program analysis

Regular performance monitoring Any operator running an affiliate program needs to ensure that proper revenue monitoring is set in place. If done well, this could result in impressive revenue results. Here, we will be looking at the following KPI monitoring that must be regularly performed by the affiliate team. Revenue performance: define your gross and net revenue targets per product/brand/ overall over a period of time. It’s important that your revenue goals are realistic and based on the amount of resources available at the time. Daily revenue monitoring allows you to be on top of the situation and take immediate action should significant deviation from the preset mark is identified. A pre-planned emergency action plan will save you time should a scenario occur where immediate measures are required in order to quickly recover and ease the impact.


iGB Affiliate october/november 2012

“To develop an effective affiliate program, it is vital to have an experienced and knowledgeable affiliation team with a strong focus on regular KPI monitoring to secure revenue stability.”

Affiliate performance: knowing your affiliates well is essential. For this reason, it is important to categorise all existing affiliates into tiers according to their profitability. A set of KPI targets should then be defined for different affiliate tiers. In addition to desired revenue targets, these could be based on the number of new customer registrations, new depositing or active customers and first time depositors. A corresponding commission plan as well as bonus rewards for achieving their targets will motivate your affiliates and stimulate them to continue the partnership further, potentially giving your campaign preferential focus against those of the competitors they might also be promoting alongside yours. Media performance: it is important to regularly analyse your media performance that, in turn, highlights how well your banners convert on particular websites, outlining your top performing affiliates by media type or for a specific campaign. Regular monitoring of your media KPIs, such as views, clicks, player sign-ups and revenue, allows the adopting of successful techniques to other media types which will help secure better overall conversions. Cost per customer: define your maximum customer cost to ensure that your marketing efforts do not cost you more than the value a customer brings. To put this into a practical example, revenue that a customer generated in a period of time should not exceed the amount of reward paid out to an affiliate who referred that customer. It is also worth taking into account the amount of bonuses given to a customer along with the total amount of deposits against withdrawals. A regularly performed customer cost exercise will ensure that necessary actions are taken in time to prevent any deviation.

Performance vital for affiliate program analysis Market analysis Market analysis is recommended in order to achieve a detailed overview of the industry and the markets the operator intends to enter or already operates in. It should also define the operator’s current market position, and outline a set of actions to be undertaken in order to decide whether it is worth investing in licenses in any of the European markets where gambling is already regulated, such as Spain, Italy, Denmark, France and other territories. Competitor analysis An assessment of the affiliate programs that are anticipated to become main competitors in the near future should be undertaken. It is always worth looking at the following key components performed by the competition: rewarding strategies for affiliates, periodical affiliate promotions, player activation and retention tactics, analysis of competitors’ terms and conditions, withdrawal methods available to affiliates, communication activities on social networks, their presence in the industry conferences and networking events, and media placement on the shared affiliate websites. Conclusion An affiliate program must be expertly managed in order to guarantee its growth and profitability. For any operator who aims to develop an effective affiliate program, it is vital to have an experienced and knowledgeable affiliation team with a strong focus on regular KPI monitoring to secure revenue stability. A very important role here will be played by affiliate marketing software used by the program that should empower affiliate managers with a set of vital reports and tools allowing granular performance monitoring with practical ways of categorising affiliates in order to fairly reward and better incentivise top performers. Vital for any level of affiliate program, competitor and market analysis will help programs to better understand where they stand in the market and also help them to take the necessary steps to secure and strengthen their market share.

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Facebook Debuts Real Money Gambling The gambling sector witnessed a watershed moment in August when the very first real-money gaming app was launched on social networking site, Facebook. Developed by Gamesys, Bingo Friendzy is only available to over-18s in the UK, enforced with age-gating and geolocation technology. Real money gambling on Facebook has been in the pipeline for quite some time, especially after a disastrous public flotation that has seen the Californian company’s share price nosedive from the IPO of $38 to reach a low of $18.03 in August. Bosses are also struggling with the conundrum of how to display all-important advertising on mobile phone screens without vexing users. Logical step With the meteoric rise of social of gaming in recent years, allowing real-money wagering is a logical step in order to boost revenues and appease shareholders (Facebook takes 30 percent of income generated from payments in games such as Farmville and Zynga Poker). In the three months to June, Facebook reported that £123 million of the £760 million of total revenue was attributed to social gaming. Gamesys, which has been developing online gambling games for more than ten years, owns bingo and instant win site Jackpotjoy, which has more than four million registered users. Gamesys say 30,000 users play its bingo and slots game on Facebook. Being the first operator to get a real-money foothold on Facebook could give the company the upper hand over the competition when more are invited on board. Although social gaming’s biggest audience is in the US, gambling with real money is effectively outlawed. The decision to launch in the well-regulated UK – a market with high Facebook


iGB Affiliate october/november 2012

penetration (two thirds of the population have an account) and an appetite for bingo games – makes sense. And to opt for a soft game like bingo as opposed to a sportsbook or casino was probably a conscious move to test the water. Plenty of bingo operators have free-play games on Facebook in the hope that users will register with their site and make a deposit. Bingo Friendzy has the advantage of offering free and real bingo all in one place – a one-stop-shop on Facebook for this popular numbers game.

Questions and negative press However, doubts linger over whether Bingo Friendzy will be much of a hit with bingo fans. This is a pretty saturated market; will online bingo players want to play Gamsesys’ offering now it’s suddenly accepting real bets? Also, will those who play free social games have the urge to play for real cash prizes on this bingo app? Social gamers and gamblers have different mindsets and interests, so encouraging the former to deposit money and start gambling isn’t exactly straightforward. On top of this, Gamesys and its bingo offering has suffered negative publicity in UK newspapers after Christian groups accused Bingo Friendzy of breaching advertising regulations by using ‘cartoony’ furry animals that mimic Moshi Monsters, a social networking game for children. As you would expect, Gamesys denies the visual marketing is aimed at minors

and has confirmed that the app is neither accessible nor visible to under-18s on Facebook. Also the sign-up process is completely separate from the user’s Facebook account and their playing activity isn’t visible on the feeds of under-18s.

Testing ground Concerns aside, it’s clear that social gambling is only going to mushroom in the future with Bingo Friendzy in the UK being the testing ground, despite the fact that Facebook has stressed that there are no plans to launch real-money games in other markets. Other games developers will be observing with keen interest to see how Bingo Friendzy is received by real-money players ahead of any launches on the social network. Social gaming giant Zynga plans to roll out real-money games next year – the most likely being Zynga Poker which currently attracts over 30 million players despite it being play-money games only (although users can purchase non-redeemable chips in the game). One day, however, it could be bingo, poker, casino, sports and skill games apps running on Facebook, but for the time being, bingo is the guinea pig in the social gambling arena.

Julian Rogers is a freelance journalist with ten years’ experience specialising in business, sportsbetting, poker and news reporting.


It’s Social, but Not as we Know it Aideen Shortt examines Facebook’s decision to permit real money gaming on its social platform through its partnership with Gamesys, and how it may influence the rest of the industry. Bingo is an inherently social game; the chat modules in any games offering form the central core both to game play and C2C relationships. Indeed, the sociability of bingo has existed well before Bingo Friendzy was unveiled on Facebook. The launch of the Facebook’s first real money games, under the Jackpotjoy brand, on August 7 was lauded as a seminal moment in the gambling industry, which has long been eyeing the network for the revenue generating opportunities it might provide. However, the reality is Bingo Friendzy is not social gaming or social gambling in the truest definition; the site is, for the most part, real money gambling housed in a social network setting.

What exactly is social gaming? The key tenets of social gaming are fourfold: 1. Use of a central wallet 2. Incorporation of virtual goods 3. Competitive and viral elements such as levels, gifts, leader boards and badges. 4. Disproportionate ratio between free and paid play

that these elements will be added in the future but it does lead to several questions, not least whether it is even possible that the fundamentals of traditional gambling can be truly merged with social gaming to create the new category of social gambling.

Social versus traditional The social gamer and the traditional gambler have different product requirements. In the social sphere, game-flow needs to be intuitive and simplified and contain extensive social hooks. The games themselves need to be created in a manner that provides the instant excitement and recognition of achievement. The look-and-feel needs to be bright/colourful and fit with the mind-set of the social gamer, who is very different to a gambler. Players need to move rapidly from one level to another, winning virtual goods along the way, all of which form an entirely new set of incentives that don’t exist in the gambling sector. In summary, to meet the light engagement criteria, social gaming apps need to satisfy low level needs, have

social sharing mechanisms and be quick and easy to engage with. These games generally focus on bite-sized chunks of content which can be consumed in fairly short sessions and decisions regarding design are driven largely to mirror and take advantage of the high frequency/ short visits pattern that characterises the way many users interact with the underlying social networks themselves. In addition, and possibly the most important factor, to be considered a true social product the game must make use of social graph data.

New territory The combination of freemium and play for real is new territory and only time will tell whether the eventual outcome is limited to the product suite or whether a new revenue generating demographic will emerge. As real money games evolve on Facebook, gambling operators will be hoping to tap into the Zynga demographic and user base. Many operators are working on the assumption that it will be possible to bring social gamers to the real money products.

Most social games, whether casino style or not, incorporate one or more of these elements. Although the graphical look and feel make it clear that Bingo Friendzy has been developed for the social gamer, the game play doesn’t stray too far from a traditional non-social product, and there appears to be very little use of the social/ open graph. There are some Facebook-specific social features such as the ability for the player to post on their wall on completion of a bonus round, or to invite friends in their own network, however, Bingo Friendzy doesn’t provide many of the expected features of a social game such a free-spins, levels or gifts. Given that this launch is a firstiteration, it’s not impossible to imagine

iGB Affiliate october/november 2012



in his own words: Noel Hayden CEO Gamesys significance of the deal “It’s a great endorsement of our platform’s capabilities in both social and real money products and our market leading position.”

Jackpotjoy and the social space “Jackpotjoy has always been about providing great entertainment and has been positioned at the softer end of the gaming market. We have always had a huge focus on the development of ‘social’ games. “We employ more than 100 chat hosts to support our community outside of Facebook and we have always believed that having an engaged community is key to maintaining long-term customer relationships. “Facebook brings us a set of in-built social functionalities and we have built games to take advantage of that capability.”

Significance for industry “I think it’s extremely important, but it requires new thinking about how to leverage the platform. Simply sticking existing content into an iFrame on the Facebook canvas won’t work. What makes this business so interesting is that it’s so fast moving and changing that it’s really hard to say how things will pan out. “I think the real money gaming industry hasn’t been that innovative lately, so I welcome this as it shakes things up a bit as we’re forced to think through the implications of social, desktop, devices and combining freemium products with existing play for real offerings.”


iGB Affiliate october/november 2012

But this is an unknown and untested hypothesis. In addition, at a time when many gambling companies (including who have invested $50 million in a new social gaming division) are looking to the freemium model as a new business/product division, it will be interesting to see how real money games evolve and whether they cannibalise or complement the freemium model in the markets in which they are launched. There are three potential target audiences for social gambling, and any gambling company looking to make the move into this sphere should consider carefully their target audience – and design the product to meet that group: 1. The typical social gamer 2. The typical gambler 3. A new category of social gambler The social gamer needs a product as described earlier while the gambler needs exactly what is being offered outside of social networks, but repackaged in the Facebook framework. Although the latter group has not really been addressed as part of social gambling, it is very much the concept of fishing where the fish are. Much effort goes into social marketing and Facebook advertising, and having an offering within the network will be one of the strongest calls-to-action that exists in the medium of social marketing. The hybrid between these two groups is the unknown factor. A category that doesn’t yet exist can possibly emerge – a social gambler; somebody for whom the freemium model is not compelling, but who doesn’t hold accounts with gambling or casino operators. While there will be a large percentage of the social audience (especially poker and casino style gamers) that will seamlessly move from freemium to real money, the untapped market of leisure/social gamblers who don’t naturally fit into either social gaming or traditional gambling is potentially up for grabs. Yet for this market, having the right product will be paramount.

Central wallet Facebook has recently ended what has effectively been a three-year experiment with the virtual currency, Facebook Credits. This is not a significant change in Facebook’s strategy, and the company will continue to claim 30 percent of all transactions but instead of ‘Credits’ which Facebook invented, users will make purchases in their native currency.

Virtual currencies have an interesting psychology behind them because of the users’ tendency to view these currencies as not ‘real’ cash and, to date, a central purse has been the driver behind social gaming. The underlying payment-processing system behind Facebook Credits will remain under the new structure. The methodology behind the new account will not be remarkably different. Facebook’s new member accounts will function similarly to iTunes: a user adds a credit card to their account, digital goods can be purchased and immediately charged to the card on file, or can be drawn from stored value in that account. Facebook gift cards, in card or digital form, would simply be added to the account using a unique code. In 2011, 15 million people bought Facebook Credits, according to their S-1 filing, so it’s assumed Facebook has close to 15 million credit cards on file. By the end of this year, once paid apps are added to Facebook’s App Centre, experts are predicting that 50 million people, or about five percent of Facebook’s users will purchase apps and other digital goods, which means Facebook would have a pool of 50 million people who have entrusted it with their credit card information The use of Facebook Credits had been almost entirely in the context of social gaming, and even with this limited exposure and promotion, the fees already represent $557 million or 15 percent of Facebook’s entire 2011 revenue and increased to 18 percent in Q1 2012. The figure is even more remarkable when we consider that fewer than two percent of Facebook users bought virtual goods with Facebook Credits in 2011, yet it still represented the largest single source of cash and primarily from just one vertical – social gaming. The weighty question, however, is how integrated real money gambling operators will ever be to the Facebook wallet. Licences and regulation dictate separate log-ins and KYC which for Bingo Friendzy as it stands right now is treated a disparate entity, but it’s possible that there can be a combination of gambling account and Facebook wallet that will unlock a massive revenue base that would otherwise be unattainable if the ‘central wallet’ concept never comes to fruition for gambling.


Virtual goods Virtual goods are in-game items that users purchase for a variety of reasons and represent over 90 percent of revenues earned by leading social game developers today. There are many types and formats of virtual goods, including: ●●Functional

items such as power ups, boosters, or other in-game goods that provide a player with some actual benefit within the game ●●Decorative virtual goods are items or gifts that allow a user to customise his or her online experience to make it more personal ●●Consumables are goods that do not confer a lasting, on-going advantage to a player; for example, a health or energy pack in a game Noel Hayden has specified that marrying freemium and real money is new territory, and it certainly is in as much as there is no real connection between the two in the current offering. However, it is not as difficult a marriage as it might seem as exemplified by PKR, the 3D poker network, which has recently announced that its real money poker players will be able to purchase ‘virtual drinks’ from coffee to cocktails as part of their immersive game play.

Competitive elements Noel Hayden has explicitly outlined that Gamesys will be developing social game features that enhance with player experience without focussing on ‘spam-like’ wall posts that don’t add to the game play. This is incredibly important in real money where the viral element of the games naturally won’t have as much traction as the freemium model. Influencing friends on Facebook to part with their cash up front is very different to proffering an invitation or a gift that comes with no (immediate) financial ramifications. Yet it is these compelling ‘frictionless sharing’ elements that have driven the success of social gaming – and industry observers are astutely questioning how invisibly they will fit as motivations to act in the real money environment. Only a few companies were privileged to get the rocket ship growth that Zynga had in the early days. The first Zynga games launched at a time when Facebook had very few limitations to marketing, announcements or use of player data. Therefore, at the time, Zynga and the other

app creators were able to promote games in the ‘notifications’ menu users see each time they log-on and push countless messages and invitations to a player’s friends and contacts. Facebook users complained about the level of spam-like messages and protest groups on the site emerged with one called “I Don’t Care About Your Farm, Or Your Fish, Or Your Park, Or Your Mafia!!!” having more than five million people signed up. It was mainly due to Zynga’s aggressive marketing that Facebook introduced significant limitations on what social games companies can and can’t do. At one point, messages could be sent from a game user to only their friends who were also using the application. This limitation was relaxed, but it’s fair to say that the network-wide sharing of today is nothing as broad as it was at the outset especially when you include the well-defined EdgeRank algorithm which automatically restricts the number of people who see any message at all. This means that it will be very difficult for gambling companies to emulate the speed of Zynga’s success and they must utilise more than the message push system and be creative in their approach, especially at launch of the game – which is the time of most natural hype and virality.

Commercial arrangement The commercial terms between Facebook and Gamesys are subject to much speculation and rumour. What is known, however, is that Facebook has acquiesced and moved away from its 30 percent share of deposit model – a move which unlocks the door for real money gambling, per se, as deposit/turnover revenue sharing models are prohibitive to profit generation given the high turnover/low margin financial model of casino and leisure games. The results of Bingo Friendzy during the upcoming months are crucial, not just for Gamesys, but for the industry at large, as Facebook’s next moves in this sector will be determined by the outcome of what is effectively its test phase. Industry observers are hoping that the Facebook team are considered in the fact that Bingo Friendzy is a first-stage product. It is a massive step forward, but nowhere near reaching the potential of what social gambling can ultimately be. Finally, after over a year of passionate discussions between the operators and Facebook, Pandora’s Box is well and truly open, and the overriding question is regarding what we’ll find inside, and whether that’s enough.

in his own words: Noel Hayden CEO Gamesys product development “Certainly, the coming together of ‘freemium’ and ‘play for real’ is new territory and presents many new interesting development challenges. Throw in mobile and things get really complex if you want to provide players with an experience with continuity across devices, both freemium and real. Being data driven, having excellent engineers, product leads and adopting a fail-fast culture is key. On top of that, developing game features that truly enhance the game playing experience for players playing with their Facebook friends rather than the more spam-like wall post features that don’t really add to the game experience is crucial. Some of the better social games out there do this really well. Play for real developers can learn a lot from social freemium game developers about player engagement. That’s what has been most exciting for me – to take the best from social and think of ways to enhance that in play for real. “For years, our customers have told us about the importance of community and they have also told us about the importance of being in control of their privacy. Getting the balance right between taking advantage of Facebook’s ‘virality’ features but ensuring user privacy is respected will be critical to developing successful cash games in the Facebook environment.”

Aideen Shortt is an experienced consultant, author and researcher in the gambling industry with 12 years of work across all sectors and verticals.

iGB Affiliate october/november 2012


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Mobile Optimisation With nearly 40 percent of top 100 brands now optimised for mobile, Tim Burge, Pre Sales Director at Maxymiser, says that gaming business should no longer be asking why they should invest in mobile, they should asking how. The UK boasts one of the most competitive digital gaming markets in the world. Relatively favourable regulatory conditions have meant that remote gaming and betting has become the fastest-growing area of the gambling market with companies taking advantage of rapid developments in technology to enable customers to place bets and play a wide range of games, such as bingo, casino and poker, across a variety of mobile and digital platforms. Such favourable market conditions, combined with recent IAB statistics on mobile optimisation highlight the growing importance of the mobile web as a means of engaging customers. According to the IAB, nearly 40 percent of top 100 brands now have a mobile optimised website. Given these statistics, the critical question that online gaming brands should be asking clearly is no longer ‘Why should I invest in mobile?’ but ‘How should I invest?’ Finding the right answer to that question is, however, proving challenging for some digital gaming businesses still relying largely on opinion and consensus to make design and content decisions.

Optimisation A recent survey conducted by Econsultancy (Customer Experience Consumer Survey Report 2011) shows that throughout the gaming industry, only 35 percent of consumers would rate it with a good service on mobile; this is ten percent lower than other sectors and eight percent lower than the desktop customer experience rating, which is on par with other industries. This isn’t through lack of trying; it is down to the huge gulf between the expectation of the online customer and the typical mobile experience, making it more important than ever for gaming companies to have an effective optimisation strategy that allows them to monitor exactly what the consumer wants from the site and how they choose to engage. Simply reformatting web pages to fit on a small screen is no longer enough; companies need to properly optimise the complete experience a visitor gets. The key to successfully achieving an optimised experience lies in identifying and

understanding how customers are using mobile and making that process easy for them. For many brands, the mobile site is highly likely to differ from the desktop site not only because of the size of device and its differing functionality, but because the customer may be in a different mode, or mindset. Most consumers would, for example, use their desktop to register and purchase items and their mobiles to browse and search. However, it is not as easy to differentiate between these two modes in the gaming industry as the objective to encourage customers to register and make payments remains the same whether the user is on a mobile or a desktop device.

Engagement So what are the considerations for digital gaming companies wanting to engage customers most effectively through the mobile web? First, customer acquisition is a key aspect of any online operation. Success will often be determined by a site’s effectiveness in converting customers and getting them through a registration process. This is a significant challenge in mobile gaming, where the regulatory environment means that businesses need to gather a lot of data on customers before they allow them to gamble. As such, the registration page is one of the most important parts of any gaming site, followed by ensuring that the process of making a deposit is as simple and intuitive as possible. According to Harry Parkes, Director of Customer Experience at Rank Interactive, success is directly linked to customer experience and delivering the best possible environment for users. “The standard e-tail rule is that 98 percent of all arrivals on your site will not purchase. So anything you do that can allow you to move that dial – move that two percent to 2.1 percent – is going to have a massive impact on your bottom line.” Adopting real-time measurement of a customer’s online behaviour, rather than lab-based testing, for example, or indeed making assumptions – i.e. guessing – about how consumers are using the mobile platform to interact with the

brand, and content optimisation through A/B and multivariate testing provides the opportunity to proactively measure and monitor the way mobile content impacts customer behaviour and then react to this behaviour in real-time and increase customer conversion and engagement. Harry Parkes explains, “We need to understand a whole range of things; which labels on buttons make the most sense to customers? What layouts work best? What are our most effective promotions? Using a dozen people in a lab over three days will not give you any degree of statistical certainty. The only way you can establish the facts, is in a live environment with multiple versions running, allowing real customers to show you what works best. Testing has taken the guesswork out of product design, helped us to deliver the best possible customer experience and boosted online revenues across our sites.” Furthermore, optimisation should not stop with mobile. It is estimated that by 2014, 208 million tablets will be sold worldwide, and 72 percent of tablet owners make purchases from their devices on a weekly basis (source: MobilePlaybook/UK). Tablets, though, have all the expectations of a laptop but have a very different user interface with unique controls that can lead to behavioural change and some exciting functionality for smart developers, so brands considering a tablet strategy will need to ask the same fundamental and strategic questions of their prospects and customers.

Conclusion At the core of any brand’s overall web success lies an engaged customer. Increasingly, gaming companies recognise the need to consider all the channels through which a customer will want to interact with them – desktop, mobile and tablet. To achieve the relevant, personalised content that will underpin the successful multi-channel brand, organisations need to adopt a ‘business as usual’ approach to testing that ensures every decision regarding content is correct, reflects customer behaviour and, critically, delivers long-term financial value to the business.

iGB Affiliate october/november 2012



The App Factor By David Flower, VP EMEA at Compuware APM. Mobile gaming has boomed in recent years as more and more of us have moved over to Smartphones. And as a result, most online gaming operators offer mobile versions of their casino, betting, poker and bingo products, largely in the form of mobilecompatible websites. Increasingly, these same operators are moving into the world of apps, making them suitable for the most popular phones and tablets. William Hill Mobile is a great example of an operator that provides customers with the option of both website and app. As well as offering separate mobile sites for its sportsbook, casino and bingo games, it also offers newly developed apps for Apple iOS devices, Android phones and more. 888 is another operator heading down the path of mobile apps and in July this year it launched an application for the iPad and Android platforms which enables users to play miniversions of a handful of its online casino’s most popular games.

User expectations out-pace technology’s ability to deliver Customer-facing applications such as those used for e-commerce, online banking, and gaming tend to be web-based. Their popularity comes from the fact that they enable customers to efficiently place a bet, buy music, perform banking transactions, get information and interact with friends. However, poor application performance leads to disappointed customers, lost revenue and brand damage. Simply put, improving application performance lowers costs and increases revenue. Where web applications are concerned, conversion rates increase 74 percent when page load times decrease from eight to two seconds. This article will explore the business impact of application performance and why the end-user experience is the ultimate measure of success.

Why applications perform poorly A primary reason applications perform poorly has to do with the increased complexity of modern applications. We live in an increasingly multi-sourced world, where many IT elements converge for the first time in the form of the enduser experience.


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Consider an online gaming application made up of numerous functionalities that are pulled from the company’s own data centre as well as third-party services beyond the firewall, like a shopping cart or an ad network. Poor performance from any one of these services can degrade performance for an entire application. In fact, it’s estimated that third-party services are responsible for the majority of the time it takes for a website or application to load. Today, the average website connects to more than eight domains before ultimately being served to the end user. Serving a website or application means making sure all these pieces assemble in a way that delivers the best possible service to the end user. The cloud is another factor that often leads to poor application performance. The cloud is a shared resource, meaning that if your ‘neighbour’ in the cloud experiences a spike in traffic the chances are your own application performance may be slowed. If you move an application to the cloud, you must understand how end users on the other side of the cloud are experiencing the application. Another factor causing poor application performance is the proliferation of browsers and device types, which leads to increased volatility at the ‘Internet edge’. To combat this, you need to make sure your applications work well on the most popular browser and device types among your user base. It has never been more important for applications to operate at peak performance. Users don’t care who or what element in the web delivery chain may be causing a performance malfunction, they just want the application to work, and industry leaders like Google and Facebook are increasingly shaping their performance expectations.

limited visibility; what’s more, these approaches offer little correlation in terms of the business impact of performance problems, leaving the IT team with no means to prioritise problem resolution.

How successful companies manage their applications

Monitor application performance where it counts

Today, many companies still stick to the ‘old’ approach to application performance management (APM). In other words, they have a ‘silo’ mindset and examine the performance of individual parts of the data centre through the stovepipes of network, server and database monitoring tools. The problem with this approach is that it consists of individual solutions delivering

APM is continuing to gain traction across organisations as they see real synergies between application performance and business performance. At the end of the day, understanding application performance from the end user’s perspective is the foundation for identifying potential issues before they become application performance failures – and adversely impact your business.

Is monitoring enough? Today, successful companies are adopting a new generation of APM that is based on the end-user experience, not the IT infrastructure. No longer an after-thought, today’s approach to application performance management is built-in from development, to testing and production. This approach allows organisations to build applications and resolve problems faster.

How organisations can ensure optimal application performance To ensure optimal application performance, organisations need to change from component-oriented mindset to an end user experience-oriented mindset. Fortunately, introducing end-user experience-centric processes doesn’t have to be disruptive or expensive, nor does it need to entail a lot of training. An effective approach to APM requires best practices focused on continual improvement of the end-user experience. This includes many ingredients to be successful, including executive sponsorship, process integration throughout the performance lifecycle and resource allocation. In addition, organisations need tools that allow them to see and weed out every possible source of performance problems, from code-level issues that may impact application performance, to the interdependencies of networks, servers and other elements. This is true end-to-end transaction tracing and monitoring that begins with an understanding of the end-user perspective and spans the entire application delivery chain.

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Driving Traffic FROM Social Applications

By Michael Katz, CEO and founder of Sociarati Media.

By now, everyone involved in online marketing has probably tried using Facebook ads to drive traffic. Up until August 2011, advertising real money gaming products via Facebook ads was prohibited. Even after this date, Facebook kept a close scrutiny on all advertising for real money gaming products. The current Facebook guidelines for advertising are as follows:

Gambling and lotteries i. Ads that promote or facilitate online gambling, games of skill or lotteries, including online casino, sportsbooks, bingo, or poker, are only allowed in specific countries with prior authorisation from Facebook. ii. Lotteries run by government entities may advertise on Facebook, provided that ads must be targeted in accordance with applicable law in the jurisdiction in which the ads will be served and may only target users in the jurisdiction in which the lottery is available. iii. Ads that promote offline gambling establishments, such as offline casinos, in accordance with applicable laws and regulations, are generally permitted, provided that ads must be appropriately targeted. For further clarification, Facebook issued additional guidelines to clarify their stance on real money gambling:

Gambling and lotteries Ads, Pages, and Sponsored Stories may not promote online gambling, games of skill or lotteries without prior authorisation from Facebook.

Guidelines for Gambling Ads: ●●Ads,

Pages, and Sponsored Stories may not encourage irresponsible gambling behaviour or present gambling as an income opportunity or an alternative to employment. Ads and Sponsored Stories may not use symbols such as US dollar (i.e. $$) and pound (i.e. ££) signs that are unrelated to any specific amounts. ●●Authorised gambling, games of skill or lottery ads must target users aged 18 years or older who are in jurisdictions for which permission has been granted.


iGB Affiliate october/november 2012


“The advancement of real money gaming applications inside of Facebook will bring to fruition what many social casino game developers have long been waiting for.” Guidelines for Gambling Pages: Authorised gambling, games of skill or lottery pages must: ●●Gate access to users above the age of 18 and in jurisdictions in which permission to advertise has been granted. ●●Limit posting to admins. Facebook users should not be able to post content to the page. They may, however, comment on or ‘Like’ posts by an admin. Even ‘play for fun’ applications have their own set of advertising guidelines which have been pre-determined by Facebook:

and Facebook had entered into an agreement to promote a real money bingo application. The application, which is for players over the age of 18 and based in the UK, sets a new playing field for the development and promotion of real money gambling applications on the largest social network in the world. After a poor share performance following its IPO, Facebook is looking to increase revenue channels and it is clear that there will be three main streams: 1. The creation of a Facebook advertising exchange. 2. The entry into real money gaming. 3. The addition of advertising within the Facebook mobile application.

MK: “Being a new player in this arena, how do you guarantee traffic from day one?” MS: “That’s a very good question and one that I hear very often. The answer is twofold. Firstly, we managed to secure some very big names from the world of social game development. Therefore, our network is already offering millions of impressions. Secondly, and in addition to the network traffic, we have partnerships in place which guarantee additional traffic inside the network. Even though in a click exchange network no one can usually receive traffic from the network unless they send traffic to the network, we offer all new clients 5,000 free credits to get started.”

The advancement of real money gaming applications inside of Facebook will bring to fruition what many social casino game developers have long been waiting for. Despite revenue from micro payments, play for fun casino games stand to triple and even quadruple their gaming revenue on Facebook if users were permitted to play for real cash.

MK: “There seem to be many companies offering this right now. What makes ClickWall different?” MS: “ClickWall is the world’s first performance-based click exchange. Within our system we are able to see which traffic sources perform best for each individual game. We can then increase the number of impressions in games that deliver the best results accordingly. Utilising this information, we can send better quality traffic with a statistically greater chance of making deposits and being retained longer in the game. Also, what is unique is that you can create retention-only campaigns with us that will only show your ads to users who have played your game before but who have not come back to play for a certain amount of time. With retention campaigns, you can sharpen your marketing and get back all the users that might have stopped playing.” Maggy can be contacted at ClickWall either via email or via Skype smaggy30.

Gambling Applications: ●●Developers

may operate a ‘For Fun’ App displaying a gambling brand as long as: ●●It is clear through either the branding (e.g., “[name of gambling company] For Fun”) or the name of the App (“[name of gambling company] Free Poker”) that the App is a ‘for fun only’ game. ●●The App does not link in any way to a gambling site. ●●Earnings within the App can’t be cashed out in any way, including being converted into credit that may be used to gamble online or at a casino. Despite all of this clarification, Facebook does not clearly give a point of contact for marketers wishing to contact Facebook to receive approval for legal gaming advertising. There are reports that only companies working with monthly Facebook advertising budgets in excess of $30,000 and have a dedicated Facebook advertising account manager can run real money gambling advertising.

Facebook advances into real money gaming applications Back in December 2011, the website ‘Commerce On Facebook’ reported in an article entitled “Facebook Getting Ready To Allow Real Money Gambling Apps” how Facebook had entered into talks with 888 and Gamesys on the subject of real money gambling applications on Facebook. This was confirmed nine months later with a report that Gamesys

Traffic exchange advertising on Facebook Facebook ads are not the only source of traffic on Facebook. The growth of companies offering advertising exchanges has tripled over the past year. Key players include MauDau, Applifier and, one of the newest additions, ClickWall. In an interview I carried out with Maggy Szanckower, Executive Account Manager at ClickWall, she spoke in depth about ClickWall’s offering and what separates the company from their competitors. Michael Katz (MK): “What is the primary offering that ClickWall gives to its advertising clients?” Maggy Szanckower (MS): “ClickWall is a free cross promotional network of quality games. Game A recommends his users by placing a bar within their application to try other quality games and, in exchange, other games recommend their users to try Game A. The end result is that both Game A and other games in the network will enjoy additional users.”

Michael Katz is CEO and founder of Sociarati Media, a full service social media marketing agency specialising in strategy and campaign planning for the online gaming industry. Michael has been a part of the online gaming industry since 2002 and has specialised in social media since 2010. Michael can be contacted by email at Michael@

iGB Affiliate october/november 2012




“With both social and mobile platforms opening up to the gaming industry, we all have a huge opportunity to create a product offering for the evolving customer landscape. I believe this opportunity extends to the affiliate industry.”

Cash Gaming on Facebook A big opportunity or a damp squib? Virgin Games’ Joshua Morris investigates. I am sure we all recently read with interest the news that Facebook and Gamesys have done a deal to offer cash gaming on Facebook. This is, in the words of the Gamesys’ COO, Lee Fenton, “a huge opportunity” and indeed it could well be. For those who missed the story, Facebook has done a commercial deal with Gamesys to offer cash gaming (the gambling type, not the virtual currency variant) on its platform through the Bingo & Slots Friendzy application. Facebook has hinted for a while that it would be happy to incorporate cash play in territories where gaming is legal and Bingo Friendzy is seemingly the first example of what may be a significant growth channel for the industry moving forward. Many have questioned the revenue generating potential of Facebook for cash gaming due to the conflict between a gambler’s desire for privacy and Facebook’s inherent quest to share news within friendship groups – apparently, not everyone wants their friends to know they have lost £5,000. That said, I think such sceptics may well be missing the point. Yes, if one was to port an existing online casino lock, stock and barrel onto Facebook and share all player actions, there may well be privacy issues and unhappy punters, but that isn’t what is happening; well not yet anyway. The opportunity that Facebook offers is the ability for operators and game producers to innovate and create new


iGB Affiliate october/november 2012

products that relate specifically to the social space. While players may well have the chance to lose thousands of pounds, this is not the feature that will be shared with friends – in the same way as virtual currency casinos don’t highlight the amount of money spent by players on the likes of Double Down and Slotomania. The focus is rather placed on a player’s status within a community, something that has huge value when applied to both a virtual currency and cash gaming model. Furthermore, sceptics also question the appetite of the virtual currency fraternity to enter into cash gaming as they see these players as a casual gamers and essentially non-gambling gamers. Once again, I find myself challenging this assumption as the demographic of online gamers spans a significant spectrum; a wide range of people from all walks of life. Different people like different things and with over 40 million users in the UK alone, surely there is a substantial market to be tapped? My point is that I feel by creating innovative, bespoke products for this social marketplace, there is an opportunity to unlock a sustainable revenue stream from Facebook’s customers, regardless of their demographic. I would go even further and say that Facebook presents an opportunity to move online gambling out of its niche and into the wider and significantly larger lottery market. There are very few operators who have been able to properly tap into this market.

Facebook may well be our route and, in time, this route may well extend into the US as Facebook has clearly stated it is happy to follow local market trends. If and when the US regulates, we could indeed be looking at a ‘huge opportunity’. As I see, the key is innovation. With both social and mobile platforms opening up to the gaming industry, we all have a huge opportunity to create a product offering for the evolving customer landscape. I believe this opportunity extends to the affiliate industry. With the right approach, it is possible to build a community and a detailed customer database quicker than ever before. That said, I feel ‘the right approach’ requires a fair amount of original thought and a new mindset in order to get to a point where monetisation is possible. No one said life was easy, but I’m sure we’re all looking forward to the challenge.

Josh Morris is Commercial Director at Virgin Games. He has a marketing background in the online sector, working for various Internet start-ups including the recruitment company StepStone. Josh has worked in the gaming sector for over ten years now with both Victor Chandler and Virgin Games and has built up a wealth of experience of how to grow a gaming business . Virgin Games currently operates in the UK and Italian markets and has a product portfolio that includes casino, bingo, poker and most recently, mobile.


First Mover Advantage In having his application for a licence approved by the Nevada Gaming Commission, Jon Friedberg has written his own small footnote in the history of the online gambling industry: becoming the first licensed iGaming marketing affiliate in the US. Just after receiving final approval from the Commission in September, Friedberg spoke exclusively to iGB Affiliate Magazine on what it means to be first in the emerging US market. Arizona. Throughout my educational and professional career I always loved poker as a hobby. In 2004, I left a company that I had started in the San Francisco area and moved to Las Vegas to pursue my hobby of playing poker. I ended up playing professionally for about five years. I’ve since rekindled my love for business and the entrepreneurial world, and I’m now combining this with my passion for poker and my familiarity with the industry. I understand poker from both a player perspective and from a business perspective and I’m pretty familiar with both the bricksand-mortar space and the online world.

Firstly, congratulations on the licence and becoming the first licensed gaming affiliate in the US. Thank you. Just yesterday we received final approval from the Nevada Gaming Commission to become the first licensed online gaming marketing affiliate in the US – so, understandably, we’re very excited. There remain plenty of unknowns with the online gaming industry in the US, but one thing we know for sure is that Nevada is moving forward. The state has regulations drafted, licences issued and at this point I think the final step before online gaming goes live, as I understand it, is the testing of the software to make sure everything works as it’s supposed to.

Give us some background on yourself and the history of your work in online poker. I discovered poker in my early college years and around 1994, I started to play poker at a Native American casino in Tucson,


iGB Affiliate october/november 2012

One of the key considerations for affiliates is that those that are successful, especially within the poker fraternity, are those who are passionate about what they do. Absolutely, and historically there have been two opposite ends of the spectrum with affiliate marketing. One is simply providing banners and being a banner farm while at the other end of the spectrum you have the affiliates that have been more successful as they really engage the customer. They not only generate leads but prep those leads into possible customers for their casino partners. Then they continue to service and maintain that relationship to encourage and position the player to spend more time on the partner sites and enable the operators to even have better relationships with their customers. We’re very passionate about this. We’ve been providing information and referring poker players to the casinos that are most suitable for them based on their own interests in the bricks-and-mortar space for some time now. We’re excited to have the opportunity to be able to provide that service to online gaming providers.

Describe the process of getting that licence, how challenging it was and how long it took from beginning to end. It was a very comprehensive process that lasted approximately seven months from beginning to end. The process involved extensive background checks covering everything from employment, residential, professional, personal, criminal, financial… you name it. I had to provide lots of detailed information such as tax returns, monthly bank statements, and full disclosure on my entire financial background and involvement with every investment and transaction that I’ve made in recent years. This also included background checks on any employees or stakeholders in the company as well as their spouses. So it’s a very, very thorough process that involves lots of paperwork, lots of background checks, lots of questions that come in regarding that information. Then, ultimately, a judgement is based on that information. And that’s only the personal stuff. There’s also business information as well. I had to basically open up all of our books, all of our employment agreements, all of our sales contracts, all of our relationships with any third-party providers that we might have been working with, developers, etc.

Nevada hasn’t been shy about disclosing just how rigorous a process it will be for those that seek a licence there. Do you think that the rigorousness of the procedure would put off other affiliates from applying for a licence in Nevada? I think it will. I think that’s really the purpose of it. Part of the requirement of licensing, especially in Nevada which


“In the event that regulated online poker in the US extends beyond the borders of the US, we will look to participate in that business. If it’s only in Nevada, we’ll focus on Nevada. If it extends to multiple states, we will as well. We’re going to follow where regulated online gaming goes.”

is all I’m familiar with, is to weed out the applicants and companies that aren’t serious or qualified to do it. I do think that it is going to weed out some of the affiliates that might not have the patience, resources or clean backgrounds to consider it. Some of the other companies that have successful affiliate businesses will probably pursue it. Given that it’s currently restricted to one state, it’s tough to determine whether it’s a sensible investment for a lot of companies. For us and given our Las Vegas presence, I think it makes perfect sense. For example, for a European facing company or any other site that has an audience of non-Vegas players or non-Nevada players, it probably doesn’t make as much sense. To sum it up, yes it will probably put some affiliates off. We’ll see more affiliates involved in the gaming space once it opens up to a larger market. That’s when the value will be there. The value probably isn’t there just yet.

How important is being the first? Many people in the US have been talking about first mover advantage in terms of states engineering their iGaming regimes. What does being the first mean for you and how much of an advantage is that? I think it’s an advantage. First movers always get a little more exposure and there’s certainly a marketing advantage to us. However, I think our ultimate advantage lies within the relationships and rapport that we already have in place with the poker community and casino operators in Nevada. I also feel that being the first marketing affiliate licensee demonstrates that we’re very serious about our place within the online gaming industry, and that we’re always innovating and looking for new ways to improve our offerings.

Moving on to the complexity of the landscape as it may evolve, depending on what the states

or the federal government does, we’re talking about a lot of landbased casinos moving online. Are you party to their concerns of cannibalisation? Do they fear the online space as removing their business or do they see it as something that can supplement what they already do in the bricksand-mortar space? I strongly believe that the emergence of online gaming will strengthen the bricks-and-mortar business. There are tremendous amounts of opportunities for casinos to cross market their platforms and use online to drive traffic to their bricksand-mortar establishments, and vice versa. For a lot of people, gaming is entertainment that can extend well beyond walking into a physical property. If the online casinos offer the right experience, it will be a different experience, and not one that will cannibalise from their bricks-and-mortar presence. They’re very complementary and there are opportunities to improve one another, not take away from one another.

Depending on what happens federally and with the states, do you have any intentions, should the opportunity arise, to expand your business into other states? We absolutely have our eye on the big picture. We’re pursuing this business with a long-term outlook. We actually have a large presence well beyond Nevada already. Our All Vegas Poker site is certainly focussed on the Vegas scene but we also operate a site called which has comprehensive information covering the entire North American region, including Canada. We definitely have our eye on the big picture nationally and perhaps, in the future, internationally as well.

Would that initially be from interstate compacts and after that, international compacts between jurisdictions?

I would love to see that just for the benefit of the players; to open up the player pool and provide liquidity. I don’t know what the timing is on that but we will always work within the restrictions of the governing bodies in the gaming space. In the event that regulated online poker in the US extends beyond the borders of the US, we will absolutely look to participate in that business. If it’s only in Nevada, we’ll focus on Nevada. If it extends to multiple states, we will as well. We’re going to follow where regulated online gaming goes and we’re not losing focus on our bricks-and-mortar business either. Providing information and resources surrounding online poker is a new expansion for us, but again we will not lose focus of our continued presence and efforts within the bricksand-mortar space.

Have you expanded personnel to accommodate the online space? Yes, we are doing so as quickly as possible. I’m currently seeking to hire several people to service the new business opportunities that have surfaced. We’re growing quickly right now and these are very exciting times for us.

Finally, it is a general question and depends on a lot of things falling into place but with any regulation, state or federal, how important a role do you think affiliates will play in the growth of online gaming in the US in the future? Marketing affiliates have long played an important role in the growth of online gaming establishments. When utilised properly, relationships with affiliates can greatly benefit iGaming operators in a multitude of ways. I’m pretty sure that iGaming operators realise this and, therefore, I think that affiliates will continue to play a valuable role in the growth of this industry in the US.

iGB Affiliate october/november 2012



US: the State of Play With Nevada now issuing online poker licences, including the first affiliate licence as we have just read on the previous pages, iGB Affiliate collated the latest information from across the US to provide a snapshot of current activity within a selection of states that have been visible in their attempts to expand, or restrict, their relationship with iGaming.



Green Regulated Gaming Type:

Green Regulated Gaming Type:


Online lottery

Operator Type:

Operator Type: Maryland Lottery controlled Estimated Go Live Date: Q1 2013

Applicants with existing land-based license (open to foreign operators) Estimated Go Live Date: Winter 2012/Q1 2013

Green Regulated Gaming Type: Online lottery

Operator Type: Illinois Lottery controlled Estimated Go Live Date: Online

Delaware Green Regulated Gaming Type: Full-service online gaming Operator Type: Centralised iGaming system via Delaware Lottery and operated by the three state casinos Estimated Go Live Date: End of Q1 2013

Georgia Green Regulated Gaming Type: Online lottery

Operator Type: Georgia Lottery controlled Estimated Go Live Date: Imminent/Q4 2012



Online Legislation Enabled


Work in Progress/Under Consideration


Undecided/Back to the Drawing Board


No Movement



died in session every year since 2008, highlighting the difficulty Senators Wright and Steinberg face in achieving sign-off. However, optimism is reasonably high that the state will at least be one of the first movers, potentially with 2013 a more realistic aim.

Iowa New Jersey



Amber Present Status: Senator Jim Whelan told our sister publication iGaming Business North America of his wish to see iGaming signed through the Governor’s office by November, having co-sponsored Senator Raymond Lesniak’s amended Internet Gaming bill. Delays in the bill’s passage have been met with frustration, however, issues of timing may be more at play than the concerns of the Governor. Chris Christie has re-iterated his desire to see the state as the Silicon Valley of regulated iGaming, and has been aggressive in his attempts to see sports wagering come to New Jersey in spite of federal law.

Amber Present Status: Another state that has gone quiet on its iGaming legislative progress. The November elections will play a key role in whether the online poker bill that had passed through the Senate in March advances in the 2013 session. Should the Senate be under Republican control come November, then it is thought the chances of any iGaming progress is likely to decrease. Iowa’s state lottery is thought, like several other states, to be monitoring the progress of Illinois before committing to any decision on the use of the Internet as a sales channel in light of December’s DoJ opinion.

District of Columbia California Amber Present Status: Little has emerged form California in the way of updates on the progress of the new poker bill co-authored by Senators Roderick Wright and Darrel Steinberg. As in many states, the elections are threatening to overshadow any movement for 2012, and an iGaming bill has

Amber Present Status: After being the first to announce what would have been pioneering iGaming legislation to enable its DC Lottery to offer intra-state online gaming, the District is now in a form of stasis with the Council overturning the law and with no real inclination of the DC Lottery’s online plans post-DoJ opinion.




North Dakota

Montana Oregon

New Vermont Hampshire

Minnesota Idaho

South Dakota

New York





Rhode Island Connecticut





Ohio Utah






Colorado California

West Virginia


New Jersey



North Carolina

Tennessee Oklahoma

Arizona New Mexico

South Carolina





Louisiana Texas


Any progress for 2012 is unlikely at this stage, but authorities aren’t thought to be opposed to new legislation going forward.

Online Gaming Task Force, which is due at the end of the year. He plans to introduce a standalone Internet Poker bill in 2013.



New York


Amber Present Status:

Red Present Status:

Red Present Status:

The DoJ’s opinion has galvanised efforts in Massachusetts to legalise intrastate online poker. A recently drafted amendment to the Budget Bill (H04100) by Rep Dan Winslow (R. Norfolk) seeks to “raise revenue from Internet poker licenses”, with Winslow adding that legislation would lead to the creation of additional jobs. However, he also suggested that his amendment would struggle to be enacted into law before the close of 2012, with legislators awaiting a report on Internet gambling from the

Was responsible, with Illinois, for requesting clarification from the DoJ on the scope of the Wire Act that lead to the December 2011 opinion, however, attempts to expand the lottery online earlier this year were thwarted and there has been no movement since. Additionally, Judge Jack Weinstein seemed to suggest in August that poker wasn’t “gambling” under federal law, although expert analysis from the likes of Prof I Nelson Rose would argue that he was misinterpreted.

Back to the drawing board

Red Present Status: Back to the drawing board

Connecticut Red Present Status: Undecided

Utah Black Present Status: Prohibited. Governor Gary Herbert signed House Bill 108 into law in March, banning all forms of online gambling.



webmaster world

Optimise Your Websites with Authority It goes without saying how important the website is to an affiliate, however, is its performance evaluated with equal significance? With Google’s algorithms in constant flux, the factors that affect a website’s performance are continually changing and because of this, SEO audits are gaining in popularity throughout the iGaming industry. But is all this attention deserved? The short answer is ‘yes’. With ever-present changes being made to Google Panda and Penguin, the need for SEO audits is more vital than ever. Moreover, an SEO audit is imperative to an affiliate’s success; without a proper site examination, and periodic assessments that sustain, a website will become susceptible to search engine results page (SERP) policy changes. There are four tiers of analytics that must be accounted for when performing a thorough SEO audit, these are: keyword analysis, competitor analysis, on-page analysis, and backlink analysis.

Keyword analysis Keyword analysis is the primary focus when driving traffic towards any website. SEM strategists work daily on improving a site’s vocabulary, as appropriate and competitive keywords help websites target audiences. Strong keywords aid in creating quality content (which Panda consents). More importantly, keywords urge user response; they can guide the audience with calls-to-action, because directing users on a webpage is just as important as getting them on-site to begin with. Keyword analysis is also used in maintaining a low website bounce rate through ensuring that the audience is finding what is expected from the SERPs. Through this method, users will also want to stay on the site for longer periods of time. Comprehensive keyword analysis, however, can go much deeper, with


iGB Affiliate october/november 2012

thorough SEO audits including: keyword summaries, visibility overviews, ranking analyses, ranked keywords, biggest gains, newly-ranked organic pages, and top market rankings. A ‘keyword summary’ lists priority keywords for a website, gauges their competition level (how often they’re used among like-minded sites) and their frequency on a monthly basis. A ‘visibility overview’ lists all the keywords that currently rank on the audited website; similarly, ‘ranking analysis’ provides the fluctuation of searched keywords. ‘Ranked keywords’ provide insight on the position of each keyword in relation to their frequency of use. The ‘biggest gains’ reveal which keywords have advanced the most on SERPs, whereas ‘newly-ranked organic pages’ identify the site pages that appeared in the SERPs. Finally, ‘top market rankings’ detail which parts of the world the searches are coming from.

Competitor analysis Competitor analysis is another crucial aspect to an SEO audit, and it is inherently linked to keyword analysis (due to overlapping keyword use). There is much to be learnt from a competitor’s website, and a mindful affiliate will take note of its competition’s successes and its failures. Even outside websites that cater to similar audiences should be observed and inspected, and this is precisely what competitor analysis is all about.

There are four key factors in analysing the competition; the first is through linking. Examining the competition’s backlinks is a great resource because the results will provide an accurate indication of how aggressive the competition is with link acquisition. This will also help to specify where the competition is placing itself online, in particular verticals, and where there are openings that can be taken advantage of. Ensuring that a website’s pages are indexed is a valuable practice because indexed pages inform Google that the content on them is quality. By indexing a site’s pages, it gives Google the ability to inspect the website and rate it; sites that Google judges to be relevant fare better on its SERPs. Likewise, sites that do not allow Google to index them will not rank. Industry-specific analysis and organic competitor analysis round out the competitor analysis factors; these are options offered by superior SEO audits. Industry-specific analysis provides reviews for a website’s top five competitors. Organic competitor analysis provides a review of sites that rank on the same keywords as the site being audited. Both options are extremely perceptive in that they allow an affiliate to distinguish their site and separate from the pack.

On-page analysis On-page analysis offers many SEO benefits including site structure, mobile

webmaster world

optimisation and page-specific factors. Site structure plays a key role in search engine placement as it informs SERPs to the most important pages found on the site. Additionally, correct site structure will denote calls-to-action accordingly, as well as actively navigate users through the site while encouraging them to make the actions desired by the affiliate. Mobile optimisation cannot be overlooked; it is undoubtedly the most important site issue that affiliates are failing to emphasise, given the current increase in mobile searches. With Smartphone and tablet sales rising sharply, more and more users are getting their Internet feeds on-the-go and due to this, today’s website must be optimised for the mobile market. Meta tag titles, descriptions, and alternative text are page-specific factors that are addressed in thorough SEO audits. Meta tag titles are what appear in SERPs to denote the site name for the corresponding link, while the meta tag description is the text used to describe and accompany the title. Meta

tag alternative text is often neglected; this is text that accompanies images on a website, but more importantly, also in image SERPs. The alternative text is responsible for labelling its accompanying image, and also registers in the SERPs, which is why it’s crucial that affiliates tag these images correctly.

Backlink analysis The final component of a complete SEO audit, backlink analysis, is used to determine how many links revert back to the affiliate’s website. There are many factors that reflect this ranking, including: top level domains (TLDs), page rank, and domain age. TLD is the code used to complete a domain name (the most frequently used being ‘.com’). The more reputable the TLD linking back to a website, the better said site will rank on SERPs; TLDs are all about building a strong reputation online. Likewise, page rank displays the value of the website’s backlinks. PR 10 is the highest rating (very difficult to achieve), and an affiliate aiming for strong visibility

on the search engines would need to aim for nothing lower than a PR 5. A site’s domain age is another important gauge for SERPs; the older the domain, the faster it will rank. Affiliates that own domains that are older than their competitors will be at an advantage, and this advantage is dependent on how wide this gap is in years. Thus, when purchasing a new domain, it is essential to consider age beforehand. In summary, it is important to account for each and every website element when looking to audit a website because as search algorithms continue to evolve, each element will have an impact – and only through meticulous inspections can a website be optimised with authority.

Nicky Senyard is CEO of Income Access, overseeing their independent iGaming affiliate network, market-leading affiliate software and expert affiliate management services.

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webmaster world

“Are your readers aware that online bingo jackpots often exceed the largest online poker top prizes? Publicising huge bingo jackpots can entice players into converting.”

Creating More Player Conversions in Online Bingo Promoting online bingo sometimes requires extra effort. These are the tips and tools you need to create bingo conversions. By Michaela McNamara, Editor at

Are you a casino affiliate dealing with low player conversions in the online bingo niche? This article will offer some tips and tools to create bingo player conversions and increase affiliate revenues.

Make bingo sexy Let’s face it, the type of person who enjoys gambling online (young, male, interested in sports and women) isn’t really the type of person one associates with playing bingo. The closest most online gamblers come to a bingo card is when they pick up their Grandma from the local bingo parlour. This marketing conundrum is a reason why fewer affiliates target the bingo niche than casino or poker. However, there exists a market for increasing player conversions among men into the online bingo niche. This can be achieved by: ●● setting up cross-promotions with casino or poker traffic ●● using a voice of male authority on your site to create an image that online bingo isn’t just for old ladies ●● challenging your readers to an online bingo competition ●● using imagery of attractive females and social drinking culture in your online bingo marketing materials (local advertising regulations permitting)


iGB Affiliate october/november 2012

Emphasise massive bingo jackpots Maintain a focus on top online bingo jackpots in promotional efforts. Money has a way of helping people reassess their standards for how they’re willing to spend their time. Are your readers aware that online bingo jackpots often exceed the largest online poker top prizes? Publicising huge bingo jackpots can entice players into converting. Just this February, a woman from the UK turned a 25 pence bingo card into a £510,000 score at Jackpotjoy. Set-up Google alerts to deliver news containing terms like ‘bingo jackpot’ to your inbox to help keep stories of huge bingo prizes front and centre with your readers.

Run an in-house bingo promotion If you’re willing to go the extra mile to increase player conversions, create bingo promotions for your readers. This can be incorporated as part of an email marketing campaign where each newsletter contains a new bingo number. Give readers sufficient time to opt-in to your free bingo game promotion. In the meantime, hire a developer to create bingo cards customised with your brand

logo. Distribute a bingo card and copy of game rules to each participant via email. The first player to respond confirming they’ve created ‘bingo’ wins the top prize. This could be a couple of hundred dollars/pounds/Euros out of your pocket (think of it as an investment in player conversions) or even a cash bonus at an online bingo site you promote. Your prize as an affiliate is increased conversions, returning traffic, and more newsletter subscribers to promote to.

Top online bingo programs Sometimes, conversion problems are more a function of the sites you are promoting than anything else. Here are a few of the top online bingo operators to promote: ●● Bingo at bet365. Top affiliate program bet365 offers a 30 percent revenue share on its popular bingo platform. ●● Fortune Affiliates offers affiliates a special 50 percent rev share for the first three months, through which you can promote its popular brand Giggle Bingo. ●● Ladbrokes is one of the most trusted iGaming brands in the UK where online bingo is very popular. Promote its bingo platform via Score Affiliates.

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New for 2013 • Streamlined Judging Process – All categories are open for voting. The top 10 with the most votes will then be shortlisted and go to a judging panel of industry experts • The Best Award Categories – From the Best Affiliate Manager to the Best Affiliate split by vertical, the categories highlight the best in the business • Premium Venue – This year’s Awards will once again be hosted at an exclusive 5* glamourous setting • Professional Compere – A well-known comedian will be presenting this year’s Awards, keeping you captivated throughout the night • More Networking – More time to socialise following the Awards Ceremony, giving attendees time to network, celebrate and congratulate the winners


marketplace 7314 bet365 affiliates (148x52+3mm). 24/11/2011 15:38 Page 1

Welcome to the Market Place listings section of iGB Affiliate magazine. All listings are taken from the 2012 version of our iGB Affiliate Directory; a 150 page guide to the affiliate programs and service providers who are currently active within the iGaming sector. To request a free copy of this publication or to have your company listed please contact Richard W on E: or T: +44 (0) 207 954 3437 advertising & PR

Market Ace

Game On

Star Games

Global Gaming Events


Media Skunk Works

Casino Affiliate Programs



AFFILIATE NETWORK Bet365 Betsson CAP CPA Industry Game On

ALTERNATIVE GAMING Affstars 32Red Aff Europe

Commission Lounge Europartners Everest Poker Fortune Affiliates Gala Coral Gambling Affiliation GURU iGame Intertops

Affiliate Club

Live Partners

Affiliate Lions


Affiliates United

Mr Green

Asian Logic





Bingo Affiliate Programs

Affiliates United


Officially sponsored by Referback Roxy







Gala Coral

Casino City/GPWA

Star Games

Live Partners

Commission 365

Victor Chandler Slotland Stan James

7314 bet365 affiliates (148x52+3mm). 24/11/2011 15:38 Page 1

Officially sponsored by

78 iGB Affiliate OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2012







Financial Solutions



Aff Europe



Live Partners



Easy Forex



International All Sports




Poker Tracker



Stan James

Aff Europe

Live Partners

Star Games

Payment Solutions


sKIll gaming affiliate Programs

Wire Card

Affiliates United








Gala Coral


poker affiliate programs

Live Partners


Affiliates United


Asian Logic

Star Games


sports betting


Affiliates United


Asian Logic

Commission Lounge



Everest Poker


Victor Chandler CAP Gala Coral iGame

Logispin Lux bet

RGS Malta Ltd SportingBet Stan James

7314 bet365 affiliates (148x52+3mm). 24/11/2011 15:38 Page 1

Officially sponsored by



webmaster world

Responsive Design and Mobile – Jump on Now At a recent SEM conference, a Google trends analyst presented recommendations regarding mobile SEO, effectively endorsing the fact that responsive design is the way to go. Google’s endorsement of responsive design stems from efficiencies gained in assigning indexing properties from Smartphone-optimised content built in this way. If Google is pushing responsive design at these types of events, then you’d be a fool not to think this will become a serious mobile SEO ranking factor. There are basically three ways you can build your site: ●● Having two sites – a desktop version and a mobile version ●● Building the capability of detecting what type of device a user is coming from and delivering the ‘correct’ layout ●● Full responsive design, where CSS3 adjusts how your website is displayed based on device. The problem with the first two is that it will provide a disconnected user experience; continuity and consistency is key here. There’s always the fear of duplicate content issues, so the cost of maintaining two separate sites and two different content strategies will not only become a logistical nightmare, but a costly one too. With the recent Panda and Penguin updates, Google seems to be continuing to put emphasis on the user experience and rewarding sites that follow suit. Google says that these updates affected between three percent and 12 percent of queries, which is a little more than just pocket change. Speak to your developers and start asking questions on responsive design. Be future proof.

Another article about mobile and tablet devices? Blah, blah… Check for yourself: head over to Google Analytics, hit the mobile overview tab and compare last year’s mobile traffic to this year’s. I can tell you that our biggest site has had an increase of over 300 percent alone. Expect this to do nothing but grow.


iGB Affiliate october/november 2012

The world has more than six billion mobile subscribers worldwide, and half of them using Smartphones – this is quickly becoming the best way to reach your audience. Google predicts that mobile will be the most popular advertising platform by 2015 and across the board, mobile-based traffic is up 162 percent from 2010 to 2012 worldwide. By 2014, mobile Internet usage should take over desktop usage.

Missing out on conversions We all know that having a strong conversion path is key to maximising profits. If you’re offering mobile casino bonuses, make sure the landing page you send a user to both reflects the offer and is optimised for mobile. It was a real worry when we realised that 25 percent of all our traffic was now mobile. Our bonus tables were sending users to landing pages that offered downloading ‘.exe’ casino software or to play instant Flash games. Obviously, neither is available to the majority of mobile users so we’ve instantly lost out on potential new customers here. Don’t make the same mistake. You need the landing page to cater for the user, and this means you need to cater for the device they are using.

and bring your overall marketing costs down as a result. Here are some additional facts on mobile display to consider: ●● Overall mobile ad performance reaches

its peak during the evening hours, particularly 7pm to midnight, peaking at 8pm with 1.15 percent CTR ●● Mobile maintains a higher CTR than PC browser-based banners at any time of the day ●● Mobile ads outperform standard display banners for PCs, achieving 0.61 percent CTR on average, compared with 0.07 percent for display banners via PC ●● A list of resources to help you on your mobile journey: ●● Huge resource of freelance developers at very competitive prices: ●● Mobile PPC tips and tricks: mobile/ ●● Fantastic software company specialising within the mobile advertising and affiliate sector (will work on CPL/CPA-only models) ●● Display giant with the most competitive rates (will work on CPA only models)

Driving mobile traffic There’s so much remnant display inventory available for mobile that you can pick up campaigns at very low CPMs. It’s been proven again and again that the CTR on mobile is significantly higher than on desktop. This is due to the fact that the device is smaller, so the ad is a lot more prominent and is generally always above the fold. Smaller screen = higher engagement. Paid search is cheaper and a lot less competitive. Start building your mobile optimised landing pages and sending paid traffic. CTRs are higher on mobile which means you’ll find it easier to improve your quality scores

There are people in the industry making big moves on mobile right now and are already reaping serious rewards. It’s time to join them.

Fraser Burt is an Internet entrepreneur and technologist focused on marketing and web development. Fraser has over six years direct experience in Internet user experience, interactive advertising, conversion optimisation and organic search. Any questions feel free to tweet him @tamgoose.

29 th NO V E M B E R 2012 3 0 C ro w n p l a ce , Lon d on, E C 2 A 4 E S

webmaster world

Facebook Offers First Real Money Gambling App Bingo & Slots Friendzy is the first real-money Facebook gambling app. It’s only available in the UK, but it’s likely to herald the start of a social gambling landslide. By Michaela McNamara, Editor at After months of anticipation, Facebook has released its first real money gambling app — Bingo & Slots Friendzy. The app features 90-ball bingo and slots games, and is available only to UK residents of legal gambling age. Bingo & Slots Friendzy was developed by Gamesys, the operator of, a popular UK bingo site. The company worked with Facebook to develop geolocation features that will keep real money gambling posts from appearing on Facebook pages belonging to anyone not of legal gambling age or living outside the UK.

UK: an ideal starting point Facebook officials have been quietly discussing real money gambling since December 2011, and the UK was always considered the top choice for an initial launch. The country has a well-regulated, well-established gambling industry, as well as a huge market for social-friendly games like bingo. Although the new app contains the word Friendzy there’s no word yet on how


iGB Affiliate october/november 2012

big a factor social networking will actually play in real money gambling. Zynga’s Texas Hold’em, the most popular app on Facebook, includes a number of integrated social features that allow friends to share items and game stats online.

much up in the air. Social gaming already rewards current players who bring on new players, but those rewards normally come in the form of virtual goods rather than real cash. Whatever the case, it’s unlikely that Bingo & Slots Friendzy will be the last real money Facebook gambling app we’ll see.

Where it goes from here At the time of writing, Facebook has not announced any plans to expand real money gambling outside the UK. Given the disappointing performance of Facebook stock and the company’s need for new revenue sources, it seems unlikely that the gambling experiment will stop here. Real money gambling is a potential gold mine for Facebook and it’s certain that American gaming firms are eyeing the social network’s potential for tapping into new player markets.

What it means for affiliates What role affiliate partners will be playing in real-money Facebook gambling is very

Michaela McNamara is Editor at (CAP). CAP is the world’s largest online gaming affiliate marketing community, and is the Internet’s primary location for online gaming brands and affiliate marketers to come together and do business. CAP is owned by Affiliate Media, Inc, an independent online publishing company focused solely on affiliate marketing. Our experts gather, create, and publish information about affiliate marketing and share it with the larger worldwide community to help affiliates better promote leading Internet brands worldwide (and profit by doing so).

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iGB Affiliate 35 (October/November)  

Information, insight and analysis for the business of interactive gaming.