Here Be Dragons… Online Gaming, Affiliates and the US Market Revival
OnlinE GAminG in HUnGAry inTErviEw – CAlvin AyrE DATA PrOTECTiOn – A lEGAl inSiGHT inClUDES FOrEx SUPPlEmEnT INFORMATION, INSIGHT AND ANALYSIS FOR THE BUSINESS OF INTERACTIVE GAMING
It’s what’s inside that counts. Come and visit us at EiG – Stand 252 15th-17th September 2009 CASINO | POKER | BINGO | NETWORK GAMING | MOBILE
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CONTENTS 04 Events Calendar 06 Webmaster News 10 Targeting Keywords 12 Ranking Secrets 14 SEO – Past, Present and Future 17 Why your Online Marketing Methods are Flawed 21 Relationship Marketing with Twitter 25 Affiliate Interview – Lori (Daera) 26 Affiliate Program Interview – GameOn Affiliates 28 Google AdWords and the Gaming Industry 29 Forex Supplement 36 Interview – Marc Kenigsberg, Marketing VP at Euro Partners As summer gives way to autumn, it’s time for you to get back to work and to get serious again about driving trafﬁc. To help you get back in the swing of things we have provided you with some new SEO tricks to slip up your sleeve, dissected Asia in a concise yet comprehensive article, heralded the ancient explorer’s cry “Here be Dragons” in relation to the US attitude toward online gaming and gotten the scoop on Google AdWords right from the horse’s mouth. But besides getting you ready for the rush of autumn’s business, we have tried to get you ready for the Budapest Afﬁliate Conference. As a primer to your trip, we have taken a close look at the Hungarian iGaming market both from a legal and a practical point of view. Of course, we can’t bring you the parties, networking opportunities or the atmosphere of such a massive event in a magazine, so you’ll just need to wait until you land in Budapest this September for that. In the meantime, enjoy this issue of iGB Afﬁliate Magazine, and start packing for one of the biggest iGaming afﬁliate events in the world!
38 Masters of the Internet – Calvin Ayre 43 Here be Dragons – Affiliates and the US Market Revival 46 The Hungarian Affiliate Market 49 Focus on Hungary – Legal overview 52 A New Marketing Frontier 54 SEO Tips for 2009 – Final Instalment 56 Boxing Clever – Poker Affiliates and the Economy 58 Online Gaming – A British Institution? 60 Affiliation in a Multi-Media Market 62 Local Intelligence for the Asian Market 64 Is the Grass Greener? The Journey from AM to Affiliate 67 Playing your Cards Right – Data Protection 70 Webmaster Woes 73 Rakeback White Labels 74 Google Mobile AdSense 76 Alternative Gaming Verticals – Online Scratch Cards 78 Choosing the Right Affiliate Program 80 Casino Start-up? Don’t Waste your Time… 82 Interview – Fabrice Drouin Ristori, Gambling-affiliation.com
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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.
Budapest Affiliate Conference, Budapest, Hungary 10-13 September, 2009 Summary: The next leg of the Affiliate conference circuit takes place in one of Europe’s oldest and most picturesque cities. Budapest welcomes visitors to a ceaseless parade of historical and cultural magnificence, most notably with its neoGothic Hungarian Parliament Building on the banks of the Danube and the equally splendid Castle Hill Funicular. Expect the usual feast of insight and discussion in the confines of the most decadent stop on the affiliate calendar.
a4uexpo London 2009 ExCeL, London 13-14 October, 2009 Summary: a4uexpo London is Europe’s Largest Affiliate Marketing Conference and Exhibition and will be returning to ExCeL London for the third year in October 2009. The two-day conference will boast over thirty sessions including strategies on SEO, Paid Search, Social Media, Affiliate Management, Start-up Strategy and Conversion Optimisation. There will also be three parties to give affiliates an opportunity to fine tune their networking skills with some of the best in the business. This year’s event is expected to sell out, so advanced booking is suggested. www.a4uexpo.com/london
iGB Espana Madrid, Spain October 29-31, 2009 Summary: iGB Espana debuts in Madrid this October as the first Spanish-specific event. Although the event will showcase a compact exhibition, it will concentrate on content and networking, offering a diverse mix of presentations and lively panel discussions all of which will be aimed towards the Spanish markets. In addition, the majority of these sessions will be in Spanish, with live English translation. www.iGBespana.com
EiG 2009 Copenhagen, Denmark 15-17 September, 2009 Summary: The European iGaming Congress & Expo 2009 is now in its 8th year, and is the annual marketplace for the gambling sector. Over 1,500 attendees are expected in the Danish capital this autumn, at a conference which traditionally brings together the biggest and the best minds and commentators in the industry. Copenhagen is set to represent the biggest EiG event to date. www.eigexpo.com/2009/index.cfm
iGB Affiliate AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2009
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googLe Locks horns with Microsoft JUly SAW gOOgle all but wage war on Microsoft by announcing plans to launch its own PC operating system by the close of 2010. The Google Chrome Operating System, initially targeted at netbooks, will be seen as a move to upset the apple cart currently dominated by Microsoft and Apple. Google said in its official blog post that the OS is designed to “start-up and get you on the web in a few seconds” and also to be a welcome change from the market dominating Windows, which according to USA Today, has a reputation as “virus prone and complicated”. By way of riposte, Microsoft announced a free web-based version of its Office software, Office 2010, which will include Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote when it hits the virtual shelves next year. Office 2010 will compete with Google’s free online Docs suite, which launched three years ago. Speaking to the BBC, Microsoft’s Group Product Manager said, “We believe the web has a lot to offer in terms of connectivity. We have over a half a billion customers worldwide and what we hear from them is that they really want the power of the web without compromise. And what they tell us today is that going to the web often means they sacrifice fidelity, functionality and the quality of the content they care about. We knew that if and when we were ever going to bring
applications into a web environment, we needed to do the hard work first because we hold such a high bar.” Microsoft said that the 400 million customers who were Windows Live consumers would have access to the Office web applications at no cost. The flurry of announcements adds fuel the increasingly competitive tete a tete
between the two companies, and follows hot on the heels of Microsoft’s release of Bing, a new search engine, back in June. Google also looks on course to upset Apple’s cart as its much cheaper netbook challenges MacBook sales. Analysts point to the fact that netbooks are driving the growth in the market and that Apple will have to respond.
totesPort.coM deaLs into PreMier LeagUe Premier League football team, Hull City, have become the latest club from England’s top flight league to sign a shirt sponsorship deal with an online gambling firm after agreeing a two-year contract with ToteSport.com. The UK-based company is teaming up with the Premier League outfit in an attempt to raise its brand exposure around the world. Its logo will appear on the club’s home and away tops from August 15, when Hull travel to face Chelsea. “These are exciting times at Hull City as we look to build on our recent success both on and off the field and we are delighted to showcase the ToteSport. com brand to the countless millions of
iGB Affiliate AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2009
fans and followers of football worldwide who will see us play in the Barclays Premier League, FA Cup and Carling Cup competitions this season,” said Paul Duffen, Chairman for Hull City. “This is one of the most important commercial partnerships in the history of the club and we are looking forward to working closely with the ToteSport. com team in delivering this fantastic partnership opportunity.” Hull have joined fellow Premier League clubs Wolverhampton Wanderers, West Ham United, Sunderland, Bolton Wanderers and Wigan Athletic in signing a sponsorship deal with an online gambling firm
although this is the first agreement established with a British company. “We’re delighted to announce our sponsorship with Hull City and the fact that we’re breaking new ground in becoming the first UK bookmaker with a major high street presence to have our name on the front of a Premier League shirt,” said Trevor Beaumont, Chief Executive Officer for ToteSport.com. “With many shops located in and around Hull, we have the opportunity to develop our relationship within the community as well as providing a service in the stadium and further through our telephone and Internet betting channels for Tigers and football fans all over the world.”
gaMivng vc enters Latin aMerican Market ONliNe CASiNO and sportsbook operator Gaming VC Holdings SA, has acquired the business and assets of Latin American site BetBoo.com for an initial consideration of four million dollars in cash plus a three-year earn out. BetBoo.com was established in 2005 to provide bingo, sportsbetting, poker and casino games to South American customers and was owned by Intera NV, which was based in Netherlands Antilles. Gaming VC is the firm behind CasinoClub.com and was awarded a Maltese gaming license in August of 2007, which meant that it could diversify away from its traditional German market. It revealed that BetBoo. com’s senior management team, which is comprised of the site’s three majority owners, would remain after the acquisition. “This acquisition complements our strategy of continuing to diversify outside of Germany,” said Kenny
Brand recognition Boost for Microsoft It isn’t all bad news for tech giant Microsoft, as a survey of UK brands revealed that it had reclaimed its crown as the UK’s number one consumer brand. Now in its twelfth year, the annual top 500 Superbrands survey quizzed more than 2,000 UK consumers on a list of 1,400 brands, compiled by a panel of experts. Most pleasing to Microsoft will be that it has replaced arch nemesis Google at the number one spot, the search engine behemoth falling to third place behind Rolex.
Alexander, Chief Executive Officer for Gaming VC. “The board believes that South America represents an exciting market opportunity. With a population of approximately 285 million, many of which are passionate about sports, and increasing broadband penetration, we are confident of significantly increasing BetBoo.com’s presence in this new territory for Gaming VC.”
toP 10 sUPerBrands 2009/10 1.
netPLay tv PLaces new shares
BriTiSh iNTerACTive gaming firm NetPlay TV has announced that it has conditionally placed over 58 million new ordinary shares with the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) of the London Stock Exchange. The shares are due to be priced at 22 pence each in the hope of raising gross earnings of £12,837,545 to strengthen the company’s balance sheet and provide capital for future growth. The new shares, which will be placed with investment company Directforce Trading Limited, will represent approximately 29.9 percent of NetPlay TV’s enlarged share capital while the move is subject to approval from the firm’s shareholders at a general meeting due to be held in the near future. NetPlay TV revealed that it has already received ‘irrevocable commitments’ in favour of the move from shareholders representing 43.4 percent of its current issued share capital. In addition, NetPlay TV has entered into a memorandum of understanding with Playtech Limited, a leading global designer, developer
and licensor of software for the online and mobile gaming industries. The agreement will see NetPlay TV supply Playtech’s network with a number of live interactive games for the next five years. Distribution is set to be through Playtech’s online customers in addition to retail clients with games including live roulette, blackjack, bingo and a fixed-odds draw. In addition, the agreement will see NetPlay TV migrate all of its services onto the Playtech technology platform for five years. “This agreement will take NetPlay TV to new heights,” said Martin Higginson, Chief Executive Officer for NetPlay TV. “The investment of £12.8 million into our business along with the strategic relationship, both in terms of distribution and technology with Playtech, will enable us to drive the development of our converged gaming solutions. “Live gaming is being demanded by more and more customers and this agreement will allow us to deliver our products to a much wider audience.”
Source: Superbrands UK/The Centre for Brand Analysis and BBC News
toP 10 sUPerBrands 2008/09 1.
Source: Superbrands UK/The Centre for Brand Analysis and BBC News
iGB Affiliate AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2009
virtUe fUsion UnveiLs £1.2M JackPot winner Bingo software supplier, Virtue Fusion, has announced that one lucky young couple from Cumbria are £1.2 million richer after winning its progressive slot game ‘Clover Rollover’ on the Meccabingo.com website. Bob McCulloch, CEO of Virtue Fusion Alderney said, “The Clover Rollover online progressive jackpot slot can be found on all the sites that make up the Virtue Fusion network, which is why the progressive jackpot grew to such a life changing amount in such a short space of time. The Jackpot has now been reset at £250,000 and we look forward to paying out equally huge sums in the future.”
caMeLot sPearheads Lottery standards UK National Lottery operator Camelot has enhanced its position as one of the leading protagonists in the field of responsible play by receiving the certification of alignment with international requirements on responsible gaming standards. Alignment with the European Responsible Gaming Standards forms part of a Responsible Gaming Certification Framework established by the European Lotteries Association. The framework was recently ratified by 60 out of 62 lottery operators – including Camelot – at the European Lotteries Congress in Istanbul. Camelot’s certification was carried out by an independent assessor, Deloitte LLP. Camelot is one of only ten lottery operators to have been certified as meeting the standards.
africa gets Lottery BR Gaming, a leading French online and land-based gaming firm, has signed a deal with the African Association of State Lotteries (AALE) to launch a six-nation lottery called AfricaMillions. Hoping to replicate the success of the EuroMillions lottery, BR Gaming recently received a cash injection of €15 million from the Alpha Private Equity Fund Five and will launch the first pan-African game in November.
iGB Affiliate AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2009
asoP winners LaUded AS yOU mAy have seen in cyber space recently, iGaming Business has officially extended its congratulations to the winners of the most recent Affiliate Series of Poker (ASOP), held at the hugely successful Amsterdam Affiliate Conference. Amsterdam’s triumphant poker star and recipient of the treasured ASOP bracelet was “Chipeez”, a member at CAP. The winner of the Affiliate Manager portion of the ASOP was Ondrej Tuma, affiliate manager for Slotland Affiliates. “Winning an ASOP tournament is all about the honours and bragging rights,” stated the victor. “I’m really happy to be the first Dutch ASOP
winner and the first winner at the AAC event. Even though it was an online tournament, there was enough competition to make it a great game! I’ll definitely be back to defend the title, online or offline.” “When I talked to the last ASOP winner I told him we will meet at the next finals table and I will win,” commented Mr. Tuma, the winner of the affiliate manager series. “This happened only partly because the ASOP was divided into two separate actions, for affiliates and for affiliate managers. The coveted ASOP bracelet is up for grabs once again at iGaming Business’ Budapest Affiliate Conference, September 10-13.
World Poker Tour enTerPrises regains lisTing AmeriCA’S WOrld Poker Tour Enterprises (WPTE) Incorporated has received notification from New York’s NASDAQ stock exchange that it has regained compliance with the body’s minimum listing price requirements. In order to be listed on the bourse, companies’ shares must trade for at least one dollar each and any firm that does not meet this requirement for thirty consecutive business days faces having its stock de-listed.
Once a firm is warned, it has 180 calendar days to become compliant, which requires that the bid price of its stock must remain above one dollar for a minimum of ten consecutive business days, something that WPTE accomplished on June 30. As a result, NASDAQ revealed that previously disclosed de-listing proceedings relating to WPTE’s closing bid price compliance were now at an end.
econoMy deLays frank LegisLation The prOpOSed legiSlATiON introduced by Congressman Barney Frank aimed at repealing the unpopular Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) has had its initial hearings delayed until September at the earliest. The Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection and Enforcement Act was introduced by Frank in May of this year, and would establish a Federal regulatory and enforcement framework to license online operators. However, according to numerous reports, Congress will now concentrate on legislation to help improve the American economy instead of Frank’s bill. As a consequence, Frank’s most recent attempt to repeal online gaming prohibition won’t now be heard until
Congressman Barney Frank
after the summer recess. The Committee must pass any legislation before it can be voted on by the full House of Representatives but it now looks like 2010 may be a more reasonable target for Frank’s legislation.
“IT MAKES MORE SENSE TO BUILD UP YOUR SITE FOR EASIER-TO-RANK-FOR LONG TAIL TERMS THAT GENERATE MORE TARGETED TRAFFIC AND BRING YOU MORE CONVERSIONS.”
Target conversions, not rankings if you want to make it online.
TRAFFIC IS GREAT. All online marketers and affiliates, SEOs and SEMs all talk about traffic. “Traffic to your site is the key to getting business”, I hear a lot of online gurus saying, and I partly agree with them. However, I think a lot of online marketers and web companies fall short of seeing the bigger picture when it comes to getting the right type of traffic to their own or to their client’s websites. Many online marketers take a shotgun approach to their keyword selections. Grabbing a handful of keywords that come up in their keyword tool of choice and then using these on their site. With a little more effort and care in keyword selection, anyone trying to generate more traffic and, therefore, more sales to their site can see a dramatic increase in their conversions by attracting the right type of traffic.
Figuring out what people want when they search is easy – intent Deciphering the intent behind a keyword term is the key to finding targeted traffic. Many people fall into the trap of thinking they need to rank for high level terms depending on the type of site they have. “I have a site about a particular brand of television so I need to rank number one for the term TV” or “if I have an online poker site then that’s the term I need to be number one for”. This doesn’t allow you to delve into the intent behind these types of keyword terms or phrases and will generate un-targeted traffic to your website. Many people overlook long-tail keyword terms and their value in driving targeted users
iGB Affiliate AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2009
who are ready to purchase, sign up, try, buy or put their name in the hat for your products or services (or the products or services you are on-selling).
what are long-tail keyword terms?
it would bring you untargeted traffic. Let’s look at the term TV for a moment. If someone is typing the term TV into a search engine what do they really want to find out? ● What’s on TV tonight? ● How does TV work? ● Digital TV? ● Analog TV? ● The best TV to purchase? ● LCD, plasma, rear projection?
Before we delve deeper into user intent, let’s just look at what long-tail keywords are and how they relate to deciphering user intent. Imagine a comet. A busy furious head at the front raging with action and excitement and a tail that slowly tapers off. At the head of the comet there is a lot of stuff going on. These are your high level keyword terms like TV, casinos, porn, cars and real estate. There’s a lot of traffic for these terms, in fact millions and millions of clicks per month, however, there are also many websites all fighting tooth and nail to keep these so called ‘top spots’. As the tail of the comet gets longer so do the keyword terms. Let’s look at TV as an example. According to the UK Google Keyword Tool records, the global monthly search volume for the term TV was 277,000,000 and there are 2,050,000,000 websites in the Google index (.com) that contain that keyword term. These types of heady figures get online marketers and marketing managers of corporate TV producers salivating, however, the cost and time involved in ranking for this type of term would be considerable. Not only that but
The intent behind this keyword term is very broad. You can’t really tell what someone wants when they type in the term TV. So, with this in mind, if the keyword term is broad there’s a pretty good chance the traffic will be as well. If you ranked well for this term you’ll get loads of traffic but not many conversions. Looks great on a statistical report but not so good on the bottom line (particularly given the time and cost taken to rank for a term like this). This being the case, the longer a keyword phrase is the more you can start to unravel the intent behind the keyword query. Let’s say someone was looking for the term ‘TV repairs Liverpool’. Whilst there is substantially less traffic for this term (320 global monthly searches) it’s a much more targeted term as you know that this person is looking for a TV repair place in or around the Liverpool area. If your business or site is about TV repairs in Liverpool you will get many more conversions from a term like this than from the term TV, as it will bring you targeted traffic. So instead of targeting one high level keyword term that will bring you loads of
traffic (but untargeted traffic), it makes more sense to build up your site for easierto-rank-for long tail terms that generate more targeted traffic and, therefore, bring you more conversions.
Find out where customers are in their buying cycle by the keyword terms they use Another simple yet effective idea for targeting converting traffic is to understand where a customer is in their purchase cycle by the types of keywords they use. Typically, high level keyword terms like TV, cars or real estate indicates that a customer is in an ‘information gathering’ stage. They’re looking at options and gathering enough information to make an informed decision about their purchase. If, however, that person looks for terms such as ‘TV repairs Liverpool’ or ‘BMW car sales Sussex’ then this indicates that this person is in a buying stage. As you can see, the longer a search query is, the more targeted is the intent behind that search and, therefore, the
more chance you have of converting if your website matches these long tail terms.
These types of add-ons to a search query typically indicate that someone is in the mindset of a buyer, not a looker.
what are some oF the indicators oF someone’s inclination to purchase?
Typically, people will combine a high level search with keyword modifiers. These modifiers change a user from a ‘looker’ into a buyer so it’s important to take notice of how people look to purchase things on the Internet. Some modifiers include: geographic indicators These work particularly well for servicebased businesses such as ‘car repairs Sussex’. These geographic indicators tells marketers that a user is looking for a service in a particular area, therefore, they’re more likely to make a purchase rather than looking for a term like ‘car repairs’, which could mean a number of things (for instance, someone wanting to learn about car repairs). sales words Examples of sales words are ‘buy’, ‘delivered’, ‘model number 123’ etc.
As you can see, targeting longer tail keyword terms gives you the opportunity to spend less on your online marketing and SEO efforts whilst converting more customers with less traffic. By thinking about the keywords you decide to target and being aware of your customer’s purchasing cycle, you will be able to rank for more terms and get more conversions. Remember, rankings and traffic are nice but conversions are better.
Peter Dowse is an online marketing consultant who has been specialising in SEO for the last 10 years. He frequently presents seminars and workshops for both government and private enterprise on the subject of search engine optimisation. firstname.lastname@example.org.
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I’m a Secret Ranker! There is no feeling like being a world class ranker. Searching for your chosen key phrases on all the major search engines and seeing your site on top makes you a world class ranker. I’ll aim to show you the secrets to help yourself and your business on the way to being a dominant ranker.
Secret Number 1 – There are no Secrets in SEO! Despite what you may have heard, there are no secrets in SEO. The web is a very open place and if a site is riding high in the search engine listings then you can, with enough persistence, get to see why it ranks so well. Replicate it and you can join them.
Secret Number 2 – Ranking Costs you Money Being number one on the search engines won’t make you rich without either spending money or investment via “sweat equity”. A ranking without an effective business model will just deliver targeted traffic and traffic without monetisation is a drain on your wallet. Bandwidth costs, you know.
Secret Number 3 – Google isn’t the only Search Engine Yahoo!, MSN/Bing and even little ol’ Ask are great sources of targeted traffic and that is the key thing when it comes to SEO. You want targeted traffic, people pre qualified by their conscious decision
iGB Affiliate AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2009
to search for a phrase in their preferred search engine. Do you really care which engine they come from? So let’s begin the task of taking your site from where it is now, to climbing up the listings. I am going to presume that you already have a site and are happy with its design and layout. I also hope that it isn’t too heavy on any flash, graphics or non textual based content as:
Secret Number 4 – Content is Queen Search engines look for words to incorporate in their index. Words are important, VERY important, and if you don’t have them in a format that is visible to the search engine you are reducing your chances of success. You may have noticed that I said ‘Content is Queen’, rather than the often touted phrase that ‘Content is King’. The reason is simple. In SEO…
Secret Number 5 – Links Are King Links, links, links and more links. Links are what makes a search engine find your page and then they combine to rank it higher in the search engine results page (SERP) than any other single criteria. The little blue text that you click on a page taking you to a new destination is the single most important aspect in helping your page rise above the competition.
Secret Number 6 – Rank a Page Not Your Site The search engines will be looking to show the most relevant page to a searcher’s query. You can utilise this to your benefit by making sure that each page within your site has a clear and concise topic within your niche area of work. Simply take your time and write more content (refer back to secret number 4) that adds value on your topic of business. Every page that you write gives you the chance to rank for more and more search phrases, because…
Secret Number 7 – The Tail is Extremely Long The long tail is a phenomenon that is spoken about in search to explain how people search. Statistics vary from study to study, but most (over 80%) searches that are undertaken on search engines are specific, targeted phrases of three or more words. Approximately 20% of all searches undertaken are one or two words long. The so called short head. A short head phrase may be: “red shoes”, whereas a long tail phrase may be “buy red shoes size 7”. I am sure you can see the buy signals in the example long tail phrase compared to the short head phrase. The short head phrases are the most competitive and have the largest individual volumes of search queries undertaken for them, but the 80% of
all searches that are left, are the route that many businesses do not attempt to drive targeted traffic for, meaning that they are much less competitive yet convert to sales extremely well. This is important because…
Secret Number 8 – Keywords are your Site’s Foundations When I build a site for a client, the very first thing I do is lay some keyword foundations. The keywords are the phrases that our potential visitors will search for and that we hope to rank high for on the search results page. There are many online resources that assist in helping find what people actually search for starting from a seed word or idea. I have detailed many of them in the research section but the single most important technique I use is to gather all of our team into a room with a large pack of blank postcards. We all start from a word and keep extrapolating words and phrases, writing each new phrase on a card, until the floor is full with topics and titles. These words and phrases become the structure for your site, with a page for every topic. Laying these foundations and allowing them to grow according to what you, your team and your visitors think is the key to successful opportunities to rank. Use the automated tools I have mentioned below to assist but please remember that although automated tools are brilliant, nothing is better in understanding the minds of people, than people.
Secret Number 9 – Mine your existing data Make sure that you have stats available to analyse the traffic to your website. Most hosting packages offer software that allows you to see where your visitors come from, and sort those that don’t, you can easily use third party packages that will record the information. Knowing what real people actually searched for to come to your site can be an eye opener, and using these to expand upon your keyword pool will open up areas for future visitors to find you. Knowing that you are getting referrals from the search engines gives a nice warm feeling in your belly and confirms that your previous SEO tactics are providing real and tangible visitors.
Secret Number 10 – <title>TITLE</title> ? Because you have followed the advice above and found the keywords, extrapolated upon them to build a list as long as your arm, make sure that you get the keyword in the title tag and you name that page with the keyword in the filename. Don’t worry about any other “on page” SEO, such as keyword density, meta tags, this trick or that trick as it is ALL so 1999, and we are in 2009. Just make sure that your chosen keyword or phrase is contained within the title and URL and then simply make sure your content is on topic. The search engines are now more than intelligent enough to understand the semantic relationships between words and phrases so trying to assist them with certain keyword densities is a fruitless effort. Leave them to their algorithms and simply enjoy the rewards their efforts can deliver to you.
Bonus Secret 11 – Special Offers Work! Special offers help give you a reason for building content and give people a reason to link to you. It may be 15% day on Thursday but even better would be the route of Link Bait, the technique of getting others to link to you due to controversial or other means. Remember, links are king! Why not offer 75% off to everyone who is over 75 and can bring proof of 4 living grandparents, with 10% off to everyone else? My personal favourite and best functioning tip is to think old school. Get on the phone and ask for a link from sites that link to your competitors. If they link to your competitors why wouldn’t they also link to you? And my special offer is that I promise that you can and will have a site with increased traffic by following the 10 (+1 bonus) secrets above, but this offer lasts for today only and no guarantees can be made for tomorrow. To give yourself the best chance of knowing what is required tomorrow, you need to undertake research in the industry of search. Time spent researching what is happening in the Search Optimisation area, along with the important details of what works and what doesn’t is essential to ensure that your energies are best placed.
Online Resources Threadwatch – http://www.seroundtable.com Cuts through the chatter and shows the important stories in search and search optimisation Web Master World – http://www.webmasterworld.com The world’s largest general topic search and Webmaster related forum SEO Book – http://www.seobook.com The definitive constantly updated book on SEO there is. It’s available as a PDF rather than hard copy but there is no better product out ther and make sure you spend time in the forum!
Keyword Research Google Keyword Research http://www.google.com/sktool The daddy of keyword research tools. Like Yahoo!, offered for the paid advertising, but essential for the planning stages of your SEO campaign. The most important thing to remember is that simply reading and not implementing means there will be no more growth of traffic, simply growth of intellect. I suggest a balance to ensure your greatest chance of success.
Jason duke, Director, Strange Logic, is a leader obsessed with search engines and the algorithms that power them. His enquiring and exploring mind linked with a drive to see things down creates a culture that constantly asks, “What if?”, “Where to next?” and “I know how!” He is focused at managing a business, with an emphasis on marketing in a holistic manner to deliver the pinnacle of rewards on and offline. He is very well known and respected within the blogosphere and the search communities as a worldwide search leader regularly quoted and spoen in public, private, print, radio, TV and the web regarding search matters. Organisations including The BBC, Forbes, News International, multiple gaming & gambling businesses as well as the British Government have all been advised by him.
iGB Affiliate AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2009
SEO: PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE SEO, OR SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMISATION, is similar to other Internet-related businesses in that it must present an ever-changing face in order to keep up with the rate at which the Internet itself alters its appearance. The main cause of SEO “paradigm shifts”, as it were, can be seen as stemming directly from changes in the Google algorithm and how Google itself allows for the promotion of certain websites over others.
BACK IN THE DAY… SEO has always maintained a colourful past, having come far from its humble beginnings back in the day. Certain techniques and methods of website promotion are no longer as effective – or even viable options – today as they once were. For example, HTML meta tags and meta keywords in general used to be a popular method of promoting certain sitespeciﬁc keywords in order to have said site rank well in the Google search results for those particular keywords. This practice came to an abrupt halt when Google decided to stop taking these HTML tags into account, thereby rendering the use of meta tags as ineffective and obsolete. Another popular SEO pastime involved making extensive use of Yahoo!’s directory system, in that any website that intended to have some visibility in the search engine results pages would need to be listed in a Yahoo! directory. Without this directory listing, you would have no chance of ranking well. However, this again has changed and the Yahoo! directory listing is no longer such a crucial element of modern-day SEO.
Even in the present time – and maybe even more so, these days – SEO is not immune to sudden changes in how Google chooses to perceive its own rankings and the convoluted system that decides what ranks where. Up until recently, high value was placed in creating website content that contained the keywords you wished to rank well for and then subsequently generating a whole bunch of links to your website, using those keywords as the anchor text. This would in turn boost those keywords up the search rankings and provide that highly sought-after search engine visibility. Links and content, for so long the mainstay of SEO techniques, have now had a proverbial shadow cast over them with the most recent Google algorithm shift. In what’s being described as the “brand update” (or maybe that should be “big bad brand update”), the ﬁrst page of Google results for a majority of previously commonly-used keywords now returns a wide variety of established brand names. This is believed to be because a brand name that is well-established is a brand name that can be trusted, therefore, Google wishes to capitalise on this trust by pushing them to the front page, displacing the majority of websites that had utilised SEO power in order to overtake brand names for certain keywords and phrases. In other words, if you were to search for “car insurance” you are now more likely to come across companies like Direct Line and other established brand names, rather than lesser-known websites purely because Google trusts these big brand names more.
We’ll no doubt see the emergence of new shifts in the way that search engines handle things, as we’ve seen happen in the past and just recently with the brand update. There’s no doubt that SEO itself will have to adapt and undergo many changes, after all, that’s what it has always done in order to remain one step ahead. The future of SEO is looking promising, with the popularity of the Internet and Internet-related business becoming more and more apparent, with the number of Internet users growing exponentially as the years go by. Ecommerce is rapidly expanding; with spend increasing from £30.3 billion to £46.6 billion from 2006 to 2007 alone, which is a 54% increase on the previous year. In 2008, 17p from every £1 was being spent online, so that’s a lot of money ﬂowing into Internet business, and those businesses will always need SEO to keep them ahead of the competition. The SEO business on the whole is in a stage of relative infancy, with the potential to grow and to keep on growing, becoming an increasingly formidable force in the realm of Internet marketing. The same can be said for the online gaming and gambling sectors; with more and more people seeking out the online gaming market, either as part of a business proposition or as a customer, this industry is set to balloon to gigantic proportions and it’s truly an exciting time to be a part of this community. The future for SEO is bright indeed.
QUARTERLY $ REVENUE GROWTH COMPARISON — 2000 - 2008 $8,087
$6,000 $5,000 $4,000 $3,000 $2,000 $1,000 2000
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CHRISTOPHER ANGUS is a respected and renowned Internet marketer and SEO, having worked for and with some of the biggest names in gambling and ﬁnance. He can be reached either via his company’s website at www. seocompanyuk. com or his personal email: chris@ seocompanyuk.com.
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TOP 5 REASONS WHY YOU SUCK AT ONLINE MARKETING Online marketing expert Bob Rains tells iGB Afﬁliate why he is fed up with the industry’s misguided approach to online marketing
“ANTIQUATED MEASURING UNITS SUCH AS PAGE VIEWS AND UNIQUE VISITORS HAVE GONE THE WAY OF THE ABACUS.”
THE FACE OF ONLINE gaming is changing, and from what I hear from leaders in the industry it has almost everything to do with the recession, changing budgets or the legal landscape. I for one am sick of hearing the same old excuse; to quote Lisa Barone from Outspoken Media, “It’s not the recession, you just suck.” So much of the discussion currently in our industry is framed more around bashing, BS and complaint, and not about business. It is this distraction which is causing failure for brands great and small, as we focus on the drama and fear, rather than perfecting our craft. This has caused many of our brightest and most thought provoking leaders to fail to notice that as always, the shape of the online world is continually changing. So much of what you hear at conferences and what you are told to do by these folks is ﬂawed, and outdated. Here are some of the bigger misconceptions and missteps to avoid and help you succeed in the new online landscape.
1) YOUR CONVERSION FUNNEL IS STUPID It’s not a funnel anymore; consumer behavior is no longer linear. The web has changed our lives signiﬁcantly, yet we are all still too narrow in our analysis of consumer behavior using a linear model. As long as customers are human, consumer behavior will be dynamic as well as irrational, random and inexplicable. Why are you trying to ﬁt the dynamic nature of online customer behavior into a linear model? I’ve heard it called ‘hub and spoke’, I’ve heard it called a ‘ﬁsh’, I like to say it’s like an hourglass, but whatever it is, it’s not a funnel, at least not anymore. The
prevalence and impact of consumerdriven activities, particularly online, change the shape of the journey. The new consumer journey is one of countless consumer journeys that are increasingly non-linear, multichannel and dependant upon the creating, sharing and inﬂuencing behaviors of online users. The role of your brand is to support and facilitate the consumer’s multifaceted, circuitous journey.
2) YOU ARE STILL CLUELESS ABOUT SEO It is shocking to me that in this day and age, you still see pathetic attempts at SEO in an industry as competitive, and diverse as ours. With the growing scope of not only the poker and casino audience, but also new markets still opening daily, it is shocking to see very localized, very weak tactics performed poorly by big brands on a consistent basis. It’s no longer acceptable for marketers in our space to act detached from search and be clueless about the most basic ranking factors. I am endlessly approached by senior level gaming operators, and professional afﬁliates, whose concepts of important factors to ranking is either totally wrong, or antiquated. Additionally, we as an industry allow an enormous number of false prophets to stand on the podium of our events. Get with it already. I know some of my comrades will hate me for saying this, because it’s why SEOs can charge so much.
3) YOU DON’T LOOK AT YOUR DATA, OR DON’T CAPTURE IT AT ALL I have had the pleasure and privilege to either work for, or consult with some of the biggest brands in our industry,
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and in almost every case the senior management or key stakeholders in the marketing of the brand had no idea what was actually going on with their web trafﬁc. This was barely acceptable in 2000, but in 2009, it is intolerable. Antiquated measuring units such as page views and unique visitors have gone the way of the abacus, as new tools can slice and dice data thinner than a Ginsu. Knowing and pinpointing when visitors abandon your registration, download and deposit, as well as identifying top referral sites to understand your keyword matrix are as important as having an email address today, yet in our industry, are often ignored. It’s about so much more than capturing the data; it’s about understanding visitor behavior. How to target newsletters and mailings, tweaking online content, customizing marketing campaigns, accelerating sales cycles, and even boosting player value can all be better optimized through Analytics.
4) YOUR EXPECTATIONS ARE COMPLETELY UNREASONABLE One thing I will say about the recession, depression, crash, crisis, crunch or whatever you want to call it, is that it has made it harder than ever to get the same kind of ROI that we have seen in the past. Success almost always comes after a period of consistent, effective work. As awesome as the Internet has been to our industry in many ways it has left a huge percentage of brands out of touch with the realities of the hard work behind doing real business. The days of ‘slap a banner up and watch the money come in’ are over. You can’t just be there to participate any longer, no one is going to do the work for you and with authority sites getting the bulk of the trafﬁc, you can’t expect to make money for as little effort as possible. I’ve had start up operations actually tell me that they expect 1,000% return on their afﬁliate and online budgets, because they heard they could make that kind of return in online gaming. You’ll be happy to hear I laughed and left the room.
own private army. You can be active 24 hours a day seven days a week in blogs, Facebook, twitter, and a variety of communities, providing useful and relevant information, through contentrich placement while participating in a multitude of conversations on various topics with tons of followers and friends, but if you haven’t taken care of the basics, you will still suck. Being a maven, and responsive and proactive online will get you far in life, but it’s not everything. If your customer service is weak, if you have not aligned your avenues of communication, if you don’t have a compelling story or offer or continuity between your image and your brand personality, you will not see a return no matter how awesome you are in social media. Stop making excuses, and make it awesome. When everyone else is marketing with less vigor and determination, you can do the exact opposite. While timid operators and afﬁliates are pulling back and “conserving cash” you can out-market them. Be persistent. Even if the economy gets worse there can be a huge opportunity for those who hang in and creatively ﬁnd ways to succeed. You will ﬁnd less competition from those throwing in the towel because they aren’t made for the game. Get involved, take ownership, and stop relying on expensive specialists like me.
“EVEN IF THE ECONOMY GETS WORSE THERE CAN BE A HUGE OPPORTUNITY FOR THOSE WHO HANG IN AND CREATIVELY FIND WAYS TO SUCCEED.”
5) SOCIAL MEDIA WON’T SAVE YOU IF YOU SUCK If I got paid every time someone told me they were doing a lot of things in social media, who obviously hadn’t covered their bases with core marketing, I would be so rich I would have a crack squad of trained monkeys as my
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RELATIONSHIP MARKETING WITH TWITTER
BEFORE WE START, let’s take a look at what Twitter is, according to Wikipedia: “Twitter is a free social networking and micro blogging service that enables its users to send and read other users’ updates known as tweets. Tweets are text-based posts of up to 140 characters in length which are displayed on the user’s proﬁle page and delivered to other users who have subscribed to them (known as followers)... ” Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Twitter Now that we’ve got this out of the way, let’s dive right in and see how you can use Twitter to build your brand and grow your business.
YOUR CUSTOMER DOESN’T CARE In today’s world of user generated content, businesses that are not prepared to make the necessary changes in the way they interact with their customers will eventually lose. You might be thinking: “Interact? Got it! We’re already sending out email promos and press releases to our customers...” In that case, you belong to the group of businesses that are going to lose the game to a 20year old kid with a blog. Today, interacting with your customers is the name of the game, and what better way is there to connect with people than using Social sites? Press releases and email promos are ﬁne and will continue to work, but they are a way of telling. You need a way to interact with them, and that means both telling but mostly listening. Your customers don’t care about you – what they do care about is
Social media is the latest Internet craze, and Twitter is the darling of the group. Every marketer on the planet is trying to ﬁgure out how to cleverly add social media and Twitter to their marketing mix. This article will cover just some of the ways you can use Twitter to market your business and connect with customers.
what you can do for them – and you have to listen to do that.
LISTEN TO YOUR CUSTOMERS 140 characters is the perfect length for complaining... “It sucks”, “It blows”, “It’s useless”, “It’s too expensive”, “It feels too cheap”, “It doesn’t do enough”, “It’s too complex”, “They don’t care”... The list goes on and on... Just think how many of your customers will vent about your product or service on Twitter before even contacting customer service. Now think about the number of people that will never contact customer service. That’s how many customers you’re bound to lose. Use Twitter’s search engine to listen in on your users and provide them with customer service in real time through Twitter. If you’re giving good support they will thank you for it. Not only that, but their followers will see your interactions and think of you next time they think of buying whatever it is that you’re selling. Using Twitter’s search engine (at http://search.twitter.com) you can actually eavesdrop on your customers’ (and potential customers’) needs, wants and desires in real time. This can be extremely helpful if you’re doing research before creating a new product or to see where the market is headed.
You could also run Twitter-only promotional offers and sweepstakes. Have a prize randomly awarded to the best testimonial tweet, ask people to tweet about you to gain access to a special section on your site or to receive a free bonus, or post a Twitter-only coupon code. Be creative and think of what will work best for your business. Just put a deadline on your promotion (like 24 hours or 30 days) and make sure to track the sales. Invite your followers to a special event or a Webinar and give them tips and advice that are related to your product. For example, if your product is a casino, you can do a webinar that teaches people how to become better at Poker. Just make sure not to over-sell your product until the very end, where you can offer a special price for anyone who orders your product within an hour of the webinar. When most people think about Twitter marketing, they think of blatant, ‘spammy’ promotions. The worst thing you can do is use Twitter as a giant billboard and ﬁll it out with promotional garbage. That’s telling – not listening. If you use the methods described in this article, you’ll be adding value for your existing clients and reaching more clients in the process.
RAN AROUSSI is an Internet marketing strategist and entrepreneur. He is the cofounder of ClickIM, Israel’s largest and most reputable school for online marketing and entrepreneurship. Ran’s expertise includes search engine marketing, relationship marketing and Internet business development. You can follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/aroussi, or visit his blog at http://aroussi.com.
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the evolution of Authority, trust & reputAtion When it comes to SEO and achieving any kind of rankings in a competitive industry, you need a solid link building campaign and approach.
There are Two imporTanT elements to link building – building authority and reputation. When promoting a business that offers something unique and valuable to the users, you can also better focus your link building efforts on practices that move you up the rankings and increase your traffic. First, this allows the search engines to limit and/or control the number of pages they need to assess when serving a few thousands results from millions of pages that match the text of the query. This in turn helps the search engines solve the problem of the size and enormity of the web and also in handling the millions of queries per day. Second, these same measurements also look at and assess the authority, trust and importance as relevant to ranking the most appropriate web page. How well each search engine can accomplish this task will ultimately lead to the most relevant results. The part that matters to us SEOs is the first factor. If your pages aren’t important enough, they won’t be considered for ranking/relevancy and all the work you did on your meta tags, on-page content and SEO won’t mean a thing. As a result, the majority of your time should be spent on building links.
Building Authority This exercise is actually one of the easiest as it doesn’t limit the types of links, location and format so much as the exposure. Get your link visible as much as you can within reason to have the full effect and gain the most authority possible. If you carry out a blogger link campaign targeting those who speak to a similar audience/customers you should see immediate benefits and results. If a media campaign brings your website additional traffic and exposure, it should also result in a few extra links. In the end, being visible on the World Wide Web builds presence and it’s this presence that attracts more links, more authority and more page rank. All the above efforts build authority because they create exposure. It is this exposure which attracts free links and paid opportunities.
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Link building for authority can often be easier then the kind you need to do to directly influence your rankings. Link baiting, public relations, viral marketing, banner advertising and link building all work in getting you more links and more exposure. If you can find ways to promote your business in a profitable manner while also getting links, you are gaining authority and trust. Next time you do a deal with another webmaster, try and include a link as part of the deal. Create guides and articles that will get the interest of industry bloggers and web surfers. Get links, not in the mass, but links/ banner ads from relevant websites you feel might have visitors who would be interested in your product or information. You can even ‘no follow’ them out so they don’t appear to be purchased links, while still getting you attention and exposure which should lead to authority, trust and reputation.
link Building for reputAtion The hardest part of an SEO’s job when link building is getting the right anchor text pointing to the right pages. Remember, the anchor text you target ultimately determines the keywords you rank for. This process becomes even harder when you combine this with building on topic authority/trust. The moment you remove yourself from this mode of thinking you will be better off. Page rank is the root of Google’s success and algorithm that drives the engine. In some way or another, it helps determine which pages are most relevant and should rank accordingly. Page rank is not something a link builder should worry about and obsess over. Link builders need only focus on getting links with the right text pointing at the right pages. As long as the search engines index the pages and find the links, you’re building reputation and authority. Page rank is something that is so often misused and misread. Five PR4 links with my desired anchor text is better then one PR7 link with the same anchor text. Not only will those PR4 sites grow over time and potentially increase in PR, they will cost you less then one PR7 link. They also
offer more potential eyes through five sites getting traffic. By employing tactics such as banner advertising on niche specific sites, you are increasing the odds of a blogger or enthusiast from your industry doing a review or write-up about you. This can grow virally and attract hundreds if not thousands of links depending on the impact.
ensuring your own Anchor text One element many SEOs neglect on their website is internal linking and unleashing its power. In order for larger websites to have all their pages indexed they will need more authority and page rank. This creates a huge advantage in that the more pages indexed, the more opportunity there is to create its own internal anchor text and link reputation. Gaining ten links with the anchor text “Online Blackjack” and having that same text flow internally between the pages receiving links will allow you to rank for range of keywords related to Blackjack. The incoming links you receive, in theory, should match the internal anchor text you use on your site. As you gain more reputation and authority from incoming links using these keywords, your rankings will grow as will your traffic. Establishing trust and authority is paramount to any rankings. This acts as a pre-cursor to your link building efforts. Maintaining a natural appearance is critical in avoiding any unwanted filters. By blending your authority and trust with link reputation you ensure keeping things natural and effective.
Cliff RitteR has been an expert in the world of Internet marketing, media and technology since 1999 with extensive experience in web analytics, site usability and architecture, and search engine optimization and marketing specializing in strategic link building. Cliff is the founder and president of Critter Search Inc. and has devised innovative methods and processes used every day by Cliff and his staff to yield successful results.
IN IT FOR THE MONEY FUN! iGB Afﬁliate talks to Lori about her route from progressive jackpot winner to gaming afﬁliate. How and when did you become a gaming afﬁliate? During 2001, I found out there were real casinos that I could play online. After winning two Microgaming progressives within a three month period, and getting paid from both fairly quickly, I had found a new favourite pastime, as a player. I had no idea what an afﬁliate was before this. I certainly had no idea there was an opportunity to make a real living promoting online casinos as an afﬁliate. So I played, and worked my full-time ofﬂine job. Looking for casino contests, promotions, etc, I found my way to the Ezboard forums. One of the forums that I visited regularly asked if I’d help her by being a non-paid moderator. I agreed, thinking it would be fun. It was fun. Towards the end of 2002, I left that forum and moved over to work with my good friend “Rakpakman” at The Hodgepodge Forum. This was also on Ezboard, but not a very busy forum at the time. Still in it only for the fun, I opened a few afﬁliate accounts, so I could get banners to put in the contests we ran for those casinos at the forum. Soon after, a few small afﬁliate earnings payments started trickling in, but nothing substantial or consistent. It wasn’t long after that when the forum owner decided to leave, and gave the forum to me. I didn’t see that coming at all, and was pretty scared at the time – not having a clue how to run a forum as administrator. Before I knew it, we had over 5,000 registered members and afﬁliate earnings continued to grow. In 2005, I quit my full-time ofﬂine job and became a full-time afﬁliate. I found out I could make so much more money as an afﬁliate than I could ever make from any ofﬂine job. That was the best move I’ve ever made. Many afﬁliates claim that this is the best job they’ve ever had, but what was the worst job you’ve ever had? Because I was always just getting by, from pay check to pay check, I decided to get a second job for some extra money. Finding a part-time job that would work around my full-time job hours limited my job options. I took a job at a portrait studio,
telemarketing. Oh that job sucked! I think I held out for three or four weeks before I decided I’d rather be broke then call people every night trying to sell them portraits. Not to mention how tired I was working two jobs every day. Did you manage to learn anything from that experience? I learned that having that extra time for myself was more important to me than having a few more bucks in my pocket. What gaming verticals are you currently working across? Our members are mostly online casino players. We’ve dabbled with poker and bingo, but have not done as well there. Not because of the market, but because we just haven’t given them the consistent push. Have you seen any shifts in performance levels since the economy has declined? I have noticed some of our regular members/depositing players have slowed down in their deposits and activity. Some of them have told me about lost jobs, etc. But overall, earnings are still up, and the economy is not making much difference in overall earnings. Are there any new verticals or markets in which you see potential? Forex trading has my attention. I don’t know too much about it yet, but am deﬁnitely interested. What are your ambitions as an afﬁliate? I’m pretty happy with where I am right now. I feel like I have the best job in the whole world. I make my own hours and sometimes I do nothing but work, work, work. But I like the ﬂexibility to take off and go somewhere, or just hang out with friends or family if I want to. I don’t want to get into a position where I feel tied to the computer, or lose any of the ﬂexibility I have now. I might slowly add in more websites, but I’m not in any rush. What about those just starting out in the afﬁliate industry – is the overall gaming market saturated or is there still room for afﬁliates in certain (if not all)
verticals to make a living? The gaming market is somewhat saturated. But I believe there’s lots of money to be made in this industry. Of course, it takes a lot of work, creativity, and the initiative to learn as much as you can about the industry. I think it helps if you have the passion and motivation to be the best you can. Google has been my best friend in learning the things I needed to along the way. Type in what you want to know, and voila! It’s amazing the things I’ve learned through my Google searches. What would be your advice to them? Most industries are competitive, none more-so than the gaming industry. My main focus is in online casinos however, online poker, the emerging online Forex market and other soft games such as scratch cards, bingo, rummy and even games such as pool seem to be making headway. My advice to new afﬁliates is to ﬁnd a market they feel comfortable with promoting and concentrate on that. Diversiﬁcation sometimes leads to disaster. Obviously, keywords like casino and poker are almost impossible to get high rankings for but with genuine hard work and patience nothing is impossible. I would advise all newcomers to start their business up as a hobby or sideline as it does take a long time to achieve the results that lead to a full time wage. It all depends on how much time, effort and money afﬁliates wish to invest to gain the returns they are looking for. Would you advise them to attend conferences if they can? I would deﬁnitely advise new afﬁliates to try and attend at least one conference throughout the year. I think there’s a wealth of information at the conferences, especially useful for newer afﬁliates. I think these conferences are probably more useful for newer afﬁliates than for seasoned afﬁliates. There’s a lot to learn from the speakers, and from the other afﬁliates you’ll meet there. They’re a lot of fun too!
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GAME ON! iGB Afﬁliate magazine talks to Tom Galanis, Director of GameOn Afﬁliates. Now, you’ve been involved in the industry for a while – talk us through how you ﬁrst got involved… To be honest, I fell in to the industry. Growing up, I always had a huge passion for sport and gained an interest in marketing. Sport and marketing led to numerous agency side interviews but four years ago, I was given a fantastic opportunity to work for one of the UK’s most renowned bookmakers, Victor Chandler. The rest, as they say, is history. How did you ﬁnd the transition from your previous industry into the gaming world? I’d been stumbling around the marketing world looking for the right opportunity. I was working as a branding consultant with the newsgroup, ITN, where their digital platform was really starting to take off. That said, I don’t think there are many industries that can rival gaming for progress made online – so the jump was fairly signiﬁcant. The working culture within a UK bookmaker was new to me, but the atmosphere was exciting to be a part of. Victor Chandler is a close knit operation, so I really got the sense of living and breathing the world of online betting and gaming from the off. Did you have any preconceptions of the industry or of gaming itself before you joined? I joined the industry in 2005, at a time when the likes of PartyGaming and Betfair were doing wonders to improve the industry’s reputation. Many of my friends work in ﬁnance – at the time I got involved in online gaming a highly regarded industry – so for many of my contemporaries, my new choice of career was certainly one for debate. This was, more often than not, positive in its nature, but whilst at a school reunion in discussion with one of my old teachers, I got an ear bashing. His wife’s brother had been killed for gambling debts. Unsurprisingly, this opened my eyes to the responsibilities I had as an online gaming marketer. Do you think the industry still suffers from a perhaps unmerited stigma? Is this changing? There’s certainly a stigma attached, but
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online gaming needs a stigma of sorts to continue to thrive. Gambling has always carried negative connotations in some public spheres and this will always be the case. It is our responsibility to ensure that the wider public understand the merits of what we as an industry are trying to accomplish, in order to continue growth patterns we have seen over the past ten years. Now, GameOn Afﬁliates has just launched – talk us through the venture’s ambitions and how it came to the decision to launch in the ﬁrst place. GameOn Afﬁliates isn’t an afﬁliate program, per se. We are styled as an afﬁliate agency. We aim to develop performance between afﬁliates and our afﬁliate program partnerships. We do this by working to improve customer conversion rates, offering staff training and workshops, providing external management services with the aim to progress both the operational performance of a program and the internal structure afﬁliate programs have within organisations. Quite often, particularly in larger, more established online gaming operations, afﬁliate programs are left to their own devices and a laissez-faire approach, given the nature of the beast. Naturally, in such a fast moving industry, this has hindered the efﬁcacy and importance of some afﬁliate programs. GameOn Afﬁliates believes the afﬁliate’s responsibility lies beyond the delivery of customers, with the ability to work more closely with programs to widen online popularity and assist with customer retention and reactivation. What about the timing of the launch – it seems you have identiﬁed this as a time of opportunity when many are exercising caution… For me, the timing of the launch of such an offering is perfect. Recent research has shown that 95% of advertisers in the UK see afﬁliate marketing as the most cost-effective channel. Many gaming operations have afﬁliate marketing ﬁne tuned, but there is always room for improvement. For new operations there is the explicit need to become competitive in a crowded marketplace. In today’s economic climate, afﬁliate marketing is becoming more and more important given
the reduction in marketing budgets and overall operating costs. Is the afﬁliate market still a growing sector within gaming, and do you see it hitting a ceiling or is it the type of business that will always have room to evolve and grow? Online gaming is amongst the leading industry performers when it comes to afﬁliate marketing. It is well established, but online gaming marketing in general still has an awful lot of maturing to do. If you consider the way gaming operators compete, so much of the ad space used is swamped by bonus offers, with companies striving to usurp each other through promotional incentives. For me, this has to change if the online gaming growth curve is to continue as steeply in the next ten years and beyond. I’m a ﬁrm believer that afﬁliates have both the power and capability, courtesy of the excellent insular and community work they have done over the past ten years, to take a lead in making this happen. Afﬁliates deﬁnitely have the power to widen the popularity of online gaming to new target audiences and GameOn Afﬁliates is well placed to ensure that this is done in the best way possible from the operator’s and the industry’s perspective. What about trends in business practice – do you envisage many changes to the way afﬁliates and programs do business in the near future? GameOn Afﬁliates is a ﬁrm believer in the development of corporate communication in the online gaming world and the role afﬁliates could have in enhancing the industry’s corporate social responsibility. Whilst revenue sharing is a fantastic model in online gaming, it is regarded as “the long term” measure for gaming afﬁliates, to the CPA model’s short term proﬁtability. In our opinion, the remit for afﬁliates, and therefore the way they partner with programs, should also focus on leading genuine player education and development. Afﬁliates such as PokerStrategy.com and CasinoMeister are already showing this to be a more than viable approach, but I anticipate this taking shape on a more corporate partnership level than is currently being seen as the industry grows.
Google AdWords and the iGaming industry By Gareth Davies, iGaming Media Excecutive, Google EMEA. Since October 2008, companies in the gaming industry have been able to advertise their services to Google searchers in Great Britain. This has allowed iGaming advertisers to leverage AdWords as a tool for driving relevant and targeted traffic to their websites, increasing traffic and new player acquisition. Here, we will determine what this means for both iGaming operators and affiliates alike, and offer practical advice on how best to get started and succeed with AdWords. Following the 2008 gambling ads policy change in Great Britain, which has seen white listed operators and non-license holding affiliates target users in England, Scotland and Wales, we have further extended this opportunity to Austrian, Irish, and .it domain Italian advertisers (licensed with the AAMS - Amministrazione autonoma dei Monopoli di Stato). In order to reach new customers in these markets, advertisers must create a new AdWords account solely for the purpose of driving gambling related traffic and apply to be white listed with Google by providing a valid copy of their gambling license (operators only). Advertisers must target Google search pages only (not our Content Network), agreeing not to target under 18s, and prominently displaying links promoting responsible gambling on their homepage (such as www. gambleaware.co.uk in the UK or the “gioco sicuro” logo and relevant links as required by the AAMS). Furthermore, whilst our Content Network (our network of websites and publishing partners that serve AdWords ads alongside contextually relevant content) remains off limits, white listed gambling advertisers can target display ads to relevant search pages on YouTube in Great Britain, Ireland and Italy. This now allows many gambling advertisers to increase their reach and acquisition potential, whilst building strong brand presence and user engagement in a highly suitable online environment. For iGaming affiliates and operators alike, this allows a significant opportunity to connect with new players, and drive
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new revenue. However, in order to comply and in the interests of user experience, we ask that affiliates fall under the definition of ‘aggregator’. That is to say that their sites offer unique content that provides information about, or a comparison of, other gambling services, but do not themselves provide gambling activities which require a license. The ideal affiliate would, therefore, follow a price or service comparison model, allowing users to determine which online bingo, sportsbook, casino or poker room will best suit their needs and preferences. Typically, such aggregator sites may offer online casino, poker room and bingo reviews in addition to multiple sites’ individual promotional offers such as sign up bonuses, fee bets and loyalty programs such as rake back. Within the sportsbetting arena, this may extend to odds comparison sites and racing news and form. Importantly, affiliates that offer rich unique content such as industry news, forums, pro poker blogs, ‘how to’ guides and the like will be best placed to succeed with AdWords. The reason for this being that not only will such affiliates provide a richer offering for users looking to read up on the world of online gaming and choose their best site for them, but it will help the AdWords system to determine their landing page more relevant and, in turn, allocate them a higher Quality Score – an important relevancy factor in determining the necessary bid and position of advertisers in the auction. For those advertisers keen to leverage AdWords as an additional source of traffic in their efforts for acquisition, the playing field is very much open. However, as AdWords works on an auction model, there are several factors to take into consideration for aggregators that are keen to succeed. AdWords rewards relevancy. Much like our natural search results, Google ranks ads based on a number of relevancy factors, including landing page quality, percentage of clicks received (Click Through Rate), and the relevance of the ad served. Landing page quality is a subject
of particular importance to iGaming aggregators. The reason for this is that when both aggregators and operators are competing to appear against one another for the same keyword (for example ‘play poker online’), the operator may have the upper hand. This is because not only do they offer that service directly, and therefore, their landing page is more relevant to users, but the probability of a user clicking on their ad is considerably increased as their ad copy can promote the service directly, whereas the aggregator is essentially only offering review services. As the operator likely receives a proportionally higher number of clicks to impressions, they are awarded a higher Click Through Rate (CTR), which in turn allows our system to allocate that advertiser’s ad a higher Quality Score. Quality Score then influences how much an advertiser must pay in order to appear in a given position in the auction. Advertisers with strong Quality Scores are then able to rank higher in the sponsored links, whilst potentially paying less per click than their competitors. The beauty of this system lies in the fact that it is a democratic auction that rewards relevant advertisers with well structured and targeted AdWords campaigns, and facilitates users finding the products and services they are looking for at the crucial ‘action’ phase of the buying cycle – in other words, advertisers can’t simply buy their way to the top, they must present the user with a great proposition. What this all means to gambling advertisers is that the auction dynamics and strategies for success become increasingly important due to the relatively competitive auction space. Therefore, for iGaming affiliates, it may be that success derives from offering users a unique offering that the operators are unable to match. And this lies in the aggregator comparison business model itself. Whether a seasoned AdWords pro or new to pay-per-click advertising, for those looking either to close the loop on wider marketing strategies, or simply acquire an effective new acquisition channel, now is the time to get involved.
A BIGGER PLAYGROUND: WHY EXPANDING TO FOREX PAYS YOU MAY BE UNDER the impression that online gaming and ﬁnancial trading are worlds apart… you couldn’t be more wrong. What’s the link? Forex trading; easy to master, low deposit requirements and enough price action to satisfy the most ravenous risk appetite. With every passing day, more and more hardcore gamers are adding Forex trading to their regular diet of money games, because after all, currency trading is all about money. Let’s take a closer look at why the Forex industry is such a success and ﬁnd out how you can get a slice of the pie.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF FOREX Forex trading is by no means a 21st Century invention. The exchange of currencies in the hope of proﬁt is about as old as the concept of currency itself. So why is it that most of you have only become aware of the word Forex in the last few years? Until recently, Forex trading has been lumped together with other kinds of ﬁnancial trading, i.e. stocks, bonds, options and the rest. To the average person, it might as well have been voodoo magic – an obscure set of incantations in a frightful foreign tongue. In other words, Forex was considered far off territory, better left to the hands of highly trained professionals. The great Forex revolution that has taken place over the last few years basically consisted of dispelling these misleading notions and showing the Forex market for what it really is – a simple market place teeming with proﬁt opportunities. Here lies a market consisting mainly of eight major currencies and enabling you to control tens of thousands of currency units with an investment of $100 or less. Buy a currency low and sell it high and you’ve got yourself a proﬁt. Suddenly, Forex trading was starting to sound pretty good, even to ‘Joe Piggybank’.
The conceptual makeover that Forex has undergone in recent years has been mostly propelled by innovative trading technologies that have enabled novice Forex traders to learn the workings of the market quickly and painlessly. Many Forex providers have added guides, personal trainers and demo modes to their trading software offering. Most importantly however, many providers have decided to rethink the presentation of their platform and make their design friendlier to the novice user. Platforms like eToro, for example, have even gone to the length of creating graphic trade visualizations that make it very easy for the trader to grasp how the currency market works.
A FEW LUCKY BREAKS As a result of these massive changes, the Forex industry found itself starting to attract new non-professional crowds of speculators, and the word began to spread. In October 2006, the US government passed the amendment to the Safe Port Act, making it illegal for banks to transfer funds to online gaming sites. The act started a global trend of legal problems for the gaming industry, which made online gaming inaccessible to countless lifelong enthusiasts. Luckily, what was a painful blow to online gaming turned out to be a major blessing for Forex trading. Forex companies graciously opened their arms in welcome to the millions of casino and poker players in search of more legitimate ways to bring some excitement into their life. Then, in 2007, came the stock market crash and with it, the global ﬁnancial crisis. As a result of the devastation of most ﬁnancial markets, thousands of panicked investors found themselves looking for a new place to put their money, and once again the Forex industry
iGB Affiliate AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2009 www.eToroPartners.com
“A SLOT MACHINE IS STILL A SLOT MACHINE, NO MATTER WHAT KIND OF PICTURES YOU STICK ON THE DIALS – FOREX TRADING WOULD BE AN EXCITING VENTURE INTO COMPLETELY NEW TERRITORY.”
was right there to pick up the pieces. One of the key features of the Forex market is the relativity of currency prices. Since currencies are bought and sold against each other, they have no absolute value, which means that there is proﬁt to be made whether currencies are going up or down. If anything, the ﬁnancial crisis has made the Forex market more attractive than ever due to the increased volatility of price movements, which although makes it riskier to trade, also makes it easier to make a larger proﬁt in a short time.
WHY A GAMER WOULD MAKE THE SWITCH There is no question that at this point in time, being a Forex afﬁliate is lucrative business. For the ﬁrst time in history, Forex has made the transition into public awareness and everybody wants a piece of the action. The only thing better than being a Forex afﬁliate is being a Forex afﬁliate with already established online gaming assets. Whether they realize it or not, all online gaming afﬁliates are now sitting on a virtual goldmine that they can realize into proﬁt simply by diverting their efforts into Forex afﬁliation. The websites and the user databases they have in their possession are ﬁlled with potential Forex traders and, therefore, potential commissions. An online gamer is a perfect candidate to become a Forex trader for numerous reasons. For one, they are familiar with online money transfers and are not afraid to type in their credit card digits in the deposit form. As we mentioned earlier, these users crave risk and proﬁt opportunity all of which are found in abundance in Forex trading. In addition, they’re likely to ﬁnd Forex fresh as opposed to tired old casino games. After all, a slot machine is still a slot machine, no matter what kind of pictures you stick on the dials. Forex trading on the
other hand would be an exciting venture into completely new territory. This is especially true for skilled gamers such as poker players and sport bettors. Poker players are used to analyzing odds and chances and making calculated moves. Forex trading would provide them with another arena in which to apply their analytical thinking in ﬁguring out how various factors will affect currency prices, and in spotting price trends. The same is doubly true for sport bettors, who are already used to following sport statistics and making predictions based on various managerial decisions. For these gamers, switching to Forex would simply be a matter of replacing sport scores with currency price rates and team managers with central banks. The opportunity for a fresh start is not the only reason why a gamer would want to give Forex trading a try. There is also the matter of legitimacy. No matter how much the online gaming industry tries to shake its shady reputation, there are simply too many factors working against it. The most serious of these are, of course, the legal limitations that make it hard for users to deposit funds into their gaming accounts. Even though there are now thousands of ways to go around these limitations, they are never one hundred percent efﬁcient, especially when it comes to the US market. In addition, Forex trading has all the prestige of a serious ﬁnancial market. Suddenly, your customers will go from gamblers to international ﬁnancial traders. Not a bad career move in the space of ﬁve minutes, and it is certainly something one can brag about to his family and friends.
WHY YOU SHOULD MAKE THE SWITCH The Forex trading platforms of today are designed to make this switch as easy
and accessible as possible, via the use of introductory tools and guides (eToro). Statistically, the conversion rates of this particular platform are generally through the roof, and even more so when it comes to new traders coming from the world of online gaming, partially due to the platform’s ingenious visual design. Here, online gamers will have all the opportunities to learn Forex quickly and thoroughly without being turned off by a complex design. eToro also provides opportunities for traders to participate in free to enter weekly trading challenges for cash prizes, a feature that online gamers are bound to feel familiar with. Another useful feature is the unique Top Traders’ Insight tool which lets traders see the trades made by eToro’s top 100 proﬁting traders. This way, new traders can simply imitate the moves of the pros without doing their own market analysis. The best thing about being an afﬁliate is how easy it is to expand your ﬁeld of afﬁliate activity to include Forex. As a gaming afﬁliate, you already have the infrastructure you need – websites, mailing lists, etc. All you have to do is start working with one of the Forex afﬁliate programs that will provide you with all the promotional and analytical tools you need, and simply add a Forex section to double your monthly afﬁliate income.
JONATHAN ASSIA is the CEO and founder of eToro – the leading Forex trading platform that has managed to overcome the technological barrier preventing novice traders from entering the Forex market. Since its establishment, eToro has revolutionized the Forex industry and today it also holds the biggest Forex afﬁliates program: eToro Partners.
iGB Affiliate AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2009 www.eToroPartners.com
FOREX TRADING Some of the afﬁliate forums have been alive with conversation about Forex, mainly with afﬁliates wanting to know more about it. Here, we ask the experts as to the type of consumer likely to be interested in Forex as an extension to his betting options, what demographic is more likely to become regular users, and whether the platform suits the enthusiast or the more casual player.
MICHAEL LAURENCE, CHIEF MARKETING OFFICER AT UFX BANK There are very deﬁnite similarities between Forex traders and casino players, however, there are also a number of subtle differences. The similarities would include the need for an adrenaline rush, the chance of making money fast and the same excitement watching the movements in the market as watching the ball fall in a roulette wheel. The main difference, however, is that Forex traders, with patience and self control, with education, and the ability to calmly observe market trends can master the markets and over time, make big proﬁts trading Forex. Therefore, if a consumer were to view Forex as an extension to betting options, it would deﬁnitely be more lucrative for a skilled poker player to enter the world of Forex trading as opposed to a casual gambler. From our experience at UFX Bank, we have seen that around 85% of customers who become regular users are male, have a solid income, are between the ages of 30 to 40 years old and have a general interest in following all ﬁnancial markets. The main reason for their decision to choose Forex over other markets is mainly due to the ability to bet when the markets are both good (bullish) or bad (bearish), or in other words, whichever direction the market is going in, proﬁting from either route is possible. In fact, it’s one of the key selling points used to initially attract casual investors into Forex. Without a doubt, Forex trading also attracts the type of person looking to make fast money and get out quick. However,
similar to placing a winning bet, one win is never enough and these are generally the people who may start off trading wisely, but then try to make too much money too quickly and lose everything. This group consists of a majority of males aged 20 to 30 years of age. The platform at UFX Bank, developed by ParagonEx, is a very versatile, easy to use platform, it’s also web based so there is no download necessary. We do recommend new traders to open the ﬁrst few trades with the assistance of a personal advisor. Their job is to ensure that whether a person is a seasoned trader, a keen enthusiast or a complete novice, they fully understand the UFX Bank online Forex trading system and is given all the tools and information to help place successful trades. Online Forex trading is a growing industry in terms of the number of new online Forex brokers, the growth in interest of people looking to make money online and online portals offering independent advice, educational tips, videos and e-books. This shows a huge resemblance in the way that the online casino and poker industry grew around the years 2000 and 2001.
JONATHAN ASSIA, CEO, ETORO Over the past few years, while the online gaming industry was struggling to reinvent itself in order to attract new consumers, Forex trading has exploded all over the Internet. Where one once saw casino ads offering unimaginable bonuses, one now sees Forex banners announcing the tightest spreads yet. New Forex platforms and brokers are popping up by the hundreds as
iGB Affiliate AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2009 www.eToroPartners.com
the momentum of the Forex industry and the public awareness of Forex continue to grow every day. In short, at this moment in time, Forex is the place to be. As for the gaming industry, more and more online gaming regulars are ﬁnding themselves drawn to Forex for numerous reasons: ●
Forex is a legitimate form of ﬁnancial investment whereas gaming still bears the stigmas and limitations of a fringe industry. Unlike other ﬁnancial trading, Forex provides the excitement and proﬁt opportunities that appeal to an online gamer. Unlike other ﬁnancial trading, Forex enables traders to get in on the action with a relatively small capital investment of as low as $25. Forex trading is easy to master because the market mainly revolves around only eight major currencies. Forex trading involves both luck and skill. There are many ways to analyze the Forex market, but in the end it still remains unpredictable.
Due to the structure of the Forex market and its dependency on various economical forces, the type of gamer that is likely to take up Forex trading is probably not interested in blind chance. Sure, one can open random positions in the Forex market and wait for luck to do its work, but the logic behind the market forces would be much more appealing for a gamer that comes from the world of skill games. By this logic, the most likely candidate for a gamer turned Forex trader is probably the poker player, who is already used to calculating odds and possibilities, giving him a signiﬁcant advantage in Forex from the get go. Forex provides both the brain activity and the risk that this type of gamer looks for. Having said that, not all gamers that try out Forex trading stay in Forex trading. This depends on many factors, one of which is pure luck – whether a trader makes a proﬁt or a loss at ﬁrst has a huge impact on the duration of his Forex trading career. It also, however, depends on the trader’s introduction to Forex, i.e. whether he got the right information and the right educational opportunities to start with. If a gamer receives a proper explanation about how the market works, there is no reason that they shouldn’t stick around and develop their trading skills in a very short time. It is important for players to look for a platform that provides the perfect environment for a Forex beginner and sites such as eToro
with its Forex guides, tutorials and visual platform tools are ideally geared to help and educate newcomers. As gamers turn more and more to Forex, they become either casual traders or Forex enthusiasts. The eToro platform is perfect for both as it provides intricate Forex analysis tools for the regular trader, and market update summaries for the casual trader. Because the Forex market is relatively uncomplicated, it would only take a few minutes for a casual trader to catch up on what he missed and be updated on the latest Forex trends and events. The continuous migration of gamers into Forex territory is no coincidence, and eToro believes that Forex will continue to provide a major alternative for gamers seeking new proﬁt opportunities for years to come.
LAURENT MALKA, CEO, FXCASH.COM Forex offers an exciting addition the existing betting options that a given user can access online. Forex tends to especially appeal to online sports bettors who appreciate a bet that will gain or lose value over a given time period as the market evolves. As opposed to simply “chance gaming” (the modus operandi for traditional casino gambling), Forex appeals particularly to those who seek out available information in which they can base their assumptions in order to best follow the “game”. Traditionally, two types of users are triggered. First, occasional traders who enter and exit the market in rhythm with major economic events are those that usually seize large investment opportunities. Second, regular traders are those who trade small but often are compelled by an ongoing challenge and/or win to increase their trading activity. While all platforms appeal to both demographics, small nuances make one platform slightly more marketable to one group over the other. It’s important to understand what platform sells better to the corresponding demographic in order to ensure satisfactory conversion rates. Via cross-referencing trafﬁc spikes with major economic events, it’s possible to track which broker beneﬁts more from a certain type of trader and vice-versa. The cross-referencing work we are currently carrying out enables us to optimize trafﬁc and present more suitable trading platforms that are relevant to speciﬁc targeted users. For example, SaxoBank better serves infrequent yet heavy users while regular average users are better served by eToro.
MICHAEL LAURENCE. After seven years of working in the online casino and poker industry in an array of positions from Brand Manager, Afﬁliate Program Manager, Marketing Director and President of Online Gaming connected to big brands such as Microgaming, Playtech, CryptoLogic and the World Poker Tour, Michael entered the Forex industry in 2008 and is now the Chief Marketing Ofﬁcer at UFX Bank. JONATHAN ASSIA is the CEO and founder of eToro – the leading Forex trading platform that has managed to overcome the technological barrier preventing novice traders from entering the Forex market. Since its establishment, eToro has revolutionized the Forex industry and today it also holds the biggest Forex afﬁliates program: eToro Partners. LAURENT MALKA. Envisioning a superior afﬁliate network capable of productively spanning the length of the world’s largest ﬁnancial market, CEO Laurent Malka founded FXCash. com in 2007. Armed with over 10 years of extensive experience in online marketing, Malka quickly and successfully pushed Fxcash.com into the forefront of online Forex afﬁliate marketing. The FXCash. com afﬁliate network features some of the strongest FX broker brands online today including CKFX.com, eToro.com, FXYard. com, ClickForex.com and AvaFX.com.
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EMERGING FROM THE WILD WEST Marc Kenigsberg, the new Marketing VP at Euro Partners, talks to iGB Affiliate Magazine about the early Wild West days of affiliation and taming the industry beasts in order to move ahead. Let’s begin by talking about your online gaming background, which appears to be quite extensive… I’m originally from South Africa, which is where I began working for a Microgaming licensee ten years ago. I started off in casino support and at the time I didn’t think much of it. Looking back, I see that it was an important stepping stone in my career path because that’s where the most personal interaction with the actual players occurs. Soon after, I moved into retention marketing for a few years, and then eventually into acquisition marketing and affiliation. In 2005, I took a year off from the gaming industry and worked in publishing. It was a short hiatus and in 2006 I moved to Israel and joined Euro Partners. Initially, I was recruited to David Alexander’s team (Euro Partners’ former VP of Marketing), helping to implement various strategic goals. Most of my time at Euro Partners was spent in that capacity, until several months ago when I took over as Marketing VP. Would you say that the relocation process has broadened your perspective on the industry? One of the great attributes of the Internet as a primary medium is that it naturally lends itself to having a global reach. In that sense, you get a good feel for the industry no matter where you are based, though the approach and the personal dynamic is different from country to country and even from company to company. Israel has a particularly cosmopolitan identity and it attracts a very diverse mix of people. That identity is a dominant presence at Euro Partners and was one of the determining factors that cemented EP’s vision to push towards localization in our European markets. We saw how important it was to get the local flavour right, the nuances. Our early presence in Europe was the smartest strategic move that the company could have
iGB Affiliate AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2009
made because it gave us an immediate advantage and the ability to turn on a dime when the US market closed. Even though it was somewhat before its time – the nature of vision – it ultimately paid off. Euro Partners wouldn’t have achieved the level of success it has today without it. What is it about this business that has led you to stick around for so long? It’s a combination of things rather than any one single element. Firstly, there’s the international appeal of working in an online environment. Gaming as a vertical is especially appealing because of its dynamic nature and its immediacy. I also like having the ability to quantify things, to know every aspect of customer interaction and behaviour as well as seeing the effects of our efforts in real-time. Online players get to speak to us directly even if they’re not aware of it. I’m lucky in that I’ve witnessed the evolution of this industry nearly from its inception. I remember a lot of firsts, have seen how far the industry has come and am keen to push it as far as it’ll go. What would you say were the notable developments that have you witnessed since first joining the industry? There are the obvious ones: poker, PayPal, regulation, SEO, IPOs, mobile and skill games, UIGEA. What stands out for me is the push we’ve given to web technology and how we have matured as an industry. Web technology and e-commerce have historically been (and continue to be) pioneered by gaming because there is so much money being pumped in and so many challenges to overcome, which forces us to stay ahead of the curve. What hasn’t been so obvious to outsiders looking in is how this industry has grown up – particularly on the affiliate side of things. When the affiliate marketing model was first applied to online gaming, it was almost like the Wild West – lone
“i’m lucky in ThaT i’ve WiTnessed The evoluTion of This indusTry nearly from iTs incepTion. i remember a loT of firsTs, have seen hoW far The indusTry has come and am keen To help push iT as far as iT’ll go.”
“The poinT is noT To buy someThing from someone buT To creaTe The incenTive To sTay in iT for The long haul. We’re noT abouT being greedy WiTh our share of The pie, We jusT WanT To make The pie bigger.”
affiliates cropping up in far removed places: caravans, basements, college dorm rooms. I remember one particular college kid who paid a professional consulting firm some outrageous retainer to cope with the astronomical amount of business he was generating. Today, we have matured into a full-fledged business community that operates like any other, with public companies and a focus on bottom lines, margins, market share and verticals. What developments would you like to see taking place in the future and how does Euro Partners fit into that vision? Can I have the margins from a decade ago? Seriously though, and without giving away too much about our future plans, I think that as we move further towards reaching maturity the most important developments for the industry are regulation, consolidation and receiving the recognition we deserve as service providers. Euro Partners has always based its business on fostering relationships and operating with integrity. As more companies follow the same model the industry will begin to get its just rewards. Our point is not to buy something from someone, it’s to work together and create the incentive to stay in it for the long haul. The more money our partners earn, the more we do, so we’re not about being greedy with our share of the pie, we just want to make the pie bigger. If you had to name your biggest success as a gaming marketer, what would it be? Euro Partners. Having come from the outside, I was very aware of Euro Partners’ solid reputation and success. The ability to choose the direction that this organization is taking is, for me personally, an unrivalled achievement. Biggest failure? It involved a fraud issue with someone I’d been working with closely. They’d stolen quite a bit and were eventually caught when they became really greedy. I didn’t see it coming and I took it very badly, though I wasn’t directly managing the project. That particular incident affected my views on data security and of trusting people in general. Speaking of which, the gaming industry is known for being “ethically challenged”. Is that reputation justified in your opinion? Absolutely not. I think online gaming really gets a bum rap and I’d like to see our outside image start fitting in line with
how things really are. In any industry you will always have those people who push the boundaries and head into shady territory. But much of the negative perception that surrounds us stems from a historical lack of regulation, which is not endemic to gaming but to a certain extent is a general problem with doing business online. This ambiguity was exploited by parties whose interest it was to see us fail. Gaming is a legitimate industry that employs a good share of talented minds and sustains a lot of families along the way. Most of the people I’ve worked with have been very dedicated, professional, honest and are looking to further the industry as a whole. What characteristics are shared by your most successful affiliates? Determination, creativity and a little bit of luck never hurts. We prefer to work with affiliates who are looking for longevity, who are building a business rather than just putting up a page, spamming and hoping for the best. These are the types of affiliates that most embody the partnership vision that drives our business. To single out one characteristic in today’s climate of niche marketing, I would say: know what your audience wants and provide them with the best possible experience. Everything else will fall into place. The level of competition is so high that in most cases it’s necessary to carve out a niche to be successful, whether it be special-interest games, regional targeting, whatever. How does Euro Partners facilitate and sustain that success? Ultimately by providing a trusted and reliable business platform, by viewing all of our affiliates as true partners and using the weight of our resources to ensure that every affiliate we work with is successful. For those looking to pursue a specialinterest niche, we have an extensive selection of brands and games that are constantly at the forefront of innovation. We not only have the product that people are looking for, we package it up for our affiliates in such a way that allows them to customize that product for practically any market segment. We’re also able to help them track and monitor every aspect of their campaigns to maximize conversion and commissions in the most targeted way possible. In terms of target marketing by localization – that’s our bread and butter. Euro Partners simply offers the widest and most comprehensive localization services of any other online gaming affiliate program.
iGB Affiliate AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2009
masters of the internet
A BREATH OF FRESH AYRE Calvin Ayre is the gaming industry’s very own self styled billionaire playboy, long associated with wealth, women and the ‘high life’. His shrewdly amassed fortune has afforded him many luxuries, including the ability to formally retire from active Bodog duty last year. However, June saw the Bodog founder and entrepreneur back in action and iGB Afﬁliate was there to meet him on his return to London.
You started out in 1993, which was before online gaming’s ‘Big Bang’… It was real cowboy stuff. First of all, nobody knew anything about it because it didn’t exist. So, it was purely a time of invention. Every day had to be invented from scratch and nobody knew what the business model was. A number of people had grasped the idea that gambling would work on the Internet. Now, I’m not saying that I came up with the idea and educated the rest of the world on it, but I did come up with the idea myself and I’ll tell you how I did it. I was working on an Internet project called Telescape as a side project. My main business at the time was a technology incubation company called HQ Vancouver and one of the clients in there was an Internet start-up called Telescape. It was before its time, so it didn’t work out, but I helped them get going for a little while. There’s a company today that has the exact same business model…do you know what it’s called? Skype! We were working on Skype in 1992 and we just couldn’t get it off the ground. The Internet wasn’t quite fast enough – the technology just wasn’t ready for it. But, I was looking around for another Internet project and I read an article about Joe ‘The Cigar’ Sacco down in the Dominican Republic taking bets over the telephone from American sports bettors. And that was it (snaps his fingers), bingo! I thought ‘sportsbetting on the Internet, that’s just it, that’s the plan right there’. And I just reorganised my life around that.
iGB Affiliate AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2009
Was your background in technology? Yes, I have a science degree and a Masters in management finance. My science degree was general sciences but I was fairly heavily logged in the tech sector because I had HQ Vancouver at the time, which was a technology incubation company. So, I was basically offering an umbrella support service for other peoples’ tech start-ups. I also had the first high-speed Internet in the whole city of Vancouver because there was a router in the basement of the building I was in. It was part of the Canada-wide university network. The Internet didn’t even exist at this point and this was the university network that morphed into the Internet in Canada. I found out the router was down there and strung my own fibre down to it, and all of a sudden – boom! These were very early days, but I was already wired into the predecessor to what we now consider the virtual Internet. I attracted all these tech start-ups that were interested in the network world, and they were all coming to my office. Cisco Systems opened up their Western Canada operation in my office because I had that connectivity. You get business people or tycoons who are involved in a variety of sectors but won’t necessarily operate them through the same brand. Why was it important for you to do it all under the Bodog umbrella? Was the Virgin brand an inﬂuence? There’s no question I studied Virgin. I’ve studied Trump, and a lot of people who I think are good at branding. And
“We Were WorKIng on the sKype concept In 1992 – We Just couldn’t get It oFF the ground.”
in the cases of Trump and Virgin, you can see the way they use their brands and leverage them – once they get some traction in one area they leverage it into other spaces. I just think that Bodog is in a good position to do that. I think Bodog is a cool word. It’s got a lot of really cool things going for it. I did a survey before I started using it, and half the people thought it had something to do with sex. People hadn’t heard of it. I made the word up – just putting letters together… Was there a big list of names and ideas that you went through before deciding on Bodog? I had a page of criteria that the perfect brand should have in the Internet world, which included things like being less than six letters, optically easy to remember and had a cadence to the spelling (‘b’, ‘o’, ‘d’, ‘o’, ‘g’) for radio ads. If you look at Bodog, it’s five circles with lines going up and down. Visually, it’s very easy to remember. It’s also hard to misspell it and it’s only five letters. I control the root domain and everything around it because it’s a word I invented so it’s a lot of powerful stuff for us. Because of this and the high profile that online gaming has, it gives the brand a lot of exposure and gives us the opportunity to think in other directions. And when you do create something else under that brand then, in reality, any other project that you are involved in only has to break even and you’re net benefiting the global Bodog environment.
We touched on Virgin, and Richard Branson, who is a great publicity machine. Is it important to you that, as one associates Virgin with Richard Branson, one associates Bodog with Calvin Ayre? I personally believe that it’s almost impossible to build a strong brand without having a figurehead that personifies it and is associated with it. Building a brand without a person is very hard. I mean, how do you give it a personality? People aren’t designed to be naturally attracted to innate, faceless, shapeless, abstract concepts – which is basically what an Internet company is. You need a face. Even if it is something like a Ronald McDonald or similar? Does it have the same effect as a person? Early on, I wanted to do a bunch of crazy stuff. I thought if it blew up on me and wasn’t well received I could always say ‘well, that’s not me, that’s just a fictional character’. So, in the early days I was more comfortable, doing some of my antics with this fictional character. However, the problem was that I got such a high profile (inside the industry, people were cool with that, they would just use whatever name I gave them), and as soon as you hit the mainstream media and they find out that you’ve got two names, then all of a sudden you’re dodgy. So, as soon as I started getting mainstream coverage, it became an issue and I immediately killed off the whole alternate character. I created this big article about him dying, so I
literally killed off the character. After that, I started using my real name but I continued to do some of the things that I had been experimenting with under the character. It’s been a learning experience but I have to say that a lot of the stuff I have done has had the desired effect. Even if, in many cases, people don’t like what you’re doing, especially when you’re small and nobody knows you, you’re almost better off to annoy or upset people than you are to continue to remain unseen. At least you’re going to stick in their head. How about the UIGEA in the US? How much did that curtail your plans? When the environment changed in the US in 2006, I, along with all of the public companies, went through a process of leaving the market. The public companies, for the most part, sold their US-facing business out to company insiders in hasty and dubiously structured arrangements. We had to do it in a more protracted, armslength fashion so it took us a little bit longer to put the deal together and talk to the Mohawks. But in many ways that was more of a help than a hindrance because it got me completely out of operations, which wasn’t where I should have been anyway. It allowed me to take a step backwards and accept that this licensing law is actually pretty cool. And, by doing that on two further occasions, I’ve actually got the Bodog brand as the only online gaming brand in the world that’s in every major market in every major channel. Can you name another company? There isn’t one.
iGB Affiliate AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2009
masters of the internet
Do you still go to America? No executive of any online gaming company in the world goes to the US. What I would like to find is somebody that could open up the Latin American market. I’d like to find a group that’s got gaming experience, preferably their own funding, who could take the Bodog brand into Latin America. That’s the last major place to be. Do you think there’s enough expendable income in Latin America? Oh, absolutely. All those countries have wealthy middle and upper classes. And there’s a localised presence there already… Exactly! That’s the thing… there are local people doing it at present, but I think that the global Bodog brand has to be there and will be, eventually. We bring a lot to the table, not just the brand. We bring global branding infrastructure and media infrastructure and we own all our own technology. But, like I said, I’m not going to take it in there myself – I’m looking for the right people to do it. Where do you actually live now? Since 2006, Antigua has been my primary residence. I still have my place in Costa Rica and my family has some houses in Canada as well. You’ve obviously been very successful in life. What’s been your biggest extravagance? Biggest extravagance? Girls! I’ve spent a lot of money on wining and dining women. I don’t drive fancy cars and my place in Costa Rica is quite nice, but, with real estate you can hardly call it an extravagance because it becomes valuable in the long run. However, the amount of money I spend wining and dining women is pretty extravagant. So you officially retired last year, but you’re back in London with Bodog – what brings you to town? I’m here to talk to industry media and London is the centre of the online gaming universe media-wise and in other ways. I want to make sure that the industry media is clear on the way that we’ve restructured and gone to a branded franchise model of which there are now three franchises. We did a European deal headed up by a quite big poker person to spin the Bodog poker network into a standalone poker network. Bodog branding, but open for a ‘white-label’ – it’s actually for anybody. It won’t be Bodog proprietary anymore. It’s being spun out to an independent group
iGB Affiliate AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2009
of poker people. Our group of companies just doesn’t know the poker business well enough. Through this branded franchise model there are three territories that will roll it out and open it up, but they’re also going to keep the Bodog brand on it. A brand that you’ve just reclaimed, so to speak… Indeed; we’ve got all of the domains back, which is important as we had done such a good job of locking up all the great domains. The word is so distinct that with both the domains back, over time (it’ll probably take a couple years) we will get back to where we were, with a tight control over Bodog on the Internet. That’s actually my focus now. I’m not involved in any of the gaming operations anymore; I’m going to be exclusively performing in a high-level branding role. Clearly, we want to be strong in online gaming but I think the brand is more diverse than that. We’ve got a website up, BodogBrand.com, and we’re actually soliciting people to send us their ideas if they have concepts of products and services they think would work well under the Bodog brand. I actually am working on a Bodog coffee brand concept right now. I actually bought the illy (Italian coffee brand) brand for a small country, for kiosks and coffee shops. I bought the franchise from them and I’m actually setting up three kiosks now, but the country is confidential because they don’t want the business to be impacted by what I do in the greater world. But, I am being trained in the coffee business by illy, and through my connections in the coffee industry, I’m looking at the idea of a Bodog-branded coffee as a product line, and possibly also as branded outlets. How important has it been to you to grow the brand from an online gaming company into other sectors? It has been very important. In fact, this brings me to two other projects that I’m currently working on. Because we have the Bodog domain back, Bodoglife.com is no longer being used, so this is going to be an online media property. So, I am going back into online digital entertainment as well. We’re going to get back into producing videos and possibly some stuff for television, but at the moment it’s just going to be on the Internet. The second media property I’m putting up is going to be on another old domain that I have reclaimed, CalvinAyre.com, and will host a business model called a Tablog. This will incorporate my blog, which used to be on that site, as well as ‘tabloid-ish’
content from other reporters about the greater online gaming world. Those are the two visual media properties that I am going to be working on together with the Bodog branding.
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Dragons iGaming operators, affiliates and America’s online gambling revival
When the old explorers set forth from Europe to discover (or perhaps rediscover) the world, the maps were mostly guesswork. In the areas where no one had gone – or returned from – the legend was written “here be dragons”. Even then, most people realized dragons were mythical. It was a colorful way of saying, “we have a few stories and a bone or two, but no real idea what’s on the other side of this line.” The modern expression for that state of affairs, particularly in the legal field, is a “gray area”. And for a foreign business looking in from outside, this would perfectly describe American gambling law – including Internet gambling and the advertising that promotes it. The confusion can be daunting – yet the interest continues to be strong, and for the same reason as of old: they know there’s gold over here. The USA remains the single biggest Internet gambling market. New interest has been kindled by indications that individual US states may soon legalize Internet gambling, particularly poker. The three most important questions are: What are the chances of legalization? Where? And can my business participate and profit when the gray lifts and the dragons become visible?
ChanCes of LegaLization In a turn of events ironic even by American standards, the UIGEA (the
bill that was supposed to kill Internet gambling in the USA) has nailed open the door to legalization nationwide. The crazy fact is that iGaming was much worse off before the UIGEA was signed into law in 2006. Prior to that time, the US Department of Justice maintained that all Internet gambling violated the Wire Wager Act. (18 U.S.C. § 1084; which actually covered only sports wagers across state or national boundaries). The DoJ alleged that this covered even the horseracing bets that Congress allowed under the Interstate Horse Racing Act (15 U.S.C. § 3001 et seq.). They were careful never to test this theory in court but instead, used their administrative muscle to extort well-publicized “settlements” from high-profile targets such as Neteller and Google. Large corporations are easy pickings for such procedural bullying: they would rather pay a known fine than roll the dice in a courtroom, and iGaming isn’t that big a part of their market anyway. These and similar actions of the DoJ and some state authorities, such as Eliot Spitzer, amounted to show trials without the trial. The UIGEA spoiled that pastime. It was designed to cut off funding for “illegal Internet gambling”. But its definition of that term was so vague and useless as to spark attempts at repeal in the next Congress, principally by Representative Barney Frank. The UIGEA did, however, define precisely what “illegal Internet gambling” was
NOT. And first on the list of exemptions was Internet gambling which was formally licensed and supervised by a US state government, offered within the borders of that state. Since 2006, then, individual American state governments have had the right to offer Internet gambling to their respective residents. This is in line with the traditional balance of power; historically, American gambling law has been state gambling law, and even Federal anti-gambling laws depend on an underlying state-law violation to trigger them. But that by itself is not enough. Wicked gambling is a favorite bogeyman of American political theater, and proposing legalization or expansion can be risky. What was needed was something to make the various states want to legalize Internet gambling. That was supplied by the kamikaze meltdown of the world’s financial markets. Among other evil effects, it increased demand for state services and safety nets while decreasing state revenue. Forty-six of the Fifty States are projected to run budget deficits in the coming fiscal year. In a situation such as this, a multibillion dollar industry volunteering to be taxed in return for recognition is sure to receive a respectful hearing. Will the USA legalize Internet gaming on the national level first? Probably not. Congressman Frank and his associates have proposed a number of statutes
iGB Affiliate AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2009
to either cripple the UIGEA or replace it with a national scheme for Internet gambling licenses. But while these are useful in drawing attention to the absurdity of the anti-gambling platform, they have not been able to roll up enough solid support to give them a decent shot at passage. And as of November 2008, they became unnecessary. The UIGEA ran aground. Between the passage in 2006 and the regulations in 2008, the Republicans lost control of Congress and the future. And so the overdue UIGEA regulations concentrated not on smiting the evil-doers, but on protecting the American financial industry from... the vague, over-reaching UIGEA itself! The law supposedly prevents the use of American financial instruments to pay for “illegal Internet gambling”, but the regulators not only neglected to supply a definition of just what that is; they refused, in writing, to make one. It is impossible to obey a law when you can’t tell what is forbidden. By the same token, it is equally impossible to obey it. So the UIGEA is a self-cancelling law. Only in America, baby. But whatever its faults, the UIGEA leaves the US state governments a clear field to exploit Internet gambling. This is the other main reason why Representative Frank’s bills have such low appeal. In economic times such as these, the states are not at all interested in sharing monopoly revenue with Uncle Sam.
Where the aCtion is (or soon WiLL be) American state governments are allowed to license and offer Internet gaming within their own borders. That means the states most likely to be attracted by it are those with substantial land area, large populations, a good Internet infrastructure, a tolerant attitude toward gaming and a big deficit. California is far and away the prime candidate: its deficit of $26 billion is more than most of the rest put together; it is one of the biggest states and the most populous; and it already has in place a regulatory regime that includes private card rooms. The idea of Internet poker already enjoys wide support. But surprisingly, potential beneficiaries have so far thrown very little real support behind the all-important political effort, apparently choosing to believe
iGB Affiliate AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2009
“The regulaTors noT only neglecTed To supply a definiTion of jusT whaT “illegal inTerneT gambling” is; They refused, in wriTing, To make one. iT is impossible To obey a law when you can’T Tell whaT is forbidden. by The same Token, iT is equally impossible To obey iT… only in america, baby!” the opportunity will be delivered, gift wrapped, to their doors. Other likely venues include (in alphabetical order) Florida, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Texas. But their development will necessarily be slower. Poker is the logical candidate to lead off the introduction of Internet gambling under state licensing. It is widely held to be a game of skill, rather than mere chance. It has a history and reputation in America as a popular and even patriotic pastime, and everybody knows how to play it. And perhaps most important of all, the USA is the biggest single online poker market in the world, even as is, in its confused and semi clandestine state. Handled correctly, it will be a positive all around.
the subject of any hard investigations, or has not otherwise locked horns with the law courts and the powers-that-be. That sort of thing is politically sensitive. At first of course, the play and the customers will be confined to residents of that particular state, but it won’t be long until individual states realize that pooling their customers will mean bigger prizes and more exciting and attractive games. This has already happened with horserace betting and the state lottery system. There is even an existing exception in the UIGEA that will allow it right off the bat, if the various state authorities wish to cooperate in that fashion. At that point, larger coverage than one particular state will once again become important.
hoW to pLay on the neW fieLd
Affiliates, as well as software and broadband providers, operators, and other vendors, need to remember that most American state authorities do not understand Internet gambling as a practical reality. So, on the one hand, the powers-that-be need to be educated about where a particular component or service fits into the scheme of things. On the other hand, never forget that when a state government authorizes Internet gambling it is putting its own good name on the line. Their system HAS to work. Period. And so the authorities need to be reassured on two fronts. First, for affiliates in particular, it will be important to show that a given operation can reach the target audience. More importantly, the affiliate has to be able to show that he or she can deliver marketing services quicker, cheaper, and more reliably than the state could do by itself. There is always a strong urge for state authorities to control and internalize all functions affecting whatever they do. So, the ability to demonstrate efficient, effective penetration of the target demographics and markets will be crucial. Second, you must also be able to show that your business is clean – that it has not been
Licensed and approved Internet gambling is clearly on the way to the USA. It has become fairly clear that the breakthroughs will occur at the state level rather than the national. State authorities, regulators and administrators will need experienced operators and providers to help them set up their own systems, once the decision to build them has been made. An opportunity exists for affiliates, too, or at least those who can show they penetrate the given market and demographics. Because sooner or later, with iGaming, as with any other business, it all comes down to the marketing.
Martin Owens is a California attorney specializing in the law of Internet and interactive gaming since 1998. Co-author of INTERNET GAMING LAW with Professor Nelson Rose,( Mary Ann Liebert Publishers 2005) ; Editorial board , Gaming Law Review. Comments/inquiries: mowens@ trade-attorney.com.
CakePoker Affiliates earn a piece of the action
FOCUS ON HUNGARY
HUNGARY – ONE OF THE FASTEST GROWING MARKETS IN 2010! WHAT’S THE FIRST THING that comes to mind when you think of Hungary? You haven’t had lunch yet and you think it’s about time to go and eat something? Actually, Hungary (Magyarország) is a charming Eastern European country surrounded by the sea of the Slavs, famous for its language, culture and innate ability to survive. The “Magyars” (Hungarians), a Finno-Ugric tribe that arrived via Russia in the 9th Century, have not always had it easy, having to survive a near endless raft of invasions; but survive they did. Despite the Mongol invasion in the 13th Century, Turkish occupation in the 16th and 17th Centuries, Austrian rule in the 18th and early 19th Centuries, and communist domination in the mid 20th Century, the locals remained true to their heritage. This proud nation has a lot to offer and not just from a business perspective; it is a country now enjoying invasions of a different kind as tourists arrive to savour the evocative landscapes, rejuvenating thermal springs and the famous quality wines. You may be thinking “but what does any of this have to do with gaming and what’s the big fuss about Hungary?” The fact is that more and more iGaming businesses have trained their eyes on this charismatic little country, not only because of the recent boom in popularity of poker but also because the Hungarian people have always had
iGB Affiliate AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2009
a strong gambling culture. Allied to this is the recent success of Hungarian poker players at live events all around the world, and the hosting of live poker tournaments in the heart of Budapest, all of which helps to build an increasingly compelling proﬁle of a market on the rise; something that hasn’t escaped the attention of the gaming industry. Despite the fact players can play legally in licensed casinos and gambling halls, the last few years have seen non-licensed venues such as pubs, card-playing clubs, sports bars and night clubs also organizing games. Yet, before we get carried away with the growth of poker alone, we should also point out that it is by no means alone. The lottery has been around for a number of years and two thirds of the Hungarian adult population are regular players. Szerencsejáték Rt, the largest gambling service provider in Hungary, has an exclusive right to sell number draw games, sports bets and prize draw tickets throughout the whole territory. The company operates a number of lottery draw games, for example Scandinavian Lotto, Joker, Keno and Luxor just to mention a few. Sports bets (Toto Pools, Tippmix and Goal Toto) are also extremely popular and are available by phone, on the Internet and via SMS. The company has more than 50% market share in the Hungarian gambling market
and as a result of this, the gambling revenues per resident are the highest among the lottery companies of MiddleEastern European countries.
GAMING LAWS The gambling laws in Hungary remain a hot legal and political topic, with the European Union working hard to strike down the pertinent Hungarian laws. Hungarians can gamble at casinos, buy lottery tickets, gamble on sports and even engage in online gambling, as long as the operation is run by Hungarian state monopolies. It is illegal for Hungarian citizens to gamble online on foreign poker and casino websites, and is it illegal to advertise online gambling through any form of Hungarian Media. The Hungarian gambling laws are an example of what is happening across Europe at present. The European Union has suggested Hungary make changes in its gaming laws to remain in compliance with EU free trade practices. The crux of the EU’s argument is about Hungary’s national gambling operators, who are considered non-proﬁt operators by Hungarian law. The European Union does not see it this way, claiming that these operators advertise their products and are required to meet revenue goals. Countries in the EU are allowed to run non-proﬁt games while restricting foreign operators, but EU countries are not allowed to restrict commerce from private interests in other EU Member States, if that blocking member allows its own private enterprises to engage in the same industry. The European Union suggests that Hungarian law blocks other
European gambling interests, while allowing Hungarian businessmen to operate casinos. As many people will be only too aware, Hungary is not the only EU Member State embroiled in such legal disputes with the ‘Big Brother’ in Brussels.
LOCAL KNOWLEDGE It is important to analyze the current trends in Hungary and to understand the local gaming sector. When entering the Hungarian market, a lot of research needs to be done into the type of brands and products offered as well as on improving the existing payment methods, and making deposits and withdrawals easy – it is not uncommon for Hungarian banks to block payments to online gaming sites in order to protect themselves in the legal debate on betting abroad by Hungarian citizens. Should the Hungarian market be opened up to foreign competition, Europe will gain a vast new frontier into which the iGaming industry will expand. Several large online gambling companies have already begun market research into this possibility, to assess the Hungarian population’s gambling habits and preferred markets. Regardless of what may lie ahead for Hungary’s gambling laws, this year, Budapest will play host to several high end events and conferences for the iGaming industry. Budapest is a fantastic city split in two by the River Danube. Buda is older, hillier, and more graceful, while Pest is the commercial centre dotted by gorgeous art nouveau buildings. Budapest contains the
country’s best bars and clubs, and has been a long time haven for writers, artists and musicians. Finding your way around the city is deﬁnitely not for the faint of heart, nor is it a piece of cake and that’s before we get to the language barrier you might encounter whilst exploring the city. Not to give you a fright, but just an idea of how difﬁcult the language is; “Töredezettségmente sítõtleníttethetetlenségtelenítotlen kedhetnétek” is one of the longest words in Hungarian. This is just for the brave ones, and to be honest not very commonly used. A few Hungarian basic greetings and phrases might come in handy, and you will ﬁnd that it does make an impression if you are trying to use the local language.
THINGS TO DO IN BUDAPEST Once you have arranged your stay in Budapest, you can ﬁnd information on sightseeing tours, activities and Budapest events. Recreation is different for everyone, but in Budapest, you will ﬁnd a way to relax and the city has plenty of fun things to do. Spend a nice afternoon in one of the thermal baths, eat a Dobos cake in an elegant Budapest café, or ﬂoat up the Buda hills with the Chairlift – it’s hard to get bored in Budapest!
BLANKA HOMOR is the Afﬁliate Manager for Eurolinx.com/ Linx Casino.com and has been in the gaming industry for almost 3 years. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
iGB Affiliate AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2009
focus on hungary
GaminG in HunGary – a LegaL overvIew IntroductIon According to the unambiguous official standpoint of the Gambling Supervisory Department of the State Tax Authority (“GSD”), the supervisory authority for gambling in Hungary, in the territory of Hungary is exclusively Szerencsejáték Zrt./Gambling Ltd (the Hungarian State owned gambling organizer; “State Game Organizer”) and has the GSD licence entitling it to organize gambling on the Internet. Other gambling organizers have not obtained such licence from the GSD, and thus, they carry out illegal activity. Seeing the banners and other ads of the world’s popular online poker and sportsbetting providers on different channels of the Hungarian media, the situation, in fact, does not seem so simple.
LegaL background The above referred interpretation is based on Act XXXIV of 1991 on Gambling Operations (“Gambling Act”), which divides gambling activities into liberalised and non-liberalised activities. Liberalised activities – the operation of slot machines and non-continuously operated drawings – may be conducted by any person who obtains the GSD licence (or in certain special cases, who only announces such activity to the GSD). Non-liberalised gambling activities may exclusively be conducted by, (i) the State Game Organizer, (ii) another company exclusively owned by the State Game Organizer; (iii) an economic organisation with majority state ownership; or (iv) a company on the basis of temporary authorisation by the state in the form of a concession agreement.
In addition, lottery and betting, except for horserace betting and bookmaker type betting, shall exclusively be conducted by the State Game Organizer, i.e. not even a concession can be granted for these activities.
requIrements for onLIne gambLIng In Hungary The Gambling Act uses the expression “communications equipment and network”, which includes any equipment or network system that features specific functions to allow a player to make a declaration or to perform an action by which to enter a game of chance covered under the Gambling Act. Such are, in particular, entry forms with or without address, standard letters, order forms published in advertisements placed in newspapers, catalogues, telephone sets, automatic calling devices, radio, video phones, videotext (with microcomputer screen) with keyboard or with touchscreen, the Internet, electronic mail (e-mail), facsimile machines and television sets. The Gambling Act stipulates that any services involving gambling (including betting) activities provided from the territory of the Republic of Hungary through communications equipment and networks must be conducted under the provisions of the Gambling Act. Accordingly, all operations of gambling activities must be authorized by the GSD, save for the exceptions set out in the Gambling Act. The GSD shall grant authorization only if the applicant meets the required personnel, equipment and economic conditions.
For the authorization of gambling activities conducted through communications equipment and network, the operator must comply with the general requirements set forth in the Gambling Act, and shall verify: a) having provided sufficient information to the players via communications equipment and network concerning the risk factors involved; b) providing adequate protection of players’ personal data and other personal rights; c) that the requirement of random selection is ensured by way of auditing the electronic gaming systems. In addition to the above general rules, certain special provisions – mainly restrictions –determine online gambling activities in Hungary as follows: ●● Any publication of announcements for soliciting players for any game of chance through communications equipment and networks is subject to authorization by the GSD. ●● Drawing games are not authorized to be offered through communications equipment and networks; casinos shall not be authorized to offer any casino games via communications equipment and networks and casinos cannot be operated through communications equipment and networks.
tHe wIndmILL fIgHtIng agaInst onLIne gambLIng Although the Hungarian State allegedly endeavours to protect its consumers (and certainly, the monopolistic position of the State Game Organizer) by all possible means, online gambling manifestly runs
iGB Affiliate AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2009
focus on hungary
well in Hungary. One reason for this is that Hungarian authorities have no jurisdiction over most online gambling organisers, since their servers are typically located outside of Hungary. The Hungarian State has tried to find alternative ways to prevent illegal (cross border) online gambling. Originally, there was a complete ban on any advertising or promotional activities related to foreign gambling operations; the advertising customer, the advertising service provider and the publisher were jointly held liable for any violation of such advertisement ban. Due to the cumulative pressure of the EU with reference to the principle of free movement of services, the Hungarian Parliament has deleted this ban. This was seen later as timely, as according to a new decision of the Metropolitan Court of Budapest, the above advertisement ban provision was in conflict with the founding treaties of the European Union, as it was unambiguous that the Hungarian legislator has preferred the national gambling monopoly in an unacceptable way. According to this decision, the questionable provision was obviously discriminative without reasonable justification: while the State Game Organizer had the opportunity to advertise its services in a wide range, other service providers of the EU were not allowed to do so. It is to be noted that it is still very rare that a Hungarian court would apply community law directly, as in this case. After repealing the advertisement ban, the legislator amended the Gambling Act stipulating that financial institutions and providers of communications services may not participate in the publication or acceptance of announcements for soliciting players for unauthorized gambling operations (i.e. without a GSD licence), nor provide technical assistance for such. In addition, no sales, organization and mediation activities may be pursued in Hungary in connection with any game of chance without a GSD licence. Notwithstanding the above restrictions on financial institutions and providers of communications services, no implementation rules and sanctions were introduced, rendering these provisions lex imperfecta; i.e. basically useless. The GSD and the Hungarian Financial Supervisory Authority (the supervisory authority for the financial sector in
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Hungary) can admittedly not enforce the ban without such detailed rules.
HungarIan IntentIons to reguLate onLIne gambLIng In the autumn of 2008, it seemed that the government could no longer tolerate illegal Internet gambling providers threatening the state’s economic interests. Not only had the missing tax revenues irritated the state, but also the possible harms of consumer rights arising from the uncontrolled activity of the foreign gambling organisers. In order to regulate this expanding and currently unrestrained sector of the gambling business, the government had initiated the amendment of the Gambling Act. According to the draft amendment bill, an enterprise having its seat in the European Economic Area (“EEA”) could publish offers on the Internet available to Hungarian consumers with respect to bookmaker type sportsbetting and horserace betting if the GSD had registered it. Practically, this means that poker and casino games, for example, would still not have been eligible for authorisation. The GSD would have registered the applicant if – among others – it had been entitled to carry out gambling organizing activity in at least one of the EEA member states other than Hungary, and furthermore, it had actually been carrying out such activity for five years prior to requiring the registration. The minimum registered capital of the applicant would have been approximately €3,570,000. The registration would have lasted for the period during which the applicant actually carries out such activity in another EEA member state, but for a maximum of five years. The bill would not only have given the right to the GSD to fine the non-registered foreign entities, but it would also have even entitled it to penalize electronic communications service providers. In case the GSD had established that the organizing of online gambling is unlawful, then the GSD should have notified the electronic communications services provider to make the offer unavailable in its network. In case the electronic communications services provider would not have fulfilled this obligation, it would have been fined between €1,800 and €35,700. The gaming tax would have been a flat rate tax, i.e. €3,570,000 per year, but
this could have changed according to experience gained. After all, the government has revoked the bill (containing a large number of other additional, non-gambling related financial rules) and currently it is difficult to assess what is happening behind the scenes.
sHort overvIew of Hungary’s posItIon In tHe eu; tHe future The European Commission sent a letter of formal notice to – among others – Hungary in April 2006, as the first step in an infringement procedure. Based on the Hungary’s response, it has not verified that the restrictions are compatible with Article 49 of the EC Treaty, which guarantees the free movement of services; in particular, the measures taken by Hungary have not been shown to be necessary, proportionate and non-discriminatory. In March 2007, the Commission – as a second step – formally requested Hungary, Denmark and Finland to amend their laws accordingly. In case of a non-satisfactory reply, the Commission was entitled to refer the matter to the ECJ, however, pursuant to the information available, such measure was not taken. Based on the recent resolution of the European Parliament on the integrity of online gambling, in which it calls on the member states and the Commission to co-operate and to take certain measures by focusing on the possible solutions, it is obvious that Hungary – like a number of other EU states – has much to do in the future. It is yet to be seen how the legislator decides to act, especially in today’s financially hit times.
Dr. Gábor Damjanovic is a partner of Forgó, Varga & Partners, a full service business law firm located in Budapest, Hungary. Gábor is a transactional lawyer with a significant track record in cross border, as well as inward investment transactions. He has a focus on the gaming and betting industry, having provided advice to casino investors, betting companies and those involved in online gaming. His experience includes regulatory issues, transactional advice and concession agreement negotiations with the Hungarian State. email@example.com
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focus on hungary - speaker spot
a neW Marketing Frontier as part of our build up to the Budapest affiliate Conference, we invited event speaker, niall o’Malley, to cast his eye over the ever-timely and keenly discussed area of social media. With youth-orientated consumer brands flocking to a ‘social media’ strategy in some shape or form, it is becoming more common that companies are experiencing a social media backlash. With a digitally evolved audience, the gaming industry is in a prime position to either set a gold standard for the way in which brands should work within social media or, alternatively, become the poster-boy for an industry who simply does not ‘get it’. To plot a course through the social media minefield, it is important not to get caught up in the buzz surrounding a particular social media platform – Twitter or Facebook, for example – and quite often there may be strong political pressure to focus an initiative around that platform. This means that the focus of the activity is on the medium, rather than the target audience, at the expense of the broader business objectives.
Managing a brand’s reputation In the old world, a central tenet of the PR skill set was the ability to develop and maintain relationships with the relevant journalists across the media in order to secure coverage. Straightforward enough, but what happens when the most influential media is no longer controlled by professional journalists, but by ordinary citizens? It’s safe to say that social media is now just as influential as commercial media in terms of informing consumers’ attitudes to brands and purchasing decisions, and in all likelihood, the influence of social media is set to increase further. But this presents a challenge to the established way of working in PR; if the media is no longer driven by the few, but by the many, how do brands identify and engage with key influencers in order to communicate their messages to appropriate audiences? The bad news for old-school PR practitioners is that the rise of social
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media has made life a lot more complicated. But the good news, for those who are prepared to embrace change and take the time to develop their understanding of social media, is that the new world offers opportunity for far more productive dialogue with their audiences.
How does tHis cHange wHat success looks like? It is assumed that online PR is much easier to measure than offline. Measurement has traditionally been a weak point for PR, because measuring propensity to purchase and brand favourability is very difficult, and, therefore, expensive. The cost of this kind of measurement can often seem disproportionate compared to the overall cost of the campaign. Doing things online makes measurement a little easier and less expensive. While there are still many questions about the best way to measure the ROI of social media campaigns, the simple fact that we are dealing with online interactions means that a wealth of new metrics are available. Some of these are useful, others are just distractions, but they all provide a level of data which is far more robust than the kind of measurement tools that have traditionally been used for offline PR. Setting objectives as a series of illconceived quantitative KPIs will not achieve much. For example, a company might invest some money in a viral video clip and set the objective as “achieve one million views on YouTube for our clip”. This objective is easy to fudge, there are plenty of ways to get a lot of people to view a video clip, but there are no guarantees that any of those people are in the relevant audience group or have any degree of influence. In other words, the objective can easily be accomplished without making any progress at all towards the desired business goal.
a new way to tell stories Conventional marketing campaigns are often characterised by a single big idea; one overarching message. In social media, we have to think about the ‘long tail’ – the idea that large numbers of smaller niche audiences can be more important than a big single audience. What this means is that instead of trying to bludgeon everybody over the head with a headline message, companies need to think of ways to break it down into smaller messages which can be more tightly targeted at those smaller audiences. This way, key messages will resonate louder with the people you reach. Instead of focusing on narrowly defined key messages, companies need to think about how they can give their audiences the broader picture about a brand. The days of feeding the public a company’s official line are long gone – consumers in general are more savvy and aware of the way businesses use marketing. This is one of the most important things brands should understand about social media marketing; you cannot exercise tight control over your message anymore and if you try to, there is a very real danger of things blowing up in your face.
Niall O’Malley is Group Account Director at immediate future. immediate future is an independent PR agency. Launched in 2004, the digital PR company creates new models and methods for managing reputations and amplifying marketing messages online. Working with major brands, immediate future has developed award-winning online and social media initiatives for companies such as Sony Europe, BBC, Diageo, BT, ASOS, Mirror Group, Cancer Research, NSPCC, EMI, Ferraro and Kenwood.
Search expert gary beal provides the final instalment of his 2009 SEO trilogy for iGB Affiliate.
As mentioned in the first part of this article in the April/May edition of iGB Affiliate magazine, these tips are for beginner to advanced SEOs. I have arranged these tips into a step-by-step strategy that almost anyone with a bit of knowledge can implement. The first part covers getting your website in shape, and the latter half will give you strategies to take advantage of the work you have done. Having covered steps 7 to 9 in the previous issue, here, we will tackle the final steps, 10 to 12, which cover the following: ●● Using social bookmarking websites for short-term ranking boost and blogs/ forums to establish long term trust and authority ●● Targeting Universal Search Results ●● Creating a Link Acquisition Campaign.
10. Use social bookmarking websites for short-term ranking boost and blogs/ forUms to establish long term trUst and aUthority Social Bookmarking – Wikipedia defines it: “in a social bookmarking system, users store lists of Internet resources that they find useful. These lists are accessible to the public or a specific network, and other people with similar interests can view the links by category, tags, or even randomly. Most social bookmarking services allow users to search for bookmarks which are associated with given “tags”, and rank the resources by the number of users which have bookmarked them. Many social bookmarking services also have implemented algorithms to draw inferences from the tag keywords that are assigned to resources by examining the clustering of particular keywords, and the relation of keywords to one another.” GaryTheScubaGuy defines it this way:
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One of the best free ways to get increased ranking, back links and traffic, for very little time commitment other than setup. This very moment, most search engine algorithms are placing a ton of weight on end-user ‘bookmarking’, ‘tagging’ or one of various types of end-user generated highlighting. Before doing any of this, run a rank report to track your progress. I have tested this on terms showing on page one, on terms ranked 11th through 12th and others buried around pages 5-10. It works on them all in different time frames, and they last for different periods of time. This you will need to test yourself. Be careful because you don’t want to be identified as a spammer. Be sure to use genuine content that provides a benefit to the user. Here is how I recommend using social bookmarking: 1. download roboform. (It says it will limit you but I’ve had as many as 30+ passwords created and stored in the trial version) This will allow you to quickly fill out signup forms and store passwords for the 10 Bookmark sites that I am going to be sending you to. 2. within roboform, go to the custom area and put a username and password in, as well as your other information that sites usually ask for to register. This way, when you are using these different bookmarks it’s a one-click login in and becomes a relatively quick and painless procedure. 3. establish accounts with these social bookmark sites; a. Digg b. Technorati c. Del.icio.us d. NowPublic e. StumbleUpon
f. BlinkList g. Spurl h. Furl i. Slashdot j. Simpy k. Google Toolbar (w/Google Bookmarking) 4. internet explorer, Firefox and most other browsers have an “add a tab” option, but I use Firefox because I can bookmark the login pages in one file, then “open all tabs” in one click. From here, I click on each tab and in most cases, if you set it up right, Roboform will have already logged you in. Otherwise, you’re on the login page and by clicking on the Roboform button everything is prefilled, all you need to do is click submit. (Some of the bookmark sites will allow you to add their button into your browser bar, or you can get an extension from Firefox like the Digg Add-on to make things quicker.) 5. lastly, install the google toolbar It has a bookmark function as well, and you can import all your bookmarks from Firefox directly into it. Google looks at many different things when assigning rank and trust. For instance, when you search for something and go into a website, Google will remember how long you stayed, how deep you went, and if you came back out into the search to select another site, which means you didn’t find what you were looking for. This is all part of the Privacy Issues that have been in the news.
here’s what google actUally says! “The Google Toolbar automatically sends only standard, limited information to Google, which may be retained in Google’s server logs. It does not send
any information about the web pages you visit (e.g., the URL), unless you use Toolbar’s advanced features.” They practically spell it out for you. Use their bookmark feature just like you were doing the social bookmarking I outlined above. This is just one more click. Some of the elements that Google looks at when grading a website are: ●● How much time did the average visitor spend on the site? ●● What is the bounce rate on the landing page? ●● How many end-users bookmarked the page? ●● How many users returned to the search query and then on to a different site? Each time you publish an article put a Google Alert on a unique phrase. Each time Google sends you an alert, bookmark it on every bookmark site. This will take some getting used to, but will eventually become secondnature. Remember what I said in the beginning; “One of the best free ways to get links and traffic, for very little time commitment other than setup”.
11. Target Universal Search Results Universal or ‘Blended Search’ is still fairly new in the search engines and they are working hard at filtering the bad sites from the good sites, but they are also delivering much more than websites in the results. You may have seen this when doing a search and you see a video in the top 5 results. Google has turned off their supplemental filter and each time a query is entered, they virtually search their entire database for relevant results. The significant difference now is that the results will often include videos, news articles, .doc, .xls and .pdf docs, forums posts and other data in their inventory. All of these can be optimised for search. One example is to use Adobe Pro to convert pages of your website into a PDF format. Name the file using your keywords and optimise the document just like you would a website using
H1-H5 header tags, linked images and keyword anchor text that links back to your website. Any links within your PDF or Word doc will credit the links within the document and will deliver additional traffic streams. I used this method a year or so ago on many of my documents and all are indexed and all show in the results (search Top 12 SEO Tips for 2008). PDFs are showing up more and more in the top results lately so this can be significant. Video is incredibly viral. Great examples are videos of people hitting jackpots on slots. Even just a snapshot of a winner has proven to be a huge traffic source for casino and slot websites. Create separate xml sitemaps for each set of videos or documents and submit them manually through Webmaster Central. Be sure to list each individually in your robots.txt file to tell Google where they are located.
12. Create a Link Acquisition Campaign If you haven’t done this yet, you are already behind. Link building is an acceptable practice if it is done the right way. Link Building – the right way You need to set some type of budget. Whether you’re an individual with one or two accounts, or an agency with dozens, you need to have some type of budget set aside for this. It can be money or it can be time. Here is how I segment my campaigns; 15% – 25% to purchase 1-way back links. I create custom/bespoke articles that will compliment the owner’s site, and that have my keyword phrase within it as my anchor text. I also make sure that it is a relevant site to my article/anchor text. 25% – 30% reciprocal link exchange. Not text links. I create custom/bespoke articles that will compliment the owner’s site, and that have my keyword phrase within it as my anchor text. I also make sure that it is a relevant site to my article/ anchor text. 25% for blogs and forums. It’s considered Guerrilla Marketing. This
iGB Affiliate AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2009
Boxing Clever – Poker affIlIates and the economy
Grant Williams is Head of Gaming at the Gaming Media Group and over the last five years has overseen the launch of PokerHeaven.com, CasinoJoy.com and BingoJoy.com.
Poker has had its boom and the economy has certainly had its slide, but has the latter significantly impacted the amount people visiting the online poker felt? Gaming media Group’s grant Williams investigates.
If I had a dollar for every time someone in 2009 has uttered the immortal line of “gambling being a recession proof industry”, then I might have been playing in this year’s WSOP Main Event instead of once again thinking “if only”. But are the experts right when they make this claim? If you take a look at Poker Scout’s ACES indicator it shows that online poker traffic numbers are growing at an annual rate of 20%, so at a first glance it looks like we can still sleep easy at night. The Alexa rankings continue to show gaming sites sitting in a healthy position for incoming traffic while globally there were over 2.7 million individual searches for the term ‘poker’ in June of this year, once again illustrating that the interest is still very much clear and present. However, if you dig a little deeper beneath the surface there are trends appearing to suggest that in these tough economic times, if poker sites and affiliates are to continue to grow, the need to box a bit cleverer might be the order of the day. I think nearly everyone would agree that the initial poker boom from the ‘Moneymaker’ era looks to have run its course, and there is no question that UIGEA meant everyone in the industry had to take a step back and review their strategies. Yet, heading into the secondhalf of 2009 and with the US issue still very much far from resolved, are we starting to see the first real signs of the European market slowing down from a revenue generating perspective? Some of the recent results that have been announced by listed companies show that while registrations and new depositing players continue to perform well, the spend per player seems to be
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on a downward curve, and with reduced player numbers being reported in most of the WSOP events this year, it would appear that while people are still playing the game of poker, they might not be playing it as much. With broadband penetration continuing to grow in Europe and tours such as the European Poker Tour and European Masters of Poker further spreading the good word, lots of opportunities still exist for affiliates to bring in new players from new countries to grow their revenue streams. However, if it is to become a boxing match, what should the fight plan be? While it is a well trodden line that I am sure has graced many a page of this publication before, it still amazes me how many affiliates in this industry (especially new entrants) simply base their business models around the highest commission deals they get from a site. The competitive nature of online poker has reached new highs over the last couple of years, and while the sites that have stayed in the US have unquestionably gained a considerable advantage, the current market leaders have certainly set the benchmark for the entertainment values and standards we all need to reach. Online poker genuinely deserves its place as a leader in the online entertainment bracket, and new players coming into the market need to be welcomed and nurtured with a variety of offers and tools so that in 12 to 18 months time, these players will not only have developed their poker playing skills to a winning level, but will still be playing at the same site and still generating monthly commissions for the initial affiliate referrer.
“It stIll amazes me how many affIlIates In thIs Industry base theIr busIness models around the hIghest commIssIon deals they get from a sIte.” For affiliates, it is vital to look at the entertainment and brand values of any poker room they plan to work with and to ask themselves the simple question of whether the room has all the necessary tools, ammunition and resources to manage the lifetime cycle of a new poker player, or even that of an established VIP who is looking to move software. With PPC back in the mix in the UK, Austria and Italy (with more countries rumoured to be following), affiliates are now being forced to add this to their organic SEO strategies. So with rising costs and increased opportunities for new affiliate sites to enter the fray, running the necessary due diligence on who you work with is imperative. As more affiliates continue to compete in both mature and emerging markets, and if player spend values continue to diminish, then the need to be selective on where to send traffic becomes even more vital, as does the need for poker affiliates to diversify their businesses by looking at promoting other gaming products and becoming more in the way of genuine content publishers. Affiliates should never be afraid to challenge a poker room as to what their plans are for converting and retaining players in these tough times – in fact, all poker rooms with strong foundations and proven models should embrace the question and be concerned if they don’t get asked it.
Online GaminG – a British institutiOn? now that online gambling in the UK is firmly established what will the impact be on gambling affiliates? RepResentation on the FTSE 100 and numerous Rich lists, TV advertising on mainstream channels and link ups with established blue chip companies and mainstream brands; online gambling can say that it has become a mainstay of the British business community. This growth did not happen without multiple success stories, and these successes had to be built upon quality marketing campaigns – campaigns which culminated in lots of people gambling online, successfully! Now that online gambling is firmly established surely this means the boom times are over? Of course, you will find existing players opening multiple accounts, but brand new players will certainly be harder to source. A tailing off of business will lead the larger businesses to start planning for their future growth and more likely than not, this will involve one or more of the following: 1. New markets or new products 2. Managing their existing databases better – otherwise known as a shift from an acquisition to a retention model. What will this mean for gambling affiliates in the UK market? Does this shift spell the end for affiliates in the UK, particularly since their growth has been built on acquisition revenues? If they have not already, leading affiliates will eventually start seeing statistics suggesting a gradual tailing off of new account openings from the established brands in the market. If they worked on a CPA basis this will hopefully have dawned on them already – fewer new accounts will immediately spell lower revenues. If they worked on a tenancy basis with their partners the operators will soon spot the trend if they haven’t already; their CPA will start rising and no doubt the affiliate will be made aware at the earliest opportunity. If they work on a profit or revenue share basis, this trend
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is something that may become apparent in your statistics and revenues sooner rather than later. Affiliates working on any of the above deal structures will eventually have to confront the inevitability that on some products in the UK market, they are going to see a decline in their acquisition revenues. Does this mean that the hardy drinking affiliate will have less cash to splash at the next gaming conference? God forbid! The pinch will definitely be felt hardest by the smaller affiliates who may not have diversified into promoting new products or into new markets. I suspect larger affiliates could cope easier for a couple of reasons: 1. They may have already diversified into future growth areas 2. Retention – this is easier for the larger affiliate who may have sites with greater loyalty and a sense of community based on greater repeat traffic. It is debateable whether an affiliate can be held to account for publishing a page full of all the free money offers during the boom times. This is certainly what most affiliates have done over the past 12 to 24 months in the UK online bingo market. However, there is only so long that the operators can participate in a land grab, aimed at beefing up their databases with possible loss-leading or at best, unsustainable, offers. But what will be interesting is seeing how affiliates re-shape their businesses, their marketing plans, strategies and tactics to try and help operators retain players as opposed to engendering player promiscuity. How can affiliates promote retention? Many affiliates are already working to promote retention, and increase player activity rather than focusing solely on acquisition. However, it has to be understood that those with some foresight will focus on this element of their businesses more.
Banners, on-site promotions, listings and newsletters can include information on the following types of retention programs: loyalty points, re-deposit bonuses and prize draws. They can also focus on the perks of playing at a particular site such as upcoming events, celebrity chats or interviews, upcoming cheap games, upcoming free games, guaranteed jackpots, huge jackpots and winnable jackpots. These are some of the tools at an affiliate’s disposal as opposed to just sign up offers. This in turn should encourage more player activity and greater revenues despite fewer new sign ups. For example, the new Bingobase.com site allows players to set reminders for the next free game or next game which has a guaranteed jackpot, ensuring that players do not forget where and when they wished to play, even in the future. People are going to play at poker, casino and bingo sites for as long as the Internet exists, so any affiliates that have databases can continue to drive revenue as long as they work with hardworking, reputable brands that are in the game for the long run. The lesson for affiliates may be to think twice before promoting any shabby new site with a large free money offer – stop and consider where the revenues will be coming from in the medium to long term (unless of course the shabby operator converts and is willing to work on a generous CPA model).
Raj Ramanandi is the Managing Director of Digital Prophets Ltd, operators of leading portals such as Bingobase. com Freebingo.net & SuperFreeSlots. co.uk amongst others. Raj has been in the iGaming industry for the past 8 years working in commercial and marketing roles for numerous leading operators and affiliates. Bingobase will be hosting the opening night Bingo Beers at the upcoming Budapest Affiliate Conference.
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affiLiation in a muLti market environment For EuropEan opErators, managing both global and local affiliates is imperative. With competition between operators within the large affiliate networks getting more intense and the amount and quality of local affiliates increasing, how can we ensure every affiliate segment has the most effective support, product campaigns, marketing materials and focus for them and the operator to succeed? Unlike with media buying, operators cannot just throw money at affiliation and get a quick return. They need to build solid relationships with their affiliates allowing the affiliate to realise the business opportunity, real earning potential and in turn, understand which brands they should focus their attention on. What are some of the key areas to focus on?
Structure It is essential to have a dual global and local structure covering key markets, relying on managing everything centrally will mean missing out on key opportunities. For example, at Expekt we have account managers sitting locally in eighteen different European markets, with another three country focused managers based centrally in Malta. We then have a further five in the online marketing team sitting centrally dealing with the management of the program and global account management. This structure allows us to ensure we can effectively manage all segments of affiliates, large, small and both single and multi market.
LocaL management Having a manager in each market ensures that we understand the nuances of that market when it comes to both players and affiliates. This is especially important when devising strategies for mature Vs growth markets. For example, we have found that deal structures for affiliates often have to be more aggressive in the mature markets where there is more saturation in terms of quality affiliates. In growth markets, getting in quick with the key players in the market is one of the key success factors, building a solid business relationship and growing the brand and developing the product offering â€“
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this cannot be done without people on the ground.
optimisation for the affiliate and the operator.
Large multimarket affiliates require excellent account management in order to succeed; as with all things, you will only get out what you put in. As well as having a strong central affiliate team, the ability to manage these deals effectively is dependent on having a good local structure. If a global affiliate is pushing out marketing messages and acquiring players in five European markets in five different languages, there needs to be insight into those markets in terms of products, games/events, campaigns and messaging for that deal to work.
In some cases, operators have affiliate teams that operate slightly outside from rest of the marketing department. The way the business is done in affiliation is different to media buying but in reality, that is only in the deal structure and the end product is the sameâ€Ś new customers. At Expekt, affiliate data and results are analysed in conjunction with all other sources of traffic and players in order to understand the full picture and optimise what we do for both ourselves and our affiliates. For example, if we have a big branding push on TV and are running a tactical press campaign in a key market, we need to ensure that our affiliates can take advantage of that and profit from those investments.
Product Having multiple products means that we need to understand fully which products, games/events are the best for which markets. There is no point to push an unpopular product or game to a specific market if it is not possible to convert the players, affiliates will soon start looking to other brands to push and earn from. The key to understanding this is through communication within the organisation and ensuring regular, formalised discussion between affiliate managers, country managers, product managers, bookmakers (sportsbook) and customer support.
camPaignS As with products, campaigns need both a local and a global focus. Campaign management across twenty markets in twenty languages requires a lot of support from product managers and production teams. In most cases, there will be global and local campaigns running at all times. The key is to understand which are the most effective through which affiliates and which markets. For example, are certain campaigns more effective for SEO focused affiliates in comparison to those who concentrate on lead generation? Does this differ by market, especially in terms of mature Vs growth markets? Learning about these global/ local campaigns and their potential success with different segments of affiliates will enable learning and
deaL StructureS Flexible commission structures and payments options are integral to succeeding in working in multiple markets. There are significant differences particularly in how Western, Central Eastern and Eastern European affiliates would like to deal (CPA Vs Rev share, percentages required, etc) and through which methods they would like to be paid.
in Summary As the market becomes more and more competitive and player acquisition becomes more challenging, we need to work smart to ensure we maximise our investments. Our affiliates will also need to do the same. Only through offering flexibility, globally and locally, will we maximise the potential. This requires investment in both local and global resources and ensuring that communication exists throughout the organisation. As we need to communicate with our customers in their own language and strive to understand their needs and wants, so we need to do the same with our affiliates. LLoyd Purser is the Head of Online Marketing at Expekt, and has over ten years experience in both traditional and online marketing.
The World’s local Brand to successfully operate online gaming in asia, the application of ‘Local Knowledge’ to business and marketing strategies is more important than having deep pockets.
I cannot agree more with the HSBC marketing messages that the application of ‘Local Intelligence’ to business and marketing strategies is pivotal to business success. That, what is right can be wrong if it is in the wrong place at the wrong time. The same theory applies to our industry, online gaming. For example, a successful Western operator might not be successful when trying to replicate its business from the West to Asia, hence market ‘localization’ has become a must read topic for operators who are eager to penetrate the Asian market, or any foreign culture outside their business expertise, in a smart and cost effective manner. There is a legendary story retold many times in our company; an experienced, successful operator approached us believing they had a very comprehensive gaming site, ready to be integrated into our Live Dealer product and ready to market into Asia. I said that in order to assist him more comprehensively I would need to study the site and evaluate what was the best way to promote the new service. During the study, so many basic language errors were evident that I almost fell off my chair: ‘home’ became ‘house’, ‘deposit’ became ‘savings’, ‘withdrawals’ became ‘exit’ etc, etc. I had to ask him to re-do the site and ultimately we had to produce a white label for him from scratch. With full localization the customer made a much smarter and stronger decision. Localization is a broad topic, it is more than accurate translation; it also includes URL selection and decision, theme colour, navigation, site context, products, payments, operational style and much more.
URL Chinese players tend not to remember long, European style URLs such as BetOnEurope.com, as they have little affinity with, or understanding of, the name. Therefore, we need to design something remarkable and easy for them whilst retaining brand identity, such as BetO8OO.com, O8OO being a lucky number in Chinese culture and also a toll free code.
Theme CoLoUR Traditionally, it is thought that red is the best colour for Chinese players. This is
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partly true as this colour is not too sharp to view on the screen. Colours such as black, blue, green, yellow and orange are also suitable as long as it fits the brand character.
NavigaTioN Many clients ask me these questions; “Are our odds the best in the market?” and, “How can we do better?” Guess what? Asian players are smart, but also very lazy and impatient. If you have the best odds but combine them with poor navigation flow, these customers will leave to play with another merchant who offers ‘the fewest steps to bet’ – good examples would be bet365, 188bet and fun88 where players can complete the whole sign up and bet process within three clicks. Direction is another big issue in navigation. Some merchants try to sell a lot of products on the home page but most players go directly to their preferred option, ignoring other products completely. It is very important not to inhibit a player reaching their preferred option before trying to sell on other products. Adding a pop-up under the logout page would be a good tactic. Of course, there are the adventurous players who like to explore all options before making a deposit; this is where you need to offer a download button, default page or add-to-favourite button to encourage them to play. You probably know all about these tools but have never thought about the level of importance of using them.
SiTe CoNTeNT If I were writing this article prior to 2004 I would be recommending two types of Chinese character; Simplified and Traditional. But now, unless you target Taiwan, it is sufficient to focus only on Simplified Chinese, which is gaining global popularity. It is highly recommended that all sites begin with a good ‘About Us’ section as this is the soul of a good gaming site that is attractive to Chinese players and creates a level of trustworthiness. You might be number one in another country but you need to demonstrate this to the local player. Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) is a lot cheaper if you maximise brand strength and background and carry it across all advertising campaigns. Consider, after a player enters your site,
what you would like them to do next. Sign up, of course. Some Western operators are hindered by the Know Your Customer (KYC) policy and require customers to complete four to five pages of personal details in order to open an account. Chinese players would be reluctant to give personal details at this point and would be extremely wary of giving bank details. We would recommend simplifying the sign up process to a half-page form asking for name, bank account name, phone number and email address. Next to each personal detail add a field which explains why you need this information, e.g. bank account name – for payouts; phone number – for SMS passwords; email – to activate sign up bonuses. You will be impressed with the ratio of genuine data given compared to rivals who do not take the time to construct this section properly. As soon as sign up is completed you want the customer to make a deposit. It is important to clearly detail here all available deposit methods along with T&C details. Instead of a ‘submit’ button have a ‘deposit now’ button.
PRodUCT If you ask me what the most important element of localization is, I would say product. The one thing that has changed least in the past decade is the popularity of soccer. If you want to penetrate the Asian market, soccer is a direct route to goal. Asian Handicap and in-game betting are must have products, followed by NBA and Live Casino. If you target Japan and Taiwan, baseball should also be offered.
aSiaN haNdiCaP Do you know why some of the most popular products were invented by underground bookies? The answer is straightforward – they were closest to the customers and knew their needs. Asian Handicap is a good example. It was introduced by Chinese underground bookies over 40 years ago and has since been adopted by European gaming giants such as Ladbrokes and William Hill. The product has evolved over the last five years after Betfair entered the Asian market. Players like having choice and bookies now offer multiple Asian Handicap.
iN-RUNNiNg I’m sure that all bookies would agree that
this product offers the highest turnover levels for them. Consider yourself BAD if you only offer a hundred in-running match odds per weekend, GOOD if you offer a thousand and EXCELLENT if you offer over two thousand.
Live CaSiNo Ten years ago, players had easy access to RNG casino games and, on almost every forum, losing players would complain about results fixing. Thanks to Mr Peter Kjaer, the concept of Live Casino was demonstrated to the world on the Internet. This is a very Asian-centric product which fills the Chinese gambler’s needs perfectly – seeing is believing. Chinese players like to see the shuffling and dealing of the cards taking place openly in front of them. They want to be able to shop around before sitting at a table. They want to be able to see who placed a bet on what. They want to follow lucky players and vice versa, gang up against the house, bet together with a lot of people and enjoy the atmosphere, just as if they are sitting in a land based casino. Good Live Casino software should give you all of the aforementioned features but also focus on fairness of the game and player experience. When we talk of fairness in this context it is not necessarily just the security and accuracy of the game, but what concerns players most, for example, “is the game in real time?” “How do you prove the game is not prerecorded?” This is what a good software developer should consider in the design of a Live Casino platform. Players’ experience is what makes software successful; the ease of placing a bet and product presentation should score highest during player acquisition. Previously, software styles were mixed, combining sex with gambling. In the Chinese world these two never mix – a sexy banner would attract the highest click rate but the lowest conversion. We completed a study using one sexy dealer wearing a see-through top and one traditionally dressed dealer. The study lasted three months and concluded that there was no difference in P&L; the main difference was in bandwidth consumption (I’m sure you know why). Of course, it is nice to have something
beautiful to look at but we would say that offering freedom of choice is most important when selecting software. Offering different themes or even a private table where it is possible to select a style of dealer would be best. I once suggested a sexy male dealer which, as you can imagine, fell on deaf ears with all the men in my group.
PokeR aNd oTheR P2P gameS I love Texas Hold’em and other P2P games such as Mahjong, DDZ, Big2 and 13cards. Mahjong is the one exception to the localization of product success theory. Quite a number of vendors have tried to offer this product but none have been successful to date, neither those built in the West nor the East. The biggest barrier has been collusion and navigation. Mahjong is a very complicated game with lots of regional rules and it has proven difficult to create a universal product that fits all countries, therefore, it is hard to pool liquidity. I will not talk about collusion here as this could be a few hundred pages of explanation but do feel free to email me if you would like to discuss this further.
PaymeNT Did I mention that I was first in sales of 1-Pay.com six years ago? If you want to be in Asia you need a Neteller-style of payment solutions. I’m sure you’ve heard that a small payment company got into difficulty recently and I would recommend a reliable partner for this critical operation. This might be a little more expensive but it would be cost effective in the long term.
oPeRaTioNS The style of operations might seem irrelevant – you could say it only revolves around CRM, fraud, risk control and CS. The truth is, due to cultural reasons, Chinese players like to remain ‘untouched’ and maintain a low profile. They do not like to be called and would prefer not to be emailed at all and might even feel you were spying on them if you start offering them a bonus every week. We can develop and discuss this point more fully at the Budapest Affiliate Conference… see you there!
Celia Ho is sales and Marketing director at entertasia Technology company. Through her deep understanding and knowledge of the cultural requirements of the asian markets, celia is now the sales and Marketing director and a senior Management executive at entertasia Technology, part of the MacoM Group.
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IS THE GRASS GREENER? Having always wondered whether afﬁliate managers would rather be in the shoes of the afﬁliates reporting into them, we asked OLBG’s new Online Marketing Manager, Sinead Lambert to give us a personal account of her transition from afﬁliate manager to afﬁliate
I’M MOVING TO MALAYSIA and was going to take some time out, but then the wonderful people at OLBG offered me a job – a job that I could do from Malaysia! Understanding what a great opportunity this was, I snapped their hands off. Actually, looking back on it, I may have dropped a few hints before they asked me. Either way, I’m now working from home in Dublin and by the time you read this, will be in the process of moving to Malaysia.
TRANSITION Making the move from afﬁliate manager to afﬁliate is something I’m still getting used to. They are completely different roles. In one role, I had to manage a team, deal with several different departments on a daily basis, attend a million meetings a day and in the other role, I’m at home in my track suit bottoms trying desperately not to eat the entire contents of my fridge. But seriously, I loved my four years working with Paddy Power and am really enjoying my new role in OLBG. In fact, I would recommend all afﬁliate managers and afﬁliates do a job swap; to see how the other half live. One thing that is apparent is that there is a huge gap in communication between the two; something that needs to be addressed.
AFFILIATES Afﬁliates Managers are not on call 24/7, your commissions are probably late
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because of the accounts department. Your Afﬁliate Manager did not steal your commission (one afﬁliate actually accused me of going on holiday with his money).
AFFILIATE MANAGERS Afﬁliates don’t just work three to four hours a day. They work longer and harder than most AMs I know. They are chasing payment because they have bills to pay, not because they want to waste your time. Afﬁliate Managers need to understand that it costs afﬁliates money to market their company’s products; their commissions are not simply 100% proﬁt. I’m sure a lot of afﬁliates think Afﬁliate Managers have it easy, ‘swaning’ around to all the different conferences with their expense accounts (those days are gone for me). However, it’s a tougher job than it may appear. You have to deal with every department under the sun, meet monthly targets and get more accounts than last year on less money. An Afﬁliate Manger’s main priorities are to make sure the afﬁliates are getting paid on time, getting all the information they need and that they’re doing OK. That does sound easy enough when put like that, but multiply that by thousands of afﬁliates and throw in a few “eccentric” afﬁliates for good measure, and that gives you an idea of what your Afﬁliate Manager has to do on a daily basis. Just be patient with them, they’re not ignoring you, and hold your horses before going to the forums.
Afﬁliates on the other hand have to be a jack of all trades – techie, marketing guru, designer, accountant and sometimes debt collector when chasing commissions. I’m not sure Afﬁliate Managers realise the amount of work and time that goes into it all. It still amazes me that afﬁliates have to scour the Internet looking for the latest offers from bookies. That’s the bookies’ job; they should be bombarding afﬁliates with all their latest offers and promotions, ensuring the afﬁliate can do their job properly.
CHANGES I think the biggest change since my move to the other side is that I’m now on my own. Well, not literally, there are ten people in total working for OLBG, some from home and some in our Bristol ofﬁce. But, I don’t have an army of experts to lean on like in my time at Paddy. I’m not surrounded by hundreds of extremely talented people who I can hide behind and steal ideas from. I’m in my spare room on my own! I don’t have access to all kinds of cool online analytical tools – I have to do it all myself and if I don’t know, I need to read up on it. That’s quite scary, because I don’t know it all and I’m bound to make mistakes, loads of them. But I’m learning and if at ﬁrst you don’t succeed... Not having a big budget is something else I have to get used to. Not that I was going around eating caviar and drinking Krystal everyday in Paddy
Power but it’s a completely different ball game working for an afﬁliate. My focus is getting punters to the OLBG site and then sending them on to a bookie, so the budget is a lot less. I have to justify every penny and test/try every avenue. The good part is that not having money to throw around makes you more resourceful and creative. Afﬁliates build, manage and market their sites on limited resources. Afﬁliates are streets ahead of most bookies when it comes to some elements of online marketing. A lot of bookies are still quite old school in their thinking and there is a chain of command that afﬁliates don’t have to deal with in getting things approved. So, I would advise afﬁliates to be patient with their AMs if they’re taking a while to get back to them on a deal. It’s also the case in many bookies that top managers don’t even understand afﬁliates and it’s the Afﬁliate Manager’s job to bridge that gap. I’m enjoying my new found freedom, not having to get approval from anyone (well just the one person). But again, it’s quite scary because if you make a mistake, the buck stops with you. And here’s the exciting bit, afﬁliates are doing it for themselves! When I was an afﬁliate manager, loads of sportsbook afﬁliates wanted to add an odds comparison element to their site but it just wasn’t feasible – it was far too expensive. Also, the sites that currently offer odds comparison white label sites take all the players and only pay afﬁliates a small percentage of the earnings.
Daylight robbery! So, I’m now working with the lads at OLBG to build a solution where afﬁliates can add odds comparison to their sites and earn through their own existing afﬁliate links. That way they get to keep their customers and it will be very reasonably priced. It’s something a lot of sportsbook afﬁliates will be interested in. Being a part of a smaller company means everything is more hands on and you get to have your say; you’re a part of the process.
GOOD MOVE All in all, I’m delighted I’ve made the move as it has given me great freedom. I get to move to Malaysia and stay working in an industry I love... how smug do I sound? A few wise words to all Afﬁliate Managers and afﬁliates out there, HUG IT OUT! Well, not quite, but as budgets are being cut and belts are being tightened it’s all going to come down to relationships and trust, and if you don’t have that with your Afﬁliate Manager or afﬁliates, you’re in trouble. We’re all working towards the same goal, so instead of running to the forums, pick up the phone. I sound like a Hallmark card now, but you get the gist.
SINEAD LAMBERT has been Online Marketing Manager for OLBG since June 2009, having spent four years as Paddy Power’s Afﬁliate Manager
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INFORMATION, INSIGHT AND ANALYSIS FOR THE BUSINESS OF INTERACTIVE GAMING
Database, data protection and open source issues in corporate transactions in the gaming sector. THE ONLINE GAMBLING and gaming sector is developing rapidly, buoyed partly by the loosening of statutory constraints and liberalisation in jurisdictions subject to statutory or de facto monopolies (e.g. France), and partly by new markets coming to maturity (e.g., eastern Europe and southeast Asia). This in turn is fuelling a considerable degree of acquisitions, as established players seek to consolidate their position in existing markets on the one hand and extend their business into new markets. However, there are a number of matters of which the acquisition-hungry online gambling or gaming operator needs to be aware in order to derive value from any contemplated acquisition.
1. DATABASE RIGHTS Of central importance to any acquisition is the value which the acquirer considers resides in the target. In the online gaming and gambling context, this value can manifest itself in following ways: ● the value of the customer database which the target has built up over years of trading ; ● the functionality which the target is able to offer its users through its interactive platform (which will in most cases be web-based). Although in most acquisitions the question of intellectual property rights will be addressed in considerable detail with respect to the visual elements (i.e., the ‘look and feel’ of the functionality which users experience through the platform), the real value of the target often resides in the database which the target has built up through its trading operations. The acquirer will be particularly concerned with acquiring any rights which may be embodied in that data and this is where things can start to get complicated. Many jurisdictions do not recognize that data, on its own,
can give rise to any particular property rights. Some jurisdictions accept that the act of compiling that data represents sufﬁcient ‘sweat of the brow’ to attract copyright protection for the compilation. Other jurisdictions take an even broader approach and only recognize copyright in compilations of data, provided those compilations demonstrate sufﬁcient ‘originality’ to warrant protection. Therefore, early on in the due diligence process, the acquirer will need to determine what data it proposes to ‘acquire’ and what is the nature of the target company’s rights in that data, i.e., whether the circumstances in which the data was created by the target company are such as to give the target a proprietary right which can then be sold to the acquirer; whether the data is based on data derived from a third party (and therefore, potentially subject to any rights in them owned by such third party) ; or whether the creation of the data gives rise to no particular proprietary right in favour of the target. This will involve a consideration of the relevant laws which apply to the creation of the database. This process is not merely of theoretical interest, and will be key to allowing the acquirer to model a purchase price, since the less ‘proprietary’ the rights in the data, the lower the amount of consideration an acquirer will be willing to pay for them. In some jurisdictions (e.g., the member states of the European Union), there is, in addition to existing copyrightlike protections, a speciﬁc, statutory standalone database right. This is a new category of intellectual property right, which (unlike copyright protection) does not depend upon the originality of the compilation of the underlying data, but, rather, rewards investment in the obtaining, veriﬁcation and presentation (but not in the creation) of the data embodied in a database. That right allows the rights-holders to prevent third parties
extracting or re-utilizing portions of the relevant database without their consent. However, again, care should be taken, since the database right is only available where the creator of the database is a European company or individual. For instance, where the target entity is European, then there may be database rights embodied in some of the data which will be part of the assets to be sold to the acquirer. However, unless the acquirer is itself a European-incorporated company, it will not acquire any underlying database rights. If database rights are indeed an important component of the deal, then the acquirer may decide to opt for a share purchase (rather than an asset purchase) deal structure. Since many established operators in the online gambling and gambling sector are based outside the EU (and since recent acquisition targets have often been EU-based companies), particular care needs to be taken with respect to : (i) due diligence on the rights to be acquired, (ii) selection of the appropriate acquisition vehicle and (iii) drafting the vendor’s warranties to ensure there is adequate recourse if the acquirer should be unable to exploit on an exclusive basis any data which is included as part of the deal.
2. USE OF OPEN SOURCE SOFTWARE A matter which is assuming increasing prominence is the use of free or open source software (FOSS). FOSS elements are at the heart of many web-enabled and web-reliant businesses; online gaming is no different. A comprehensive analysis of the nature of the legal issues posed by FOSS is beyond the scope of this article. However, in the speciﬁc context of a corporate acquisition, particular issues from a buyer’s perspective will include the following: ● Identifying whether any of the assets incorporates FOSS. At a practical level,
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there is commercially available sourcecode scanning software (e.g., Black Duck) which will achieve this. ● Determining the licensing terms applicable to the FOSS components. This will be the crucial step in the analysis, since depending upon the nature of the licence and the manner in which it is integrated with the rest of the code, there could be a risk of ‘viral’ contagion requiring all or a signiﬁcant portion of the source code of application in which it is integrated to be disclosed for redistribution or copying. In this context, there are certain types of FOSS licence which are particularly dangerous from the buyer’s perspective in that they provide for very broad obligations to redistribute code which is derived from or integrated with code licensed under FOSS; ● Violation of FOSS licensing terms can lead to third party copyright (and other intellectual property) infringement claims. Therefore, the buyer needs to ensure that the transaction documents contain appropriate warranties and indemnities to deal with such potential claims. If the vendor resists a broad infringement indemnity with respect to third party FOSS-based claims, an alternative strategy is warranted disclosure; i.e., the transaction documents set out an exhaustive list of FOSS elements incorporated into the relevant assets, with an indemnity to cover FOSS-related claims in respect of non-disclosed FOSS elements. ● FOSS risk should be considered as a factor which may adjust the purchase price of the business. Therefore, a purchaser should include FOSS-related matters in relation to post-completion warranty claims against the vendor.
3. DATA PROTECTION – ACQUISITION ISSUES The ability for the acquirer to commercially exploit data which the vendor has built up through its trading operations is one of the key elements of the value of an asset with a strong customer-facing proﬁle. This is especially true of online gaming and gambling businesses, where subscriber data and behavioural patterns are particularly prized elements of many business models. This means that anything which might prevent an acquirer from deriving commercial value from data comprised in the assets being sold may alter the
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commercial basis of the proposed. In many jurisdictions around the world – and notably, the member states of the European Union – legislation exists which imposes certain requirements upon how personal data (broadly, data which, by its nature, is susceptible of identifying an individual person) is collected, processed and transferred internationally. The European Data Protection Directive speciﬁcally forbids the transfer of personal data outside the EU to countries which do not ensure an adequate degree of data protection. In the experience of the author, a signiﬁcant number of online gambling sites are based in jurisdictions which do not have adequate data protection laws, so the issue of transfers of personal data needs to be carefully considered and dealt with in the transaction documents. From an acquirer’s perspective, the vendor should warrant compliance with all laws applicable to the collection and processing of the relevant data by the vendor. It is important to bear in mind that if the data has been collected and processed by the vendor in a noncompliant manner, this may very well mean that the database cannot be used by the acquirer.
4. DATA PROTECTION ISSUES – POST-ACQUISITION Even once the transaction has successfully completed, the online gaming or gambling operator will need to ensure on-going compliance with data protection laws. Summarized below are a number of very commonly arising scenarios in which data protection considerations may be very important (particularly in the context of more vigorous enforcement of data protection laws in the UK and the EU by national data protection regulators): ● Placing cookies on Internet browsers of users visiting the site. Cookies can be used for a number of purposes, from identifying a user so as to offer a customized experience each time a user returns to the website, to using data for the purposes of online targeted behavioural advertising (on which, see below). Where a user is based in the European Union and the cookies that are placed on that user’s Internet browser; this activity is likely to be caught by the EU Data Protection Directive on the basis that
placing a cookie on a user’s personal computer is ‘using equipment’ located within the EU for the purposes of the Data Protection Directive. The consequence will be that the company running the relevant site will need to comply with the requirements of that Directive (for example, registration with the relevant data protection authority, compliance with the Directive’s requirements concerning protecting personal data which is transferred outside the EU and giving a user the right to opt-out from accepting the cookie). ● Online targeted behavioural advertising. Using cookies in order to provide targeted advertising to a user of a website is potentially a very lucrative source of advertising income for website operators. Where that information is collected by cookies, from an EU data protection perspective, will give rise to the issues we have outlined above. However, where the technology used to gather the relevant data is deep packet inspection (e.g., the technology used by a controversial solution proposed by Phorm) then in addition to data protection concerns, website operators need to be aware that this might bring into operation various wire tapping legislation. In many cases, non-compliance with the applicable legislation (e.g., the Regulations of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 UK) can lead to criminal prosecution. In the UK, the Internet Advertising Bureau, the trade association for the Internet marketing industry, has developed a set of self-regulatory Good Practice Principles for online behavioural advertising. These are due to come into force in September 2009 and are based upon offering users notice about data collection, choice as to whether to participate, and education about behavioural advertising. Although a useful guide, the IAB code is only an industry code of practice and does not guarantee that, for all purposes, adherence to its terms will mean website operators are fully in compliance with applicable laws.
ANTHONY SOURGNES is a senior associate in the Intellectual Property & Technology group of White & Case, based in London. His practice focuses on technology transactions.
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ASk inCOME ACCESS Have affiliate marketing questions? Turn to the experts! Income Access has a team of experienced affiliate managers who partner with thousands of affiliates to help them maximize their conversions. Working across dozens of affiliate programs, the Income Access team supports affiliates in every online gaming vertical.
Which is more time intensive: PPC campaigns or optimizing my site’s structure? Which would be a better investment of my time? // Joshua In terms of optimizing your site structure, PPC and SEO are equally important. Where you should invest more of your resources will depend on what your long-term goals are. Regardless of your choice, it’s important that you have the right tools to monitor and analyze both your PPC campaigns and structural SEO efforts. The reason that PPC and SEO are equally important is because they are both great ways to identify keywords that are relevant to your business and convert traffic into players. As for which channel to focus on, it will depend on your business goals and resources. PPC is designed to generate an influx of traffic very quickly; it requires a greater initial investment and is good for quickly identifying which keywords perform the best. SEO, on the other hand, offers a longer-term strategy of growing your traffic and revenues – and over a longer period of time helps you identify what keywords work for your website. Some affiliates work with PPC and SEO ‘hand in hand’ by using PPC as a way to determine what keywords they should optimize on their site. Regardless of your goals, it’s imperative that you have tools that can help you meet them. If you focus on PPC, such tools are invaluable in optimizing your campaigns and maximizing their returns, because the tools are what help keep your PPC spend in check whilst still seeing results. Tracking Your PPC Performance Whether you’re using PPC as a primary acquisition channel, a supplementary one, or just a means to gather keyword intelligence, you may require tracking reports beyond the clickthrough rates (CTRs) and average cost-per-click (CPC) data offered by Google AdWords. What you need as a PPC affiliate are PPC tools that can track what a keyword costs you, how well it converts and the value of that conversion. After all, the real cost of that click is calculated by comparing what you paid for the click against the revenue that click generated. For instance, the Income Access affiliate management software features PPC tracking tools that allow PPC affiliates to track how well certain keywords convert for a referral. By using the keywords they’re bidding on to create custom affiliate links, affiliates can view full detailed reports on the players, deposits and revenues being generated by each key phrase. This allows them to measure
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the lifetime value of players coming in on certain keywords. As a PPC affiliate, understanding the lifetime value of a player is even more important because you’re paying for your traffic with each word you buy. This is why PPC affiliates need comprehensive metrics on how well keywords convert. Whether PPC is a primary part of your acquisition strategy, or just a supplemental source of traffic to shore up your SEO efforts, understanding the lifetime value of players coming in on different keywords allows you to cut out keyword sets that are costing you money, focus on those with higher conversions and maximize the return on your PPC efforts. Structural SEO Once your target market and keywords are established, you can start optimizing your site for your target market. The benefits of SEO: 1) The traffic generated will not create an expense per visitor as with PPC. 2) By incorporating analytics for your content, you can monitor trends and behaviors on your website and get a better understanding of your visitors and how to cater to them. There are two effective tools for this: Google analytics and the custom affiliate tracking tool provided by Income Access. With these tools you can identify what is attracting and converting your traffic. The real key to SEO is time-you need time to build and review the habits of your traffic. Once you collect enough data you will be able to add/change or remove certain content from the site to fine tune campaign results. With these completed modifications in place you will be able to identify which of your SEO efforts are causing an improvement in ranking on the search engines. With SEO, the amount of data to analyze is quite vast, as opposed to PPC where it’s a simple measure of which ads are generating revenue against those that are not. With SEO it depends on many more factors: traffic, sources, page/site structure, value of content, amount of backlinks and the quality of those backlinked sources. When reviewing the results from your campaigns you need to identify the metrics that are most suitable to your business model and use them to measure the success of your search engine marketing strategies. At the end of the day, the amount of time you should be investing on SEO and PPC really depends on the scope of your market and the variety of services you are promoting. To find out more about PPC tools and how to use them to optimize your campaigns, visit: http://bit.ly/DVBsp Jamie, SEM Manager
i have a network of sites. is there a way that i can effectively manage these through one affiliate account? // Sarah Provided that it has the right features, the software powering the affiliate programs you work with can be a powerful resource for managing campaigns across multiple sites and channels. The right software will have tools to segment your campaigns across different channels without needing to register multiple affiliate accounts, and then generate reports so that you can compare performance across your network of sites. Your affiliate software will need to offer two essential features to help manage multiple campaigns. First, the software will need to allow for custom tracking codes so that your tracking links from different sites can be managed under one account. Second, the software will need to provide traffic reports that can include campaign results from different sites. Backed by these tools, affiliates can do more than manage and track campaigns from multiple sites through one account. They can compare performance and determine why some channels perform better than others, allowing them to optimize campaigns across all their channels. For more information on how to manage and optimize multiple campaigns all at once, visit: http://bit.ly/gWmbI Julia Stead, Affiliate Manager
i’ve heard that by including a no-follow tag in some internal links, you can increase the page rank of your site. is this true? if so, what is the best way to proceed? // Collin Until about a year ago, the nofollow tag was often used to actually build page rank. Although it can no longer be used to the same extent, it can still be used to prevent the loss of page rank. At a recent Search Marketing Expo, the head of Google’s Webspam Team, Matt Cutts, announced that nofollow tags can no longer be used to sculpt Page Rank (PR) anymore. Although this change has been in effect for over a year, this announcement was the first clear indication that the nofollow tag could no longer be used this way. It still, however, plays a very important role in SEO, at least in terms of not being penalized by Google for a violation of their Webmaster Guidelines. There are still a variety of links that webmasters are required to include the nofollow tag on, and failing to do so can get their website penalized by Google, or even outright banned. For more information on how to use the nofollow tag, visit: http://bit.ly/X9UMn Olland, SEM Specialist
i’ve been watching the mobile space grow for some time now, and am interested in promoting mobile betting products. What verticals do you see have the most opportunity in the mobile space? // Larry Although traditional casino games such as slots, video poker, and roulette have been the most popular mobile games, interest in bingo and sportsbook is growing fast among mobile players. As mobile web usage continues to grow rapidly, more operators and entering the market, and software and user-experience continue to improve in strides. Indeed, in the last year alone, mobile browsers have seen an over 150% increase in their usage, and an over 300% rise in data traffic. But because mobile devices differ so much from PCs, mobile player behavior is rather unique. So affiliates should understand mobile player habits so that they can evaluate whether a casino, bingo, or sportsbook product is suited for mobile play. Mobile User Habits Part of targeting mobile players is by featuring games that are compatible with how a player plays on their phone. A recent Juniper Research study commissioned by Nokia found that the average mobile play session is 28 minutes – shorter than the average session of more serious, high-roller players who plays mostly for profit. Another study from Motricity found people tend to fit the mobile web in and around the other daily activities in their lives, such as when alone (49%), waiting in line (46%), and taking a break from other activities (43%). The players that affiliates should be focusing on, then, are the “fun gamblers” who play regularly, but without a need for significant bonus incentives (though bonuses are still useful in converting visitors to players). After all, the players who are most likely to play mobile games and convert are those who are looking to kill time. It’s also important to consider user-experience, graphics, game flow, and the sign up-process. Operators that offer a well optimized mobile site, attractive yet simple (fast loading), will be much more likely to attract and retain players. To find out more about how to evaluate whether a mobile game is suited for mobile players, visit: http://bit.ly/N4oQv Louis, Affiliate Manager
More Questions? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org, or post on our Casino Affiliate Programs certified forum at http://www.casinoaffiliateprograms.com/bb/income-access.0100.html. A leading provider of affiliate marketing solutions, since 2002, income Access offers four types of services: (1) an affiliate network of over 17,000 gaming affiliates, (2) affiliate management services, (3) white label affiliate marketing software, and (4) an SEM agency specifically for the igaming industry. Having partnered with over 60 operators across all gaming verticals, income Access works with some of the most trusted names in online gaming.
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RAKEBACK WHITE LABELS We spoke to Karim Wilkins, CEO of RakebackPartners.com, part of the RakeTheRake network, to ﬁnd out more about rakeback white label solutions and how they can help afﬁliates in this increasingly competitive area. What beneﬁts are there for afﬁliates running their own rakeback site? As things stand, it is very hard for afﬁliates to join the rakeback game from scratch because of the sheer volume of afﬁliates out there and the costs involved to get one’s name known and compete on a similar level. A white label solution means that new afﬁliates can capitalise on the rates that the parent afﬁliate receives, as the parent can then pass on a percentage commission to the afﬁliate – something they would not normally be able to get themselves from the poker rooms when starting up. In addition, the rakeback scene is very labour intensive from an admin point of view. A big afﬁliate will receive three to ﬁve hundred emails a day with questions. Being a white label afﬁliate means all those emails are taken care of by the parent afﬁliate who has four to ﬁve years of experience answering them. In addition, the parent afﬁliate has a large admin team rather than being a one man band, so that these questions get answered quickly as well as effectively. And from the players’ perspective, they are more likely to sign up through a white label afﬁliate if they know that they are part of a larger parent afﬁliate network; the parent provides reassurance that they will receive timely payments on an on-going basis, compared with the risk factor of a new, unknown, standalone afﬁliate. With all of these factors being put in place by the parent, it enables an afﬁliate to start generating a lucrative new revenue stream immediately, without the normal overheads of staff, systems, poker room relationship management, player management and so on. What does it mean for afﬁliates in terms of what they can offer? It means that they can offer their players the top rakeback percentages from day one, rather than having to build up to the caps the rooms have in place because their commission is not high enough, initially due to the low revenues of rake their players are generating.
In addition, they are able to offer hundreds of thousands of dollars in promotions from the start to all their prospective players. This sets them aside from all single rakeback start ups and immediately makes their product far more attractive to players. It also provides them with a robust package which they can market widely with conﬁdence. The knowledge that they have the support and resources of an established rakeback parent behind them means that managing a large volume of new players is not going to be a problem. Does it present an opportunity to those afﬁliates who want to take advantage of the rakeback arena, but are currently inexperienced (or have little know how of the concept)? Yes, absolutely. The dynamics of the whole poker afﬁliate industry are changing. Afﬁliates need to start diversifying their offerings to players. Poker rooms are having to focus more and more on the retention of their existing databases and rakeback is just one of many tools they use to do that. A white label solution allows existing afﬁliates to get involved in an everevolving section of the industry. With the online poker industry continuing to grow worldwide, the opportunity to build both volume relationships with players and a signiﬁcant commercial opportunity in the rakeback afﬁliate market is there for the taking. Rakeback has been referred to as a cutthroat business. Just how competitive is this area? Very! As with any business, when there is money to be made more and more businesses/individuals get involved and the space gets crowded. Therefore, margins get squeezed and people feel the pain as each poker room and the individual afﬁliates try to give more and more back to the player. The beneﬁt to the afﬁliate of being supported by a leading rakeback parent is that they are assured of being able to offer the very best rakeback deals from all of the poker rooms, something which is much more difﬁcult to do alone as it can take time to build your player base to the sorts of serious volumes the online poker rooms want to see before they’ll offer you the best rates.
much of a challenge has it been and what was the inspiration behind this concept? This has been on the drawing board for about 3 years now, but ﬁnding time has always been hard. It has been a signiﬁcant challenge because we have heard that other programs of similar ilk have had problems with tracking and still do. Our program does not. We have devised some software which takes care of this issue and makes sure that if a white label partner brings in a new player, then that player is tagged to the afﬁliate. The inspiration was just a natural progression from the ‘refer a friend’ model we have operated for several years. Just as a poker room uses lots of afﬁliates to promote their business and drive trafﬁc to their sites, so RakeTheRake needs a network of individuals and websites to do the same for it. What about competition between those offering white label solutions – has this become an area of ﬁerce competition? Not yet, though I am sure it will change. At the moment it only makes sense for the VERY large afﬁliates to put out a program as they have the resources as well as the promotions to set their white label programs aside. Including ours, there are only two other serious solutions. Finally, the word rakeback is met with varying reactions, but as a concept is it very much here to stay? Absolutely! The poker market is ultracompetitive for the rooms trying to attract and hold on to players. And it will continue to get tougher. As a result of this, poker rooms increasingly focussing on retention techniques such as freerolls, live events and bonuses. Rakeback is just another retention tool and it will always be offered in one form or another by most rooms. The beneﬁt of rakeback to afﬁliates is that it means players get some of their cash back from each and every hand, whether they win or lose. This is a really strong incentive for the player to sign up with rakeback afﬁliates as it’s essentially money they had already considered ‘spent’.
What about the process of creating white label rakeback sites – how
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GooGle AdSenSe for Mobile ApplicAtionS At the end of June, following successful private trials, Google announced a new beta program opening to developers and advertisers that targets the mobile application platform; AdSense for Mobile Applications brings all the benefits of AdSense to developers producing applications for smartphones, and allows advertisers and marketers to compete in the mobile application ad space. The new beta program should not be confused with Google’s AdSense for Mobile Content program, which allows developers of mobile websites to have AdSense adverts automatically inserted into websites specifically aimed at and optimised for viewing on smartphones. AdSense for Mobile Applications is about having targeted ads inserted directly into a mobile application as opposed to a mobile website. As the program is in its beta phase it’s not currently open to everyone. Google does plan to extend the program in the future to open it up to a wider pool of developers but at the moment, participants must meet the following criteria: The application page must generate ●● 100,000 visits per day ●● The mobile application must be free ●● The mobile application must be for either the iPhone or Android smartphones ●● The mobile application must be ready to deploy within 4 weeks of application ●● You must remain in the program for a minimum of 3 months This is great news for developers because it means that if their application becomes popular they can quickly create revenue streams from it. It’s also good news for advertisers because it means that they can reach a wide audience of targeted mobile users. The new adverts are already being displayed in certain applications so anyone with an iPhone or Android smartphone will probably already have seen them in action. The adverts that I’ve seen have all been quite subtle, featuring text, a glossy background matching the colour of the application and a little Google logo at the right hand side. Other mobile ad networks offering a similar service already exist, such as Admob for example, but Google is a trusted
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and respected global force, and AdSense is an extremely established tool so the service is sure to have a big impact in mobile advertising.
Mobile AdSenSe for ApplicAtion developerS There are two models of application development for mobile applications; paid apps and free apps. With paid apps, the revenue stream is clear – develop an application that people want and are willing to pay for. With free apps, the means of generating effective revenue streams are more limited; you may develop a free application that people want, but as the application is free, no revenue is generated from the application itself. Developers that want to monetize free mobile applications do still have options; the first is to develop a free version of a paid app that you’ve developed, hoping that a smaller, lighter, free version of your application will entice people that try it out to then upgrade to the paid version. However, this is not an ideal solution as it means developing and maintaining two versions of the same application. You can also advertise other people’s applications or services. Advertisements in mobile applications are certainly nothing new; for example, many of the free iPhone applications that I use feature adverts in cut scenes, option screens or in between game levels. While this is a good way to monetize free applications, it does mean that you’ll need to negotiate deals with advertisers, maintain these relationships and build bespoke solutions into your apps. Google’s mobile AdSense abstracts away all of the difficult or time-consuming tasks associated with building an advertising model into your applications. It feeds attractive and subtle text and image based adverts to the application and maintains a standard banner sized format for each advert. The exact dimensions of each ad are fixed at 320px wide by 50px high. AdSense for Mobile Applications is quick and easy to add to your application’s interface and as the developer you have full control over which adverts are shown and where they are placed within the
application, and you can be sure that you always show the highest paying ads that are relevant to the users of your application. Established developers, such as Urbanspoon, have described how partnering with Google in the beta program has been a very positive experience for them and that it’s been part of the key to their growth and success.
Mobile AdSenSe for AdvertiSerS Advertisers can already have their ads featured in mobile applications; when creating a new campaign there is an option to target ‘iPhones and other mobile devices with full Internet browsers’. Everything is managed through the usual AdWords interface, and campaigns feature the same bid and budget options in the same familiar interface. You also have all the usual Google Analytics tools and information at your disposal. As an advertiser, you can bid on ads that target keywords, a particular demographic or location, or pay for direct placement in specific applications. This gives you a range of options to maximise the revenue generated by your campaigns, and any traffic that’s generated by your ads can be directed to specific websites or even the iTunes App Store or Android Market..
SuMMAry Google’s AdSense for Mobile Applications has benefits for many people; developers, advertisers and users alike. It’s expected to grow and expand to include more developers and is sure to become a dominating presence in the world of mobile advertising. The only people that could potentially miss out are direct competitors to the program, and the application distributors who make no money from free applications.
Dan Wellman is a freelance writer and IT professional that lives and works in a thriving city on the south coast of England. He insists that he has other interests besides computers, and vows one day to prove this somehow.
A Whole New World of Online Scratch Cards Who would have thought it; online scratch cards! About six years ago, people would have laughed at the idea. Everybody is familiar with the offline proposition, but the concept of scratch cards in an online environment may not be so clear. Today, this concept has become the pastime of choice for many people worldwide, but how did it all begin? Scratch cards, also known as scratch off tickets or ‘scratchies’, are one of the newer developments in gaming. They represent a fun alternative to gaming with better odds of winning compared to the traditional casino site. For example, one of the leading online scratch card websites, Scratch2Cash, states to its players that the odds of winning are 1:3. Ever since their creation, offline scratch cards have been used for several good and charitable causes and as a means of advertising. An example of this can be seen at St Peter’s Hospice, where scratch cards have been created to raise money towards patient care. Also, UK football team Barnsley FC have their own branded scratch cards to help promote the team, for just one pound a card. Since these instant win scratch cards are associated with such good and well supported activities, they appeal to audiences worldwide. Scratch cards are the second largest revenue generator in the world of offline gaming after National State Lotteries. In the online gaming world, the lottery, being a non-skilled game, is the biggest consuming gaming product to date. They are fun, simple and appeal to both men and women of any age. The appeal for scratch cards is so prominent amongst today’s society that it has the potential to become a standalone product in the non-skilled iGaming world. From June 2006, six months after the establishment of the online scratch card industry, up to June 2009, the purchase of scratch cards has had an impressive growth of over 26,000%. This shows its escalating success and the future potential it has to grow further. This concept hasn’t even hit the mainstream audience in the online world yet, so the probability of online scratch cards becoming the next best thing in gaming is extremely high. The results have proven the growing success of the online scratch card as a mass market product and how something so small and simple can have such an impressive effect on the online gaming industry. Is this just the beginning?
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Online scratch cards come in two guises: web/Flash based and downloadable. The web based products are the most popular format as they require no download, are easy to access and appeal to the wider audience. Downloadable based games require a longer installation process and, therefore, appeal to a smaller and niche market of selective gamers. Players of online scratch cards range from bingo players to your average housewife looking for some online fun. This audience is the industry’s prime target but essentially anyone can play – hence the wide variety of games and themes available today. So what is the difference between online and offline game play? Simply put, there is no difference, and that’s why it is a successful and growing mass market product, something that affiliates will find to their distinct advantage. To tell us more about this emerging sector, we spoke to affiliate director, Mickey Winitsky from NeoGames Partners, the leading scratch card affiliate program and pioneer of the online scratch card market. Scratch cards will be a new proposition to most gaming affiliates – is it a challenging vertical to promote? It’s challenging because we are a niche product in the gaming sector. We often have to educate the affiliates as our product is less known to those working across the gaming sector, but we are creating and leading this market worldwide so we certainly have the knowhow. Our big advantage is that gaming affiliates are attracted to the fact that we are a mass market product and are able to penetrate markets normally closed off to gaming companies. The verticals we can work with are much more open, essentially we convert in most markets; women, men, sport, shopping, e-commerce and lottery, and this is in addition to casino gaming. As an affiliate manager, where have you seen change in the online scratch card industry from when it was established, to now?
The way I look at it is that when bingo came online, people were sceptical of the concept and now it’s one of the biggest revenue generators in online gaming. The same trend is being seen in the online scratch card market. We now have affiliates and operators coming to us and vying to enter the market. We all realize that everyone knows how to scratch a card – we are a completely non-skilled game. Are social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook as much of an aid to the online scratch card vertical as they are to the rest of the gaming market? Yes, it helps to create concept awareness, particularly the idea of scratch cards now being online. To this end, we have a dedicated staff member that manages our social network efforts. Our Facebook page has grown into the leading scratch card group and we have people continuously adding us every day. The interest is amazing. We have a Facebook profile, a group called Online Scratch Cards and a Fan Page for our products, Scratch2Cash and Hopa.com. We are also keeping close contact with our affiliates through Twitter with affiliate promotions and product
news amongst other things. They love it. What are the keys to successfully marketing a new product around a major gaming show? There is a big difference between us and other programs as we are a different product; we are the ‘new kid on the block’ and people are showing great interest in a product that can generate a new revenue stream. The key is definitely to do pre-show marketing and research – make sure you know who is going, where your stand will be positioned and also remember that you need to be active on forums. Then when the gaming show comes about, you know what to expect. The objective is to make as many contacts as possible, sell the brand and build relationships with your affiliates. What sort of potential does the online scratch card market have? We’ve not even tapped the surface. People are still getting to know the brands and the idea of this complimentary product being online. It is very exciting to see this grow at such an explosive rate and I’m very happy to be a part of it. A few months ago we celebrated the sale of 1 billion scratch cards and just three months ago, we launched our
new brand www.hopa.com, which is very different from any other site out there. What advice would you give to affiliates interested in promoting online scratch cards? I would say don’t be shy to try it out. As the product is built in a totally different way from all other casino sites, the conversion rates are so much higher and the sales funnel much clearer. You will see the results come through and before you know it, you won’t remember life before advertising scratch cards on your site.
Mickey Winitsky is the Affiliate Director of NeoGames Partners. He has held different senior positions throughout his 6 years in the iGaming industry, at PartyGaming at Yalicoo.com. He has wide experience as both an operator and an affiliate promoting various products from mobile content to financial gaming and casino programs. NeoGames is the leading provider of online scratch cards and was the first company to have committed solely and exclusively to online scratch card games in creating two of the market’s biggest online scratch card websites, www.scratch2cash.com and www.hopa.com.
Leaders IN affILIate MarketINg Providing new and existing affiliate programs with bespoke services: • • • • •
Affiliate Management Program Development Campaign Management Customer Conversion Development Staff Training & Workshops www.gameon-affiliates.com email@example.com +44 (0)7805 638742
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chooSing the right affiliate Program Revenue and proﬁtability for an afﬁliate is heavily inﬂuenced by the afﬁliate programs that they choose to partner with. Top performing afﬁliates understand this correlation, and they carefully weigh their business needs against an operator’s program before committing money and effort to promoting a brand.
THE 2008/2009 Income Access affiliate survey found that when super-affiliates choose to promote a program, they first evaluate whether the brand is one they want to build a relationship with, and then they consider whether that program can meet the unique needs of their own business. Taking these steps before deciding to promote a program can help affiliates ensure that they invest their time and resources into business relationships that have a positive impact on their revenues for the long-term.
chooSing a Strong Brand An overwhelming majority of affiliates join an affiliate program based on the brand’s reputation. The Income Access survey found that 88% of affiliates cited reputational factors as the most important factor in their decision to join a program. A brand’s reputation with players and affiliates can help affiliates gauge whether an operator will make a good business partner because it’s a measure of potential and profitability. There are two inﬂuential factors that determine the strength of an iGaming brand: (1) the player-facing brand the affiliate program promotes; and (2) the affiliate-facing side – the affiliate program itself. Savvy affiliates tend to evaluate each of these before entering into a business relationship with an operator through its affiliate program.
the PlaYer-facing Brand Brands with a good reputation among players are popular with affiliates because they make it easier to convert referrals and build long-term affiliate income. Affiliates can gauge a brand’s reputation with players in a number of ways: (1) brand name, (2) appeal and frequency of player promotions, (3) customer support, and (4) ofﬂine presence. Each of these represents a piece of the iGaming brand’s picture, and the more pieces a brand has, the more robust the brand is. Promoting a familiar brand name helps increase conversions because players are more likely to trust them; when they see a promotion for a brand they recognize,
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they are more likely to both click through to the site and convert into a player. Brands such as Sportingbet, Ladbrokes and Victor Chandler have successfully created and maintained brands across the gaming verticals, so an affiliate’s players are sure to recognize the brand. Similarly, consistent player promotions help build a brand’s reputation because they help players develop an idea of what to expect from that brand. Consistency can enhance player retention and add to an affiliate’s revenue share commissions. Bingo.com for instance, regularly offers its players sign-up bonus, jackpots, random bonuses and even occasional free money. Such consistency makes players feel appreciated, and increases player retention — which benefits both operators and affiliates. Customer support also has a considerable impact on a brand’s reputation. After all, this is where players actually engage the brand on an interpersonal level, and their customer service experiences will affect their perception of the brand considerably. Many super-affiliates investigate customer support when they join an affiliate program. Factors they review include the signup process, response times for client support, and withdrawal times. The better the customer support an operator can offer players, the better reputation they’ll have in the marketplace, and the easier it will be to convert referrals and retain them as players. Finally, having an ofﬂine presence adds to how well a brand converts. By transcending the digital divide, a brand becomes more tangible, and it’s easier for players to trust something with a physical presence. This presence can take on a variety of forms including sporting events and advertising on billboards, in print, and on television.
the affiliate-facing Brand The reputation that an affiliate program has amongst the affiliate community is also an important factor in affiliates’ participation in the program. This is because affiliates are customers too, and what affiliates
require from a brand differs from what a player requires. Specifically, before joining a program, an affiliate should consider (1) program reputation, and (2) affiliate support. The first thing you can do to gauge a program’s reputation is to search for the program using Google and look into it on industry forums, blogs and other researchworthy sites. If other affiliates have had good or bad experiences, chances are there will be a digital paper trail on forums and in blogs. You will also want to look into the support they offer affiliates. Are affiliate managers responsive? Do they provide fresh creatives and timely promotions for affiliates? These are questions you will want to try and answer by (1) researching them, (2) asking them directly, and (3) reading through their affiliate pages and terms and conditions.
comPetitive commiSSion StructureS
Promoting a Strong Brand
There are two sides to promotional support that an affiliate requires: creatives and the software tools to manage them. In addition to new promotions, an affiliate program should provide up-to-date creatives. These will support you in effectively publicizing new player promotions, and regularly changing creatives will help combat the effects of banner-blindness. Similarly, you should look into whether their software includes tools to help you geo-target users with relevant creative. For example, showing users from different countries banners that are in different languages or feature different promotions is a great way to build your own brand’s reputation as a source of relevant information. That, in turn, helps with conversion rates.
The decision to actively promote an affiliate program should hinge on whether that program can meet the unique needs of your business model. The Income Access affiliate survey found that super-affiliates look for three criteria before choosing to promote a program: (1) reliable tracking software, (2) competitive commission structures, and (3) promotional materials.
roBuSt tracking Software As an affiliate, you rely on software to track your referrals, calculate your commissions, and provide transparent reporting that you can use to monitor campaign performance. So before actively promoting a program and investing in your relationship with a brand, it’s important that you ensure their affiliate software supports all these functions. Affiliate marketing is all about tracking referrals from one party to another, so you want to ensure that software powering a program can provide tracking reports that meet your business needs. The Income Access survey found that higher earning affiliates were much more likely to compare reporting metrics across campaigns. Advanced tracking metrics can help increase earnings because affiliates can compare, analyze and better understand changes in campaign performance. You should also ensure that their software includes the marketing tools that will help you both save time and optimize your campaigns. For instance, if you use PPC advertising, it will be important that their software is capable of tracking and reporting on players referred, deposits, revenues generated by each AdWords ad, and which types of players are coming through on which keywords.
To be competitive, commissions need to be lucrative and suited to specific products/ promotions. For instance, while the Income Access survey found that over 90% of affiliates often work with revenue share, about 32% of affiliates used cost per action (CPA) and cost per click (CPC) commission structures. This is because many affiliates require a hybrid commission structure to support their business model. Just as different incentive structures work better for promoting different products, every affiliate has their own promotional methods. Getting the most out your relationship with an affiliate program requires that commission structures are compatible with your business model and promotional needs.
a formula for Strategic relationShiPS When you join an affiliate program you are entering into a business relationship that will have a direct impact on your earnings. Evaluating the brand and the resources it offers will allow you to choose the right affiliate program to partner with. After all, a brand that is in-tune with an affiliate’s own brand will complement that affiliate’s business and enforce the rapport of trust that affiliates build with their players, ensuring long-term profitability.
Nicky SeNyard is CEO of Income Access, overseeing their independent iGaming affiliate network, market-leading affiliate software and expert affiliate management services.
iGB Affiliate AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2009
Thinking of Starting a Casino? Think Again… At one of the recent iGaming conferences in Barcelona, I got to sit down and chat with one of my best casino affiliates and, of course, one of the top affiliates in the industry. I was very surprised to have been asked questions about starting up an online casino. I remember exactly how I answered that question and I would like to think I gave an honest answer: “Don’t bother wasting your time and money”. But I will answer this same question for other affiliates and potential operators. For outsiders looking in, this may seem like the golden path to the money tree, but it is not. Many would like to point to all the money that companies like Golden Palace or 888 have made over the years. Yet, these companies have been around for a long time just like Google (although I would rather have started Google). Let’s take a look at a short and incomplete list of online casinos that have made it to the graveyard: • Hype Gaming • Diamond Casino and Havana Club Casino • Mini Vegas and Womens Vegas • Lasseters and AusVegas • 40pluscasino and Magic Lamp Casino • 21.com Older established sites like Slots.com and Blackjack.com were both online casinos that converted to portals. Blackjack.com has since gone back to use another software
iGB Affiliate AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2009
provider but both former casinos had top domains that sounded like sure winners, yet for some unknown reason, they couldn’t stay in the game. There are many other Microgaming, Playtech, Real Time Gaming, and other software casinos that haven’t survived with plenty of money invested. There are so many factors that could have contributed to all of these casinos going out of business and I haven’t even discussed any big poker rooms or sportsbooks that have suffered the same result. If it was as easy as printing money then nobody would be going out of business and everyone would start their own casino. To better explain some of the reasons why casinos go out of business and why I recommend affiliates to stay put, I will compare both business models.
Income Models Before I dive into startup costs I should compare some of the income models first since most people tend to look how much money they could make. Most outsiders would assume there is more money in being an operator and I think most affiliates would think the same. Operators on the other hand, have a clear insight into what affiliates make and the size of their cut at the end of the day. At the moment, I would say the online casino business is a bit crowded and the competition is fierce, unlike poker or sportsbetting, and this is great news for casino affiliates. I won’t tell you the numbers I see at my end but I have seen some forum polls showing how
much affiliates make and I would say this is a fairly accurate representation of the profit distributions. The fact is that there are many earning less than $10,000 per month, a fair chunk of affiliates earning $10,000 to $100,000 and a select few that earn more. Most of these affiliates promote an average of 40 programs and if they get a big winner at two of them, that’s 38 others they are still earning a commission from that month. It is possible for a casino to have a negative month but when that happens you still have other affiliates, players and all of your staff whoa re still getting paid. So what does an average casino make? I can’t really divulge this information but I know of many casinos that would instantly trade places for the profits that the top affiliates make. If you want to find more information yourself just check the publicly traded gaming companies and you will find out just how much they are pulling in.
Expenses Now let’s compare some of the expenses involved on both sides. I know some affiliates will think if their average commission is 30% that must mean 70% profit for the casino – WRONG! Let’s use an example: an affiliate has earned $5,000 commission in a month with player losses being around $17,000. That leaves $12,000 remaining from the set of players that the affiliate sent, after that there are many other fees that will start to chip away at these values: 24 hour customer support,
your casino and VIP managers to look after players both in terms of salary and gifts/bonuses, your affiliate managers, and payment processing fees where some processors not only charge a high fee but also hold some reserve funds for three to six months. Then, of course, you have royalties, so for $17,000 in player losses the affiliate is coming out on top with most of that money while the rest gets cut up into smaller chunks and spread around. Keep in mind $5,000 commission in a month is a big payday from one program especially if that affiliate has 20 to 40 other programs where they gain similar commissions. Now imagine that was $17,000 in profits for the player; the affiliate gets $0 but the casino has a big payout with the same operating costs. That same program has to run a higher volume of affiliates to try to earn anything similar. Operators have a lot of expenses and that doesn’t include any of the startup costs involved which run into six or seven figures. Finding hard working talented people to help run the casino is a big challenge especially when your affiliate managers leave the job to become ... affiliates! On top of all of this you really need to know the gaming business well to be successful because you cannot afford to
make bad decisions and mistakes so much money invested up front. If you don’t know how to acquire and retain players and your stats reflect that, why would any affiliate want to promote you when they get better results for their traffic from a program with a proven track record? Starting an affiliate site is fairly easy and the startup costs involved can be as little as $0 in some cases, and it’s very difficult to spend more than $2,000 to get off the ground. Typical expenses for affiliates include graphic design, content writing, programming work but nothing that rivals the expenses endured by operators. Affiliates can have bad months but will never have a negative month unless they have their own staff and don’t make enough to cover it, however, most run the show
themselves. I don’t see many affiliates going out of business either. If you make any mistakes along the way it’s not going to cost you – it truly is a low pressure learning environment. So in closing, if I had to start from scratch and pick my own path for success without a doubt it would be to start an affiliate site while building income streams and learning the foundations of how the business truly works. If you are going to learn and make mistakes along the way it’s best to do it with less risk involved. An affiliate site is fairly low risk with high reward while being an operator is high risk and high reward. If you fail at being successful as an affiliate, at least you can walk away with your money and a good learning experience.
John Wright is the marketing manager for Rockbet.com online casino and currently lives in Toronto, Canada. After obtaining a Bachelor of Applied Science in robotics at the University of Toronto he decided a career in gambling would be more fun and exciting. In 2002 he began playing poker, card counting and bonus hunting despite the requests from concerned friends and family members to pursue a real job. In 2003 he began creating his own affiliate sites teaching players the rules and strategies for online gaming. In 2005, he provided marketing services for 400affiliates.com and became the affiliate manager for ThisisVegas in 2007. At the start of this year John helped to launch Rockbet and is not only the marketing manager for the casino but also the casino and affiliate manager. In his spare time John enjoys travelling, reading, surfing and Muay Thai kickboxing. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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iGB Affiliate AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2009
A HelPinG HAnd iGB Affiliate magazine talks to Fabrice Drouin Ristori, Founder and President of Gambling-affiliation.com, about its new project to assist affiliates in improving their conversion rates.
Before we discuss your new project, let’s talk about the current affiliate market. Are these particularly hard times for affiliates? Well, we haven’t yet seen any drop in the CPA commissions paid by gambling operators to affiliates, so this is a good indicator that the affiliate sector is not suffering from the financial crisis. I’m only talking about CPA deals here and think that this ongoing trend is due to the competition between all the gambling operators; big players want to attract affiliates (and, therefore, players) no matter what. Presently, I’m in discussions with a lot of gambling operators and most of them are experiencing a small drop in their revenue; people are playing a bit less and accordingly, losing less as well, especially in the casino. So if you consider revenue share deals, affiliates are impacted but I wouldn’t say it’s hard times for affiliates.
are still signing up to gaming sites)? Yes and no. There is a slight difference between the two (affiliate/operator) sectors. Gambling operators pay big CPA to affiliates thinking that they are going to make a profit on the players in the long run, but it’s not guaranteed at all. So a gambling operator might be at risk when the affiliates are not. So again, affiliates take advantage of the huge number of gambling operators trying to take steps in the gambling market, and the competition is pulling the commission high. That said, overall it’s a good barometer – not perfect but quite good.
What about those entering the affiliate market for the first time – bad timing or a good opportunity? Today’s affiliate market is very competitive, so it’s very hard to step into this market and do well without having at least a year of hard work and experience behind you. Previously, you had ways to make money in this sector with no big investment, but the fact is that today, you won’t be able to compete with the top affiliates without serious and significant cash/time investment. The M&A (mergers and acquisition) trend we can see in the affiliate sector proves that big players are prevailing, and new entrants into the market won’t be able to compete with them easily. So, whether there is a financial crisis or not, it’s more the background of this affiliate sector that’s not in favour of newcomers, except for those who develop in niche countries where competition is not important.
You’ve developed a new project at Gambling-affiliation – talk us through the specifics of its design and what it is aiming to do… The project works in two ways: 1) Giving our affiliates access to the many affiliate tools we have created to enable them raise their conversion rate: odds comparators (with affiliate links incorporated directly), multi bookmaker banners which stick to the sport events (we have created “event banners” that show the future big sport events to bet on, but including links to different bookmakers we have affiliate campaign with) free content (sport statistics, tips, bookmaker reviews) and so on. We are entering into partnerships with different companies who are able to provide us with top content/tools that we can then give for free to our affiliates to help them improve their conversion rate. 2) We are launching a white label affiliate solution (a turnkey affiliate website solution for people who don’t know how to develop a website). These websites will have regular updated content, tips as well as the ability
Is the affiliate market a good barometer as to the health of the industry as a whole (if affiliates are doing well, people
iGB Affiliate AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2009
What do you feel are the biggest dangers/challenges that affiliates and programs face or may face in the future? Legal issues (URL blocking, online transaction blocking), Google dependence and offline advertising opportunity for operators that might divert part of marketing budget from the affiliate sector.
to publish Google optimized news and multiple affiliate links. Anybody will be able to step in this industry by promoting his white label website. You can find more information on this specific product on www.gamblingaffiliation.com/whitelabel. For us the idea is to be able to enlarge our network of affiliates by potentially working with millions of people with no knowledge in web programming, but it’s also a way for us to promote our clients (gambling operators) on these thousands of new affiliate websites worldwide. What types of affiliates and webmasters will benefit most? These tools are for existing affiliates who don’t have the financial backing to develop odds comparators or pay for content feeds. It’s also for newcomers who want to have an online activity but no understanding on how to do it. Is there a danger that you’ll be removing the advantage held by the more techsavvy webmasters? Yes and no, because we are signing up deals with these “tech-savvy” webmasters to provide content to our affiliates. So anybody with a good content/technical solution that might be useful to our affiliates can contact us to set up a deal they will benefit from as well. Even if you are, is it for the good of the wider industry that more people are able to become quality affiliates? Exactly – we need more people to become affiliates, especially in emerging markets where people don’t have the financial means to develop affiliate websites.
Fabrice Drouin ristori is Founder and President of Gambling-affiliation.com and can be reached at email@example.com.
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