David Coulthard – Interview – from Red Bull to Jetbull Industry Search Marketing Report – Greenlight discusses its findings 2010 Casino Supplement Featuring Live Gaming
iGaming Website Critique Industry Websites Under the Microscope
INFORMATION, INSIGHT AND ANALYSIS FOR THE BUSINESS OF INTERACTIVE GAMING
It’s what’s inside that counts.
Hitman and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider are trademarks of Square Enix Ltd. All rights reserved.
CASINO | POKER | BINGO | NETWORK GAMING | MOBILE
CONTENTS 04 Events Calendar 08 Webmaster News 12 Developing SEO Strategies for the French Market 15 SEO Channel Hopping – UK Businesses in the French Market 16 The Seven Deadly Sins of Web Conversion 20 Is your Website Stupid or Smart? 23 Organic Rankings – a Matter of Balance 26 Interview – Malci Daniels, Revenue Giants 28 Website Critique – iGaming Sites Under the Microscope 32 Social Responsibility in Affiliate Marketing 33 Casino Supplement 47 The New Generation of Communication Channels 48 Communicating Your Way Through Program Terms Changes 49 Software Consolidation – What Affiliates Need to Know 50 Blogs – Integrating Search Engines and Social Media 51 Analysing Affiliate Program Metrics 52 View from the Boardroom – What Makes a Good Affiliate? 54 Entry Strategies for French and Spanish Markets 56 The Greenlight Search Marketing Report I’ve only been back from the iGaming Super Show for a few days and I already miss Prague. I want to thank all of our conference speakers and our conference chairs for helping us to put on one of our best shows to date. The feedback that I have received on the sessions has all been positive, and I have to admit that I found myself wanting to duck between the three different conference halls just so I wouldn’t miss anything. One of the big product themes within the Super Show expo halls was live casino gaming. Today, live casino is no longer limited to the Asian market having gained significant and widespread popularity in the West. In this issue of iGB Affiliate, we have taken an in-depth look at live gaming within our wider casino supplement and quizzed the live gaming experts in our round table article. Other highlights include a simple-to-read breakdown of the European legislative landscape from Dominique and some great data from search marketing agency, Greenlight, who have provided us with exclusive highlights from their newly released iGaming traffic trends report. Michael Caselli, Editor in Chief
60 Interview – Formula 1 Legend, David Coulthard 64 Celebrity Endorsement in iGaming – Tips for Success 66 Building a Strong Affiliate Program 68 Insight into Affiliates from Emerging Market Regions 70 Interview – Vianney Settini, co-founder of MobPartner 72 Market Place 74 The Facebook Dilemma
Editor in Chief: Michael Caselli
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iGB Affiliate JUNE/JULY 2010
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.
CBG Affiliate Weekend Niagara Falls, Canada August 27 - 29, 2010 Summary: The folks at CasinoBonusGuy (CBG) are planning their biggest event yet. The 3rd annual CBG Affiliate Weekend will take place on August 27, 28 & 29, 2010, in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada. The CBG Affiliate Weekend will return to the Fallsview Hilton, home of 2009’s very successful conference for another weekend of mixing business and social activities in one of the world’s favourite vacation destinations. The CBG Affiliate Weekend will bring affiliates together for knowledge sharing sessions during the day and social events in the evenings. All at the top of the world famous Horseshoe Falls and adjacent to Niagara’s, world class, Fallsview Casino. This is best networking event for North American based affiliates and a great stop for distant affiliates planning a summer trip to Canada or the US.
Budapest Affiliate Conference, SYMA Centre, Budapest Oct 7 – 10, 2010 Summary: The Budapest event in 2009 was such a huge success that the 2010 autumn affiliate conference returns to Hungary for what organizers hope will be a repeat performance. Following on from the iGaming Super Show in Prague in May, the BAC returns to one of Europe’s most historic and romantic capital cities with the usual array of insight, networking and partying making this one of the most sought after stops on the affiliate conference calendar. www.budapestaffiliateconference.com
London Affiliate Conference (LAC) Old Billingsgate, London January 28 – 31, 2011 Summary: An event that needs no introduction due to the huge success of previous years, the LAC has been the flagship event on the affiliate conference circuit since its inception in 2007 (then as CAP Euro). An all-encompassing expo and conference delving into the very latest issues affecting all aspects of the iGaming and affiliate market sectors, LAC 2010 promises to be the best attended and best prepared event to date. www.londonaffiliateconference.com
iGB Affiliate june/july 2010
iGB Espana Madrid, Spain TBC, November, 2010 Summary: The second annual Spanishspecific event returns to the conference circuit this November, hoping to capitalise on what was a sensitively organised and impressively successful first outing in 2009. The conference section will update attendees on the very latest in legal, regulatory and operational fronts in the Spanish market and offer insight into the intricacies of serving and supplying into this unique and promising region. www.igbespana.com
EiG 2010 Copenhagen, Denmark October 19 – 21, 2010 Summary: The 2010 version of the European iGaming Congress and Expo remains in Copenhagen, Denmark, and promises to outshine last year’s event in terms of content and exhibitors. www.eigexpo.com
“The whole show was awesome and possibly the best I have been to. Best layout and venue to date and the parties were great.”
“Budapest was a great conference, well attended and we de�initely received positive conversions as well great contacts.”
For more information email info@BudapestAffiliateConference.com
The Budapest Affiliate Conference is back and promises to be bigger and better than ever before. Bringing together operators and affiliates at one of the industries biggest affiliate events. This event offers 60+ exhibitors, innovative and informative conference streams, dynamic speakers and some of the best networking opprtunities around. Come to Budapest to work hard and play harder.
We look forward to welcoming you to Budapest again in October. Previous sponsors and exhibitors includes: Party Partners 888.com EGO Affiliates United Europartners Intertops Cake Poker Expekt Chipleader ReferBack eToro Tower Affiliate bwin Ladbrokes Doylesroom Sticky Eyes Income Access Everest Affiliates Vegas Affiliates Affiliate Lounge Casino Blasters Affactive and many more...
For sponsorship and exhibition enquiries Richard@iGamingBusiness.com For speaker opportunities Kiera@iGamingBusiness.com
KPMG Urges Governments to Tax Online Gaming A new report from global accounting and advisory group, KPMG, has recommended that governments from around the world should consider regulating and taxing online gambling as a way of raising additional revenues. The report is entitled “Online Gaming: a Gamble or a Sure Bet?” and cites predictions that the international online gambling market could grow by 42 percent to reach $30 billion annually by 2012 with substantially increased revenues for land-based gambling operators, software developers and investors. Prospects for growth, the report stated, were especially enormous since some of
the biggest potential markets including Australia, the US, China, Japan and South Korea currently prohibit many forms of online gambling. “China is an exploding market for Internet games,” read the report. “However, it does limit land-based casino gambling activities to Macau and prohibits online gaming altogether. Korea, an enormous market for online multi-player games, may have online gamblers, however, gambling online remains illegal in Korea as well. “While it is difficult to predict political and legislative action, many markets that now ban online gaming could easily change
their laws as a means of authorising what is now an underground economy and increasing tax revenues.” Anthony Travers from KPMG Australia’s Gaming Industry Practice, said, “Governments in many parts of the world are quietly rethinking their opposition to online gambling. “With the potential for growth in the sector increasing, the market we see now could be just the tip of the iceberg. Australians spent an estimated $738 million on offshore gambling sites in 2008. It is an underground economy that could become authorised with a sustained period of reregulation and expand significantly.”
Android and Apple Top Smartphone Movers New figures for the first quarter of 2010, released by research firm Gartner has revealed that the Smartphone sector is in buoyant health, with sales for the whole sector rising at their highest rate since 2006. Android and Apple have made the most significant moves (see table), having
increased their market shares 8 and 4.9 percent respectively on the same period in 2009 – the only two to post an increase, which will not sit well with Microsoft, locked as it is in a pitch battle with Google and increasingly, Apple. On both desktop and mobile fronts, Microsoft is being challenged and arguably
beaten to the punch by Apple in terms mobile technologies (now applied to tablet computing through the iPad) and Google with regard to search engine and browser wars. This arch rivalry is likely to come to a head when Google launches its OS, reported to be at the beginning of 2011.
Worldwide Smartphone Sales to End Users by Operating System in 1Q10 (Thousands of Units) Company
1Q10 Market Share (%)
1Q09 Market Share (%)
Research In Motion
Microsoft Windows Mobile
* image courtesy of BBC News website
iGB Affiliate june/july 2010
Source: Gartner (May 2010)
Ladbrokes to Sell Italian Retail Arm British online and land-based betting giant Ladbrokes has announced an agreement to sell its Italian retail business to an affiliate of leading licensed video lottery terminal operator, Cogetech SpA for 5.25 million in cash. Ladbrokes stated that the sale is subject to approval from Italian competition authorities and would see Cogetech assume responsibility for approximately 18 million in guarantees that it currently provides. Ladbrokes revealed that its Italian retail business reported a loss of 9.9 million
last year with its book value at the end of 2009 at 26.7 million. “As a result of entering into the sale agreement, the buyer has agreed to acquire the entire Ladbrokes Italian retail business consisting of its head office in Milan, 82 shops and 51 corners located throughout Italy,” read a statement from Ladbrokes. “Ladbrokes took the decision to exit the Italian retail market in August of 2009 due to revenue growth being below expectations, increased competition in the marketplace and the high level of further investment required to achieve critical mass.”
Study Predicts 32,000 jobs from online gambling A new study has projected that regulating all forms of Internet gambling in the US would create nearly 32,000 jobs over the next five years. The study was conducted by H2 Gambling Capital, a leading supplier of global gambling data and market intelligence, and further found that regulation would generate up to $94 billion in gross revenues over the period alongside $57.5 billion in tax revenues. Previous reports projected that $72 billion would be collected from license fees and other applicable federal and state taxes over the next decade in a regulated environment without sportsbetting. “This analysis further reinforces the fact that a regulated environment will pay dividends throughout the economy,” said Michael Waxman, spokesperson for the Safe and Secure Internet Gambling Initiative. “With unemployment nearing ten percent, this study sends a clear message to policymakers that Internet gambling regulation is a common-sense way to
immediately stimulate the economy, create close to 32,000 jobs and raise billions in much-needed new government revenues.” The announcement coincides with moves in Congress to regulate online gambling including Democrat Barney Frank’s Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection and Enforcement Act. The Congressman’s proposed legislation has attracted support from a bipartisan group of more than 65 cosponsors and is expected to be marked up in his committee shortly. “We believe the significant job and revenue creation potential provides an immediate incentive for the Obama Administration and Congress to act quickly to regulate Internet gambling,” added Waxman. “Leaving in place a failed prohibition should no longer be the government’s misguided policy approach, leaving millions of Americans vulnerable as they continue to find a way to gamble online in a thriving underground marketplace.”
PartyGaming Seals Second French Deal In expanding its operations in iGaming’s newest market, PartyGaming has signed an exclusive multi-year agreement to provide a ‘white-label’ online poker service to one of France’s leading television broadcasters, AB Groupe. The business-to-business deal will see the two companies co-operate to create a new online poker room branded under the LuckyJeux moniker that will join
PartyGaming’s French poker network, which is also set to include PartyPoker.fr. Once operational, PartyGaming revealed that its network would see French players benefit from a shared player liquidity pool operating on a single platform. “AB Groupe is a first-rate addition to our French poker network and is consistent with our stated strategy of combining business-to-consumer and business-tobusiness offerings in (continued p.10)
888 and Endemol Form Italian JV More news from Italy as 888 Holdings Limited announced the formation of a joint venture with entertainment firm, Endemol Group, to launch a new line-up of branded games for the Italian market. 888 recently announced a partnership with software provider Microgaming that will see the pair create a poker network for the French market but stated that this most recent deal represents its ‘first major consumer launch’ for the market in Italy. 888 revealed that this agreement would bring together ‘one of the world’s most popular online gaming platforms’ with Endemol’s ‘biggest entertainment brands including Big Brother and Deal Or No Deal’. “Now that online gaming has become an established and hugely popular form of entertainment, strategic partnerships with media companies are critical for growth, especially in newly regulated markets such as Italy,” said Gigi Levy, Chief Executive Officer for 888. “The combination of our gaming expertise and Endemol’s brands, production capabilities and media assets will create a compelling new gaming offering for Italian consumers. The potential of the Italian market is enormous and this partnership strongly positions us to capitalise on this.” 888 announced that the joint venture would operate under its existing Italian license and is expected to begin during the second half of the year. “Endemol has always prided itself at being at the forefront of market evolution,” said Paolo Bassetti, President and Chief Executive Officer for Endemol, Italy. “The Italian market represents a huge opportunity for online gaming and Endemol’s brands are ideally suited for this platform. This is an area we have been interested in for some time and, as a world leader in online gaming, 888 is the perfect partner.”
iGB Affiliate june/july 2010
Let Them Eat Cake… The Cake Poker Network has announced that it has received a letter of intent from the Malta Lotteries and Gaming Authority after applying for a class-four remote gaming license in the Mediterranean nation. One of the world’s leading online poker networks, Cake stated that gaining a license from Malta would allow it to offer European partners the same successful business model it currently operates under the jurisdiction of Curacao including options for turnkey and integrated solutions. Cake revealed that it has already signed partners that are preparing to launch under the option of its Malta license, the names of which will be announced soon, while stating that its system in Europe would continue as a pure businessto-business model with associates operating their own card rooms. “The integrated partner solution is available to operators who have their own player management and fund management systems and procedures,” read a statement from Cake. “In the case of partners requiring a complete solution including cashier services, the turnkey partner solution will be offered by Cake.” The online poker network operator revealed that its decision to apply for a license from Malta followed a ‘detailed analysis of available jurisdictions’. It stated that the island nation was the ‘ideal jurisdiction’ for the initial move into the European Union given Malta’s international reputation and strict regulatory infrastructure. “We are excited about being in a position to offer our existing and future partners licensing through the Malta Lotteries and Gaming Authority,” said Andrew Turner, Marketing Director for Cake. “This will greatly assist existing partners as they undertake further marketing within the European region and allow existing European white-listed operators the opportunity to take advantage of the Cake Poker Network’s suite of services.”
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(continued from p.9) newly regulated markets,” said Jim Ryan, Chief Executive Officer for PartyGaming. “Together with our recently announced alliance with PMU, we are in great shape ahead of the market opening and are excited about our prospects.”
AB Groupe has approximately 52 million subscribers and offers 15 paying channels in France and other French-speaking countries such as Belgium including RTL9, AB1 and AB Moteurs. It stated that the new LuckyJeux poker service would be ‘extensively promoted’ on-air and online across its network.
PartyGaming Still Keen on US Deals More news from PartyGaming as it revealed it is still in talks regarding potential deals in the US and is ‘optimistic’ about re-entering what is potentially the world’s largest market. According to a report from the Reuters news agency, PartyGaming’s July agreement with US authorities, which protects it from being prosecuted over its past activities there, will make it easier for the firm to return to the American market while also clearing the way for it to engage in mergers and acquisitions activities. “We are certainly in discussions with a few parties on a number of different opportunities,” Jim Ryan, Chief Executive
Officer for PartyGaming, told Reuters. However, Ryan stressed that talks remained at a preliminary stage and declined to comment on the size or identity of the companies PartyGaming was talking to. “There is a list of suspects who one would expect us to be talking to given that our focus is consolidating the online gaming sector,” said Ryan. “We are talking to a number of US entities about doing business with them when the US market regulates. It’s positioned us for growth from a mergers and acquisitions perspective and, from an operational perspective, I think it’s our ticket back into the United States.”
Belgium Unveils New Gaming Legislation The iGaming landscape in Belgium is set to change dramatically after the nation’s 150-member Chamber of Representatives finally passed new gaming legislation. Due to come into force by the end of 2010 at the latest, the new legislation will institute a licensing and regulation scheme for all online and land-based poker and sportsbetting activities while not affecting lotteries. The new regulations stipulate that any group wishing to offer online gambling services based in Belgium must now obtain a land-based license first. In addition, operators seeking to supply online gambling to Belgians must base any servers controlling that side of their operation in the nation. The Belgian Gaming Commission is to be in charge of licensing and
regulating all online gambling in the country while the national lottery will not be affected and remain as a monopoly of the state. The changes will force foreign online gambling firms to first become licensed land-based operators before being able to offer their services to players in Belgium. However, a Royal Decree has seen a limit placed on the number of gambling licenses available with preference likely to go to domestic firms. Numerous industry experts speculate that any difficulty in obtaining a license may see foreign firms wishing to offer their services in Belgium resort to simply targeting players from abroad. While this would be illegal under local laws, it remains to be seen whether local authorities would take any actions to stop such activities.
As iGaming legislation loosens up in France, operators, affiliates and platform providers are gearing up to aggressively move into the French market. You’ve only got to look at the iGaming recruitment sites and you’ll see numerous iGaming jobs in the French market. Established poker and sportsbetting affiliates have a fantastic opportunity to move into this market. French market overview It is commonly regarded by British SEOs that you don’t need strong natural search expertise or signiﬁcant off-site optimisation budgets to target and be successful in France. After all, I’m sure I’ve heard ‘gurus’ refer to France as a soft market, not as competitive as the UK with less sophisticated search algorithms and plenty of low hanging fruit. For reference: AdWords Search Volume – UK Vs France – Key Converting Casino Terms: ● Local exact match (Google.co.uk) “Online Poker” - 60,500 ● Local exact match (Google.fr) “Poker en Ligne” - 40,500 This is entirely wrong; the French iGaming market is extremely lucrative and therefore competitive. OK, so we know that the above data isn’t even close to the actual search volume. Perhaps due to automated queries such as the collective automated ranking reports generated by the countless SEOs, or the sum total of all the UK’s SEMs checking their ad copy and visibility. What this data
iGB Affiliate JUNE/JULY 2010
does provide is an idea of the relative size of opportunity. Once you take into account the strength of the Euro and we’re looking at a very attractive market “For the week ending January 30, 2010, Google.fr was the most visited website in France, picking up a huge 10.38 percent of all French trafﬁc; this is equal to one in every ten visits. Out of the top ten, two other Google-owned enterprises also appeared: YouTube.com at four and Google. com at seven. (Source - Experian Hitwise data 02/2010)” With stats this signiﬁcant it’s vital that afﬁliates targeting France research correct terms and understand user behaviour when crossing over into the French market. Given that Google has 89.98 percent share of the search market in France, you know where to focus your attention and now so does every other afﬁliate and operator, so what do you do now?
French keyword research Linguistic and cultural naivety has resulted in a huge opportunity to exploit. Many iGaming companies are simply using their English target keyword list, translating it into French and then targeting these terms. Just obtaining a translated list of your
English keywords will give you a list of grammatically correct French words and phrases. Although these will make perfect sense to French speakers, there is a very high probability that these keywords are not the words searched for online. When deciding on your French keywords and search terms, a thorough keyword research project needs to be fully undertaken. It’s imperative that a native investigation is included in the decision process which incorporates both cultural sensitivity and geography to generate keywords that will be both relevant and popular with the French target audience. ‘Poker’, ‘Paris sportifs’ and the highly competitive ‘casino’ terms translate quite easily, however, the challenge increases when looking at the long-tail. Natural language such as UGQ (user generated questions) which rank perfectly for natural language queries, the likes of which would ordinarily drive trafﬁc to a forum (for example) would become very complex, riddled with subtle nuances and colloquialisms, none of which translate well. Longer tail SEO is generally of more interest to afﬁliates, due to the cost and resource requirements involved in targeting the ‘Hollywood’ keywords.
Website translation “OK, we’ve got an English website, we know our target keywords, let’s translate it – we’ll put the translated version on a .fr sub-domain or a /FR subdirectory
and it’ll be happy times.” Of course it’s not just keywords that need to be in French, everything from title tags, meta tags and on page content needs to be in French – and this is far from simply using Google translate. The Google translation tool is a program designed to get a rough translation of text. Machine translation performs a simple substitution of words from one natural language to another, resulting in very weak grammar, marketing and sales language. Google doesn’t care how well the content on the page reads! Description and title tags inﬂuence relative CTR (Click through rates). While on-page copy, calls to action and design quality impact bounce rates. Given that Google has enough sample points (Google Toolbar, Google Chrome, Google Analytics) available to measure these quality signals, it would be foolish to ignore them – from experience, while we’re unable to prove it, these signals certainly appear to inﬂuence ranking performance. A ‘Googler’ recently disclosed to me that toolbar data is one of the most signiﬁcant user-behaviour signals used by Google for a number of internal purposes.
Localise don’t translate Localisation refers to the process of adapting a product or a service to the target country’s market. The localisation process includes translation, but it is far more than a mere ‘translation’. It also takes geographic factors, product names, local sensitivities, legal issues and many more of the destination market into account. If localisation has been successfully implemented, it will ensure your product is treated like one produced in France with the French target audience believing that the site was created in their native country.
Local user behaviour My high school French is pretty good... I know how to translate my poker school site... école de poker... right?
Wrong Today, very little importance is placed on ‘accents/diacritical’ characters for search engine algorithms. It is commonly considered that search engines compensate automatically for accents. Linguistically speaking, accents are known as ‘diacritics’ which are the extra marks added to Latin characters such as à è ç. However, it is not always the case that they should be disregarded. Sometimes a character with an accent is regarded as a completely separate character in the eyes of Google. Accents are generally used to either change the sound of a letter or distinguish between words spelt the same way with different meanings. French searchers unfortunately don’t search correctly, and it’s estimated that the French use accents when they search only half of the time that they should be used. In the example below the accent is only used around 15 percent of the time. The main reason behind this is the French keyboard layout – where the accents sit on a French keyboard involves a large amount of ﬁnger stretching. However, looking at exact local match search volumes for google.fr produces some interesting results. Yet, there are currently more competitors in the paid search space still choosing to target the wrong version of the query.
linking partners country speciﬁc or neutral (.org/.net/.co.uk/.fr/.info, etc...) ● Page and site language Failing to consider these factors, from a cost perspective, will leave your resources exhausted before the battle has been won. From a link proﬁle perspective, link building may result in a ‘translate this page’ link appearing next to your Google listing. Looking at the current French SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) I’m currently unable to ﬁnd an example for demonstration purposes, which indicates that Google is currently using a very loose threshold for this algorithmic factor. If you do see such a link appearing at any point, this is directly related to your backlink proﬁle.
As ever, the usual caveats apply... Always seek professional advice before commencing your SEO campaign, ensure you’re working with native speakers with recent cultural exposure and product knowledge, and remember.... ● Picking a keyword is picking a ﬁght. ● Don’t pick a ﬁght unless you’re sure you can win. If you have any speciﬁc questions email me directly at email@example.com or follow me on http://twitter.com/paulreilly or stalk me on http://foursquare.com/user/ paulreilly
Comparative cost of deployment “Off-site optimisation costs the same in any country, plus France is a ‘soft’ market so cracking France is bound to be cheaper than we were quoted to crack the UK market.” Earlier I mentioned the strength of the Euro against the Pound. This factor needs to be factored in when considering local off-site optimisation costs. While this article doesn’t go into how to geo or language target a site based on its back-link proﬁle, it’s important to consider factors such as: ● Geo IP (location of the servers where the back links are placed) ● TLD (Top Level Domain): are your
PAUL REILLY is a top UK SEO and link strategist, with ten years experience, multiple SEO awards and honours and a proven track record in the most competitive markets which also include financial services and travel. Paul joined Stickyeyes as Head of Search to scale and apply his proven approach to the super-competitive online gaming sector. Today, Stickyeyes is synonymous with gaming SEO, with a client list which reads like the who’s who of the online gaming world.
iGB Affiliate JUNE/JULY 2010
According to Greig Holbrook, Director at Oban Multilingual SEO, time has come for iGaming operators and affiliates in the UK to start considering their French SEO strategies more seriously. 2010 is set to be a promising year for UK online gambling companies. With one of the EU’s most lucrative online gambling markets, France, opening its doors to the European market, all eyes are on our neighbours across the channel to help pull gaming companies out of the water after the financial downturn of 2009. In order to take advantage of this, UK gaming operators and specifically their affiliate partners need to take into consideration the new market their websites and marketing efforts will need to target. The legislation sees the French state letting go of the monopoly they currently hold over online betting, and allowing foreign companies to operate poker, horseracing and sportsbetting services on French soil. For new entrants on both the operational and affiliation level, this means the opportunity to break into a market that’s predicted to be worth 2 billion by 2015. A localised approach into the research of the French online gaming community will provide entrants with an insight into how the French use online gambling sites, and help them significantly improve their search engine optimisation (SEO). Google (google.fr) is the leading search engine in France, holding approximately 90 percent of the market share. In 2008, Google relaxed its policy which restricted gambling-related operations from advertising to UK Internet users, allowing them to advertise on a Pay-Per-Click platform (PPC). However, considering the stance the French state has taken on online gambling up until now, we have to assume that this may not happen there for a while. This means operators and affiliates need to utilise other forms of search marketing in order to break into this market.
Keyword research Thorough keyword/phrase research should be carried out in order to determine what
“Creating lots of irrelevant or poor quality links in this market could have a negative effect on search rankings on Google. Sticking to a few, first-rate links will have a positive effect on SEO.” the French online gambling market will be searching for. For example, although online poker is extremely popular in the UK, it is less so in France. This means that the translation of the search term ‘online poker’ – one of the most popular gambling related terms in the UK, is not as popular in France, with less than half as many searches conducted on it. However, the phrase ‘jeux ligne’ meaning ‘online games’ is hugely popular, with over one million searches conducted on it in February of this year alone.
Link building As affiliates are all too aware these days, link building is another effective way to improve search rankings organically. By building links with local, industry related websites, new market entrants will generate a reputation amongst the already established gambling community, and this is likely to drive more traffic their way. French gambling news websites, blogs and forums would all be good link possibilities for UK online gambling companies. However, bearing in mind Google is the top search engine, it is important to ensure that the focus is kept on the quality rather than the quantity of the links. Creating lots of irrelevant or poor quality links could have a negative effect on search rankings on Google. Sticking to a few, first-rate links will have a positive effect on SEO.
Online poker As mentioned earlier, poker is not as popular in France as it is in the UK. However, the new legislation will mean the online poker market there has plenty
of room for potential growth. Statistics show that overall, UK searches for online poker over the past two years have slowed down measurably, with only a six percent increase. In France, the increase was 36 percent. This is a growing market that prospective UK operators will want to tap into. A recent study has shown that 77 percent of online gambling companies will be looking to obtain a French online poker license this year. Again, a close look at the French market will give operators and, indeed, affiliates an idea of who they should be marketing online poker to, as well as the brands that will be entering the space (in addition to those who have already made their entry strategies public). In the UK, a distinct majority of the online poker demographic is male, unlike in France, where the divide is more even between male and female. Interestingly, the search phrase ‘poker gratuit’, meaning ‘free poker’, is mostly looked up by women at 51 percent, compared to 33 percent of women in the UK. By devising a marketing strategy which targets the female online poker population in France, operators are likely to attract more traffic, particularly if they offer a free incentive. At Oban, we use the approach ‘Think Global, Act Local’. By looking at all aspects of marketing in terms of the locality of the target audience, businesses can tap into online communities successfully, and by recognising that the French online gaming market has different search habits to the British market, UK operators and in this case, their affiliates, can increase hits to their sites and stake a claim to the vast potential the French market has to offer.
iGB Affiliate june/july 2010
The seven top conversion mistakes nearly everyone makes (and how to fix them). Few online businesses are as dependent and as focused on conversion rates as the online gambling business. Driven by necessity, marketing and product, managers have been forced to come up with new ideas on how to improve conversions and over time they’ve implemented some pretty good stuff. Lots of it even came to serve as inspiration and benchmarks for other online businesses. But with a lack of a systematic approach many operators still make beginner’s mistakes and miss a lot of opportunities (conversions!) by not applying conversion optimisation best practices. This article will bring you ideas on some easy quick fixes which correctly applied can boost your conversion rates surprisingly fast.
How it all started (for me) In 2005, I was put in charge of CasinoEuro, a Betsson gaming brand. The casino was unprofitable, and I was given the task to turn it around in three months. I did so in just over one month, and what I learnt there came to shape my career as a conversion professional. Many of my competitors had a simple recipe for increased conversions – pump up the volume on the marketing. They got increased conversions not by improving the conversion rates, but simply by increasing the input in the conversion funnel. Well, I didn’t have any marketing budget so I had to go the other way, which basically meant turning each and every stone in order to find improvements to the conversion and retention of the little inflow we had. Many of the changes were ridiculously small and subtle, but in the
iGB Affiliate june/july 2010
end, they summed up to greatly improved conversion and retention rates.
So let’s cut the small talk and go to the list.
Why are conversion rates so important?
Top seven conversion mistakes nearly everyone makes
By ‘conversion’ I mean the act of a visitor to perform a desired action at your website. The most frequent ‘conversion goals’ in the online gambling industry are: 1. Playing a free game or using some kind of trial offer (without registering) 2. Registering 3. Depositing 4. Playing a real money game/placing a wager.
1. Not using landing pages for affiliates and campaigns I interviewed long time Affiliate Director John Ryott, who has worked for Betsson/ AffiliateLounge, GamingVC and Expekt/ Mangas, about the current use of landing pages for affiliates. He confirmed my suspicions that there is a huge untapped potential here. According to John, conversion rate is the second most important factor for an affiliate to promote a brand, after brand awareness. And still, many operators have no landing pages or just lame generic landing page templates which can be slightly customised. Conversion professionals talk about ‘maintaining the scent’. Think of your visitor as a hound searching and closing in on the fugitive. When the visitor clicks and arrives at your landing page that scent must be maintained. It’s all about establishing a clear and trustworthy connection to the affiliate site. Yes, many sites do this, they reserve a space for the affiliate’s logo on the generic landing page template, but that’s not good enough. Different users have different scents depending on where they came from. Just think of the different mindsets of a visitor from an odds comparison site and one from a casino bonus guide. Many operators’ sites are reviewed by affiliates and get at ‘star ranking’ or similar. If you want to keep just one piece of conversion advice from this article, take
I went to the inaugural Conversion Conference in San Jose a couple of weeks ago and the case studies presented there showed improved rates of 20-30 percent in general, with many up to triple digit gains and one case showed a staggering 1,500 percent combined rate improvement, as a result of a series of changes. And all the improvements were results of relatively cheap and non-complex website changes which required no massive website overhauls or big IT projects. Conversion authority Bryan Eisenberg demonstrated how a change of a single picture on a single page at Overstock.com increased yearly sales by $25 million! Do you know of any marketing channel or campaign where you could increase traffic to your site by more than 20 percent with little investment? I wouldn’t think so. That’s why I, and many other online marketing professionals, see conversion optimisation as ‘the new frontier’ in online marketing.
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that affiliate ranking and stick it on your landing page. And yes, on the registration page too. I have yet to see this being done. You could be first! 2. Not using vertical screen real estate efficiently Vertical space – treat it like gold. On second thoughts, make that platinum. All your pages are designed for vertical reading/ scanning and computer screens have more horizontal space than vertical. Weird isn’t it? The result is that vertical space should always be treated like a scarcity. Even if your analytics data shows that only a tiny fraction of your visitors have a lower than 768 pixels vertical size, that is absolutely no excuse for not trying to accommodate those visitors too. Why would you leave anything on the table if you don’t have to? Plus, you don’t know if your visitors are using the browser in full screen size, and you don’t know how many toolbars they use. The only thing you know is that for some users, with certain browser sizes your important ‘Play’ or ‘Register’ button will appear ‘below the fold’, i.e. your users will have to scroll to see it. And, when you force your visitors to start scrolling, your conversion rate drops. Tip: If a landing page needs to be so tall that it cannot fit on the screen without scrolling, put the call to action both at the top and at the bottom so it can always be seen. 3. Inconsistent copywriting in campaigns Vs transactional pages This is one of my darlings from CasinoEuro. My predecessors had been too sloppy with copywriting and used too much ‘similar but not identical’ terminology. An email could say “Use the promotion code when you sign up”. When the user clicked he or she landed on the registration page which had a field marked ‘bonus code’. ‘Sign up’ - is that the same as ‘Register’? ‘Bonus code’ the same as ‘Promotion code’? Such inconsistencies, which may seem small to us insiders, create question marks in peoples’ heads, and the end effect is a lower conversion rate. So get your copy straight, it’s really not that complicated. 4. Using pictures of people without consideration People are genetically wired to look at other people. Especially faces. Especially eyes. Gambling sites make frequent use of pictures of shiny, happy people. That’s great since it will create attention for your page. The problem is that when a visitor eyes your beautiful casino hostess they pay less attention to your critical calls to action and promotional offers. Pictures can and should be used, but their sizing, orientation, and
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colouring needs to be carefully weighted against other critical content elements on the page. 5. Too many clicks to action I owe this one to Betsson CEO Pontus Lindwall. He always said that a casino lobby should be seen as a storefront where the customers can easily overview what’s on sale, what the cost of everything is, and quickly make a choice. Too many sites create too many intermediary pages or steps between selecting a game and finally being able to place the first bet. There are all kinds of for fun/for real, full size yes/no, flash yes/ no, select bet size etc, between the game lobby and the actual game. The one thing you know about a link or a button is that not everyone will click it. As soon as you force someone to click or select to proceed, you will have a drop-off. The percentage will vary, even be very small, but it will be there. So in order to get as many of your customers into the game, reduce the number of steps to get there. 6. Too lame or too aggressive email subject lines I often receive newsletters that have ‘April Newsletter’ or ‘Our Newsletter’ as subject line. Wow, that sure blows me away!? At the other side of the spectrum, I also get ‘John – a 100% Bonus – click now before it’s too late’, which oozes desperation and somebody reaching for my wallet. A well designed subject line is: ●● Persuasive
– it has elements that trigger your needs and wants on a psychological level. ●● Relevant. It answers the question, “Why is this relevant to me now? ●● Has a clearly stated offer – “What am I getting here?” Let’s see two examples: A. “Time for the World Cup – Make your bet at XYZbet.com.” B. “Beat our odds setters at the World Cup 20% bonus on multiples”. They’re both relevant (the World Cup is abut to begin), but the second one appeals to the human want to outsmart opponents, plus it states exactly what it is your getting. But then again, I could be wrong, so there’s only one way of finding out: to do subject line split testing (which I’ll cover later). 7. Not designing emails for preview pane reading Ok, you designed and tested your email subject line carefully. Now what? Recipients will open and take part in your great
offer? Not necessarily. Marketing Sherpa’s 2009 Email Marketing Benchmark Guide shows that over 50 percent of consumers use a preview feature for reading emails, and many of them make the decision on whether to open the email or not based on what they see in the preview pane. That’s why it is absolutely essential that your email templates are designed and tested so that key selling points and calls to action are visible in the preview format of your customers’ most commonly used email service providers. Thumbs up for bwin who caught this early on.
How to fix it The first step is, of course, to find out if you are making any of the top seven mistakes today, and correct them immediately. In order to keep improving over time and not fall back into old habits you need a structured approach. 1. Make conversion optimisation an integral part of everyday work Train your marketing and content managers on basic conversion principles and make sure they apply these in everything they do. 2. Employ a Conversionista My job title is Chief Conversionista, a title that hints of zeal, a passion to constantly improve conversion rates. Maybe you should have one too? 3. Use simple and free tools available on the web Today, there are many free or inexpensive tools you can use to estimate or measure how your users will view your pages. Go to my website www.conversionista.com/tools and you will find a complete list. 4. Test, test, test! The name of the game is to apply split, or A/B, testing to all your critical pages so that you can lift their performance. 5. Don’t forget qualitative reviews Testing is great, and can create assurance for top management who want to see ‘hard facts’ before making any decisions. But, if you rely solely on split testing, you might end up putting lipstick on a pig. Moving pictures around, changing copy and colours of buttons will only do so much. For leapfrog improvements in conversion rates you need to be able to create completely new testing hypotheses. If you feel you need help on this – hire a pro. John Ekman is Chief Conversionista at Conversionista!, a company that helps online businesses to improve their conversion rates.
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Glen Conybeare, Co-Founder and Commercial Director of Cognitive Match discusses why, despite much hard work, many affiliate websites aren’t as clever as they appear. AFFILIATES SPEND HOURS designing the perfect site and then many more deciding on which promotion deserves the main slot and which should be relegated to the less prominent areas of the page. Of course, in the afﬁliate world, the ‘what should I place where’ question is a factor of the bounty available and, of course, the likelihood of the site visitor responding to the offer. The afﬁliate’s job is, therefore, not an easy one as what’s on offer and what visitors want is constantly changing. To do the job well you need to be pretty smart and work long hours. Conversely, most afﬁliate websites are pretty dumb. To understand the rationale for this statement, consider a typical ofﬂine experience. I walk into a casino and drop $50,000 on the blackjack tables. I only play blackjack and show no interest in the other games available to me. Next evening I come back in and am recognised by the management and quickly offered a seat at a private high stakes blackjack table – an obvious thing to do for a good customer. Now let’s consider what happens online. I visit an afﬁliate site that offers a multitude of gambling opportunities. I respond to a blackjack promotion. The next day I go back to the site and try out another of the recommended blackjack promotions. Day three, I do the same. During this period what has happened to the site? Am I being treated any differently even though I’ve expressed a strong interest in blackjack and nothing else? Probably not. I’m probably seeing the same thing I saw the day before and indeed that the entire population of site visitors is seeing. This is the equivalent
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of the ofﬂine casino management asking me if I’d like to attend their beginner’s bingo session.
So how do we make websites smart? While web technology has a long way to go before it can compete with the processing power of the human brain a lot can be done to learn about site visitors and present content they are more likely to respond to. To understand what can be done we need to think about how the casino manager’s mind works. The moment I walked in to the casino he immediately worked a few things about me; he knew my gender, had a rough idea of my age and by the way I was dressed and even carried myself perhaps an idea of the type of games I might be interested in and my limits. On my second visit he combined this data with the knowledge that the day before I had shown him I liked high stakes Blackjack. The key word is data, and that’s something that is available in abundance online. The trick is capturing it and using it in smart way.
So what data is available online? Some of the most predictive data is available as soon as someone hits your site (so long as you are set up capture it), for example: ● Day of week and time of day ● Geographic Location ● Referrer ● If the referrer was a search engine, the search terms used ● Operating system (PC, Apple Mac, iPhone) Just this data can help you position your
offers considerably. A visitor from London at 10am on Monday that just searched for ‘bingo sign up bonus’ is pretty likely to respond to a bingo offer if you present it. Similarly, a visitor at 2am on Saturday morning from Sweden using an Apple Mac may well respond to your Apple Mac compatible casino offers if you present them. So the data is available, the remaining question is how to use it effectively to present more relevant content. The answer lies in mathematics, or more speciﬁcally, artiﬁcial intelligence. Although this may sound like sci-ﬁ it isn’t really a new concept. For years we’ve been receiving promotional materials by mail. That mail is received because someone somewhere has crunched a lot of data and forecast that you’re more likely to respond to it. What is new is doing this online and in real-time. For smaller afﬁliates with a bit of programming experience I’d recommend creating some very basic rules. If your web analytics show you that visitors from Sweden tend to respond before to ‘Poker offer A’ then write a simple rule to ensure they are displayed it. For larger afﬁliates, setting business rules is not advised. You have the trafﬁc to beneﬁt from an automated and adaptive system that will create rules on the ﬂy based on current behaviour and response rates. While it may be a while off, the future for large afﬁliate sites is an automated one. Most afﬁliate site managers sleep; automated systems that decide who should be served what and when, don’t. GLEN CONYBEARE is Co-Founder and Commercial Director, Cognitive Match www.cognitivematch.com.
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Organic rankings are a matter of balance, of harmony between all of the different factors that search engines take into consideration when deciding which is the most relevant web page or site to present to its users. This balancing act is not one single equation that will miraculously get your site to number one, but more a method of working and of thinking about your site that will enable you to achieve the positions you want and need in order to achieve your business goals. By being balanced in your approach to SEO you can obtain long lasting rankings. In my last article, I related my approach to SEO as if I were practicing a bit of ancient Greek philosophy. Now, I will go a bit deeper in this approach by exploring why you should really care about having a very balanced approach to SEO. A couple years ago someone wrote an article about not caring about the little parts of the algorithm – I would say that is just inaccurate. Imagine that in a very competitive vertical such as gaming there is less than 1% variance in the top five results of the SERPs… possibly even less or maybe within the top ten results. By taking the extra effort to care about a balanced approach you may be able to move your site from page two to one or from number five to three. Is that idea really that farfetched? In my opinion it is not. However, it’s not only balance between ranking factors that is required, but also within each area of the algorithm. Link portfolios or profiles for instance, should look very natural and be balanced against
your competition set. Think of this like a pyramid; you will have a majority of lower quality links at the bottom, then less midrange links in the middle and fewer high quality links at the top. They will also need to contain the right equilibrium of optimised and natural anchor texts, URL links, even nofollow links… I would even make sure you have some ‘click here’ or ‘more info’ type links. In conjunction with your balanced link profile, you need to assess the optimisation on your site as well; too much of this and you risk being discounted for over optimisation, too little, and you won’t be able to target the terms you want to rank for.
So what is the ideal balance? That you will need to figure out through competitive analysis and testing… yes, testing – one of the things I say to marketers is: “If you are not testing, you are not doing your job”. SEO is not a ‘set it and forget it’ strategy; once you gain rankings, someone else has lost them and I would bet they will want them back. There are only ten spots on that first page. This article will aim to go into a little more depth about some of the ranking factors and how you can achieve harmony when optimising for them. As mentioned though, the exact balance needed will differ from niche to niche and industry to industry. What works
for one site, will not necessarily work for them all. A good friend of mine says she always thinks of SEO like dieting; everyone needs to do something a little different to get there, it always takes longer than you think, and when you get on the scales you have never made as much progress as you would have liked.
Balancing your link portfolio Having a balanced link portfolio can be one of the most difficult parts of SEO to achieve in highly competitive industries. There are many mammoth brands out there that have been built up over the years and have thousands if not millions of in-bound links in their portfolios; just remember it is not quantity but quality that really matters. There are few main factors that I look at when assessing a potential link target: Age of the domain and length of time ●● in the index The quality of the site being linked ●● from Relevancy of the content and surrounding text in relationship to the on-page factors The anchor text of the link and its ●● relationship to the destination page The quality of inbound links that link to ●● the page and site you want to link to you As you can see, I did not mention
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“I cannot stress enough that (PageRank) is not something to fixate on, despite the fact it has always been a shiny object for Internet marketers since Google put it out on that little toolbar.”
PageRank (PR)… even though this is an indicator I actually look at, it is not a factor that will prevent me from acquiring a link from a page/site. I cannot stress enough that this is not something to fixate on despite the fact it has always been a shiny object for Internet marketers since Google put it out on that little toolbar. Many SEOs will go after links that fulfil one or two criteria such as: PR and anchor text, assuming that these make the most powerful links available, but this doesn’t reflect the real state of affairs online. If you were to review a random selection of links on a random selection of websites in your vertical, you would find that most failed to fulfil all of the above criteria. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the majority wouldn’t even meet one of the factors necessary to be considered a ‘good’ link. The search engines are well aware of this, and are expecting that your link profile will follow similar patterns as the other sites within your neighbourhood. So what does that mean when you’re building links? It doesn’t mean that you should stop caring about whether the links that you build meet the criteria of what is commonly considered a ‘good’ link; however, you should be aware of what you are building, ensure that you build links that don’t meet all of the factors mentioned above, get some links from great sites with ‘click here’ as the anchor text, get some follow links with good anchor text from less established sites. If you want to be more scientific about it, you can analyse the makeup of the back links to highly ranked competitors; these are the sites that the search engines have already established meet their criteria for the right back link profile. How do I know that? Well,
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I don’t, but it is the only indicator of ‘least imperfect’ that you have available to you. Say, for instance, that the top three sites for your target term have the following composition of anchor texts: 35% brand, 25% URL, 20% ‘click here’ or other non optimised text and 15% keywords – you can use that as a benchmark to maintain an overall balance in your own link building. The same technique can be used for the other link factors, helping you to ensure that you don’t overoptimise in one particular area.
Balancing your on-page and architecture In some respects, achieving balance with on-page and architectural factors can be as challenging as achieving a balanced link profile. With many factors to take into account it can be difficult to ensure that your site architecture, page content and internal linking reflect a natural and harmonious approach. Having said that, the approach to this isn’t that dissimilar to creating a balanced link profile; the key is to not always go for the obviously optimised solution. The key here again is to analyse your competition set and understand that these factors also need to be in balance. Your title should reflect the content of the page you are optimising; it should go without saying, therefore, that your content should also reflect this. Your heading tags should also match this theme, and so on. Yet, this shouldn’t just be about getting the target keyphrase on the page. Just as the search engines can look and see if a link profile is natural in terms of balancing many different factors, content should also provide balance in terms of the theme of the page, not just the target keyword. A
page about poker that didn’t mention any of the associated terms such as bet, hand, or play is unlikely to be that relevant to poker, especially if your target phrase is ‘play poker’. Focusing too heavily on a target term can skew your content, making it less likely to be deemed as relevant and on target. When on-site and off-site optimisation elements are applied in a harmonious way, while maintaining a focus on optimisation and the targets intended for a given page, not only can it help to improve search engine ranking, but also ensure that user experience and conversion are never sacrificed for SEO. This approach offers many more possibilities than over-optimisation, and provides long-term, algorithmically immune search engine results.
Scott Polk has built his expertise as a knowledgeable and experienced Search Engine Optimization/Internet Marketing strategist for more than 11 years. He concentrates his resourcefulness and skills on the diversified aspects of Search Engine Optimization for clients. Scott is consistently involved in technologies that maximize conversion, usability and accessibility when optimizing and developing large websites as well as identifying problems/solutions that result in major cost saving strategies. Highly successful and respected within the SEO industry, Scott Polk has consulted and been employed by successful Internet companies such as Bruce Clay, Edmunds.com, AT&T Wireless, ABC News, PGA.com and PGATour.com, Sports Illustrated, Toyota.com, Direct Brands and online gaming clients.
SUBSCRIPTIONS “It is quite evident to me that significant, in fact, above and beyond effort and expertise have gone into ensuring that iGaming Business constantly stays ahead of the pack in quality.” Chief Marketing OffiCer, Cyberarts LiCensing LLC
iGaming Business Issue 59 November/December 2009
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iGB Affiliate sat down with one of its regular contributors to find out what makes her affiliate world tick. Malci Daniels is Affiliate and Marketing Director at Revenue Giants, www.revenuegiants.com. What was your professional background prior to gaming? I came to the gaming industry from the Hotels sector.
about business; business is business. Be yourself, always be true to your customers/ partners/affiliates/managers/colleagues and you’ll succeed.
What brought you to the iGaming industry? Money!
In your experience, what other industries are the most similar to our own? I don’t know if similar is the right word to use, but I consider the pharmaceutical, sex and Forex industries to be quite ‘similar’ in terms of the money involved, the affiliate programs and the difficulties that arise in the way you market those industries.
Did you have any preconceptions about the industry, or gaming in general prior to joining? To tell you the truth, I was not aware of the money-making machine this online gaming industry is – I used to go to land-based casinos in the UK more for socialising rather than gaming. I knew there was money in gaming for the ‘house’, but didn’t think online gaming was something that could make money for so many people. I guess I also had my doubts about it as I did not know the industry very well; affiliates, traffic, statistics, source codes, random generators, etc, were not things I knew about back then, and the minute I was introduced to all this, I couldn’t do or think of anything else but that. There are so many aspects to this industry and I think it is the most exciting job there is. Has being within this industry, particularly where the affiliate sector is concerned, changed the way you think about business, in terms of client/partner relationships? Absolutely; doing business online is a completely different thing. I used to charm people and close a deal with a smile, now I need to do the same with emoticons . But on a serious note, it’s about finding a balance between discussing things in a professional way and at the same time establishing a friendly one-on-one rapport. I don’t think it changes the way I think
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Conversely, what industries could gaming look at to refine the way it approaches business? I think gaming is doing fine as it is and there is no need for it to look at any other industry – perhaps other industries need to look at the gaming industry to get tips from us! What areas of the industry are seeing the most growth development at present – what should we as an industry be getting excited about? I think the industry’s most significant growth development is with new games, especially the slots. I have seen slots that are mind blowing; 3D, animations, etc. Also, the increasing use of television commercials for a strictly online industry and bringing celebrity names to online gaming. The online bingo sector has seen a successful rise to prominence over the last couple of years, but do you believe there remains room for further growth in this vertical? If so, where? Absolutely, and this is something we were
“The new stage for online bingo is live bingo. It is a great new concept that will take the bingo sector back to its land-based roots with real, human integration.” discussing in the last issue. The new stage for online bingo is the live bingo feature. I think it is a great new concept that will bring the bingo sector to another level, taking online bingo back to its land-based roots with real, human integration. How important has been the adoption of social networking concepts on today’s online bingo sites in accommodating and retaining loyalty amongst consumers? Social networking has been a great addition to the online bingo sites as it shares the same concept. A big part of playing bingo is the social networking, a player coming to play at Bingohall.com is not only coming to play in the Quarters room and try to win a $20k jackpot; (s)he logs in at the same time as his/ her friends and relatives to have a chat, play, win and enjoy that community time. Thus, social networking is what bingo is all about. Finally, what would your advice be to any gaming affiliate who might be considering entering the bingo space? Choosing the right affiliate program is the first stage. My team at RevenueGiants.com would be happy to have you.
Malci can be reached at email@example.com.
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WEBSITES UNDER THE MICROSCOPE This issue we put three gaming websites under the microscope of marketing consultant and affiliate coach, John Wright, as he surveys the merits of each in his iGaming website critique. Site Critique Number One Bettingsportsreview.com
THE PEOPLE AT bettingsportsreview. com wrote in to ask for a site critique. This site needs a few optimisation tweaks and maybe a bit more emphasis of the forum on the landing page. Building a few more links wouldn’t hurt either. Stats at a glance
Compete.com uniques (PR)
#20 for ‘sports review’
#20 for ‘sportsbook review’
Number of Links
Site focus and value This site focuses on sportsbetting and has a forum for its players. It is a new site that has decent content and great review layouts.
SEO Analysis There isn’t much advice I can give here since most of the page titles and URL structures are done correctly. On the index landing page I noticed ‘bonuses’ as a keyword in the page title but it was only mentioned once in the article. I would make sure it’s mentioned a few more times and perhaps use one of
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them as an anchor text to send to one of your pages to talk about sportsbetting bonuses. There are only ﬁve links pointing to the site that I could ﬁnd with Yahoo! Site Explorer. Find some partners for link exchange and look for some good PR3+ sites you can get a link from. If you want to pursue a keyword like ‘sportsbook reviews’ ﬁnd out who the top ranking afﬁliates are and spy on their link building campaigns. In the footer, give yourself an anchor text link for ‘sportsbetting reviews’ and make it link to your domain instead of just listing your domain at the bottom. If you can link out to gambling problem sites like GamCare and/or Gamblers Anonymous, then all the better.
Conversions and retention The site uses a good template and has a clean layout that is easy on the eyes. Since the main features of this site are the forums and the fact that it is a review site I recommend removing all banners and replacing them with your own review templates that show some text, links and logos. Tables showing this information always seem to convert well so try placing your tables near the top or making them viewable without having to scroll down. Your forum is a great feature that will keep users from coming back. Make sure that new users know you have a forum. I would replace the Bodog ad you have and
make your own graphic to advertise your forum. If you can use the vbulletin plugin put recent posts on your landing/index page. This should make your index page a little less static and show search engines you are doing more with the site. One last comment about banners; if you are going to use them add some text links below each banner. Afﬁliates tell me this performs better than without and text links always seem to convert the best. Your review pages don’t have any banners but I think that’s the best place for any banner – however, this is optional. OK one more comment, I would avoid listing any poker banners on here. If you want to list poker then make it a tab button at the top but don’t distract the user who found your site with sportsbetting based keywords.
Conclusion Very good site for being new, just focus on more content, link building and site optimisation but if you have to pick just one fault – make the site convert better ﬁrst.
Leave a tip I noticed you don’t promote Intertops. If you want to know how good they are just ask about them on the forums. Intertops – takes US players and has a great casino. They also have experienced afﬁliate managers that know what they are doing.
Site Critique Number Two Mosesbet.com
MOSESBET.COM wrote in to ask for a site critique. It was tough to critique because they do more right than most afﬁliates and have been online only a short time. Stats at a glance
#4 for ‘mtt strategy’
#6 for ‘mtt poker’
Number of Links
Linking out I’m not sure I agree with linking to Google. I don’t think it’s the most relevant link you could put on your site. I’m sure the Google bots would notice it but there is no congruency. I would rather link to problem gambling or Wikipedia link for MTT poker. I could be wrong as this site, in only six months, is getting plenty of trafﬁc and has ranked high for ‘MTT’ related keywords.
Site focus and value The site appears to have good value and the best ranking keywords are MTT strategy and MTT poker. I think upon ﬁrst visiting the site the page is very loud with every feature ﬁghting for my attention. The logo
is good but it’s large and it’s the ﬁrst thing I notice on the site but I don’t think it’s what you always want to do. The Full Tilt banner is a good one but I ﬁnd it too distracting. The top part of most websites is usually ‘blind’ for most users. My only suggestion for keeping the banner is to have your afﬁliate programs ﬁght for that spot and offer you more beneﬁts as an afﬁliate. Otherwise, if you can have a banner that is static or not so loud that would be preferred. I have heard that text links under banners tend to improve click and conversion rates. Perhaps here you could have a Full Tilt poker review. Your best trafﬁc will most likely come from your table of ‘Great Tournament Sites’. The UB banner is distracting and I would remove it and add more space to the tournament sites and list two or three more poker sites. Then let your afﬁliate managers ﬁght over who gets listed the highest. For new visitors to the website I think there are no good calls to action. I think a button or a link for getting started would help direct them to the right place and if the user has been to the site before they should be ﬁne with the navigation system. The main page that new users should be directed towards is http://www.mosesbet. com/mtt-strategy/ but this isn’t so intuitive. If the website has constant updates and new content then it would be good to attempt to collect the users email, get them
to sign up to RSS or twitter to make sure that they revisit the website. For a guide to learning MTT strategies videos would make for good content and also reduce bounce rates. More work but it’s more value.
Duplicate content On the index page and the MTT bonus page I noticed duplicate content. Although this may ﬁll up the pages it’s best to rewrite this content so it’s unique on all pages. A search engine like Google won’t value these pages as much if they are used more than once on your site.
Conclusion Overall, the website is a great one with good content and links. The search engine results are there and I think focusing on ways to convert your users, retain them and get them to spend more time on the site will only make you more money and help you improve rankings.
Leave a tip Two top US poker rooms I didn’t ﬁnd on this site were: ● DoylesRoom Afﬁliates – takes US players and also a good RTG casino. Uses Cake Poker network so has a lot of players. ● Cake Poker Network – Top poker afﬁliates consistently promote Cake Poker. Takes US players.
iGB Affiliate JUNE/JULY 2010
Site Critique Number Three Pomppoker.com
THE PEOPLE at pomppoker.com wrote in to ask for a site critique. Every site critique I do my best to analyse all the important things webmasters need to know about their site and how to improve them. For this critique the main focus for improving the site should be on the conversions of the landing page. Stats at a glance
Compete.com uniques (PR)
#15 for ‘players forum’
Number of Links
Site focus and value pomppoker.com is a poker player forum with nearly 700 members. The forum acts as a lounge for players to chat and to add some extra value for players such as bonuses, tournaments and contests.
SEO/page titles There is little page title work and I don’t know if this free forum software allows you to conﬁgure the page titles. If it does, I highly recommend that every page has its own unique page title. This will help rank for short and long-tail keywords. When inside the forum the page titles are conﬁgured properly to be the same as the thread title but the landing page and main navigation pages need some work. The page title of the index page is: pokerpeople – Portal Suggestion change: Players forum for poker players | online poker forum This page title: http://www.pomppoker. com/pokerpeople-casino-h2.htm has the URL as the page title. It should be changed to something relevant to the content on the page
iGB Affiliate JUNE/JULY 2010
Suggested change: Play online casino games for free | players forum | pomppoker. com All other page titles inside the forum are conﬁgured properly and almost no changes are needed. Do keep in mind if you start new poker threads to carefully choose the title knowing this will be the page title. One thread title ‘Casino Stuff’ could be changed to something that has a few more rich keywords and explains what is inside the forum. Since this folder has more bonus information you could change it to ‘Casinos Promotions, Tournaments and Games’.
review links or putting them into a table. Don’t show ﬂashing banners, rather show a standard sized logo, have the site name listed and some words explaining what that poker room is good for (whether it’s a bonus or accepts US players). Text links have the highest click through rates. At the top of the site under the ﬁrst navigation menu there is a 468�60 banner. I recommend making this area as your own graphic possibly something to say ‘Visit Forum’, or if you are running your own contest you can put this here. Having your own ads would increase click through rates.
Link building Forum layout and design I like the pokerpeople banner at the top but it’s also on top of another graphic which makes the whole site hard to look at upon ﬁrst visit. I recommend making the background just a neutral colour so the forum and banner stand out properly. By making the background a colour rather than an image, you will improve the load speed of your website which Google has said it will make an important factor for search engine rankings. By making the site easier on the eyes it will help new users focus on the important features of the site and this will help reduce bounce rates, which, in turn, help search engine rankings.
Less banners, more links and icons Banner click through rates get worse every year, and for good reason. A quick scan of the main page shows at least 15 ads and I couldn’t tell which were for other afﬁliates and which were for programs. I personally don’t like banners for many reasons but the main one being that they just don’t convert as good as a link! Banners will slow down your site which will hurt you in the SEO department. Your click through rates will be bad and this will probably increase your bounce rate (high bounce rate means visitors leave the site within seconds of viewing it). Imagine watching four TV commercials at the same time, you can’t even follow one yet all of them are ﬁghting for your eye attention. Site visitors will either tune out these banners or get confused and not know what they should focus on. The main focus of this site is where players can play and to meet up at the forums – so the forum must stand out at all times. I highly recommend replacing all banners with either casino and poker
The site has history but I recommend spending a few hours per month to build some links for the site. You can use the Yahoo! Site Explorer tool to ﬁnd out what links your competing afﬁliates have and see if you can get the same links too. Another important thing to take into consideration for link building and SEO practises is that it’s probably more important to make sure your website converts FIRST before spending the time and energy with your SEO. If people are visiting your website and leaving within ten seconds, then your SEO efforts are going to be wasted. Focus on the value of your site ﬁrst. Having two players that stick around on a good site is better than 1,000 visitors that will never return.
Conclusion This site has some history with a decent sized number of forum members. A few adjustments should improve search engine rankings and improve conversion and retention rates for your site visitors.
Leave a tip Two programs that I don’t see listed on the site that should be listed are: ● Cake Poker – It is really one of the top US facing poker rooms to promote, and it treats players and afﬁliates very well. ● C-Planet – All casino afﬁliates I talk to consistently say C Planet gives them great ROI. Also takes US players!
JOHN WRIGHT is a marketing consultant and works as an affiliate coach for GamingAffiliatesGuide.com.
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Social Responsibility in Marketing for Online Gaming Affiliates As the global economy and the market interests guide political decision-making, the topic of social responsibility by gambling companies has been taken up in public discussions across many different countries worldwide. In recent studies conducted by our gaming research unit with online gamblers around the world, we found that many of them felt that responsible gaming practises demonstrate that a gaming operator has integrity, and that they care about their players’ wellbeing. For instance, we published some research showing that online poker players did not want their winnings to come from problem gamblers who could not afford to lose it. This is an important message not only for gaming companies but also online gaming affiliates. Quite clearly, it is appropriate that all sectors of the gaming industry (including online gaming affiliates) need to advertise and promote its products and facilities. In this article, I briefly outline what online gaming affiliates should be thinking about and doing in relation to social responsibility, and why it is in their best longterm financial interest.
Comply with codes of practice Online gaming affiliates should conform to all their country’s codes of practice irrespective of whether the codes are mandatory or voluntary (e.g., the codes of practice by the advertising standards authorities, gambling commissions, etc).
Do not advertise or promote to vulnerable groups One of the most important recommendations for online gaming affiliates is that they should not knowingly advertise and/or promote its products and services to vulnerable members of society. The most obvious group here are minors but can also include those with severe learning difficulties, the intoxicated, and problem gamblers.
Use demographic and contextual targeting in a socially responsible way Companies like Google have clearly been very successful in using demographic and contextual targeting. Demographic and contextual marketing is another way to avoid promotion of online gaming to vulnerable groups. If done in a socially responsible way, the ability to market directly to the people who may be interested in an online gaming service (rather than marketing to everybody or the wrong type of person) is likely to lead to better conversion rates.
iGB Affiliate june/july 2010
Provide the information to make an informed choice Potential players should be given all the information they are likely to need to make an informed choice about whether they should click on a banner or link of an online gaming site.
Gaming site content and reviews should be genuine Many may argue that content is king for online gaming affiliates, but that doesn’t mean that affiliates’ page content should be faked or hyped. Gaming site reviews should be genuine so that players can make an informed choice about which site they want to gamble on. Pithy one-liners are unlikely to translate to conversions for the affiliate. Naturally, there is a desire to want to say great things about the sites being promoted but sites should be reviewed critically highlighting the negatives as well as the positives (and preferably through the eyes of a player). This will lead to the perception of greater authority and establishes trust.
Design websites that are attractive, informative and non-exploitative A critical part of the first stage of assessing trustworthiness of an online company relies of the design of the website. Studies have found that people can judge the visual attractiveness of a website within 50 milliseconds. A great website is more than just a home page, contact page and links. In order to attract viewers to a site, affiliates must give them a good reason to visit. Here, non-exploitative content is the key to gaining increased traffic flow (e.g., informative blogs, showcase articles, videos and podcasts, videos, etc). Regular updating (say once a week) will also help repeat traffic.
Be selective and strategic Many companies appear to make the mistake of advertising too many online gaming sites simultaneously from a variety of different affiliate programs. By affiliating with the most socially responsible online gaming operators, the affiliates’ recommendations are more likely to be trusted by visitors to the affiliate site. In most commercial domains, ‘name’ brands are typically much more expensive than the same items without the brand
name. This provides an implicit assumption that better value can be found by avoiding the biggest and well-known names. When it comes to online gaming, this is not the best strategy. In the online business community, a high profile brand name equates with accountability. Many people worry that when they gamble on relatively unknown Internet gambling sites that operate out of Caribbean countries, they are not sure that they will see their money if they win. It may, therefore, be more strategic to be affiliated to well known companies who have a history of reputable gaming.
Be socially responsible to build customer loyalty and affinity Successful online gaming affiliates need to establish and develop user loyalty and affinity. I would argue that being socially responsible and being seen to be socially responsible will help increase loyalty and affinity. A study carried out by the Online Publishers Association measured attitudes towards websites and online advertising. Their report concluded that the more that users felt an affinity and a sense of belonging with the website, the more favourable their attitude was towards a website’s advertising. More specifically, high-affinity visitors, (i) spent more time at the site, (ii) were more positive towards the site and its content, and (iii) were more positive towards site advertising. If an online gaming affiliate site’s visitors become loyal, conversion rate is likely to increase. Clearly, social responsibility in gambling should adhere to ethical principles and is a becoming a regulatory requirement in an increasing number of countries. Furthermore, it is expected by many gamblers who want to play with companies who show a high level of integrity. This is particularly relevant to online gaming where trust in the website and the operator is essential. Responsible gaming is about giving people the choice to play well designed games in a secure and supportive environment. Therefore, responsible gaming is not just an ethical or regulatory requirement – it is also good for business. Dr Mark Griffiths is Professor of Gambling Studies at the International Gaming Research Unit of Nottingham Trent University. email@example.com
5212 bet365 affiliates (210x297) 12/05/2010 12:00 Page 1
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CROWDED HOUSE? The challenges and opportunities facing affiliates promoting casino products in today’s competitive environment.
GIAN PERRONI, Affiliate Program Director, DublinBet.com
AS BOTH AN AFFILIATE and an afﬁliate manager, keeping competitive is a daily focus. If my email inbox is any indication, there appears to be a new casino or poker site opening every day, and I receive requests to promote new sites weekly. With my afﬁliate hat on, my challenge is determining which of these sites warrant promotion. Which will be around in six months, still paying me for my trafﬁc and my hard work? Those that don’t make it will cause me to lose income, and more importantly, may cause some of my loyal members to lose their deposits or winnings. While the market is growing, the supply of new operators is outpacing demand, and it is obvious that not every new site will be able to sustain their businesses, especially those that are underfunded or have nothing to make them stand out. Bryan Bailey of Casinomeister has a pretty good rule of thumb – with few exceptions he won’t promote any new site that has not been in business for at least six months, and this caution has helped him develop a deserved reputation for promoting solid operators.
But the problem for smaller afﬁliates also revolves around competition. You want to promote Party, and 888, and Stars, and the other big boys, but your trafﬁc has already made their purchasing decision on these sites. It can be much easier to get new registrations for a freshly launched Merge or Cake poker room, or for another new RTG casino, than to try and ﬁnd bodies to click on the same old familiar faces. The downside is the aforementioned sustainability of the site, as well as the overall life-time value of the players that do convert to depositors. As an afﬁliate manager, I have to recognise that my afﬁliates are facing these same dilemmas, and I need to address those head on. Who are we, how long have we been in business, are we licensed, do we pay our afﬁliates and our players on time? What is our unique selling proposition; the thing that makes us different from everyone else, and that will help you convert your trafﬁc more effectively? Why will you make more money promoting our product than CasinoXXX next door? Don’t be shy to ask your afﬁliate manager these questions, and ask your peers about their experiences with the operators you are looking at promoting. Just because the site is new and shiny and seems to drive well doesn’t mean there is anything under the hood!
The opportunities for new (and existing) afﬁliates to be successful in the online gaming business exist, and it is a great business to be involved in. No other industry provides afﬁliates with the same earning potential across a wide variety of products. The challenge is to decide on what makes YOU unique, and how you will get your trafﬁc instead of the thousands of other afﬁliates vying for the same prospects. Promoting solid operators is critically important to your reputation, your earnings, and your success as a gaming afﬁliate.
JESS ROCHE, Affiliate Marketing Manager, Paddy Power
AS COMPETITION AMONGST casino operators grows, so do the challenges facing afﬁliates (self-)tasked with the job of promoting them. However, as with most things in life, competition also brings with it the silver lining of opportunity. For newbie afﬁliates, the casino world can be quite daunting and challenging. You might ask yourself, ‘which casinos should
iGB Affiliate JUNE/JULY 2010
CASINO SUPPLEMENT ROUND TABLE
I promote?’ ‘How do I stand out from my competitors?’ ‘How can I generate high volumes of quality trafﬁc?’ First things ﬁrst: it’s easier to promote something you have a genuine interest in. If you enjoy casinos and gaming in general, you’ve ticked the ﬁrst box. You understand this niche market, but you also need to ﬁnd something unique to engage users with your site. There is a mountain of questions to answer when short-listing casinos to promote. Which operators are reputable and offer a strong brand? Are they well established, yet still have market share to gain? Do they offer generous sign up offers that appeal to my customers and will help me attract new players? If they offer ‘no deposit bonuses’, which are great for acquisition, do they have a strong retention team that will nurture my referrals into valuable players? Do they run regular promotions or loyalty programs to reward, engage and encourage the players I send? And most importantly, will my players have a positive experience and want to return? Now that you’ve got your shortlist, you need to consider which afﬁliate programs you wish to join, as God didn’t create them all equally. Some will pay higher revenue share, some will have better marketing tools and some Afﬁliate Managers are more helpful than others. Each operator has their own policies on ‘negative roll over’, ‘cross channel’ and ‘life time commissions’, so check the T&Cs. The most important aspects to note, however, are the accuracy of tracking, detail of reporting and frequency of commission payments. Don’t make the rookie mistake and be swayed by a high revenue share percentage. If the tracking is ﬂawed or the product doesn’t convert, 100 percent rev share still means zero in the bank. Old hat afﬁliates are well aware that high volumes of players are getting harder to come by. Since Google relaxed its ban on gaming advertising in the UK, afﬁliates are competing against operators’ PPC campaigns and their deep pockets. It pays to be unique. Look for programs that
iGB Affiliate JUNE/JULY 2010
provide relevant and targeted tools that help you add value to your site. Online casinos expand their product offering (e.g. live dealer casinos) and game range each month, so be sure to advertise new game releases, run dedicated promotions and seek available URLs for game speciﬁc sites. You might even be lucky enough to speak other languages – why not promote operators that cater to non-English speaking markets with localised products too? Dry your eyes mate and put the gin away, it’s not all doom and gloom! The very fact that there is so much competition out there means there is still a lot of money to be earned through gaming as long as you’re a bit creative.
SEDA MIRANOGLU, Affiliate Manager, Smart Live Casino
ONE CAN ONLY agree with the sentiment that the casino market, in general terms, is a crowded one. Within existing geographic markets, the online casino space, due to its potential as a consistent revenue stream, has become a hugely competitive arena for afﬁliates to the point where one could say that the wider international market is saturated. And afﬁliates are not only facing stiff competition from within the casino afﬁliate fraternity but also from the operators who are all striving to gain traction from their player acquisition, and indeed, retention channels. But does this level of saturation breed stagnant market conditions for traditional casino afﬁliates? Not quite. It is true that the market can still accommodate and prove fruitful for those adept at working with the casino vertical in a manner of different geographic markets. Where this saturation affects the market the most is at the lower levels of experience – rookie afﬁliates entering the market seeking their share of an up-to-now proﬁtable pie. The advice here, as it would be to
any new/intermediate afﬁliate working within the gaming industry, is that differentiation is a key facet in facilitating a successful business. For the casino vertical speciﬁcally, this may mean looking at emerging trends in technology and consumer take-up and luckily, a solution is very much at hand. The most poignant area with which afﬁliates should be aligning themselves is live dealer casino. You will have heard much discussion and taken in many column inches on this subject in recent months, as those offering the service seek to lay out exactly why the live element of the casino product can be veritable gold mine for afﬁliates and for adopting operators. The fact is that as an afﬁliate, you can do worse than heed the advice you are being fed, particularly in this supplement, if you want to make the most out of your casino business. It will have escaped no-one’s attention that the live casino product is booming with many of today’s leading operators integrating this channel into their core product offering. For afﬁliates, the relative youth of this product (comparable to traditional verticals) means that despite its huge growth, there is still plenty of room and revenue available for movers into this space. Don’t be put off by those claiming ‘ﬁrst mover advantage’ in this area – knowledge and sensitivity in promoting this product will serve you much better than rushing in. Do some of your own research and speak to afﬁliate managers in the space and even those afﬁliates already working with the product. Find out whether you should be promoting live casino in isolation or in tandem with traditional casino products – remember that many operators are now operating one if not several live products in addition to their core casino offering. If you already promote casino products, you may be at a distinct advantage – don’t be afraid to lean on the experience of those operators you have relationships with and be less afraid of approaching those who specialise in offering live casino.
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Live Gaming – a Vision of the Future? At present, the UK casino market is awash with gaming companies competing for the same target demographic, meaning that consumers there have an almost unlimited choice of RNG games and other gaming products at their disposal. Whilst this sounds like a promising outlook generally, the truth is that for two very important components of an operator’s business; their playing (indeed, paying) customers and their affiliate partners, an overbearing number of companies presents a problem. For the consumer, the problem arises not in the amount of companies particularly, but more in the amount of companies with little separating them in terms of what they’re offering and how they’re offering it. For the affiliate, a saturated market means that promotion of any company within it becomes harder, and more expensive. It is a familiar adage that is compatible to most keenly competitive markets around the world, yet the international market remains one succulent with opportunity in those areas relatively untapped (as of yet) by the gaming industry.
Localisation More countries all over the world are opening up their markets to the gaming industry. Italy and France are the two most recent examples of emerging markets of immense potential opening their borders to foreign operators in serving their domestic players. We must not forget about the United States, and the Congress-level efforts there to end the current iGaming lockout, as well as any future developments in Greece. Affiliates should be taking practical measures in addressing these regions and seizing the significant opportunity that is apparent in many of the markets mentioned above, as well as in many other regions around the world. The very fact that so many new markets are opening up means that affiliates are consistently afforded the opportunity to start afresh in each new market. Although that sounds feasible enough, in order to reach those customers both operators and affiliates need to offer tailored, localised products and advertising
iGB Affiliate june/july 2010
media. Today’s industry is one where localisation plays a massive role in the accurate delivery of any product to any individual market. Culture, language and economy all fall under the remit of a localised product – one where the domestic consumers are never ostracised by games they don’t know, dialogue they don’t understand or financial commitments beyond their means. Successful market entry relies on a sensitive local approach.
Casino You need no telling by now just how much opportunity exists in the casino product, familiar as it is to millions around the world with affiliate revenues to testify. But as mentioned before, in some mature gaming regions, the casino market is suffering from overcrowding making it difficult for new entrants to the affiliate sector to manage any significant growth. The traditional online casino sector is also one that, rightly or wrongly, has been subjected to some bad press over its reliance on RNG systems as a trustworthy source of results for paying consumers. The argument isn’t without justification as players in a bricks-and-mortar casino can at least be present to witness the randomness of the live event. Where this argument has brought us today is to the dawn of live casino gaming, indeed, live gaming in any guise where dealers are used in any stage of the delivery of results.
Live casino Where the casino vertical is concerned, the introduction of the live element has revolutionised the way the product is offered with many of today’s leading operators already adopting live gaming elements as part of their core offering. The benefits for the consumer have been well documented; live interaction, as-if-you’re-there reality, trust, atmosphere, no RNG interference, game variety and no download, amongst many others. All of these parameters sit well in affiliate circles for purposes of functional promotion, but what we must remember is that this player base is one that wagers large amounts –
premium customers that already deposit significant portions online to reportedly dubious RNG based casinos. You can see where this is going… but it does make sense that if this premium consumer has little trouble with his conscience in depositing large stakes to computerised systems, then he should find further liberation in seeing exactly where his money is going via the live gaming environment. Unlike the traditional Internet casino landscape in the UK (and many other established markets), the live casino arena is still relatively young and still has much to offer all of its adopting businesses. Many commentators have heralded 2010 ‘the year of the live gaming product’ and the figures would seem to justify such an ambitious statement (in terms of operator adoption and player conversion). But whilst operator take-up has been significant, there remain many out there, big and small, who have yet to follow the trend, and even fewer (among those that have) that focus on localised dealers with specific tables to cover different languages. Again, the localised aspect returns to the argument and its importance cannot be expressed enough.
Over to you… Live gaming products are shaping the online gaming industry of the future, bringing a truer-to-life experience not only for consumers, but for operators as well. In opening themselves up to a visual identity, companies adopting live products are putting an image to the product and affiliates need to take this into account when choosing who to promote. Quality live products will make your lives much simpler and more lucrative, and your efforts, in tandem with the dedicated work being done by live gaming suppliers and adopting operators, will ensure that this emerging upstart of a product will evolve to be the pioneering face of the industry’s future.
Antonis Konstantinidis is Greek Affiliate Manager at Smart Live Casino.
Sole Trader? Should affiliates promote live products as a separate entity, or as part of their wider casino business? The concept of live dealer casinos originally serviced the Asian market, where players were sceptical of online operations and sought to replicate the experience of countries where casinos are legal. Streaming the dealer, cards and tables live from studios or real casinos 24/7, and being able to interact via chat makes the likes of blackjack, baccarat and roulette more visually appealing, trustworthy and life-like. Players have full transparency of game-play and can enjoy the social aspect that streaming and chat facilities present. One could argue that live casinos appeal to a completely different player than the more traditional online casinos and as such, should be promoted in isolation. Yet on the other hand, if promoted creatively, they can enhance the product offering of any existing casino-themed affiliate site. The most obvious target groups live dealer casinos appeal to are new or inexperienced casino players or those who normally play in bricks-and-mortar casinos and haven’t migrated ‘online’ for whatever reason. These reasons could be that they aren’t comfortable online or with online payment methods, or that they simply enjoy the social environment of their favourite real-life casino. Tailoring a site dedicated to live casinos presents many opportunities to educate and nurture this new target audience and increase your affiliate revenue stream. Put your visitors at ease and provide step-bystep guides in layman’s terms, backed up with video demos showing players what they can expect when they’re ready to take
the plunge and play. Highlight payment options, security encryption software and other checks and balances that are in place to protect them or that are available for them to protect themselves. Concentrate on tapping into the social aspect live casinos present and involve them in your community. Taking this approach has the potential to make a site less text heavy and more visual, less about sign-up offers and more about technology and live interaction. It also opens the flood gates to integrating Web 2.0 features to your site like your own community, blog or forum packed full of user-generated content based on the experiences of your players in the live casino environment. This will not only benefit your site from an SEO perspective, but it also adds to the stickiness factor of your site as you build relationships with your user base. The natural progression then would be to cross-promote your other casino-themed sites to this base as they become more comfortable online and you’ve proven yourself to be a trustworthy advocate. Promoting live casinos in isolation is also less confusing to new players who may not be aware that, for example, Paddy Power actually has three casinos under its belt, not just the live contingent. Rather than displaying three varying ‘Paddy Power Casino’ banners on your one site, you can concentrate on promoting one casino to its full potential. Likewise, this allows you to simultaneously run promotions for multiple product offerings from one brand
instead of being forced to choose just one of them because you might have limited space availability or because you might want to avoid ‘conflicting’ messages from single brands. On the other hand, promoting live casinos in conjunction with a download or instant offering can be seen as giving your existing players more value and choice on top of the traditional game styles they are accustomed to. In turn, this can act as a retention or reactivation tool, boosting your revenues in the long run. By capitalising on the social aspect, like bingo sites have done so well, you can keep your existing players engaged through product improvements and keep them returning to your site and playing through your links. The key is to define your purpose and the market you’re targeting, whether it’s new players or existing ones. Then you can build them into your marketing strategy in the best way possible.
Jess Roche has been an Affiliate Marketing Executive at Paddy Power the past 3 years. An Aussie on her somewhat extended ‘overseas experience’ (going on five years), Jess worked in the mobile and eventmanagement sectors in London, when she wasn’t exploring the pub-culture.
iGB Affiliate june/july 2010
Three Steps to Live Gaming Value The casino gaming environment is one of the most competitive industries in the world, with large profits available to the companies that can create successful business models and stay ahead of their rivals. As technologies advance, opportunities are opening within the industry for operators willing to further explore the development of the live gaming experience over traditional Random Number Generation (RNG) or simulated formats. As a developer of live gaming software, we are often asked by industry colleagues to explain the value in operating a live online casino rather than utilising RNG or simulated games, and how a live gaming experience can return greater value to operators. Our response is that live online gaming delivers three vital ingredients; trust, player value and popularity with affiliates.
Trust Putting it simply, our industry is built upon trust. Whether playing roulette, blackjack, poker or bingo, customers need to put their trust into the results offered by online casinos. Many established brands have brought their offline brand reputation to their online operation, some with great success. But, how can you build and retain trust online if you do not already have a trusted offline brand? One emerging option is to adopt live gaming software, which enables online casinos to engender the trust of customers in a number of ways. Firstly, and most importantly, customers can see the game unfold in front of their own eyes in real-time. Live gaming software enables users to participate in games taking place in a real live casino from the comfort of their own home. Players interact with real live dealers working at real casino tables and witness the results as they happen; nothing is left to the random selection of a faceless computer engine. Live casino games are streamed to players directly from bricks-and-mortar casinos which players can visit. This type of gaming software has an edge over studio-based casino gaming representations and will be particularly attractive to novice players who, by comparison, may be unsure which RNG operator to trust.
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Secondly, players can interact with the dealers and even communicate with fellow players; all of which builds rapport and a good gaming experience. New players are encouraged to ask questions about the rules of the game from the dealer, ensuring they are always in control rather than daunted by the experience. By assisting players to learn and grow in confidence, operators can progress players from novice to amateur level quickly. Creating a trusted, but enjoyable casino experience will generate repeat visits and, in turn, better income levels for operators. This moves us on to player value.
Player value As an industry we rely on customers returning frequently to place bets. We all want to see players returning frequently and live gaming provides an additional hook. It lets the customer take their seat inside the casino from the comfort of their own home, yet interact socially with other like minded players. Players benefit from the atmosphere created on the casino floor and different casinos will translate into different experiences for the home user. By creating the best possible experience, online casinos can keep customers on the site for longer and place more bets. Live gaming delivers additional value to players that games of simulation cannot match. There is beauty within the simplicity of that, since the operator can focus its attentions on other, arguably more important business areas such as retention, marketing and innovation. If, as an industry we provide customers with a high-value product, we are more likely to be rewarded with the benefits of high-value customers, provided you have adequately safeguarded yourself from the temptations of your competition!
Affiliate popularity Live gaming is extremely popular amongst the affiliate fraternity. Affiliates have been quick to recognise the high earning potential of this lucrative niche. Feedback from the affiliate sector tells us that conversion figures on websites pushing live games are exceptionally high – well above industry norms. The market for live gaming is undoubtedly out there and as
yet, relatively untapped. Yet despite the popularity demonstrated by the affiliate market, live gaming is still a niche sector within the mainstream online casino market. Initially, the barriers to entry in the live casino market were high. It meant investing in a bricks-andmortar casino and the development of expensive software. However, this picture is beginning to change. It is no longer necessary for operators to own a casino or a live feed in order to provide live gaming to their customer base. Many successful live gaming vendors now offer white labeled feeds to carefully selected and trusted third-parties. This removes much of the expense and the requirement to invest time in fostering relationships with bricks and mortar casinos, and develop in-house technical knowledge. Despite this strong argument for live online casinos, there is still a place for RNG in 2010 and beyond within online casinos. For one, many emerging markets still require significant investment in a sufficient broadband infrastructure to facilitate the wide uptake of live casino gaming. Loyal RNG and simulated games customers can still be converted into live gaming users, but, to stand the greatest chance of doing so, live online casinos must continue to innovate and entertain their customer base. While this article advocates the growth of live gaming, it also encourages methods to increase trust, develop player value and improve popularity with affiliates.
Gian Perroni is the Affiliate Program Director for DublinBet. com, an online casino providing live roulette, blackjack and baccarat from one of Ireland’s premier land based casinos. DublinBet.com is powered by VueTec.com’s Distance Gaming technology.
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From Affiliate to Affiliate Manager – Should you make the move? At the recent LAC conference in London, I was talking to an affiliate who had been running his own site for just over two years. Despite experiencing some success he was torn about what to do next because it just wasn’t making enough money to sustain a good standard of living. He had a second income through working a part-time job that really wasn’t taking him anywhere and was merely a way to provide for additional income to allow him to continue running his own site. His predicament was a familiar one as I’ve had many discussions with other people in the same situation as him during my six-plus years recruiting into this industry. Having started Esanda Recruitment four years ago, I understand myself what it’s like to start a business and pour everything into it so I find it distressing to see someone struggle with theirs. However, there is no need to worry. In fact, he should feel quite positive about his options. He was clearly intelligent, presentable and confident and had gained a good degree. After spending his first few years in employment trading between short-term jobs and travelling, with the recent experience through running his own site, it was clear he had a lot to offer. He spoke about the online gaming industry maturely and with a sense of authority normally unbecoming to a man of his age. He knew about the legal environment for his specific market, including its history and likely future, and he had a solid understanding of all aspects of online marketing including SEO and PPC. He knew the CPA and revenue share offers of all the main operators in his region (country) and even had a good understanding behind why they offered those deals. He knew who the major affiliates were and the reason why they were so successful. Putting things into perspective, he felt that it was time to downgrade the time he’d spend on his own site to something he would do as a hobby and go and get a full-time job. Deflated, he didn’t know what to do next then turned to me for advice. To me it was obvious; “Get a job as an affiliate
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manager,” I said to him. After all, he knows first hand what it’s like to be an affiliate and he was somewhat of an expert in his given market. Sensing my enthusiasm for being able to help him he asked me whether any of my clients would be interested in speaking with him. I had eight opportunities to run past him and by the end of the week, he had six first interviews scheduled. Two further weeks later and he’d found himself a job working as an affiliate manager for one of the biggest and most respected operators in the industry. He didn’t even need to relocate as they allowed him to work from home. Now he has a steady income, career prospects and he didn’t even need to give up on his own website. The online betting, gaming and gambling industry has long understood the importance of the affiliate model and there will always be a place for it. Now a mature industry, some operators have large affiliate teams. Job opportunities exist in-house at their offices or you can work remotely and roles can be as specific as working on a particular product, geographical market, both (i.e. sportsbook affiliate manager for France) or as a generalist covering several products or markets. Salaries are excellent too as operators compete for experienced and knowledgeable people. I can recall placing many affiliates into affiliate manager positions over the years and some of them are now in directorship
“Interviews are as much of a fact finding tool for you as they are for the hirers.” positions with their employers. They have a great job which pays very well and have developed close relationships with their peers and comrades. If you’re unsure what to do next then just contact us for a confidential conversation. We will not release your name or any details of our communication with you without your prior permission. For every person who comes to us and we place in a new role, there are some who realise throughout their job search (by attending interviews) that, in hindsight, they actually want to continue with the status quo. Career evaluation is a process that starts by talking to us. You are then introduced to our clients and each interview is a step forward at which point you can choose to withdraw at any stage. Interviews are as much of a fact finding tool for you as they are for the hirers. Dennis van Maanen is the founder and Managing Director of Esanda Recruitment, with over six years experience in the iGaming recruitment industry. This wealth of experience means that he understands the challenges of recruiting for such a dynamic and fast-moving industry and can provide real solutions.
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Commission 25-50% No negative carry over Multiple networks, one wallet Unique Creatives and promotions Experienced Multilingual affiliatemanagers
“It’s beginning to look like a year when traditional business scrutiny is finding some of the new media flagships wanting.”
By Katy Howell, Managing Director, immediate future.
consumers to pay for digital content. However, the ‘killer app’ for the iPad is less likely to be casual magazine-style content and is more likely to be video games. The unique tilt control and touchscreen interface makes for an intuitive gaming experience. For online gaming services such as poker, the opportunities are mouth watering. By unlocking the time when consumers were traditionally reading a newspaper and offering a simple gaming service a whole new tranche of revenue could be tapped in to.
Home entertainment hub
NEW WAYS OF communicating came to the fore in 2010, such as locationbased services like foursquare and casual computing tablets such as the iPad, but how will brands change the way in which they communicate with their audiences? Some pundits are suggesting that the rate of social media adoption is slowing, and in some ways there is evidence to that effect. With the restructuring of MySpace and the impending sale of Bebo, it’s beginning to look like a year when traditional business scrutiny is ﬁnding some of the new media ﬂagships wanting. However, there is no way that the social media bandwagon is going to be stopped in its tracks. Already, we have seen the emergence of key drivers for the way in which consumer participation will evolve over the next few years: location-based services, tablet computing and the reemergence of the home entertainment hub.
Location-based services With the adoption of smartphones a new technology has presented itself to galvanise social services – GPS. Location-based services have been on the horizon for quite a few years, but over the last few months foursquare has emerged as a water-shed network for the service with over 725,000 users and 22 million ‘checkins’ according to its corporate Twitter stream. Exploring this opportunity, progressive brands such as Starbucks are leading the charge in using foursquare to its advantage: check-in to any Starbucks location on
foursquare and you will be one check-in closer to unlocking your very own ofﬁcial Starbucks Barista badge. Right now, that badge might not amount to anything more than bragging rights, but that should change in the coming months with the experimental customer rewards program underway. However, the interesting part of this explosion probably won’t be how foursquare fares – as Friends Reunited proves, often, it is not the ﬁrst mover which enjoys long-term success.
Tablet computing Much fan-fare and mixed response marked the launch of the iPad early this year. Despite the unusually negative reception in the media the numbers sold have been strong over the last few months proving at least two things are true – the Apple brand is still incredibly potent and the price point of sub$500 is compelling. Most early adopters have used the iPad in a different way to the more established e-readers. As it is signiﬁcantly heavier and more expensive, consumers are less likely to take it with them when travelling or commuting. As a consequence, the most convenient way to use them seems to be in the living room and bedroom. A swathe of newspaper, magazine and online publishers are gearing up their own tablet apps to entice audiences on the devices. This comes at a time when many publishers are beginning to establish pay-walls around their content, and early indicators suggest tablets will help convince
Since the inception of the television, the living room has dominated the landscape for group entertainment. However, over the last few years a combination of other technologies has merged to challenge the dominance of television. Home broadband, Wi-Fi, cheap laptops and video-ondemand services such as BBC iPlayer have made a dent in the draw associated with television viewing. This year, 3D TV will change the landscape completely. The football World Cup this summer will herald a new dawn in media consumption thanks in part to the ground-breaking reception to the ﬁlm ‘Avatar’, which amazingly earned $77 million over its opening weekend. In turn, it will also kick-start an industry of content providers and hardware designers. Much like the revolution of colour television, 3D TV will draw the family together for a group viewing experiences and provide a badly needed ﬁllip to the entrainment industry. Despite the spectre of difﬁcult economic conditions and the fact that traditional social networks are at a crossroads, the signs are that in the next few years the new media age will experience another sea change driven by powerful innovations. The opportunity for the online gambling industry is interesting; how can it take advantage of location-based services and casual computing? How can it tap into the rejuvenated living room entertainment hub? Much like every other sea change there will be sectors which spot the opportunities ﬁrst and reap the rewards – could it be the turn of this industry to lead the way?
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Coming to Terms with Change Communicating your way through changes to program terms and conditions. Throughout 2009 and continuing into 2010, the iGaming affiliate forums have been ablaze with round after round of heated debate over program terms changes affecting either the calculation of affiliate commissions or the conditions on which they will be paid. New admin fees, player quotas and negative rollover policies, amongst other similar measures, have become increasingly common as operators seek to reverse falling profits in their affiliate programs. Affiliates, whose incomes are dropping as a result, are reacting with increasing severity, working in collaboration with sites such as Affiliate Guard Dog and forming new coalitions such as the Gambling Affiliates Union, to help arbitrate en-masse against unfair changes to program terms and conditions. Frustration is mounting, necessitating an effort by both sides to acknowledge the others’ position and work hand-in-hand to resolve these issues.
Reasons for change Why are programs changing their terms after years of operation? Often it’s because terms and conditions were not properly set up in the first place. It’s vital for an affiliate program to properly evaluate the costs associated with the affiliate revenue stream and plan their commission model accordingly. “If a program sets up their terms and does not understand how to be profitable, they are not doing their own due diligence,” says Andy Mueller, founder of AffiliateGuardDog.com, the industryrecognised program terms monitor and affiliate forum. The affiliate business model has been, and will continue to be, based on longterm partnerships. If an affiliate program’s accounting (for example, the calculation of net revenue and, therefore, commissions) does not reflect real costs, this will affect program stability. Ultimately, market forces will drive commissions up as close to margins as possible, to the point where these hidden costs will actually cause the program to lose money. Examples of real costs that are often unaccounted for
include processor confiscations, progressive jackpot contributions, royalties and most importantly, absorbed negative revenue. While it can be frustrating for affiliates when programs implement new admin fees, it is in both parties’ best interest that these real costs be factored into the commission calculation for the sake of program sustainability.
Transparency For programs that are considering implementing new admin fees or similar terms updates, the key to success is transparency and open dialogue. Transparency means clearly indicating how net revenue is being calculated, and where admin fees are being applied, showing these fees clearly in the stats. Open dialogue means proper communication and advance warning when changes to terms are being put into effect. Describing one brand that was heavily critiqued in the forums, Andy explained that affiliates’ major concern was the lack of communication. “When these new policies were implemented, there was no warning. Affiliates had to find out by themselves why they were suddenly earning less than before. For full-time affiliates who depend on affiliate revenues to support themselves and their families, this was a major breach of trust.” If a program is going to make any significant changes to their terms and conditions they need to communicate with affiliates, making sure they understand and agree to the new contract (or are given the chance to renegotiate or opt out of the program) before the changes go into effect. Centrebet serves as an excellent role model in this instance. The popular Australian bookmaker was attacked in several affiliate forums for implementing a series of terms updates, without proper warning, designed to protect program profitability. In response to affiliate reaction, Centrebet worked closely with Affiliate Guard Dog to design more affiliate friendly T&Cs, including the unveiling of a High Roller Policy that improved program profitability, provided increased
“The affiliate sector is no longer ‘the wild west’ of online marketing – it is now a well-established marketing channel that makes up a substantial part of most iGaming brands’ marketing mix.” 48
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transparency and most importantly, gave advance warning to affiliates about the policy’s implementation. “The High Roller policy clauses were of particular note in regards to the ‘right way’ to implement a change. It was a good show of how programs and affiliates can work together to ensure profitability for both parties,” Andy explained. Centrebet’s Global Affiliate Manager, Lee-Ann Johnstone remarked, “By accurately measuring and understanding our revenue model, we were able to work in synergy with affiliates to stabilise profitability of our monthly campaigns. Critically, our High Roller Policy succeeded in providing full transparency, displaying the data affiliates need to fully track and understand their revenue performance. Ultimately, this has resulted in the strengthening of our relationships with affiliates.”
Mutual respect The iGaming affiliate industry is no longer in its infancy. What was once ‘the wild west’ of online marketing is now a well-established marketing channel that makes up a substantial part of most iGaming brands’ marketing mix. As such, we need to push towards transparency and sustainability, clearly reporting on the costs of business and compensating fairly for revenues earned, for the benefit of both operators and affiliates. The iGaming affiliate industry has earned the respect of the marketing world; it’s time operators and affiliates start working together to ensure this mutual respect is maintained.
Louis Deering has worked in online marketing since 2005, beginning as a marketing manager for an online clothing retailer and later specialising in affiliate marketing, working as a network rep for Income Access in Montreal. He was voted Best Non-Traditional Affiliate Manager at the 2010 iGB Affiliate Awards. He currently works remotely as a Senior Affiliate Manager with Income Access from Medellin, Colombia.
Software Consolidation: What Affiliates Need to Know The recent acquisition of Virtue Fusion by Playtech and the partnership between Unibet and Bingo.com are just two of the latest mergers on the software side of the iGaming industry. Do moves like this affect affiliates and if so, do they have a positive or negative impact? Player choice When two software companies merge the good news is that it tends to create more choice for players, as opposed to eliminating one choice in favour of the other. Instead of dispensing with whatever technology the acquired company brings to the table, the parent software company will add the new games to their existing stable, which increases their value in the eyes of online casinos and, in turn, increases the attraction of the online casino to players. We’ve all heard that old expression that states that ‘two heads are better than one’. The combined knowledge plus the combined experience of the two companies equals a better product, which translates to more player interest and higher retention rates. This all adds up to higher profits for affiliates. One of the great things about the online gaming community is that access to information about casinos is so readily available. As more savvy players get to know the strongest software providers they begin to use the systems they prefer. Every now and then, as we know, one of those savvy players will become an affiliate who shares their knowledge with others via a website.
Affiliate choice The big question is whether or not these kinds of mergers work in favour of the affiliate, and whether they create more or less choice for affiliates? Historically, what we have seen is that the unification of two software companies creates more choice and more opportunity for affiliates when the mergers are handled properly. Casinos have more games to offer their players via the now larger software company, and more cross-promotional opportunities are available with multiple brands. Player confidence may also increase when a smaller company is purchased by a larger one with a more of solid reputation. A good reputation goes a long way towards creating player confidence online, and with so many players sharing information with one another, it doesn’t take long for word to get around. As a software company’s profile grows,
so does its ability to negotiate deals with television and movie studios to license their brands within games. We’ve seen this happen with TV shows ‘Deal or No Deal’ and ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire’ as well as movies like ‘Hellboy’ and ‘Tomb Raider’. These present amazing promotion opportunities for affiliates. Not only can the amount of available games increase as a result of consolidation, but the technology behind these games will often improve. The reason behind an acquisition can often be to take advantage of technology developed by a smaller company that a larger company wishes to offer. At this point, the affiliate now has the opportunity to let players know about recent changes to an iGaming site that they are promoting.
Changes to programs Where affiliates need to tread carefully is in examining the Terms and Conditions of programs when a software company is bought out. Often, affiliates will worry that their lifetime revenues or previous agreements will not be upheld. The great part about the affiliate world is the strong community. If changes to programs are seen as unfair, affiliates unite through forums and other affiliate resources. We have seen affiliates boycott programs because their T&Cs are deemed to be unfair to the affiliate. It doesn’t take long for the operator to get the message, as affiliates have become such an integral part of so many online marketing strategies. At this point, the operator needs to mediate a fair agreement that meets the needs of affiliates and software providers. The amount of revenue that affiliates generate for iGaming sites is incentive enough for operators to ensure that their affiliates are being treated fairly. It is imperative that operators communicate their intention to make changes to the Terms and Conditions before doing so, to give affiliates a chance to respond and adjust if necessary. It can be very costly for operators to develop a bad reputation as affiliates will stop promoting, and it doesn’t take long for news to trickle
down to players. Another challenge for operators is to ensure that the affiliate marketing software they are using meets the demands of multiple products. Managing an affiliate program that presents several different options to affiliates can cause logistical nightmares without the right software. The importance of having a system that allows all their affiliate reports through one convenient platform is paramount to managing an affiliate program with multiple software providers.
New opportunity The void created by consolidation creates opportunities for independent operators to launch. Everyone, even in the affiliate world, loves an underdog, especially a quality one, and as affiliates grow tired of monopolies they seek interesting programs to promote. Affiliates promote many brands. Diversification is key to holding the interest of their visitors and to appeal to a wide selection of players. With stronger programs being formed based on consolidation and new opportunities arriving for companies to innovate and create new, exciting games, the affiliate, more often than not, ends up being the winner.
As Director of Client Relations at Income Access, Kristyn Gaffney works with clients to customise the system and develop features to support their marketing campaigns and strategies. She also provides training, support and advice to ensure partners get the most out of the system.
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Integrating search engines and social media for your business. AS YOU MIGHT imagine, given my professional focus on business blogging, I see blogs playing a key role in both the online and ofﬂine marketing activities of businesses of all shapes and sizes. Happily, the ﬁgures also back me up and show an ever increasing number of companies using them to develop both communities around their offerings and to deliver better search engine results for their key phrases.
The worlds of SEO and social media In many ways, that’s a curious state of affairs as well as a highly exciting one. Companies often ﬁnd it difﬁcult to combine these two seemingly incompatible worlds of search engine optimisation (SEO) and social media. One delivers targeted content through a focused page of information on a subject that people are searching for – a pull marketing approach. Social media, on the other hand, pushes that same content out to be shared and distributed. Both generate trafﬁc to your website but in different ways and, almost certainly, reaching different people. However, one tool that can sit comfortably at the centre of both these worlds is a blog. As a result, not only is a blog a valuable asset to your SEO activities, delivering your content in a search engine friendly way and encouraging those important inbound links, it also serves as a hub in the brave new world of social media. It acts as a focal and coordinating point for all your social media activities and at the same time delivers all this and the ability to easily update a presence of the Internet and deliver both push and pull marketing. What a ﬁnd!!
Taking a closer look What is clear is that the blog fulﬁls a much more extensive role that might be initially obvious and one which straddles, and
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indeed links, these two key areas of online marketing activity. Two areas which are destined to dominate in the years ahead, I might add. While they do both focus on very different types of marketing, a core element at their centre essentially unites their efforts – the blog. So how does a blog deliver on its promises in each of these two cases? If we ﬁrst turn to the world of search marketing, we can see that a blog is a tool which: ● delivers up to date content in a structured format on a speciﬁc topic or area; ● allows tags and categories to bring together pages with similarly focused articles and posts for even greater impact; ● automatically categorises posts into topic areas of your choice which has excellent search engine impact; ● attract links from other sites to the quality content that it provides; ● updates multiple pages automatically each time you post an article, all attracting the search engine’s attention. What’s more, all of this is bundled in a platform which helps the pages get indexed within the hour and is as easy to use as Word or email so can be updated without technical know how. A winning combination of simplicity and power. On the other side, we have social media as the new kid on the block – a form which is deﬁned by the sharing of information. The current tools of choice in this area are probably Facebook and twitter, closely followed by LinkedIn and YouTube – however, they need a focal point to direct people to and this is where the blog comes into its own. For me, the social media sites are like cafes where we meet and interact but often in a superﬁcial way – the blog, however, creates an ‘online home’ which delivers a real focal point for all of the ongoing conversations. It also acts as a coordinating force
because of the way in which it can be integrated with the other social media tools out there and communicate with them, either automatically or at your request. With the tools that are available, you can ensure that the information you are supplying on one platform can be easily (or indeed automatically) brought across to another – all ways to ensure the information you supply works that extra bit harder for you. The responsibility of making sure that information is relevant to your audience on each platform still lies with you of course!
So what are you waiting for? The online world is changing and will continue to do so. Google recently changed its results page to give blogs and real-time search results greater visibility. At the same time, Facebook announced it was giving us the ability to ‘like’ pages across the length and breadth of the Internet, opening up the potential of social search in a way not seen before. Nevertheless, neither of these moves detract from the ability of blogs to form the powerhouse at the centre of your marketing activity, whether you focus on SEO or social media (or preferably both). Indeed, in many ways they strengthen it, by providing additional ways to highlight the content they contain more widely and more prominently than before in their respective worlds. So, although the best time to start a blog was probably about two years ago, I’d say that the second best time is almost certainly now.
MARK WHITE is an e-marketing consultant and business blog specialist who works with companies to help them set up and develop business through online marketing.
Analysing Af�iliate Program Metrics – The Key to Performance Improvement These last months I have been busy assessing the performance of various affiliate programs of large and well established operators as well as those of smaller, upcoming ones. During this analysis, I realised that there is one key factor that most operators seem to overlook – a thorough assessment of their affiliate program.
IT WAS EVIDENT that most operators take it for granted that if their contribution (Net Revenue less afﬁliate commissions paid out) ﬁgures are improving it means that the program is performing well and as the saying goes, ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t ﬁx it’. However, is this the best solution or should operators work towards continuous improvement in what they do? An afﬁliate program consists of a variety of components such as the media and rewards that are offered to attract afﬁliates, player statistics, the afﬁliate software that is used to manage the afﬁliate program and staff complement that is hired to effectively operate the program. All of these are key components of an effective ARM (Afﬁliate Relationship Management) that ultimately contribute to the success of an afﬁliate program. Some of my previous articles dealt with the importance of segmenting an afﬁliate team according to markets and afﬁliate relevance to the company, however, in addition to this there is the need for another key position within a company; that of a business intelligence specialist. It is said that what can be measured can be managed and as such, a person that is able to collect, measure and interpret statistics over time can help in the proper management of the program.
Reading and assessing key metrics of an affiliate program Media Providing various media types such as Flash and .jpg/.gif banners, textlinks, RSS/XML feeds and video ads to afﬁliates is important, however, given the cost of producing and managing such media, the maximum return on investment should be sought. Thus, it is important to monitor best performing media in terms of player conversions per market,
“It is important to consider any advertising space made available by an affiliate as an opportunity.”
country and period of time and suggest these best performing media to afﬁliates. This task is difﬁcult to do manually as many factors come into play (although companies can develop in-house custom-made software that pulls statistics from the afﬁliate program and provides the business intelligence necessary) however, there are vendors that can make such media serving possible. There are third-party media serving companies that offer the service of placing best performing media, based on the country of the afﬁliate’s website and the context of his/her site, in the banner space he/she makes available. In this way, the afﬁliate gains by having the best media displaying, enabling him/her to obtain maximum return from the space made available to the operator (and there’s no need to check which banner performs best) and the operator gains by making the most out of the space that the afﬁliate makes available. It is important to consider any advertising space made available by an afﬁliate as an opportunity. Making the best of this opportunity will result in a win-win situation for both afﬁliate and operator, and in the longer term, a stronger relationship.
Rewards Have you ever taken the time to review each reward plan and analyse the return on investment coming from each one? Do you keep track of all payments made to afﬁliates and the respective revenue that each afﬁliate brings to your program over their lifetime? In other words, do you know whether you’re overpaying afﬁliates? If the answer to these questions is simply ‘no’, you should consider immediate action as you could be misallocating resources that could be better used elsewhere. This is one of the most recurrent issues I come
across in my analysis, and on occasions, I discover afﬁliates or reward plans that have never been proﬁtable and yet are still kept active in the program. Most of these cases relate to CPA commission plans where the reward is either given on very low turnover or on deposit-only, or generally revenue share deals where negative carryover is not set up. Such instances should be monitored regularly and if unproﬁtable over a period of time, should either be amended or discontinued. Setting standard acceptable returns from each afﬁliate and each reward plan is essential to be able to easily pin-point any afﬁliates who do not reach the required threshold. If such analysis is not performed on a regular basis, some afﬁliates or reward plans could end up undoing the satisfactory performance that other afﬁliates/reward plan structures are contributing to the program. What about other statistics such as player churn and cross selling ratios? Any statistics that can help management take better, more informed decisions should be collected and analysed. However, this is rarely the case and most decisions are based on heuristics which can lead to sub-optimal decision making. This is acceptable when the industry is growing but as everything becomes more competitive, statistics will become more important as sub-optimal decisions might start damaging companies. Better start acting now before it is too late!
MATTHEW CASTILLO is Key Client Account Manager at NetRefer. Matthew can be reached via m.castillo@netrefer. com.
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It depends on who you ask… AS A SEASONED (read ‘ageing’) manager, I’ve worked with a good number of afﬁliate partners over the years. From pre-UIGEA gold rushers, one man bands, corporate structures, PPC masters, SEO wizards, emailers, broad reachers to niche dwellers, the afﬁliate spectrum is a colourful reminder of how young, energetic and unpredictable the online gaming industry still is. Granted – for afﬁliates and operators alike, the dust is slowly settling on many regulated markets, with consolidation an unavoidable by-product. However, regulated markets are still the exception, not the norm. That’s good news; it means afﬁliates will remain a driving force within the customer acquisition mix for many years to come. Afﬁliate marketing allows operators to test emerging markets at a controlled cost, while emerging markets allow new afﬁliates – localized or not – to gain market share in relatively uncharted territories. Everyone’s a winner, and Bob’s your uncle.
some of them might contain important information to your business. Tracking code changes, terms and conditions updates affecting your original contract, sign-up bonus modiﬁcations, etc… make sure the important stuff is not overlooked.
E is for Ethics Play by the rules: No one likes to be conned. Breaking the rules to achieve success is not viable longterm. Spam, illegal brand bidding, content copy, etc, are nothing more than expressions of intellectual and moral laziness. Real work is hard indeed, but satisfaction comes at this price. Be transparent: Long-term partnerships are based on trust, and trust comes from transparency. If you’re proud of what you do, you’ll have nothing to hide under a black hat.
S is for Skills So what makes a good affiliate? Beyond listing the qualities shared by successful afﬁliates – regardless of their shape, size, culture, or target markets – the question is one of deﬁnition. Success is one thing. How you get there is another. What makes a good afﬁliate is quite a subjective matter; the answer will vary depending on who you ask the question. As afﬁliate manager, I base our deﬁnition of what a ‘good afﬁliate’ is on the following primary criteria: Communication, Ethics, Skills, Attitude, Results (or ‘CESAR’ – for the gratifying sake of creating an imperial sounding acronym). As a guideline for newbie to intermediate afﬁliates, below is a summary breakdown of what Virgin Games tends to look for in an afﬁliate partner.
C is for Communication Be inquisitive Ask questions if anything’s not clear. Ask for terms and conditions. Ask for banners, editorial content, logo resizing, promotional codes, landing pages. Ask for whatever ﬂoats your boat; anything that would make your offer consistent and unique. Read newsletters and emails: We know it’s not always easy to read through afﬁliate newsletters when you’ve signed up with dozens of programs. Beware though;
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Do SEO: You can’t escape the Google tentacles these days. Google will make or break afﬁliates. Learn SEO, always keep your eyes on the ball and, if you’re the patient type, the spiders will be nice to you. Monitor and optimize: Internet marketing is one big never ending ﬁne tuning exercise. Test, test and test again, stick to what works for you and improve on it. Tracking, trafﬁc and web analytics software will help you. Be technical: First and foremost, understand tracking codes. Ask your afﬁliate manager if you don’t, then test them. I’m still dumbfounded by the number of afﬁliates who do not open a player account from their tracking link after signing up. Your future earnings depend on this. For more advanced afﬁliates use a sprinkle of tech wonder to enhance visitor experience: widgets, game embeds, tweets, RSS/XML feeds, apps, etc. Codes, scripts and software will save you time, use them.
A is for Attitude Be optimistic and persistent: “If at ﬁrst you don’t succeed, try and try again.” It will take months, sometimes years for a newbie to generate decent revenue
“Regulated markets are still the exception, not the norm. That’s good news; it means affiliates will remain a driving force within the customer acquisition mix for many years to come.” from gaming afﬁliation. The key is to remember that behind every afﬁliate success is someone that just wouldn’t give up. Be prepared: Ask questions before entering an afﬁliate agreement and make sure there is a clear understanding on both sides of what is expected from the partnership. Many afﬁliate relationships have faltered because clauses in the contract – ﬁnancial, legal or other – were not clearly outlined in the ﬁrst place. Be a partner, not a one-night stand: Afﬁliates who think long-term do not wilfully over-promise and under-deliver. They have a clear understanding of their ability to deliver and will work together with the operator to ensure this is built upon. Afﬁliate marketing is a long term partnership and will only work if the love and responsibilities are shared. In negotiations, compromising goes a long way towards success, for both parties. Impatience can sometimes lead to costly mistakes. Be unique: In the tone, the target, the imagery, the strategy – be unique. Most success stories were born when someone started looking at something ‘usual’ from a skewed angle. Witty reviews, catchy newsletters, promotions, sticky content, social media, niche markets; this is the Internet – there is always space for another quality soapbox.
R is for Results By these standards, a good afﬁliate does most of the above well. The rest is exercising patience, hard work and testing your way to success. In the words of Winston Churchill: “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”
PIERRICK LEVEQUE – Head of Acquisition, Virgin Games
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France and Spain are two of the most attractive, but equally risky markets in Europe meaning that entry strategies for these territories must be diligently assessed.
iGB Affiliate JUNE/JULY 2010
THE FRENCH MARKET has been booming for quite a few years now, but although online gambling was ofﬁcially banned, authorities chose not to enforce this on players or on the operators that were recruiting players from outside of the territory, although operators were not allowed to communicate ofﬂine. In this cloudy and unstable market, while many operators refused to invest, others chose to place their faith in domestic companies that developed their respective market shares in their speciﬁc niches (media companies/outlets). Today, it’s those same expert distributors new entrants must turn to, to take full advantage of this new land rush. Nicolas Sarkozy’s government has given in to the European Union’s pressure to regulate the market, allowing gambling (and subsequently advertising for gambling) to become legal in France (pending the resolution of a few licensing queries). Due to the recent legislation changes, the French market is very speciﬁc because
unlike in the UK or Germany, brands are still far from being established. Trafﬁc volumes are still created by keywords that are not branded, and market studies indicate that a large majority of players are still eager to learn before they play or deposit. While some operators, after years of illegal, but now very proliﬁc positioning, are well installed in the market, others have decided to pull out until the market regulates. Others, such as the two national operators, who shared the only part of the market authorised by authorities, (PMU and Française des Jeux) will be forced to invest heavily in speciﬁc business units they still know very little about.
So where do new entrants stand at the dawn of this new market? As the following illustration shows, the strategy adopted by most operators has been to sign aggressive partnership deals with the main French media players before the market regulation began.
Française dex jeux
Amaury Press Group
Europe 1 Radio Station
PQR Syndicat 50 local newspapers
Advertising deal Advertising Advertising deal deal
RMC Radio station
RTL Radio station
TF1 TV Channel
ESB.com acquired by TF1 Business partnership
Free Internet access provider
M6 TV Channel Partnership
Canal+ TV Channel Orange Télécommunicationsgroup
Yahoo! Search engine
Le Monde Newspaper
AB Group Audiovisiual production
Source: Cmedia 2007
market regulation began. Indeed, before the ﬁrst talks of market regulation had even started way back in 2008, Bwin and the Amaury group had already signed an advertising deal. Ever since, deals between operators and TV channels or radio stations, newspapers or high trafﬁc websites and distributors have become increasingly common. Even local newspapers are just waiting for the government’s green light to kick off advertising campaigns that will quite probably follow the football craze the World Cup in South Africa will soon create around sportsbetting. Operators who didn’t wait for the government to allow online gambling will also deﬁnitely have the edge over newcomers. But newcomers also have a secret weapon: expert media agencies and distributors that have been around long before the market opened, who can guide them in this new exciting territory – they know the players, and know how to guide operators. And at the present time,
no operators have yet closed in on some of the major specialised distributors.
Spain After Italy and France, with the entire Spanish world’s potential, Spain should be the next market to beneﬁt from a regulation the Spanish government has already started to discuss. The people who ﬁrst saw the market potential were those who had foreseen the poker phenomenon. One of the main reasons Texas Hold’em poker came out of casinos was because TV channels realised the visual potential of this variation of the game. That’s exactly what happened in France a few years back. Spain is following in France’s footsteps as more and more poker tournaments are televised, and we can deﬁnitely predict the same kind of phenomenon on the Iberian side of the Pyrenees, as market studies show that Spain has a much more advanced gambling culture than France. And the same experts who were
in the French market during the years of instability are now operating in Spain, acquiring expertise. Media agencies and distributors are already canalising Internet trafﬁc from niche searches, waiting to guide that trafﬁc towards new operators. Just like in the French market, the operators who get in ﬁrst will most deﬁnitely gain an advantage other the ones who wait for the market to open. Before you know it, the same illustration shown above will apply to the Spanish market. But just like in France, operators who want to be a part of it will need the right type of guidance from consultants that know the market strategies, and know the players.
CHRISTIAN KHOURY is General Manager at Cmedia, Christian@cmedia. es, www.cmedia.es.
iGB Affiliate JUNE/JULY 2010
GREENLIGHT GAMING SECTOR REPORT Search marketing agency, Greenlight, has produced its latest analysis of the most important search terms, trends and benchmarking data in the gaming sector. The company kindly provides iGB Affiliate magazine with an exclusive snapshot of the search market for today’s iGaming sector.
The most visible websites in Google natural and paid search Research shows that when people are looking for a gaming website they go to a search engine. And more often than not they go to Google, the search engine used for 90% of all UK searches. This report answers those questions by proﬁling search behaviour in the gaming sector. We’ve assessed which gaming brands were the most visible in both natural and paid search results in March 2010 (and hence had the greatest share of consideration) when UKbased searchers went to Google to look for gaming sites.
Total audience size (three million searches – March 2010) The report shows us approximately how many searches were performed in March 2010 using gaming terms relating to casino, bingo poker and sportsbetting. We have considered every search term and aggregated the number of times each one was used in January, February and March to give an indication of the number of searches.1 In March 2010, almost three million searches were made for gaming related keywords (including sportsbetting related terms). This was an increase of 300,000 since February but a slight decrease on January ﬁgures. Poker-related terms were the most searched for; over 943,000 searches were performed, which accounted for 32% of all gaming-related searches. Sportsbetting related terms accounted for
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18% of all gaming related searches. However, sportsbetting as a sub-industry is seasonal, depending upon sporting events. We expect, for example, that search volume will increase in June, relating to the World Cup.
Natural search: the most visible sites in March 2010 Given that UK web users conducted three million searches for gaming-related terms in March 2010, which brands were best positioned on page one of Google natural search, and therefore, most likely to gain the searchers’ consideration? We have determined the best positioned, and hence, most visible websites in this sector based on the volumes for each keyword, and their respective ranking for websites on page one of Google. These websites have been scored in the league table below, which represents visibility to a total of three million searches in March.2 We can see that 888 achieved 32% visibility in March. This was achieved through ranking at position one for 13 of the keywords analysed including the high volume driving term ‘Poker’ which was searched for 301,000 times in March. Wikipedia achieved 30% visibility for gaming-related keywords through relevant keywords and credibility through links – it ranked consistently on page one of Google for many of the high volume driving terms. By comparison, Ladbrokes achieved 18% share of voice, a large increase since December due to the inclusion of sportsbetting keywords. It attained position
one for terms such as ‘Betting’ which was searched for 74,000 times. The inclusion of sportsbetting keywords has seen changes in our league table to include betting sites such as Betfair, which achieved 12% share of voice in March. The composition of the top ten websites consisted of two casino sites, two multiproduct sites, one bingo site, two poker sites, two sportsbetting sites and Wikipedia which is an informational site. This is a change from our previous reports where we have seen the top ten places dominated by poker sites. 888, FoxyBingo, Casino.com and PKR all lost share of voice since December, some of which can be attributed to the inclusion of betting keywords. 888 lost the most visibility over the course of Q1 (7%) although it still did not drop any places in our league table. By contrast, Ladbrokes, Betfred and Betfair all saw an increase in visibility through the inclusion of sportsbetting keywords.
Natural search: casino keywords Searches for casino-related terms accounted for more than 722,000 searches in March 2010. This is how those searches were broken down.3 52% of casino-related searches composed of just two terms: ‘Casino’ and ‘Online Casino’. Websites which achieved visibility for those terms secured much of the share of voice overall. Casino.com achieved 56% share of voice, increasing its visibility by 4%
of searches by type 1 Number (March 2010)
Total number of gaming-related searches 3,500,000 3,000,000 2,500,000 2,000,000 1,500,000 1,000,000 500,000 0
Sports betting 18% Casino 24% Bingo 26% Poker 32%
2 The top 10 most visible gaming websites in natural search No.
search: casino keywords 3 Natural Searches for casino-related terms accounted for more than 722,000 searches in March 2010. How did those searches break down?
Other keywords 32% No deposit 1%
Which websites were most visible for casino keywords? No.
Best online casino 1%
On line casino 1%
Internet casino 1%
Casino chips 1%
Casino bonus 1%
Casino games 3%
Online slots 5%
Casino UK 2%
Online casino 10% Casino 42%
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since September which saw it move from position two to one in our table. It ranked at position two for the most searched for term ‘Casino’, but appeared at position one for ten other keywords. By comparison, 888 ranked at position one for nine keywords, yet it lost 4% share of voice since December and was replaced by Casino.com as the most visible website in our league table. Bing has noted that for casino keywords the top three natural search positions on its search engine generate approximately 75.21% of consumer click volume (Source: Bing, November 2009).
Natural search: bingo keywords Searches for bingo-related terms accounted for more than 765,000 searches in March 2010.4 The term ‘Bingo’ was the most searched for term, queried 246,000 times in March 2010, accounting for 32% of all searches for bingo keywords. Websites which achieved visibility for that term secured much of the share of voice overall. FoxyBingo achieved 55% share of voice, a drop of 6% since December. This visibility was not achieved through ranking at position one for any of the keywords analysed, but rather through ranking lower down on page one for many high volume driving keywords. By comparison, MeccaBingo achieved 40% visibility largely through achieving position one for the most searched for term ‘Bingo’. Despite a drop in share of voice of 2% since December, MeccaBingo moved up from fourth place to second in our
search: bingo keywords 4 Natural Searches for bingo-related terms accounted for more than 765,000 searches in March 2010. How did those searches break down?
league table because many other websites lost even further share of voice. WinkBingo had previously achieved position two in our league table, with 49% share of voice. Its loss of 35% share of voice saw it drop to position 15 in our league table.
Natural search: poker keywords Searches for poker-related terms accounted for more than 942,000 searches in March 2010. 5 The term ‘Poker’ was queried 301,000 times in March 2010, accounting for 32% of all searches for poker keywords. Wikipedia achieved 51% share of voice, which was a 4% increase since December. It ranked at position one for nine terms due to relevant website content and credible links. By comparison, PokerListings achieved 42% share of voice through ranking in position one for 16 keywords analysed, although these were lower volume driving terms. 888 also achieved 42% share of voice and this can largely be attributed to its position one ranking for the most searched for term ‘Poker’. PartyPoker lost 20% visibility since December, which saw it drop from position seven to position 18 in our league table.
Natural search: sportsbetting keywords Searches for sports betting-related terms accounted for more than 532,000 searches in March 2010.6 35% of sportsbetting-related searches composed of just two terms: ‘Bet’ and ‘Betting’. Betfair and Betfred both achieved
Other keywords 30%
Bingo hall 2% Play bingo 2%
Bingo game 2%
Bingo games 3%
Bingo com 3%
Online Bingo 5% Bingo sites 5% Free bingo 8% Bingo 32%
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As we can see from the table, 888 was the most visible website in integrated search due to its relatively high exposure in natural search, compared to other websites. Betfair ranked at position two in our league table, having not featured in our top websites and advertisers in December. In March, three of William Hill’s display URLs ranked in the top ten in our league table, when previously just one featured in December, which was WilliamHillCasino at position 10. We can see that WilliamHillBingo achieved a signiﬁcant share of voice in paid search, yet none in natural search. By contrast, Ladbrokes focused solely on natural search and achieved no visibility in paid search. Consistent with our previous report, the top gaming sites achieved greater visibility in paid search, compared to natural search, indicating that many brands are buying their way to visibility in the market. A full copy of the report, including paid search stats, can be requested from Greenlight’s research manager, Natalie Gyte at insight@ greenlight.co.uk.
Bingo online 2%
No deposit bingo 2%
The most visible gaming websites in both natural and paid search
Which websites were most visible for bingo keywords?
UK bingo 2%
Free online bingo 2%
60% share of voice in March. Betfair achieved position one for ten terms, position three for the most searched for term, ‘Bet’ and appeared on page one of Google for a total of 202 of the terms analysed. Betfred appeared on page one of Google for just 26 terms. However, it achieved the same visibility as Betfair because the terms it ranked highly for were largely high volume driving terms.
search: poker keywords 5 Natural Searches for poker-related terms accounted for more than 765,000 searches in March 2010. How did those searches break down?
Other keywords 38% Internet poker 2%
Which websites were most visible for poker keywords? No.
Play poker 2%
Free online poker 2%
Poker games 3%
Free poker 3%
the freepokerroom. com
Poker hands 2%
Poker table 4% Poker chips 6% Online poker 6% Poker 32%
search: sports betting keywords 6 Natural Searches for sports betting-related terms accounted for more than 532,000 searches in March 2010. How did those searches break down?
Other keywords 35% Football odds 2%
Which websites were most visible for sports betting keywords? No.
Betting tips 2%
Free bet 3%
Football betting 3%
Football betting tips 2% Betting odds 2%
Sports betting 3%
Online betting 8% Betting 14% Bet 21%
How the report was created We have used industry data to classify 700 of the most popular search terms that consumers use to find gaming websites and totalled the number of times each one was used. This gives an indication of the size of audience and a profile of how Google users went about their searches for gaming websites in March. For natural search we then analysed the natural search rankings on Google to see which websites and brands were positioned on page one for each term. That way, we were able to build up an aggregate view of the most commonly appearing and prominent websites, as well as the respective size of the audience they were reaching as a result of their having that keyword-specific visibility. For paid search we monitored the advertisers appearing in the sponsored links for the top 120 of the 700 terms analysed. Data was retrieved from Google regularly on a daily basis during March to ensure a fair assessment of the paid search space, and to take into account the ad rotation system employed by Google. This data was then collated, and league tables of the most visible websites in both natural and paid search created for the gaming sector.
iGB Affiliate JUNE/JULY 2010
From Red Bull… to Jetbull… One of the highlights of the recent iGaming Super Show in Prague was our fascinating interview with former Formula 1 driver, David Coulthard. Now an ambassador for sportsbetting firm Jetbull, David spoke to us about life in the high octane world of elite motorsport and getting to know his new community within iGaming. David Coulthard has been one of the most recognisable faces of British sport in the last 20 years. Winning 13 Formula 1 grand prix, achieving 61 podium finishes and, with a total of 527 career points, he is one the highest points scorers in F1 history (pre-2010 points system). For all his experience in the Formula 1 paddock, it’s with rookie steps that he enters the iGaming space as an ambassador for Jetbull, albeit doing so with a strong sense of excitement. “I’m a novice when it comes to the online gaming industry, but I’m enjoying the opportunity to visit this event and to meet some people within the business. Like Formula 1, it’s a huge industry with a global reach and a very big market, so there are some parallels between the sectors. I find it interesting that, as we speak, the American market is not open to iGaming as yet – Formula 1 has tried and failed to open that as a market and we’re attempting to do so again (Texas has been confirmed on the Grand Prix calendar for 2012). “My first real awareness of sportsbetting other than the local bookies on the street corner, was the Australian Grand Prix in 1998 where I realised that, to the detriment of my image at the time, I changed places with my team-mate to allow him to win the Grand Prix. And it was the first time I was aware that there were so many people betting on a number of different sports including motor racing. Obviously, people were up in arms as to how you could change the result and the outcome of the event in the closing stages. And I guess that, as you’re all very aware, one of the big challenges that you have in the industry is to show that everything is open, everything is fair and everything is clean – with electronic and online gaming it’s one of the big challenges as to whether people will trust the site. So that experience back then, more than twelve years ago, gave me an
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insight to the marketplace.” Despite a slightly unsavoury introduction to the world of sportsbetting, David’s opinion of the gaming sector has not been soured, understanding the part it plays in today’s adult leisure society. “I think that sportsbetting is obviously very firmly established. It’s a huge part of our lives and unless someone cuts the connection on the Internet then it’s only going to grow and grow. I’m looking forward to increasing my knowledge of online gaming. The reason why I’m involved with Jetbull is that I have a fifteen year association with one of the employees of that company and that gave me the insight and the knowledge to really get an understanding of how it operates, and the security that is afforded to the actual players. It’s one of the big challenges that you have in the market, but it’s one of the things that through increased public awareness and promotion, we can strengthen the confidence for the consumer, and I’m sure you’re all working with that challenge on a daily basis.” Part of David’s role as an ambassador for Jetbull is advising punters on placing bets on Formula 1 racing; yet, does he see this area becoming a larger market in sportsbetting? “As I mentioned at the beginning, I don’t think I appreciated, when I swapped places with my team mate, how many people were already betting on Formula 1. I was aware of football and horseracing and such things, but I think that basically anything nowadays is fair game for betting. One of the difficulties in motorsports betting is that very quickly you start to see a form and a predictable form at that, so I think there’s more variability in soccer or other sports where you can get more random results. Although I’m not racing in Formula 1 any more, I work with the BBC as part of the broadcasting team so I go to all the Grand
Prix and it’s interesting for me to see the sport now from a spectator’s point of view rather than as a driver. That’s how I grew up; watching the sport on television. The development in the type of coverage we’re used to seeing in sports now (although not as rapid a development as you’re seeing in online gaming or with the power of the Internet) means that with more and more interactive channels the customer has more and more choice and he wants more and more information. I think that sometimes we don’t give the viewers the credit for being the sophisticated audience that they are. They don’t just want to sit there and see the images, they want to have it explained, they want to understand the technology and they want to understand why the driver cocked-up the corner or why the team made a bad strategy call. And we’ve got to try and deliver that information.” As David mentions, his involvement in the sport today is commanding a microphone for the BBC rather than commanding the cock-pit for Red Bull. So how much of a tug on the heart strings has it been to move away, considering that he is still on tour, and still going to all of the races with the BBC? Is a former F1 driver a frustrated spectator, or a contented one? “I always believed that a sportsman’s career has a certain lifespan. And from that point of view I raced 15 years in Formula 1, so I think I had a long and active Grand Prix career. I was also involved in a plane crash in 2000 where, sadly, the pilots were killed, but, I was able to walk away from that incident and it gave me a whole new perspective on the fact that today could be your last day. I know we all talk about it in terms of ‘you’ve got to live a full life’, but, it really hit home that my life could have been over on that particular day. So I just went out, from age thirty until thirty-seven, when my career ended in Formula 1, enjoying every moment, every race and realising that
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at some point my journey as a Grand Prix driver would come to an end, so I have no problem watching those young guys going around the racetrack now. I’m appreciative of the fact that I know how good it feels to drive a Grand Prix car quickly and I know how it feels to win a Grand Prix, and that’s a wonderful thing. But, it’s only a sport at the end of the day and I’m a father now. I have an 18-month-old son and that’s a whole new appreciation and feeling of satisfaction, which I could never have fitted in when I was in the middle of my Grand Prix career.” And of Michael Schumacher’s return to the sport? “I think that any decision regarding whether you compete or not, if you’ve got the opportunity, is a personal decision and if it makes sense to you then you should do it. I think that inevitably, as fans, we can all sit back and say ‘oh well, it’s not like it used to be, he’s not winning anymore’. Another good example is, I guess, boxing. When you’ve had someone who’s been a great champion and then you see them lying in the corner, dribbling when they’ve been knocked out – it’s not the last image you want of that sporting hero. But the reality is; it’s down to the individual to make his choice. I don’t personally think it does any damage to his place in history. He won seven world championships and more points, more pole positions, more Grand Prix victories than any other driver. He’ll never achieve the same level of success because the sport has moved on, but it’s a personal decision for Michael. None of us live in the past, we’ve always got to be thinking for tomorrow, we’ve got to be thinking of new ideas, new ways to get the maximum.” For such an aspirational sport that has its flagship event in the gambling Mecca of Monte Carlo, a visible link between the two industries has, as yet, been conspicuous by its absence. So why hasn’t Formula 1 seen more online gaming sponsorship? “I think it’s to do with the cost profile of the sport. Naturally, there are many sports that are open to companies to brand and have their association. F1’s commercial rights owner (Bernie Ecclestone) is a great example that dictatorships, in certain cases, can work. He has controlled access to Formula 1 very well and very tightly, so he keeps a very exclusive club that keeps the rate card very high. The big thing with Formula 1 that keeps it interesting to the large sponsors is the fact that it’s a truly international sport, and the reach it
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has through television and the Internet means that you get a very global return on your investment.” F1 has been through a lot of changes recently, not least through the regulations that have tried and, arguably, failed to improve its spectator (racing and overtaking) aspects, but also via some unsavoury events that have lead some to question the integrity of the sport and those that work and operate within it. Parallels can clearly be drawn with the gaming industry here, but for Formula 1, how has this affected its business prospects? “I don’t think F1 is any different to any other business. I’m sure you have seen (iGaming) companies come and go in the last few years that have arrived with big ideas and lots of enthusiasm but their strategy just hasn’t worked in the marketplace and the consumer hasn’t responded; likewise in Formula 1, where you’ve got your key companies that have been around for decades. Ferrari is one of the oldest – they’ve been in the sport for 60 years, and during those 60 years of competition, there have been many teams that have come and gone. Again this year we have three new teams on the grid. The big challenge for those guys is to come into the industry without the same level of technical knowledge and expertise, without the same level of funding and to attract the right people to have the investment to grow. The early years of any new business are the most difficult because you’ve got the need for cash-flow, the need to attract your customers and the interest, but you need results to sustain. “And the difficulty for these new teams in the sport is how can they possibly compete with a Ferrari, McLaren or even a Red Bull in the short-term?” Indeed, if this is the case for any new entrant to market, then what is the incentive? Specifically, what is the incentive for a new F1 team to come into the industry, knowing how difficult it is to compete at the highest level, even to compete as a midfield team? Here, David uses Red Bull as an example. “I was with Red Bull from 2005 until 2008, and it’s clearly a marketing-lead incentive for them. The company already had global recognition before they bought the Formula 1 team in 2005. What I think a lot of people didn’t realise was that the owner of Red Bull was an Austrian called Dietrich Mateschitz and he was the owner of Sauber (he owned 60% of the Sauber Grand Prix team for over ten
years). But he was pretty silent in terms of his involvement with the team. I think he got to the point where he realised that total ownership was the best way for him to control the marketing and the brand image and, obviously, get a return on that investment. And as I mentioned earlier, the key to driving success is the human element. You need the right designer, the right mechanics, and, of course, the right drivers, so in many ways it’s not rocket science to put together all of those people, but the black art in our business is the aerodynamic development because you’re dealing with previously undeveloped technology.” When you talk about aerodynamic development in Formula 1, you inevitably end up talking about Adrian Newey, who, throughout the Formula 1 paddock, is recognised as making some of the most beautiful (and fastest) cars on the grid. “In Formula 1, ‘aero’ is king. It’s the most important aspect of the overall design. It’s generally accepted this year that the Renault engine, which is used by Red Bull, is not the most powerful engine. It has very good ‘drivability’ but it lacks total horsepower in comparison to Mercedes. But, if you have a car that is passing through the corner at a higher mid-corner speed, then that’s where the lap time is won. In the American racing series the IFL, this week they’re qualifying for the Indianapolis 500, where they average 220mph every lap because they’ve four corners and it’s a high speed oval. So there, the emphasis is on high speed engine performance and low drag is much more important. In Formula 1, we’ve just come off the back of the last race in Monte Carlo; it’s a low speed track, the average speed is just over 100mph, so the emphasis on cornering speed is something which is much higher. These cars are sophisticated aerodynamic devices. Simply speaking, they’re the opposite of an aircraft which wants to take you up into the sky – a Formula 1 car is trying to push itself into the ground and that’s how it generates its cornering forces.” Still an ambassador for Red Bull, David has been watching his former teammate Mark Webber and the man who directly replaced him, Sebastian Vettel, take complete charge of qualifying at all of the race weekends so far this season, yet the team appear to be struggling to turn this undoubted pace into consistent race wins. Despite this, are they still the team and drivers best equipped to deliver both constructors’ and drivers’ titles?
“They are, and you would imagine I would say this, because I have a previous involvement with Red Bull and I’m still involved with the team. But I am a fan of motorsports and I like to imagine that I’m as unbiased as I possibly can be. And I just think that the whole Red Bull story is a fantastic story. A drinks company taking on the might of Ferrari and Mercedes, accounting for the fact that teams such as Toyota have dropped out because they couldn’t achieve success – BMW for the same reasons. But this is a drinks company that had the funding to buy a Grand Prix team and though they invest less than Ferrari do through their various sponsors, they’re achieving a great deal of success right now. The wonderful thing about their story is that from a marketing point of view, every time you mention the team on the television, or every time you see an image of the Red Bull car, you’re engaging with the consumer. You’re absolutely hitting your target audience. Whereas McLaren, for instance, have a road car, but that’s the only real area that they’re in; their main business is selling sponsorship for the Grand Prix team. McLaren are sponsored by Vodafone, but we wouldn’t say on the television ‘Vodafone McLaren Mercedes’, because it’s too long. We’ll say McLaren. So the key sponsors miss out on that little ‘i-dent’, that moment of connecting with the consumer. “We look at the actual sponsorship ﬁgures that come out of each Grand Prix, the percentage of coverage that Red Bull are getting out of every other sponsor, even when they’re not winning; the brand awareness – the actual moments when you can see it on screen is huge. They’re getting so much more value return than they’re actually investing. And they own a piece of the franchise which they can then sell on. So I think it’s a great example of whether you own part of the sport you’re involved in, or whether you’re just a sponsor. It’s a different way of going about marketing, which is clearly working...” Finally, David reﬂects on his own entry to the iGaming space and community, and tells us what attracts him most to the Jetbull brand. “As I move into the next phase of my life, having been involved in sports for 26 years, during all those years of racing you always had to reinvent yourself each year, each week and each race. You
don’t just come up with the ingredients for the cake and then keep churning out the same old cake because someone will come with a fresh new way of doing it and it’ll be better. So I come from an environment where you constantly have to be looking for ways to improve and ways to gain an edge. And what attracts me to Jetbull is that it’s young in the market and it has to be reactive. It has to try and ﬁnd a niche, ﬁnd a way to connect with the consumer and I’d like to be part of that journey and inﬂuence the sporting side in anyway that I can, in the same way that as a driver in a Grand Prix team you’re acting as conductor, so to speak. When the race starts, you know you have your mechanics, your engineer, your strategy guys around you, but you have to tell them what you need. “There are two things I’ve always believed you should never have in your life: 1) You should never not have an opinion. You have to have an opinion because at a certain time you’ve got to make a decision in sport. You’ve got to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’, ‘left’ or ‘right’, ‘brake’ or ‘throttle’. 2) The other most important thing is not to be so stubborn to not change your opinion when someone shows you a better way. Sometimes you make a decision in the heat of the moment, which is absolutely the right thing with the information you have available to you, but an hour later or a day later new information appears which tells you that was the wrong decision. So you have to be adaptable, and I think
again that’s key to the iGaming market that you’ve got to adapt on an hour-byhour and daily basis to keep coming up with something new and exciting. So I think there are many parallels between the industries of Formula 1 and iGaming.” DAVID COULTHARD was speaking at the iGaming Super Show in Prague as an ambassador for Jetbull and was talking to Michael Caselli and James McKeown of iGaming Business and iGB Affiliate.
iGB Affiliate JUNE/JULY 2010
Celebrity Endorsement and Online Gambling: Ten Golden Rules Having secured our interview with David Coulthard, we sought the wisdom of Professor Mark Griffiths in examining the golden rules of celebrity endorsement in iGaming. Celebrity endorsement has long been an integral part of product and service marketing. However, does the presence of actors like Ben Affleck and James Woods, or television celebrities like Sharon Osbourne really make customers more likely to play online poker or bingo? Commercial gambling has only relatively recently got in on the celebrity endorsement bandwagon mainly because gambling advertising has – until very recently – been restricted. In this article I examine some of the golden rules that online gaming operators need to bear in mind when using celebrity endorsement.
(1) Celebrity image and reputation are paramount If you want to use a celebrity as part of your marketing drive, you have to carefully evaluate a celebrity’s image and reputation. Steps need to be taken to make sure the celebrity’s image and reputation matches the needs of the company. Sales can take a tumble especially if the celebrity used does something that compromises the company’s image. For instance, comedian Vic Reeves’ drink-driving conviction wasn’t very good for the car insurance company he was promoting!
(2) Remember what celebrities can bring In most marketing situations, the relationship between the company and the celebrity is mutually beneficial. The latest PartyCasino adverts with ex-cricketer and TV celebrity Phil Tufnell being a good case in point. The company receives all of the perks associated with the celebrity such as publicity, positive connotation, recognition, respect and trust. The celebrity – at the very least – benefits financially.
(3) Intrinsic association and familiarity are important Celebrity endorsements also tap into the psychology of ‘intrinsic association’. This is the degree to which the gambling activity is positively associated with other interests, people and/or attractions. Intrinsic association also taps into the psychology of familiarity and help explain why (for instance) so many slot machines feature themes relating to television shows, films, popular board games, video games and/or
iGB Affiliate june/july 2010
celebrities. It makes punters feel they know something about the product before they have even played it.
(4) Successful marketing leads to increased trust and product longevity The advertising industry claims that brand recognition, recall and awareness are the most important outcomes of successful marketing campaigns. This, they believe, will result in greater sales and increased revenue. Celebrity endorsement is perhaps even more important in online commercial activities like online gambling where identity, trust and reliability equate to potential punters.
(5) Plan for the long term Many online commercial enterprises appear to opt for short-term, high impact celebrity endorsement and ‘buzz marketing’ rather than investing for the long-term. These types of marketing tend to create an instant image and reputation but may not necessarily be good for the company’s longevity. To be market leaders amid the competition, online gaming operators need to couple strategic marketing with solid brand management.
(6) Celebrity endorsement is only part of the jig-saw Interestingly, a survey carried out by Marketing UK asked marketers from a sample of the top 1,000 British companies which techniques they thought were the most successful in increasing sales and at building long-term relationships with customers. It found that celebrity endorsements ranked last, below loyalty schemes, sales promotions, and general display advertising. However, it doesn’t make sense to isolate celebrity endorsements because they are just one of many marketing elements that can be used in a successful campaign. What’s more, if marketers didn’t believe celebrities help in generating longterm sales and profits, they wouldn’t keep paying the large fees they command.
(7) Popular celebrities don’t always increase sales When a gaming operator uses a celebrity endorser, they are signing up an image or brand that could itself be argued to be a gamble. At the very least, the gaming
company should get what they pay for but it can all go horribly wrong. When Billy Connolly was used to promote the National Lottery, sales decreased. The adverts had high recall by the public but were loathed by a large proportion of the British public who found the purple bearded Scottish comedian irritating.
(8) Do your market research While the jury is out on whether celebrity endorsement is a long-term sales winner for online gaming operators, one question that has yet to be answered through empirical research is, what type of gambler does a celebrity endorsement impress and/or influence in their decision play? Is it the novices? Is it the long-standing punters? Is it males only? All of the above? Maybe different types of celebrities appeal to different clientele. No-one knows, so do your market research.
(9) Remember that players can be the celebrities too For me, the most interesting development of the celebrity endorsement culture is how the big poker tournament winners have now become celebrities in their own right. This type of celebrity endorsement may be more appealing to players. The fact that someone has become a celebrity through skill and talent in an activity that gamblers are already positively predisposed towards suggests they will want to have more of a psychological association with these celebrities than those who just happen to play poker as a hobby. Judging by the front covers of high street gambling magazines, the editors clearly believe that it is the big winners that sell the magazine rather than Hollywood actors or scantily dressed women.
(10) Beware the risks Just like your punters, you have to ask yourself how much your company is willing to gamble on celebrity endorsement in trying to carve out a niche in the market. As an online gaming company you have got to be clear that you are targeting the right product with the right celebrity with the right message. It can be a long hard slog to shape an image or reputation but it can take just a few seconds of celebrity madness to destroy it.
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AFFILIATES HAVE BECOME a vital aspect of the marketing campaigns of many online businesses through growth, retention and brand awareness. A strong afﬁliate program can account for up to 30 percent of an operator’s business and can provide valuable intelligence on the effectiveness of a brand within a market. Often seen as a microcosm of a merchant’s overall operation across all acquisition and retention channels, a successful afﬁliate program will combine a stable base of afﬁliates and a growing number of quality players, while maintaining a strong focus on the key performance indicators of the business. There are many different ways to be successful in afﬁliate marketing, and each operator will have a different approach, with unique values. How an operator deﬁnes success will vary, but one goal remains constant: establishing a positive, growing net gaming revenue.
Recruiting and Activating your Affiliates Having a stable base of afﬁliates demands having a careful balance of new afﬁliate sign-ups, and an established group of active afﬁliates. An important ﬁrst step in recruiting new afﬁliates to your program is creating an afﬁliate program page that clearly introduces your product, commission structures, payment terms, terms and conditions as well as information on how you support and ensure the success of your afﬁliates. Afﬁliates are your sales force, which makes them your business partners. Like any other entrepreneur, they want to know that they are making a wise investment of their time, their money—and that their reputation won’t be tarnished by a poor partnership decision. So provide them with as much information as you can, making sure you are addressing common concerns and questions. Sharing some of your other marketing campaigns and techniques will help provide trust and transparency of your brand, and create a sense of partnership rather than competition. The more conﬁdent they feel about you, the more willing they will be to promote you and your brand. Raising your proﬁle within the afﬁliate
iGB Affiliate JUNE/JULY 2010
community is essential to drawing afﬁliates to your program. Participating at key industry conferences, with a strong focus on your brand presence, can be a very effective start. What can often act as a hindrance, however, is not leveraging the leads that are acquired from these events. All too often, businesses heavily invest in tradeshows, but fall short in the follow up. Just because you received a lot of interest at a tradeshow, doesn’t necessarily mean that you have sealed a deal with an afﬁliate. Competition is ﬁerce, and ﬁrst impressions can be easily forgotten in the buzz and excitement that is often present at iGaming events. If you invest money in this avenue, make sure that your follow-up is part of your strategy. Whether you pick up the phone or put together a communication, make sure you reach out to new potential afﬁliates, reminding them who you are,
what you do and why becoming a part of your team is an advantage. Participating in forums is another great way to recruit new afﬁliates to your program. Forums have become popular hangouts, and actively contributing here can help you build your rapport with afﬁliates. Raising your proﬁle in forums is most effectively done by providing genuine information and comments, not blatant promotion. This is a great venue to show your industry expertise and knowledge and a good source for increasing your credibility. If you do participate here, make sure to moderate any feedback you may receive. While this entails a commitment of your time, it secures the integrity of your brand, and helps you build relationships by furthering a conversation or answering a question. Remember that forums are communities, and should be treated as
“Affiliates can be an incredible sounding board for how a product is perceived, and what a market’s reaction is to a brand. Players are far more likely to react to an affiliate rather than a corporate brand.” such. The better you establish yourself as a credible member of this community, the more likely you will be able to recruit new afﬁliates from this source. And perhaps one of the best ways to recruit new afﬁliates is by word of mouth. In this industry, reputation spreads quickly, whether it’s positive or negative. When an afﬁliate likes the service and the results of an afﬁliate program, they’ll often talk about it on social platforms like forums, Twitter and Facebook. That can be a real advantage for you if you are dedicated to your afﬁliate program, and think of it as being relationship-driven. So always keep your reputation top of mind, when structuring your afﬁliate program—it can often be what makes or breaks you. Once an afﬁliate has come on board with you, let them feel that they are part of your business, and provide them with the tools and resources to get started with your program straight away.
Acquiring and Retaining Players Typically, afﬁliate marketing has been strictly thought of as an acquisition channel, however, afﬁliate programs can contribute to both the acquisition and retention of players. The root of the revenue share commission structure means that it is in an afﬁliate’s best interest to encourage their players to return time and again to the same casino, so that the afﬁliate continues to earn commission on that player’s revenues. When afﬁliates participate in online communities like social media, forums and emailing, it can help to create great brand recognition and value, and does so much for repeat sales, which is about retention. This makes it all the more important that you continually give your afﬁliates something to talk about. This could be a special promotion for existing players, a reactivation bonus, a new game or incorporating a popular theme within your platform. For afﬁliates to be truly successful in helping operators to retain players, they need to focus in on making their players feel special. A great way to do this is by providing reviews, exclusive bonuses, playing tips or even solid information regarding different wagering techniques. Afﬁliates can put together a competitor analysis, outlining the beneﬁts associated
with different gaming platforms, which a good afﬁliate manager can often assist with. Providing players with a forum where open discussion is encouraged is another fabulous way to create dialogue, drive activity and keep people coming back for more. One strategy we’re seeing more is the promotion of big player wins. This is when players who have hit the jackpot, for example, are highlighted on an afﬁliate website as a way of attracting other new players. Many operators only see the loss of revenue with big player wins, but it makes good strategic sense to use this loss as an investment in acquiring new players. Bingo programs use this marketing technique all the time, ﬂashing pictures of ‘real people’ who have played, and won—leaving other players with the thought process, ‘If he can win, maybe I can too’. Make sure the win was legitimate, and that you are not promoting a win that has any negative attributions, like sportsbetting arbitrage, for example. Co-branded landing pages speak volumes about an operator-afﬁliate relationship. When a player visits such a website, it helps to establish a certain element of trust, and emphasizes that the afﬁliate is serious. Operators may not want to do this for all their afﬁliates, but providing this kind privilege to top-performing afﬁliates can help both operators and afﬁliates acquire and retain players. Afﬁliates can be an incredible sounding board for how a product is perceived, and what a market’s reaction is to a brand. Players are far more likely to react to an afﬁliate rather than a corporate brand and voice their feedback, whether positive or negative. Where the operator’s role becomes crucial is establishing a strong communication link with their afﬁliates, and proactively responding to the needs that arise. An operator who consistently hears from afﬁliates that players ﬁnd their platform stagnant, and doesn’t freshen up their product, is playing a dangerous game. Keeping your product fresh and exciting is an important part of retaining players—if players get bored, they’ll simply move on.
Focusing on Your Business’ KPIs Your afﬁliate marketing software is at the heart of your program. Your statistics and reports can provide you with an overall
picture of your afﬁliate program, and can give you the most accurate depiction of your program’s successes and shortcomings, and where you need to focus your energy to bring your business to the next level. Your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) from a software perspective focus on four key areas.
1. Net Gaming Revenue (NGR) NGR is the total amount of revenue generated by a player after deductions (common deductions include bonuses, chargeback and processing fees). The way this is calculated will vary slightly from operator to operator, but is a good indicator of the overall proﬁtability of your program.
2. Number of New Affiliate Sign-ups It is essential to constantly be adding to the pool of afﬁliates in your program. The more afﬁliates that are promoting your program, the more exposure your brand is getting, and in turn, the more trafﬁc is referred.
3. New Depositing Player Accounts Quantifying the number of new depositing players is important to your afﬁliate program as it speaks to the longevity and growth of your afﬁliate program.
4. Number of Active Player Accounts Equally important is the number of active player accounts. This is a good indicator of the player rentention for your program and should be closely monitored. If you have a high number of new accounts each month but a decreasing number of active player accounts, you should investigate why these players are not returning to play regularly. Remaining focused is your key to a successful afﬁliate program. Build strong relationships with your afﬁliates where they feel like valued business partners. Create exciting, fresh games and promotions to acquire players and keep them coming back for more. And maintain a keen eye on your afﬁliate program’s key performance indicators—always taking the time to re-evaluate your program, to make sure it is still in line with your overall business strategy.
NICKY SENYARD is CEO of Income Access, overseeing their independent iGaming affiliate network, market-leading affiliate software and expert affiliate management services.
iGB Affiliate JUNE/JULY 2010
European attitudes to regulation are becoming more positive, but what if you are an affiliate from one of the smaller emerging markets that has previously been ostracised by many affiliate programs? Founder of Games and Casino, Dominique, investigates. Lately there has been strong movement for legalization of online gambling on many fronts. Last issue, I discussed the situation in the United States. Since then, much progress has been made in France and Italy.
Emerging markets So lots of things are changing with the major European players. All of the above countries already have well established gaming affiliate communities. But what about other markets, such as Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia And Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Malaysia, Pakistan, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Slovakia, Slovenia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and a myriad of other countries? Many affiliate programs restrict affiliates from the above countries whilst others partner with them. An affiliate from Belarus inquired about this at AGD (www.affiliateguarddog.com), an affiliate organisation that monitors and approves Terms and Conditions of affiliate contracts. He says he keeps running into terms that prohibit affiliates from the above countries. One of the reasons for this is
iGB Affiliate june/july 2010
France Going in a very different direction than Estonia and Belgium, France has drafted a law that intends to legalize online gambling (poker and sports) and would allow local and foreign investors to invest in this activity and partake in the more than 1 billion played by French citizens in the last year.
Italy Italy has agreed to a situation where it will still have authority and supervision over online gambling but now there will be a lot broader choices for the people of Italy to choose from. Other European gambling operators will now have an opportunity to apply for Italian licenses and offer their services throughout Italy. There will still be safeguards in place to protect the players and oversee the legality of the services offered. The course of events in Italy has been watched with interest by the Swiss. It is very likely that Switzerland will soon follow suit.
Belgium Belgium is another story entirely. The House of Representatives passed a frame law that would force each and every company engaging in online gambling to purchase an actual land-based casino license if they wish to attract and register Belgium citizens. The licenses are to be issued by the Belgian Gaming Committee, and companies purchasing the licenses will have to actually build a real land-based casino.
Germany In Germany, the Interstate Treaty on Gambling (ITG), which came into force at the beginning of January 2008, has been the trigger for hundreds if not thousands of court cases resulting in divergent decisions. In a statement issued at the beginning of last September, the parliamentary leaders of the German Liberal Party called for a reform of the ITG, and stressed that experts in the fields of addiction, economics and law were all opposed to a ban on Internet gambling. Less than three months after the FDP statement, the German state of Schleswig Holstein announced the discontinuation of the ITG in 2011. It is unlikely that the federal states will agree to a new ITG for 2012.
Denmark Denmark submitted a draft law in to the European Commission in July 2009 with provisions to end the gambling monopoly and to liberalise the sportsbetting and online casino game market.
that affiliates from these places have a bad reputation because of a few bad eggs committing fraud and generating spam. Lately, however, I have noticed an increasing number of affiliates from these emerging markets at the various affiliate message boards, and they sure look like good quality, serious affiliates to me. By way of investigation, I asked some affiliate managers for their opinions regarding working with the smaller emerging markets.
Lloyd Apter, Affiliate Program Director, http://www. spiralsolutions.com/ “The main issue with emerging markets, like Eastern Europe, is that there isn’t too much money to go around in these markets – neither the local affiliates nor the local players we are encountering seem to have much capital. So, they try to negotiate CPA deals with us, but with very few players coming though the ROI is too poor to sustain it. However, that said, there are some excellent affiliates working out of emerging markets, but then that is something else,
because they aren’t focusing on their markets but rather the main developed markets, where there is enough money to go around.”
Martyn Beacon, Affiliate Program Manager, Club World Casinos “Emerging markets open a new door of opportunity for many businesses, both new and established. They can offer up new avenues to exploit for established businesses and an effective start for new ones. However, they also bring an opportunity for increased fraudulent activity from enterprising ‘rogue affiliates’. Issues arising from these affiliates range from large scale spamming to other less obvious techniques which can remain undetected until it’s too late. Operators and affiliate managers need to look out for various factors that show off these affiliates, such as related new accounts (email, location, IP etc), similar activity on accounts, patterns in earnings and more. This is a rather dim view of what can arise from emerging markets but one that cannot be ignored.”
Renee Mate, Affiliate Program Manager, Rewards Affiliates “You’d be surprised how many fraud rings there are on the affiliate side of the business, and to be honest, most of the countries on that list look like those that had been closed here too. We banned affiliates from the Philippines for a long time because we were getting hit with a lot of fraud coming from Philippine affiliates. The ban has recently been lifted and we don’t ban any countries anymore.”
Jayden Buckle, Operator, DaVincisGold.com “In an industry as dynamic as ours, we are always adapting to cater to new and emerging markets. These markets at present are in their infancy, but we are helping affiliates make the most of these opportunities by providing multi-currency banking solutions and custom creative ads targeted to these niche markets.” Hopefully this will shed some light on the attitudes of some gaming affiliate programs towards affiliates in the emerging markets of Europe and beyond.
iGB Affiliate june/july 2010
iGB Affiliate talks to the founder of MobPartner, Vianney Settini, about an area of affiliate marketing still to achieve widespread adoption. Questions by iGB Affiliate’s international correspondent, Rene Colin Magri.
Let’s start with a little information about you and your background? I am a French entrepreneur and I have created several web and mobile sites, which, in terms of the latter, included the creation of the first mobile off-deck portal in France named ‘iGloo’. Then I met my actual partner Guillaume Alabert and we started to work on our new project ‘MobPartner’. MobPartner claims to be the first mobile affiliate network. How did the idea come about, and what is the need you are trying to serve? MobPartner was born in 2008 and at first was a platform which created mobile white-labelled services such as directories, chat, topsite, etc… These functionalities for WAP-masters were a huge success, as they were able to put ads from other adnetworks on 50 percent of all page views generated on their services. Then they were required to earn money directly through MobPartner, and we decided to start a mobile advertising service, based on a performance model. We wanted to allow advertisers to create marketing campaigns without any risks to their investment. For publishers, our goal was to monetise and fill 100 percent of their ads inventory for all countries. In terms of your services for affiliates, what sort of help is available to make the best use of their traffic?
iGB Affiliate june/july 2010
We have created our own adserver, which allows affiliates to create and manage their pools of campaigns. They can choose which offers to promote for each country, and they can use our API to display banners and text links. Some of our advertisers also provide more promotion tools, like RSS feeds for their top ten games or content. The goal of MobPartner is to provide as many tools as necessary, to help our affiliates to optimise their traffic and revenues. We understand that MobPartner operates in a variety of industries aside from iGaming. You offer campaigns into the wider ‘entertainment categories’ and other smaller, niche markets. From your experience, which of these converts better as a category and why? We accept all kinds of offers, from social networks to content providers, by lead generation to m-commerce. At this time, the best campaigns are content providers in specific countries, like Mexico, Malaysia and the UK. These offers are very simple and very targeted, and their subscription price is not so expensive. Social networks that want to acquire new users have a very good conversion rate too, especially when the registration is free. An example of a particularly successful campaign is Gameloft: they are open worldwide, they have renowned, quality
content, and they are very reactive with affiliates’ needs. You claim to have a global reach in terms of Affiliates. How global is it, and which countries are you planning to expand into to strengthen your efforts? Our 90,000 mobile publishers are located in more than 100 countries. As we have campaigns for all countries, we can monetise all the traffic for all publishers. And as we are on a CPA model, lots of our campaigns have an unlimited budget. In the future, we plan to expand in countries where the traffic is growing fast and where the conversion rate is good, such as USA, Brazil, UK, South Africa and France. MobPartner had a stand at the Mobile World Congress this year. How did you find the experience? Again, this year was a success for us, as we met a lot of future advertisers and several big publishers that are interested in promoting our campaigns. We also took advantage of the gathering of mobile CEOs to finally meet our partners face to face, as they are located in many countries. In addition, we spoke to many mobile agencies about partnerships with MobPartner. As they manage clients directly that may have an interest in creating a CPA campaign, we can see a lot of synergies.
“The affiliate trend will be the big revolution for mobile marketing by the end of 2010. As on the web ten years before, the time of CPM campaigns for advertisers that think only of ‘return on investment’ is finished.” Deals are already in place in USA and South Africa. What trends did you notice that were announced at the Mobile World Congress worth mentioning in the context of iGaming and mobile affiliate marketing in general? There remains little activity on the mobile affiliate marketing front, as the number of mobile affiliate networks is very small. For MobPartner, we’ve announced that we’ve surpassed the 50,000 transactions/leads per month mark. Many analysts and commentators in the iGaming world claim that not every vertical will convert well in the mobile paradigm. Do you agree? If so, in your view, which mobile vertical – from poker, bingo, casino and betting – will convert better? As mobile entertainment is totally different from the web, I agree that some mobile verticals will not perform similar to the web. But mobile gaming is really addictive, and we saw that our first gaming CPA campaigns have huge potential. I think poker will convert better than the others, as there is a real attraction for this game. The operators are still being considered as the ‘super affiliates’ in this space. How
do you think the relationship between the gaming operators and the mobile operators will mature in the next year or so? To be honest, mobile operators will not have the choice – if they want to satisfy their users they will have to deal with gaming operators. For France, the launch of legal gaming this year will be an interesting case study to analyse how operators will deal with and promote gaming. Mobile 2.0 is rapidly becoming mainstream. Facebook on mobile is already accounting for half the traffic to the site. What are your thoughts on social media in the mobile space and how should operators and affiliates use it for their promotions? Does MobPartner have a strategy in this regard? Social networks have found in the mobile space a new channel for their users, and a new way to monetise their traffic. We already have free and paid campaigns in this market, and affiliates like to promote famous brands on their mobile sites. Social media outlets are also publishers on MobPartner. They often have an impressive number of page views, which they can’t fill with ads with classic CPM or CPC adservers. Moreover, their users are, in many cases, people between 15 to 30 years old, who like to buy games or content from our entertainment campaigns.
What trends should operators, publishers and other players in the ecosystem look closely at? Today, the iPhone is the main topic for all mobile players, but Android is becoming more powerful every month. The strategy for Google is different from Apple, but we can see a growing number of Android impressions in our statistics. Obviously, the affiliate trend will become the big revolution for the mobile marketing industry by the end of 2010. As on the web ten years before, the time of CPM campaigns for advertisers that think only of ‘return on investment’ is finished. All they want is to move on a performance basis model... What’s next for MobPartner? We have several new announcements, like the launch of CPA campaigns for iPhone and Android applications. This will allow publishers to monetise their free applications by promoting mobile sites or other applications. Since the Mobile World Congress, we have many new campaigns ready to launch, with renowned brands and high CPAs. Our goal is to get as many performing campaigns as we can for all countries, to optimise the eCPC of our publishers. As all advertisers were waiting for this kind of marketing, we have a very exciting and busy year ahead of us!
iGB Affiliate june/july 2010
Welcome to the MarketPlace listings section in iGB Affiliate Magazine. All Listings below are from our iGB Affiliate Directory 2010 which is a 200 page directory of affiliate programs and services companies specifically for affiliates from translation to SEO services. To request a free copy of this publication or to have your company listed please contact Richard W on Richard@iGamingBusiness.com or +44 (0) 207 954 3437
ADVERTISING AND MARKETING Netgaming Services www.netgameservices.com
www.888.com AffiliateClub www.AffiliateClub.com
BetOnMarkets (Regent mkts)
Affiliates.BetOnMarkets.com Income Access www.incomeaccess.com NEO Games www.neogamespartners.com
BINGO AFFILIATE PROGRAMS
Bet365 www.bet365.com Betfair www.betfair.com ChanceAffiliates www.chanceaffiliates.com
www.partnerlogic.com PartyGaming www.partygaming.com Refer Income www.referincome.com Slots N Games www.slotsngames.co.uk Tipico www.tipico.com Tower Gaming www.towergaming.com
NetGames Services www.netgameservices.com
www.virgingames.com/affiliates Virtue Affiliates www.virtueaffiliates.com
PaddyPower Casino www.paddypowercasino.com PAF
CASINO AFFILIATE PROGRAMS 888.com
iGB Affiliate JUNE/JULY 2010
Virgin Games www.virgingames.com/affiliates Winner Affiliates www.winneraffiliates.com
CONTENT & TRANSLATION SERVICES
All in Translations www.allintranslations.com Burstin Group www.burstingroup.com
EMAIL MARKETING Altex Marketing www.altex.ee Cheeze DMG www.cheezedmg.com
FOREX AFFILIATE PROGRAMS BetOnMarkets www.affiliates.betonmarkets.com Forex Yard www.forexyard.com
EuroPartners www.EuroPartmers.com Gutshot.com www.gutshot.com Intertops www.intertops.com
HOSTING & MANAGED SERVICES CSB www.csbgroup.com Income Access www.incomeaccess.com NetGames Services www.netgameservices.com
Ladbrokes Poker www.ladbrokesaffiliates.com Paddy Power Poker www.paddypowerpoker.com PartnerLogic www.partnerlogic.com PKR.com
PAYMENT SOLUTIONS Counting House www.countinghouseltd.com EntroPay www.entropay.com
www.pkr.com Virgin Games www.virgingames.com/affiliates Winner Affiliates www.winneraffiliates.com
Intercash www.intercash.com MoneyBookers www.moneybookers.com
POKER AFFILIATE PROGRAMS 888.com www.888.com
Affiliates United www.affutd.com Bet365 www.bet365.com Betfair www.betfair.com Cake Poker Affiliates www.cakepokeraffiliates.com CelebPoker www.celebpokeraffiliates.com
888.com www.888.com Affiliates United www.affutd.com Bet365 www.bet365.com Betfair www.betfair.com BetUS www.betUS.com ChanceAffiliates www.chanceaffiliates.com Eurobet www.eurobet.com Expekt www.expekt.com ExtraBet www.extrabet.com Income Access www.incomeaccess.com Intertops www.intertops.com Jetbull www.jetbull.com
Affiliate Club www.AffiliateClub.com
SKILL GAMING 888.com www.888.com Affiliates United www.affutd.com EGO www.EGamingOnline.com Euro Partners www.EuroPartmers.com
RedBet www.redbet.com Sportingbet www.sportingbet.com Tipico www.tipico.com Victor Chandler www.victorchandler.com
iGB Affiliate JUNE/JULY 2010
the facebook dilemma Just what is it that attracts so many people to Facebook? Additionally and even more important, what is it that keeps them coming back and spending so much of their valuable time in one place? There exist legions of social pulls convincing people to keep returning to Facebook; perhaps to keep an eye on what their friends are up to, to post photos to share with their family or to keep their farms in ‘business’ in one of the many applications now available on the site. But whatever it is, can upwards of 400 million people from around the world be wrong?
Let’s look at the stats According to Internet usage statistics released in September, 2009, there were 1.7 billion people surfing the Internet across the world. This means that Facebook has managed to penetrate 23 percent of the world’s Internet users. Also, according to official Facebook figures, at least 50 percent of Facebook’s active users login every day with the average user having 130 friends.
Cost per click (CPC) and cost per thousand impressions (CPM). These are the conventional advertising methods that Facebook currently offers. These ads appear all over the site (except the user’s homepage – unless the advertising package includes the homepage premium). Advertising is targeted to users based on all the information stored in their profile. Facebook users enter more factually correct information about themselves than any other social media network. Profile information includes geographic location, date of birth, sex, religion and relationship status. Then, as the user joins various groups and fan pages, the profile information is updated accordingly and the user can be targeted based on association to groups, fan pages, events and applications. But what happens when a user clicks on an ad?
Comfort zone The majority of advertising, following conventional advertising methods, takes users out of Facebook and places them on either the home page or a landing page of the product that they are trying to sell. This can be compared to children who are
iGB Affiliate june/july 2010
playing in a closed-in area with their favourite toys. A parent buys a new, shiny toy for one of the children and wants the child to focus and appreciate the new toy. The child however, currently has all the toys they need and desire and is surrounded by all of their friends. Therefore, when the child is plucked from the playgroup and given the new toy, they may show some interest in the new toy, but the chances are high that ultimately, the child will want to be returned to their friends and the toys that they are already familiar with. However, if the parent were to place the new toy inside the play area, the result would be totally different. The new toy would become an additional offering to all of the children and at least one of the children will want to play with it. Then, once the other children see this new phenomenon they too will want to play with the new toy inside the playroom environment. This is the social equivalent of ‘share with a friend’.
Fan page If you’re still wondering where the heck this analogy is leading, it’s very simple. Instead of directing ads outside of the Facebook environment and potentially losing the interest of the user who wanted nothing more than to be on Facebook with their friends, direct the ad to a Fan page. But what can a user do on a Fan page and how does that get the ultimate result for your brand? Think of a Fan page as a blank website with the ability to not only replicate everything that is held within a brand’s own website, but the potential to go way beyond. For retail outlets such as book shops
or clothing stores, a complete in-store catalogue could be created within an application that shows a Facebook user the complete store inventory through the brand’s Fan page. All of this is achievable without the need to take the user outside of the Facebook environment. Add in a cashier interface and users can order from within Facebook. Then, when a user makes an action, all of the user’s friends are notified by the Facebook news feed, thus, additionally promoting the brand. Alternatively, take conventional lead capture. If a lead capture component was held within Facebook and not on an external landing page, think of the difference that this would make to the clickto-lead ratio from conventional campaigns. This same technology can be applied to every online industry. There are currently 49 preferred Facebook development companies working with clients to achieve imaginative and effective applications and pages that are self contained within Facebook. Michael Katz entered the world of iGaming as a Brand Manager focusing on retention activities for a number of Microgaming online casinos back in 2001, while working at Spiral Solutions. After seven years of working in the online casino and poker industry and two years in the online Forex industry, Michael saw a need for a specialised recruitment agency based in Israel, to handle these specific niche markets and opened Netwise Personnel, to specialise in recruitment and placement in the Israeli job market. Additionally, Michael acts as a consultant for companies looking to increase brand exposure using online social media.
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