Information, insight and analysis for iGaming Affiliates
Barney Frank vs UIGEA Round 2 uB etfair Takes on the Netherlands u Mobile SEO uC HANGES TO AFFILIATE TERMS AND CONDITIONS
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CASINO | POKER | BINGO | NETWORK GAMING | MOBILE
Web Traffic Management
The Affiliate Guide to SEO – Part Two
Using Video to Drive the Competitive Advantage
Interview – Jose, Affiliate Manager, Casino Claro and Casino La Sal
l 23 Interview – Schalk Van Der Sandt, International Affiliate Manager, Canbet Affiliates l 24
Second Time Lucky for Barney Frank in the US?
Changes to Affiliate Terms and Conditions
View from the Boardroom – Travelling Without a Map
Does Your Provider Think Outside the Box?
The Talent Battleground
A2B Marketing – A Strategic Role Reversal
Retention Vs Acquisition Strategies
US Gaming Regulation – Fear It
Masters of the Internet – Philip Rosedale, Founder, Second Life
Affiliate Photo Gallery – Amsterdam
Facebook – the Next Generation Gaming Platform?
Betfair Challenges Dutch Payment Blocking in Court
SEO Software – WEB CEO
Twitter – To Tweet or not to Tweet…
Mobile Gaming Opportunities for Affiliates
Affiliate Program Certification with eCOGRA
Editor in Chief: Michael Caselli firstname.lastname@example.org Editor: James McKeown email@example.com Publisher: Alex Pratt firstname.lastname@example.org Production Manager: Craig Young email@example.com Production Assiatant: Laura Head firstname.lastname@example.org Sales Executive: Ian Larcombe email@example.com Art Editor: Lorraine Gourlay Designers: Stewart Henson Magdalena Wielopolska
FREE SUBSCRIPTION email: firstname.lastname@example.org Print: Magazine Print Company Published by: iGaming Business, 33-41 Dallington Street, London EC1V 0BB T: +44 (0)20 7954 3515 F: +44 (0)20 7954 3511 www.igamingbusiness.com © iGaming 2009. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in any retrieval system of any nature without prior written permission, except for permitted fair dealing under the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. Application for permission for use of copyright material including permission to reproduce extracts in other published works shall be made to the publishers. Full acknowledgement of author, publisher and source must be given. iGaming Business Affiliate Magazine is published by iGaming Business Limited of 33-41Dallington Street, London EC1V 0BB, UK. The views expressed by contributors and correspondents are their own. Editorial opinions expressed in this magazine are not necessarily those of the Publisher. The Publisher does not accept responsibility for advertising content. Cover image: istockphoto.com ISSN: 1756-3348
Editor’s letter I’ve been getting calls from marketing and affiliate directors ever since Representative Barney Frank announced his new effort to introduce federally licensed online gaming in the US. The question from each: How do I get US players and find US affiliates? The answer is not so simple. Firstly, the US is unlikely to open all at once as a single market. Even with federal legislation, states have a right to control their own gambling policies, so perhaps you should be looking at attracting players from, and get affiliates focusing on, State X or Y, and not from the general US market. For example, Utah and Hawaii permit absolutely no gambling and are likely to ban people within those states from gaming online, even under Federal legislation. Secondly, who will legislate fastest? Do you believe that federal or state legislation will occur first? Frank’s bill is rather frightening for state legislators, like the California Assembly, who have been examining intrastate licensing for online gaming. His bill puts iGaming tax revenues into the federal coffers, rather than into state coffers. That pushes states interested in online gaming to accelerate their legislative efforts, in an attempt to pre-empt federal legislation and ensure that iGaming revenue generated from within the state, stays there. Finally, remember that states already have the right to issue intrastate legislation permitting online gaming, so why would they sit back and let the federal government set the rules and take all the revenue? So my answer – choose affiliates that you think have a stronghold on particular states or groups of states that are likely to legislate online gaming, don’t look at the US as a single gambling market, and boost your geolocation abilities, because state-by-state geo-location will be key in operating legally in the forthcoming US iGaming market. Michael Caselli, Editor in Chief
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Affiliate Events Calendar Due to their popularity and wealth of information, candor 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. Affilicon Israel,
Airport City, Israel
June 1-2, 2009
Summary: Over 1,500 people are expected to attend this year’s Affilicon Israel at Airport City’s Avenue Convention Center, which more than doubles last year’s attendance.The international affiliate conference follows the success of the first Affilicon held in Israel in November 2008, and will be a multi-tracked event where 1,500 attendees and over 70 exhibitors will gather together at one of the largest non-US affiliate marketing conferences and expos on the circuit. http://www.affilicon.com/index-il-spring.html Budapest Affiliate Conference
September 10-13, 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 neo-Gothic 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. http://www.budapestaffiliateconference.com EiG 2009
September 15-17, 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. http://www.eigexpo.com/2009/index.cfm a4uexpo London 2009
October 13-14, 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. http://www.a4uexpo.com/london/ iGB Espana
Summary: iGB Espana debuts in Madrid this October and unlike previous expo and conferences in Spain, it is going to be a 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
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NOW IN SPANISH MORE LANGUAGES COMING SOON
BARNEY FRANK INTRODUCES NEW US GAMING LEGISLATION
The fight to regulate the dormant online gaming market in the US took another twist in May when Congressman Barney Frank reintroduced legislation to establish a framework for licensed online gaming operators to accept wagers from US customers. May 6 saw Congressman Frank introduce HR 2267, the Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection and Enforcement Act to establish a federal regulatory and enforcement framework under which Internet gambling operators could obtain licenses authorizing them to accept bets and wagers from individuals in the United States. In addition, Frank also introduced HR 2266, the Reasonable Prudence in Regulation Act, as a separate legislation to delay the drawn out implementation of regulations under the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), which are set to go into force on December 1, 2009. The news has naturally buoyed the industry, and may even have taken some by surprise given the relative infancy of the new Obama Administration.
Jeffrey Sandman, spokesperson for the Safe and Secure Internet Gambling Initiative led the industry-wide praise. “We applaud Chairman Frank’s strong leadership to advance a commonsense approach to regulate Internet gambling and reverse the intrusive, ineffective and burdensome prohibition. “Despite the current prohibition, millions of Americans wager more than $100 billion annually with offshore Internet gambling operators. Rather
than tell Americans what they can and cannot do online in the privacy of their homes, Chairman Frank’s approach to regulate Internet gambling would protect consumers and allow the US to generate billions in new revenue to fund critical government programs.” On May 7, Congressman Jim McDermott introduced his tax companion bill, the Internet Gambling Regulation and Tax Enforcement Act, HR 2268, which will allow the government to tax gambling revenue. Barney Frank has long championed a reversal of the protectionist UIGEA since its inception in October 2006, citing that it invaded the personal freedom of adult Americans. Following the introduction of his Internet Gambling Regulation and Enforcement Act in 2007, Congressman Frank gave his first exclusive interview to iGaming Business magazine. In it he stated that UIGEA troubled him because it “essentially states that society has a right to intrude into other people’s personal choices about how they spend their money and their leisure time, in ways that don’t affect anyone else.”
MINNESOTA UNREST OVER GAMBLING BAN A state representative in the US has introduced legislation that would prevent the Minnesota Department of Public Safety’s Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement Division (AGED) from enforcing plans to block access to 200 online gambling sites. The news follows the announcement by AGED that it had sent written notices to eleven national telephone and Internet service providers instructing them to bar access for Minnesota residents to certain online casinos and poker rooms. AGED is citing a law from 1961 and the case has similarities with the ultimately unsuccessful legal action undertaken by officials in Kentucky last year. According to a report from the Minneapolis Star-Tribune newspaper, legislation presented by State Representative Pat Garofalo would stop the Northern state from carrying out its plans without approval from the legislature. “The Department of Public Safety has to have better things to do with its time than to go after a 06 ● iGB Affiliate ● June/July 2009
college kid in his dorm room or some guy sitting in his basement spending a couple of hours playing online poker,” said Garofalo. “Demanding that a private-sector Internet service provider block access to websites is not a proper function of our state government. I’m certainly not condoning online gambling but I have serious concerns about government banning access to websites. This is the kind of thing they do in communist China not the United States of America. “Besides, how about we focus on balancing the state’s $6.4 billion budget deficit and not harassing Minnesotans anymore than Democrat legislative leaders are already trying to do.” John Willems, Director for AGED, expressed disappointment with the legislation introduced by the Republican representative, stating that it reflected a “180-degree turn from the current enforcement efforts towards illegal online gambling, particularly those that are being currently undertaken”.
RUSSIA PUTS FOOT DOWN ON GAMBLING According to the Moscow Times journalist, Maria Antonova, Russian President, Dmitry Medvedev, recently told Federal Tax Service chief Mikhail Mokretsov, in no uncertain terms, that he would not tolerate any delays in moving all gambling to special regional zones within two months. “It is imperative that these rules go into effect in due time. There will be no revisions, no pushing back – despite the lobbying efforts of various businesses,” Medvedev said. New rules approved in late 2006 require all gambling establishments to move to one of four zones established for the industry by July 1, 2009. The closure of all casinos must be enforced and betting will be banned outside the zones, which are located in areas on the Azov Sea, in the Far East and in the Altai and Kaliningrad regions. The legislation was introduced to the State Duma by then-President Vladimir Putin. The rules have come under fire from casinos and investors in the region, who claim that the zones don’t have the infrastructure to build new casinos in time for the summer deadline.
AFFILIATE PROGRAM LAUNCHES NEW WEBSITE New affiliate marketing solutions provider GaminGang has launched a dedicated site for members at GaminGang.com featuring a wide selection of tracking reports and media for affiliates. GaminGang is the affiliate programme for online casino 50StatesCasino.com, which was launched earlier this year using Top Game Software, and revealed that its new website offers affiliates a range of advert, geotarget, marketing source and rotating media group reports. “We know what affiliates want and what they expect from an affiliate program and we are willing to provide,” read a statement from GaminGang. “The Gang aims to offer the very best service by injecting real-life values into the Internet gaming business. We build partnerships. That is what we do, period.”
ONLINE GAMES MARKET ENJOYING GROWTH According to the BBC, demand for subscription to massive multiplayer online games (MMOG), such as World of Warcraft, will top $2 billion (£1.3billion) by 2013. The findings are from a study by analysts Screen Digest, that suggests the MMOG market in Europe and North America has grown by 22 percent and is now worth in the region of $1.4bn (£0.9bn). The report unveils there are at least 220 active MMOGs, although many of these are exclusive to South East Asia. Piers Harding-Rolls, senior analyst with Screen Digest, told the BBC that subscription MMOGs were flying in the face of the recession. “Some games are eroding World of Warcraft’s (WoW) position – Warhammer Online and Age of Conan being the two most significant – but that’s more down to their growth rather than any decline on WoW’s part. WoW’s market share was 60 percent in 2007 and 58 percent in 2008, but in terms of revenue, it went up year-on-year and is still going big guns.” 10 Most Popular Subscription Games (by spend) 1) World of Warcraft 2) Club Penguin 3) RuneScape 4) Eve Online 5) Final Fantasy XI 6) The Lord of the Rings Online 7) Dofus 8) Age of Conan 9) City of Heroes 10) EverQuest II Source: BBC/Screen Digest
TOTE TASMANIA TO REPLACE TAB SPORTSBET Australia’s Tote Tasmania has announced that it is to launch the new sportsbetting business, BetASport to replace its existing TAB Sportsbet operation. The announcement follows April’s statement from Michael Aird, Treasurer for Tasmania, that legislation had been tabled that could see the sale of the state’s Tote operation by the end of August subject to Parliamentary approval. “We will be offering our customers a wider range of sportsbetting options than currently offered including better fixed-odds thoroughbred coverage and looking to introduce improvements to our website to make it even more userfriendly for sport punters,” said Craig Coleman, Chief Executive Officer for Tote Tasmania. “The move to operate our own sportsbetting business means Tote Tasmania is becoming a more sports-centric business. Sportsbetting is a major growth area, not only in Australia but internationally.” Coleman revealed that the Tote’s turnover from sportsbetting operations grew by 164 percent in 2007/08 to reach nearly $14 million off a ‘relatively low base’ with the ability to deliver ‘even more substantial growth’ this year. Although BetASport has been developed with a Tasmanian audience in mind, Coleman announced that it has the capacity to become a national and international brand as it will feature books on election results and entertainment including the Academy Awards. June/July June/July 2009 2009 ● ● iGB iGB Affi Affiliate liate ● ● 07 07
SWISS BANK ON GAMBLING LICENSES Switzerland’s government has announced plans to liberalise its online gambling market by offering operators a limited number of licenses while keeping a ban on wagers placed through telephone and interactive television. The proposals are the brainchild of the Justice Ministry in response to the increasing number of illegal online money games, although any changes would be subject to the approval of the Swiss Parliament. The plan would also tighten measures against other forms of illegal gambling, which could see the Swiss run foul of the European Commission for seeming to give preferential treatment to locally licensed providers over those based in other Member States. According to an article from news portal SwissInfo.ch, new forms of gambling in Switzerland could see the government generate tax revenues of up to $22 million a year. The Swiss decision comes hard on the heels of Denmark’s recent announcement that it would be presenting proposals that would, if passed, end the sixty-year gaming monopoly of the Stateowned Danske Spil organisation.
GAMBLING ON THE RISE IN ITALY Reuters have reported that gambling wagers in Italy rose 10 percent in the first four months of the year to €17.603 billion ($23.950 billion), a report the state monopoly AAMS confirmed in a statement posted on its website. Total wagers in April, including slot machines, sportsbetting, scratch cards and lotteries were €4.442 billion, up on April 2008’s total of €4.076 billion, as reported by Agipro news agency. In the first quarter of this year, Italian gaming company Lottomatica posted higher results, and said that two-thirds of the rise it expected in full year earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) will come from its Italian activities.
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PARLAY STRIKES DEAL WITH ENTRACTION Parlay Entertainment has announced the completion of a software licensing arrangement with Malta’s Entraction Operation Limited. The deal will pave the way for the launch of a European online bingo network, powered by a software platform combining Parlay’s front-end bingo and gaming products with Entraction’s back-end administration system. Parlay CEO, Scott White, explained, “By combining the strengths of Parlay’s bingo games with Entraction’s expanding footprint in the European gaming market, we anticipate the creation of a compelling bingo network solution, which will see the launch of multiple brands in the coming months. The Entraction network is expected to launch at the end of May 2009 and Parlay anticipates it will achieve critical mass very quickly in Q2.” Peter Åström, CEO Entraction added, “With the launch of Parlay’s new multi-lingual, multi-currency bingo platform, Entraction will now be able to focus on the growth of bingo as a core business offering which we expect will complement our rapidly expanding European gaming network. We plan to offer the bingo platform to both existing and new partners, allowing us to make a serious commitment to growing this area of our business.” Scott White concluded, “We are delighted to have finalized our launch plan with Entraction, and we look forward to assisting our new partner in the expansion of their online bingo initiative”.
MICROGAMING ANNOUNCES MACRO JACKPOT WIN Champagne corks were popping in Greece in May as a small business owner, known as Georgios M, profited from a single bet of €5 to the tune of €6.3 million at River Belle Online Casino. The Mega Moolah Jackpot, powered by Microgaming, paid out a whopping €6,374,434 to the winner from Greece, marking it out as the biggest ever Mega Moolah jackpot and one of the biggest online payouts to date. Naturally, all concerned were very impressed. Belle Rock Entertainment’s Chairman Tim Johnson enthused, “We at Belle Rock Entertainment take the utmost pleasure in seeing our players win life changing jackpots. It is an amazing accomplishment that for a single bet of€5 a valued long time River Belle player walked away with one of the largest online jackpots ever won. Well done and enjoy your winnings Georgios.” The winner in question, Georgios M, was understandably concise in the aftermath of his win; “I could not believe it”, he said. Microgaming CEO, Roger Raatgever, added, “It is truly exciting that Microgaming has broken yet another record with the latest win on Mega Moolah. We are continually expanding our portfolio of casino games to provide the highest level of entertainment to consumers – but nothing tops the story of this winner, congratulations to him.”
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Online search expert Gary Beal, examines SEO on the mobile platform. I remember back in September of 2006 when they first released the .mobi domain extension (referred to as a TLD or top level domain). I even went and bought dozens of them after listening to industry experts about how big it was going to be by 2008. So here we are almost half way through 2009 and it’s still low on most radars, and non-existent on regular search results. Although mobile searches and multimedia search engines report a triple growth year in 2007, and have penned 2009 as “the year of mobile search”, I still haven’t seen anything of significance. Neither have my clients... even the big ones that you would think would see an influx of new traffic to their mobile web compliant version like Bingo. com. After all, there are three types of mobile users; l The Need-it-Now Shopper – Whether pizza, ring tones or concert tickets, these users need it so bad they can’t possibly wait to get to a PC, or they may not even have one. These types epitomise the 21st Century shopper. l The Researcher – Taxis, restaurants, post boxes, weather, stocks or the latest news, the Researcher looks at their mobile phone more than they look at their own family. They use a mobile like most of us use a normal PC; to feed their information hunger.
l The Killing-Time User – Twitter, Facebook,
online radios and music downloads, the hottest new topics, YouTube, television programs and other media are the strongest growth area in mobile phone usage. These types of users are on a train, at lunch or waiting for something to happen. Figuring out where you stand amongst these user-types could be your key to being very successful in the mobile world of online marketing. The fact is that the most recent figures cannot be ignored. According to the experts (in this case emarketer.com), there will be 844.9 million worldwide mobile-search users in 2011, up from 219.2 million in 2006. Mobile search ad revenue is projected to grow to $3.8 billion by 2012, up from $83 million in 2007. On the reverse side of the argument, another factor to consider is that with the release of the iPhone, G-Phone and over 200 other web-ready phones that do not require anything other than a normal website, do you actually need a mobile version of your site? With that kind of potential revenue, or even half that, as affiliates we need to resource the limited time and money that it takes to become
mobile web present and compliant. Mobile Search Optimisation? As there are ways to integrate various elements into your normal website that can increase your search engine ranking position, injecting SEO into your mobile site is available as well. The thing about mobile search and SEO is that optimisation is taken back to the late 90s, when simple things like titles and meta tags worked like gold, and when there wasn’t much competition that knew what they were doing. Just following the basics can prove to be successful for many markets that have yet to embrace this new marketing opportunity. Unlike a normal website, the list of SEO techniques is short for the mobile landscape, so I’m going to break this into two sections; Technical and SEO elements of mobile websites. Technical TLD – Don’t worry about using a .mobi, any TLD will do fine. (.com, .net, .de, .nl, etc.) Coding – It must be W3C compliant and must be 100% valid XHTML 1.0 code. (www.validator. w3.org). This works with Google’s interface that delivers six results rather than the two or three you would normally see displayed, but will also function on a cheap mobile phone interface. If you were ambitious, you could make the site in valid xHTML (compatibility test at W3C), cHTML, WML (compatibility test at shadowplay.net) and normal mark-up (for fully functional web phones). Depending on your market you could show up multiple times in the same query. (There is no duplicate content penalty.) There are three Primary language types; l WML (often called WAP 1.0) – based on XML – a content formatting standard. l xHTML Mobile Profile (often called WAP 2.0) – derived from xHTML 1.1 Basic but with additional modules. l cHTML or Compact HTML (often called iMode) – uses a subset of the standard HTML 2.0, 3.2 or 4.0 specifications. l Site Size – Keep the site down to as few
pages as possible, ideally between three and six, of which one needs to be an engineered landing page for future endeavours like PPC or conversion testing. l Content – Unfortunately, the content needs to be sixty-three characters (give-or-take). Create linked snippets on each page if you need to get more than this into one page. l Markup – Sorry, no iFrames, no Flash, no redirects, no auto-refresh, no popups, no spacing graphics, no tables, no scrollbars (or minimum one if you must) and no embedded objects or scripts. Use external css and if possible have your programmer load your mobile content from a database on the fly with device recognition.
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(Like a normal webpage delivering browsercompatible content to whatever phone the end-user is using.) And lastly, provide caching information in HTTP responses. l Metatxt – The new standard in mobile SEO that helps search engines find your site and classify it. This is similar to the description and keyword tags on a normal website. l Mobi Testing – There are some pretty good sites that will turn your site into a mobile site; http://site.mobi, http://mobilizer.volantis.net, http://zinaddo.com, http://ready.mobi, and mtld.mobi/emulator.php will perform a browser compatibility test. SEO l OnPage – This works the same as regular sites. Title tags that represent a specific keyword or keywords, H1 Tags that mirror those keywords and content that includes the keywords are heavily weighed attributes. Be sure to match them up with the metatxt content. l Local Search – Use locations in your metatxt and title if possible. Most mobile apps have a “Search Nearby”, especially the iPhone with hundreds of apps that utilise GPS location. l Universal Search – Yes Universal Search is a big part of Google’s mobile algorithm. One of the most common uses for mobile is news, YouTube, Google Reader, Wikipedia and many others. These dominate the top spots on mobile search. In most cases, they show up before web results as well. Optimise for content only available on mobile search; RSS feeds, images, video and news feeds (press releases) are the hot target right now. l Local Search – If you are a brick-and-mortar business, get on Google Local, Yahoo! Local, Ask City, Live Search Maps, Yelp, Yellow, White Pages and any other directory, location or mapping service. These are already widely used on G-Phone, iPhone and are sure to become a standard feature in the next-gen line of phones. l Sitemaps – Create and submit separate xml sitemaps to Google and Yahoo! just as you do for your normal website. Break them into sections; images, videos, PDFs, etc. l Internal Link Building – This works the same as a regular site. You can PR sculpt the important pages and emphasise keywords with internal anchor text (the linked words) that link to the important pages within your site, and that are optimised for those keywords. l External Inbound Links – Think global or international when building links to your website. When optimising a normal website, SEOs build links from similar domain extensions. So if you had website.es, you would build links from other .es domains and Spanish language websites. In the mobile world, any link is significant and can rapidly earn you top spots. Backlinks in mobile SEO help regardless of the domain extension. Optimising for iPhone iPhones only account for 1% of the overall sales in the mobile market, reporting just under 10 million units sold in 2008. Although this is a minute
Gary R. Beal is the MD of VanguardSEO has been in the Search Engine Optimization field for 12 years. He attended Ohio State University in the US and holds a Masters Degree in Biometrics and Mathematical Statistics. He specialises in SEO for very competitive markets; primarily in Gaming, Dating, Travel, Insurance and Financial Industries. He has spoken at many SES, SMX, CAP, AAC, EIG,
make you stop and wonder if this is something you should target more heavily. Just take a look at some of the hundreds of applications on iPhone. There are apps that locate and call the nearest cab, list the nearest restaurants or even give reviews on local hotels – all are based on GPS location – now that’s cool! Twitter and other social networks (which are absolutely huge) have apps that show you who’s Twittering that has your interest and is located near you. With online dating becoming more acceptable every day, I can see a whole new method of 5-minute dating type sites springing up soon that are based on your location. Some retail stores have apps that allow you to input the bar code numbers to obtain prices, while grocery stores compile a running ‘tally’ while you shop so you can watch what you are spending (watch out ladies!). Others are launching coupon schemes that allow you to display the coupon on-screen and effectively remit the coupon in store from your mobile (watch out men!). If you are in real estate, think of the things that can be done with GPS and online apps; a potential buyer drives into a neighbourhood looking for homes and finds a few that look good from the outside. They go to your website from the information on the ‘for sale’ sign, look at pictures or even a walk-through video and shazam! – you have a prospect that was house shopping that Sunday you were off at the big game. I must admit, I am a gadget guy and the fact that the mobile web didn’t take off was disappointing to say the least. But mark my words; it’s a hidden tiger getting ready to pounce. The current climate of the economy hasn’t done anything to help our industry. In fact, these days you have to work hard just to stand still. Taking advantage of every opportunity is important to remain successful. Take it from me; the researching-need-it-now SEO guy that’s killing time – on my iPhone. l
G2E, AIG, GPWA, CAC and A4UExpo conferences around Europe and has also been on dozens of expert SEO panels. Gary has written specialised articles for multiple online marketing publications and moderates on 3 separate affiliate forums and as an affiliate has great insight. He is known best for his free 1-on-1 sessions during conferences and his non-commercial, plain talk delivery. The online world knows him as GaryTheScubaGuy and his Top 12 SEO Tips.
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PLAY YOUR CARDS RIGHT ONLINE Graham Moore, e-gaming specialist at Zeus Technology outlines why failing to consider web traffic management before launching an affiliate marketing programme is a gamble not worth taking. Given the current economic climate it’s hardly surprising that increasing numbers of online gambling vendors are enjoying the cost saving benefits affiliate marketing programmes promise. For gambling companies large and small, the chance to cut the costs associated with expensive email and online advertising and boost online presence is hugely appealing. Yet despite all the enthusiasm surrounding affiliate marketing, online gambling companies should avoid jumping in head-first before a taking a few considerations on board. Even before engaging in planning activity – such as reviewing competitor affiliate programmes and considering potential partners – vendors should seriously consider the impact an affiliate programme will have on the quality of online services delivered to end-users. Managing Web Traffic One of the key goals behind any affiliate programme is to boost web traffic to online services. Although this offers the promise of additional sales it also puts huge pressure on back-end IT infrastructure. In some cases, a rise in the number of people accessing gambling services online can cause operations to slow dramatically. In extreme cases, it can lead entire services to fail. This not only frustrates existing customers but also alienates any new customers visiting an affiliate or vendor for the first time. The impact that downtime or poor service has in terms of missed sales and brand reputation can be huge. Maintaining Service In order to avoid these problems and ensure users experience the highest possible level of service, vendors should invest in traffic management software that keeps online services live even when there are huge peaks in demand. Software is far more flexible and cost effective than hardware solutions and can be deployed in a matter of hours, preparing vendors for the rise in traffic that affiliate programs can bring. Intelligent software can analyse every player logging-in and monitor users who have made large transactions in the past to make sure they enjoy the highest level of service. At a more basic level, the technology also dramatically improves website performance and financial return
by minimising delay on page load, even with bandwidth-hungry advertisements included. Keeping it Secure The software can also play a key role in keeping a site secure, particularly payment and other personal details of gamblers. This is achieved by “cloaking” the identity of back-end servers to prevent malicious attacks. Such security measures are highly important as consumers will only gamble online with companies they know they can trust. The same is true when it comes to affiliate partners. Vendors will struggle to recruit reliable and profitable partners unless they can demonstrate the security credentials of their offering. The last thing a partner wants is to upset its own customers; ensuring a vendor can provide a safe and secure gambling experience is crucial. Think Before you Leap Successful affiliate programmes are only as good as the vendors running them. Before rushing to launch a program, vendors should think carefully about the impact it will have on its online offering. The huge peaks of traffic generated by affiliates may have the potential to drive up sales, but this potential can easily be missed unless intelligent traffic management technology is in place. This technology will not only help vendors deliver a consistently reliable and secure online gambling experience, but also offer the flexibility and scalability needed to expand affiliate programs. Today’s online gamblers are a notoriously picky bunch and won’t think twice about choosing to gamble with a competitor if they experience poor online service. The same is true with affiliates – they want to know they are partnering with reliable vendors that offer a quality service that will allow them to profit from sales. If affiliates have any reason to doubt this, they will partner with other companies that offer a more superior service. In today’s tough market, every sales opportunity counts, so vendors need to make sure they have the appropriate technology in place to support their plans. Avoiding downtime and improving online service is more important than ever if vendors are to avoid losing their hand in what has become a highly competitive market. ●
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THE AFFILIATE GUIDE TO SEO â€“ PART TWO Gary Beal returns to iGaming Business Affiliate Magazine to provide the second part of his 2009 insight into SEO. As mentioned in the first part of this article in the April/May edition of iGaming Business 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 1 to 6 in the previous issue, here, we will tackle steps 7 to 9 which cover the following: l Testing your landing pages and evaluate click through rates l Identifying supplemental/omitted pages and getting them out l Using Geotargeting for Language and Regional Targeting 7. Test your landing pages and evaluate click through rates Google has admitted in the last few months that it does look at click through rates in its rating
process. Since Yahoo! already does this it was no surprise to learn that Google does it as well. It just makes sense. Google takes information gathered from its toolbar and Google Analytics to use in its algorithm. Not much of this can be realistically proven but this is something that you should be doing anyway to identify problems or other issues. A typical CTR is between 25-35%. Do A/B or multivariate testing to improve CTR on your landing page. Utilising a PPC account is a great tool for this. The end-goal is to get the user to click through to at least one additional page within your website. Affiliates should be vigilant in the implementation of this technique because most affiliate sites that I have seen either have banners with CTAs (call to actions) or they have an immediate redirect to their providerâ€™s website. Neither technique is beneficial to your overall trust or authority rating. Google looks for traffic to stay on your site (at least past the front page), so I optimise landing pages to provoke click-through
rates. There are countless ways to implement this. Whether incentivising or using another technique, the goal is to get them through to a secondary landing page before you send them to your provider. This technique may not be for everyone, but for those who do I felt it was a top tip that even if you canâ€™t try out now, you can file away for another day. 8. Identify supplemental/omitted pages and get them out You may have hundreds or thousands of pages that are in supplemental or omitted results. This usually happens because you have duplicate or similar pages (as is often the case with affiliate websites), the page has not been updated recently, Google has clustered the URLs, or there is too little content, no backlinks or poor internal navigation. Google has said that it has eliminated supplemental results. I believe this is because of the integration of universal search (a.k.a. blended search), which just happened to occur shortly
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from an existing internal page with the anchor text containing the keywords for that page. 5. Do some social bookmarking on the page. 6. Make sure the page is included in my xml sitemap and then resubmit it to Webmaster Central. 7. Lastly, if none of the above seem to be working after 90 days, and I have another page that is relevant and does have PageRank and isn’t listed in the supplemental, I do a 301 (permanent redirect) to it from the supplemental page.
before the change. Since aged or orphan pages could actually be documents, news articles, videos, blogs and forums that held valuable and more relevant information than a new page, this “filter” needed to be changed to include all available resources. The best way to identify these pages is to enter “site:www.yourwebsite.com” into the Google search bar and take note of the number of pages Google is showing indexed; Here’s Google’s official definition as found on its Webmaster page: “Supplemental sites are part of Google’s auxiliary index. Google is able to place fewer restraints on sites that we crawl for this supplemental index than it does on sites that are crawled for the main index. For example, the number of parameters in a URL might exclude a site from being crawled for inclusion in the main index; however, it could still be crawled and added to Google’s supplemental index. “The index in which a site is included is completely automated; there’s no way for you to select or change the index in which your site appears. Please be assured that the index in which a site is included does not affect its PageRank.” Nonsense! At the time of this article, Google was already starting to eliminate its search results showing supplemental results. Until recently, all you had to do was go to the last few pages of your query and locate the pages that had ‘– Supplemental Result’ just after the page size. Google is no longer showing these. Here’s what it had to say, “Since 2006, we’ve completely overhauled the system that crawls and indexes supplemental results. The current system provides deeper and more continuous indexing. Additionally, we are indexing URLs with more parameters and are continuing to place fewer restrictions on the sites we crawl. As a result, supplemental results are fresher and more comprehensive than ever. We’re also working towards showing more supplemental results by ensuring that every query is able to search the supplemental index, and expect to roll this out over the course of the summer. “The distinction between the main and the supplemental index is, therefore, continuing to narrow. Given all the progress that we’ve been able to make so far, and thinking ahead to future
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improvements, we’ve decided to stop labelling these URLs as “Supplemental Results”. Of course, you will continue to benefit from Google’s supplemental index being deeper and fresher.” Google then said that the easiest way to identify these pages is as follows: “First, get a list of all of your pages. Next, go to the webmaster console (Google Webmaster Central) and export a list of all of your links. Make sure that you get both external and internal links, and concatenate the files. Now, compare your list containing all your pages with your list of internal and external backlinks. If you know a page exists but you don’t see that page in the list of site with backlinks, then that deserves investigation. Pages with very few backlinks (either from other sites or internally) are also worth checking out.” Nonsense! Okay so now you have identified the pages that are in supplemental results and not showing up in the results anywhere. Now we need to identify why they are there. The main reasons that a page goes to supplemental results are: 1. Duplicate content 2. 301s – Redirected Pages that have a cache date prior to the 301 being put in place 3. A 404 was returned when Google attempted to crawl it 4. New page 5. Bad coding 6. Page hasn’t recently been updated 7. Pages that have lost their backlinks According to Matt Cutts of Google, “PageRank is the primary focus determining whether a URL is in the main web index vs. supplemental results.” Now, this isn’t the be-all and end-all, but it covers about 95% of the reason that you may be in the supplementals. So now we know what they are, how to find them and why they are most likely in the supplemental results. Now let’s get them out of there. Here are the different methods that I use when I find that a page has gone supplemental: 1. Add fresh content to the page. 2. Add navigation to the page from the main page. 3. Move the pages to the first subdirectory if it is not already there. 4. Get a backlink to the page and/or create a link
9. Use Geotargeting for Language and Regional Targeting The way in which people search and the results the search engines are delivering are evolving rapidly. Smarter queries and more complex algorithms mean that you need to use various techniques to be sure you are showing up in the results. Local search, advanced search, regional search and language-based searches are some of the filters an end-user or a search engine can use in determining who shows up, when they show up and where they show up. Geotargeting is one tool Google has refined and one that you can manipulate to a point in order to increase saturation in any market. Beyond the obvious on-page considerations, different searches will deliver (in most cases) a different set of results. The results can differ greatly depending on several considerations: 1. The IP of the end-user. 2. The server location of the website. 3. Any geographically targeted settings in Webmaster Central. 4. The relationship between the search filters and the resulting web pages (i.e. did they search for Pages from [region] or Pages in [language]). 5. If the end-user is searching a different extension than the defaulted engine (they manually enter Google.com searching for US or English results in a non-US region). The other elements that will affect rankings will be backlinks: 1. Are the links from a TLD that matches the destination URL (I.e. .nl linking to a .nl website)? 2. Is the IP linking website located in the same region as the linked URL? 3. Page rank, linking anchor text, additional outbound links on the page linking to you. 4. On-page relevancy. 5. Language based meta-tags. 6. Everything in the above 5 items relating to the linking website/page. Any one of these elements can give you an edge over your competition. Searching any of Google’s (non-US) datasets will generally return a variety of websites when no language or location filter is selected. These can include internal pages in a website, subdirectories (www.yoursite.com/french), subdomains (www.french.yoursite.com), and various TLDs (top level domains like .com and .nl). All eleven of the above factors are present in the automatic algorithm.
The problem is that no one really knows which approach is best, or which algorithmic attribute is the most effective. So what can we do with this? What we want to do is look at the existing results using the available search filters and the existing websites that are ranking high and determine the best strategy for your website. This takes deep page analysis of your competitors. The important thing to note is that there is a hierarchy between one and the other in terms of which is the best solution. Every website has its own individual solution based on their demographics, site mechanics and available resources. What you need to consider are: 1. Your target market. 2. If you need or don’t need geographical targeting. 3. If you need language based subdomains or subdirectories. 4. Should you move hosting? 5. Can I afford to do it all? How and When to Use Geographical Targeting Here’s what to do if you wish to: Geographically target a region 1. Create a subdomain or a subdirectory in the native language and use Webmaster Central to geographically target it.
2. Host the subdomain on a server in the native region and use geographical targeting. 3. Build backlinks from similar TLDs. Target a specific language 1. Create a subdirectory in the native language (i.e. www.yoursite.com/nl/). 2. Build backlinks from same language websites. 3. Do not use geographical targeting. The reason that you do not want to use geographical targeting along with a languagebased strategy is that if the end-user searches in the native language on Google.com, a site using content in that language will be stronger than the same site with geographical targeting in place. (This isn’t dependent on whether you use subdirectories or subdomains unless you hosted
Gary R. Beal is Director of Search and Training at Stickyeyes. He has been in the Search Engine Optimization field for 10 years. Gary was a speaker at the most recent Search Engine Strategies (SES) conference in London, and specializes in Search, Pay Per Click, Affiliate Management and Email Marketing. Gary@stickyeyes.com.
the subdomain in the target region.) If you already have an existing website with a TLD like a .com or .cu.uk, and they are your target market, I recommend that you do not use the geographical targeting option. As I’ve mentioned in my previous articles, start building subdirectories using the top native language determined by looking at Google Analytics or your log files. Identify your top referrer language. If the languages are close, as it the case between the US, UK, New Zealand and Australia, use native slang in the title, metatags and content. Build a new xml site map and manually submit it through all the main search engines. The next step is to create a subdomain and get it hosted in the region that you are targeting. Build and submit content in the native language as well as setting up the geographical target in Webmaster Central. By implementing this strategy, you will have a significant advantage over most of your competition. Whether the search is initiated inside or outside the region, whether your site is located in the region or just hosted there, or even if they search in the native language or manually enter a specific Google engine like Google.com.mx or Google.es, you will have improved saturation. The final part of Gary’s SEO insight will feature in the August/September issue of iGaming Business Affiliate Magazine. l
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Would you rather have the best or the cheapest? That’s a choice consumers are faced with on a daily basis, for pretty much everything. A £400 suit from Hugo Boss, or £25 jacket and trousers from the supermarket? Gaming customers face the same choice. The plethora of bonuses, offers and new games around, means that the market place is extremely competitive and players now have more choice than ever before. With this in mind, the need for operators to keep hold of visitors when they arrive, and convert them into loyal customers, has never been as important. One of the best methods in retaining customers is to educate them – and that’s where video solutions come in. Our (Eyeview) gaming customers come to us to increase conversion, but they are also using video as a retention tool. With gaming companies, one of the main issues is how to differentiate your offering. You can choose to compete on price and by offering more generous bonuses, but that’s the worst and most cut-throat strategy to pursue. Everybody loses in a price war. A better strategy is simply to offer something your competitors aren’t, such as a new game or different bets. Videos help customers to understand and get involved in the game, helping to retain them even if you aren’t offering the lowest price in the neighbourhood. For instance, let’s say you introduce a new blackjack game – if the customers don’t get it, you lose them immediately. So initially, a video can be used to convert visitors to fully signed-up users. But video has a number of practical uses. It can help a player become comfortable with a new game and it’s also a good way of showing the functionality of the specifics that only you offer. Cut-throat Competition There are plenty of other industries where cutthroat competition is used to differentiate between brands on price and product, such as airlines.
People are offered low-cost fares with no frills, such as Ryanair or easyJet, or high-cost fares with perceived luxury, such as Emirates or British Airways. But today’s financial reality, where almost everyone is heading towards lower pricing, is a good time to place the emphasis on quality products and the employment of modern techniques, such as educational video to help increase stickiness to a particular site or brand. For example, Apple sells similar laptops to a number of PC manufacturers, although it can charge £1,000 where PC competitors are involved in a price war that values the same product at as little as £300. Why? Because Apple has created an image of quality, and its products are seen as having a real difference. Furthermore, try asking an Apple user to switch to a PC... that simply will not happen. Apple invests real money in building the brand and educating the users on the differences and the functionality. But once you are hooked, it’s usually for life. In gaming, offering the biggest bonus or additional ways to bet carries the risk of introducing a new concept, and this is when you need to educate customers and introduce them to what you’re offering straightaway. You won’t get high conversion rates unless you explain to first-time visitors why they should play on your site. But even if you get through that hurdle, don’t expect high levels of customer retention unless visitors understand what you are putting in front of them, whether that be engagement with the game or its rules. The Power of Video From where we stand, gaming companies are becoming increasingly aware of the usefulness of video on their websites both for conversion and for retention. One of our clients, financial trading platform eToro, started with an introduction video on its homepage which increased conversion by 20
percent. Once it saw the impact, the platform launched another project focussed on educating the users about the platform’s capabilities, so that after the customer joined, eToro made sure he understood the full functionality of the platform – thus, generating higher conversion rates, customer lifetime value and lower churn rates. Similarly, 888 used an overview video to teach its users about the three new bets available on its site. In addition, Michael Gretz, general manager of PokerProfessor, said that his team saw an increase in conversions of around 18 percent from hit to opening an account. This is pretty typical of what we’re seeing in the gaming sphere – somewhere between 10 and 20 percent. But the industry is a progressive one and knows when it has to integrate other forms of media to get results. Are we relying on gaming operators to be innovative and offer new things to customers? Yes and no. Most of our videos are intro videos focussing on converting first-time visitors to players and they perform well for us. If a customer wants to try something new, then that’s a whole new opportunity. The tough global economic backdrop has made life difficult for nearly everyone, but it has also presented opportunities for products of real quality to stand out from whatever is in the evergrowing bargain bin. Video is becoming a crucial tool in helping drive that competitive advantage. ●
Tal Riesenfeld is the co-founder and VP of Marketing and Business Development of EyeView. Prior to EyeView, Tal worked as an online sales manager in Google (YouTube) and before that served as a Strategic Marketing Product Manager at Hewlett- Packard. Tal has an MBA with distinction from Harvard Business School and a B.Sc. degree in Computer Science with distinction from Ben Gurion University in Israel.
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Is Social Networking Finally Coming to iGaming? iGaming Business Affiliate Magazine talks to Anthony J Martino, the man behind the launch of the industry’s very own social networking site, PokerNations.com Social Network. Firstly, let’s start with the concept behind the new networking space – what are you hoping to achieve with this model? We’re looking to build a true resource for the poker and gambling enthusiast; and for the industry as well. We want the enthusiasts to have access to a variety of gambling resources (organizations, events, news, software, gaming supplies, etc) and provide a very targeted demographic for industry members to benefit from. Do sites like this really work on a niche level? Is the attraction of something like Facebook the fact that it is all encompassing? It’s about life, friends and staying in touch – the business works around the model rather than fitting a model around the business… We’ve considered sites like MySpace and Facebook in our approach with this network. One of my main gripes with MySpace is that it permits anyone to drastically alter the html coding on their profile. While giving members creative freedom has its merits, there are too many members who take their profiles too far. Many alter their profiles so drastically that you can’t locate the ‘Add Me’ or ‘Message Me’ buttons, or their pages are so overloaded with junk that it takes forever to load or crashes your browser. Not to mention loud, annoying music that instantly plays and you have to hunt through their profile and hope you can locate it to shut it off. With Facebook you have a lot of time-wasters in applications that allow members to toss snowballs at each other, join your friend’s pirate ship crew and so forth. At the end of the day, both sites focus too much on the platform to user experience, rather than the user to user experience, by fostering lowvalue member interactions. Why will this work for gaming and poker enthusiasts? Because there’s a huge social aspect attached to gambling and playing poker. People like to brag about their wins, lament over their losses, discuss gaming venues, learn about interesting events and happenings in the industry and discuss strategy. And while much of this can be accomplished via a basic forum model, bringing the social networking platform into the equation provides the enthusiasts with more ways to interact and share with one another and with industry members as well.
You’ve obviously analysed previous attempts to create networking sites for this business sector, so where do you believe they have failed and how does your model overcome these obstacles? I’ll give you some examples of reasons why other market entrants have failed to achieve much critical mass. 1. Underfunded and Overestimating There have been many market entrants who thought they could just slap up a social network and people would instantly flock to it, and become active promoters of their brand. These
Are you worried that there is a terminal reason behind the failures of previous attempts, that the gaming space just isn’t suited to this platform? Not in the slightest. We know that gambling and poker communities can succeed; look at sites like 2+2 and pocket 5s. It’s just that no one has got it right in the Web 2.0 market yet. Also, 2+2 is massive in this industry in terms of traffic and content. At the time I’m answering these questions, it has around 175,000 member accounts. But that’s small in the grand scheme of things. Look at the PPA (Poker Player’s Alliance) and their million-plus members just as a US-
“There’s a huge social aspect attached to gambling and playing poker – the social networking platform provides the enthusiasts with more ways to interact and share with one another.” entrants weren’t willing, or perhaps able, to expend the necessary marketing capital to adequately promote their brand. 2. Narrow Focus An example here would be the WPT working with MySpace. The problem with this approach is that it’s completely focused on the WPT brand. While that’s great for the WPT, it doesn’t provide a true, neutral resource for the gambling and poker enthusiast. There’s so much more that interests the players than the WPT, limiting them to that subject matter is going to greatly restrict your network’s growth potential. 3. Revenue and Expenses Many market entrants focus too heavily on revenue generation out of the gate, rather than visitor conversion into members, and then member engagement and retention practices to obtain active content producers on their networks. Likewise, many entrants have been hampered by their payrolls. Employee salary and benefits can be a huge drain on any start-up. That’s why no one involved in PokerNations is receiving any pay or benefits. We believe enough in this project that we will only see a return if the company succeeds. That leaves us more operating capital to expend on marketing and development efforts.
based organization. The global potential for something like this is massive, there’s millions of gambling enthusiasts to be reached with a site like this. Why now? Social networking has long reached its peak and there is an argument that MySpace, Facebook and even Twitter are now ‘old hat’. The future of the social networking space is actually in targeted niche sites, where members share a common interest and will interact more heavily on that subject matter, becoming active content producers and fostering closer relationships than you might find on more generic social networks. On a site like MySpace, everyone is going to be there for vastly different reasons. But if you have a community built around motorcycle enthusiasts or poker enthusiasts, then members have a greater likelihood of interacting and forming relationships because of such a strong common shared interest. Where are you in terms of potential launch dates and what announcements can we expect over the coming months? We’re on track for a public launch in August 2009. We’re also in discussions on some interesting industry partnerships that could greatly boost our network out of the gate... stay tuned! ●
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Visible, Ready and Transparent iGaming Business Affiliate Magazine talks to Schalk Van Der Sandt, International Affiliate Manager, Canbet Affiliates. Firstly, what brought you to the industry? Was it love at first sight? As a 20 year old in 2003, I accepted a job as a junior support agent for a small casino group. I was amazed at the technology and thought that has gone into developing the business, and the ambitious drive that made it grow, day on day. More than that though, I was impressed by the talent and grit of the people involved in the industry. As a young man just starting out in the working world, I still felt like a small fish in a giant pond, but I could tell almost immediately, that it was a pond I wanted to be in. I knew right there and then, that this is going to be a long ride, and I was determined to make it work. What elements from your previous professional experience were you able to draw on in this industry? Coming from the customer service desk has given me a player-orientated perspective, which I believe has helped me immensely in my positions in marketing. As long as you keep your players’ needs in mind, you can’t go wrong. It’s not always as easy as the alternative, but it’s a long term plan. I believe that a solid reputation and respectable partners is much more valuable than making a quick buck at another’s expense. I try to carry this philosophy forward to my relationships with affiliates too. I like to keep myself visible, readily available and transparent at all times. Did you have any preconceptions of the industry or of gaming itself before you joined? I knew very little about online gaming before I started, but did enjoy the odd night out at the land based offerings in my home town in South Africa. I saw gambling as a recreational activity and good for a laugh on a night out. What surprised you most about the industry, and the way it works? The sheer size of it, in terms of popularity, as well as the number of people that have come together to make it work! Software providers, operators, affiliates, ad agencies, news agencies and industry related organisations all dedicated to online gaming. It’s hard to imagine it as an end user, when you only see the flashy websites, and all you have to do is take part is a couple of clicks and some bandwidth. What do you enjoy most about your job? Seeing partnerships flourish. It sounds cliché, but if you break it down, it’s good for my affiliates, it’s good for the brand, and that, at the end of the day, is good for me. I also enjoy the travelling, and getting to know
people in the industry and what their roles are. Despite the intense competition in our sector, most people are happy to share advice, a story and lots of laughs. What’s your view on the sector’s resilience to the economic crash? I think it’s a simple matter of supply and demand. In earlier downturns the universal demand for gambling services was enough to keep a limited number operations (the available “supply”) running mostly unaffected by the impact of the economic climate on the general population. Now, however, with gaming and betting services so freely available over the Internet, it would be very dangerous to become complacent, especially in such a competitive marketplace. The key is retention. Recreational players are going to go where they get more “bang for their
“The sheer size of the industry really surprised me. It’s hard to imagine it as an end user, when you only see the flashy websites.” buck”. It’s common knowledge that most players play at numerous brands, and play regularly at more than one. I believe, however, that once they identify a brand that offers them better loyalty rewards and/or the ability to stretch their deposits, they would be more likely to consolidate their gaming budget into fewer, or even a single brand. Whilst being sheltered from the worst it’s unrealistic to believe that the industry is recession-proof. What’s the strategy in the affiliate segment of the market in times like these? Diversify! I know this has been a buzzword in the affiliate industry for a long time now, but it’s probably truer now than ever. As an example, Canbet has recently launched a Cricket Betting Exchange to service the Indian market. Anybody who knows anything about India can tell you that Cricket is like a religion in India, which is one of the largest and fastest growing English-speaking economies in the world. By simply adding an additional product, and making sure that our infrastructure can support the market, we have opened up a giant door, with the potential to have millions of customers rush through it. The same goes for affiliates. A short term investment of time, money, and hard work, could expose you to a market you previously had no access to, and the long term revenues that go with it.
Away from the doom and gloom, how much of a role has the affiliate side of the business had in the phenomenal growth of the industry, and how much of a role does it have in its continued development? It has been priceless. Affiliates are active in so many aspects of the industry, including educating the market, dispute resolution, “self-regulation” of programs and casino brands, exposing the frauds; I could go on and on. These things can’t be counted in money terms, but the value is undeniable. Do you envisage any changes to the way affiliates and affiliate managers operate in the near future? Increasingly, affiliate managers are willing to openly participate in affiliate communities. Because of this more personal approach, affiliates can hold managers more accountable. Not for the things we have no control over, but certainly for transparency and service delivery. As much as what we are representatives of the programs to the affiliates, we are now also representatives of our affiliates to the programs. Is trust the cornerstone of any relationship between affiliate and affiliate manager? No. It’s the entire foundation, not just a cornerstone. It’s also probably the most fragile aspect of the relationship, and if it’s damaged, it may take a very long time to repair. That’s why as an affiliate manager I’m as transparent as possible. If I’m open and honest about everything, I can’t be accused of lying/cheating later on. Finally, we’ve reached the midway point in 2009 so what are your thoughts on the year so far in business terms, and how much progress can be engineered before next year is upon us? 2009 has held some interesting developments in the iGaming industry. The possibility of regulation in the US market has everybody excited and nervous at the same time. Personally, I don’t think it’s going to be as easy as some expect. There has been some enormous progress in the Asian markets, as well as some bold steps forward into brand new markets, like India. Competitions like the IPL cricket league has rejuvenated interest in the game, and has turned it into a viable and profitable betting market. Going forward I think there’s going to be a lot more emphasis on niche markets. It might not be visible from a global perspective, but every day we read about growing gambling markets in specific regions and countries, and it does not go unnoticed. To borrow a food analogy from David Brent: There are pies out there, and those that get to them first, can pick the best slice. ● June/July 2009 ● iGB Affiliate ● 23
BARNEY FRANK vs UIGEA ROUND 2 Do Barney Frank’s Bills Stand a Real Chance? Martin Owens, Jr examines the latest chapter in Congressman Frank’s attempts to thwart UIGEA. As promised, Congressman Barney Frank reintroduced legislation on May 6 to legalize and license Internet gaming in the United States. As before, his approach is two-pronged. First to disable or at least delay the implementation of the UIGEA (HR 2266); second, to allow for formal legalization and licensing of Internet gambling, but by the Federal government rather than the states (HR 2267). Deployed in support of this effort is a companion bill by Representative Jim McDermott to tax the new licensees (HR 2268). So then, how do these bills compare to their predecessors, what are the chances of passage and what effect would that have?
By the Numbers HR 2266 HR 2266 simply changes a compliance date for the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (31 U.S. Code sections 5361 – 5368). The regulations to ‘guide’ the enforcement of the UIGEA were finally released in 2008, almost two years behind schedule. In a development that is bizarre even by America’s freewheeling legal standards, the UIGEA regulations’ stated aim is to protect the American financial industry from... the UIGEA itself! This is because the law, literally snuck onto the statute books in the dead of night, was written by and for politicians on the
make; whereas the regulations were composed by sober financial professionals who recognized that demanding America’s financial institutions to identify and block the “restricted transactions” which might or might not constitute “unlawful Internet gambling” was an impossible burden. (Especially when there’s no useful definition of “unlawful Internet gambling” in the first place; the UIGEA regulators not only failed to produce it, they outright refused) But the regulators gave America’s financial service providers (FSPs) a path to legal safety. Provided they install proper procedures to identify (don’t ask how) and block these
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“restricted transactions”, American FSPs will not be penalized, even if a wicked Internet bet or two does slip through the cracks. HR 2266 would push the deadline to activate those procedures back a year, to 2010. The reprieve will be welcome if it comes, but this is no longer an urgent matter. The fatwa to punish online gambling at any cost has lapsed, and essentially left town with the Bush administration. In the last session of Congress, Frank’s Payments System Protection Act of 2008 (HR 6870) tried but failed to forbid any issuance of UIGEA regulations at all1. Now the appearance of the final UIGEA regulations has made that unnecessary. The UIGEA became a beached whale: unintelligible, unenforceable and mostly unimportant. It is doubtful that any person or company could be prosecuted for anything under the UIGEA in its present state. Thus, forceful measures against it are no longer needed.
The real problems will begin to arise when state authorities realize this bill amounts to the Feds taking a big role in state gambling laws by the back door. States and tribes do not join the Federal Internet licensing program voluntarily – rather, they are automatically enrolled, with the individual right to opt out of the licensing program within 90 days of passage (probably not enough time to decide, given the leisurely pace of most legislatures and referendums). It should also be noted that the Frank bill clears the way for almost every kind of Internet gambling, where comparable state level efforts such as in Florida and California, focus on poker; much more accepted and much safer. The Frank bill would also lay new requirements for problem gambler programs on the states, by an authority that is assumed rather than explained. Federal licensors could accept state or tribal certification of a gaming operator (mostly land-based, of course)
“The reprieve will be welcome if it comes, but this is no longer an urgent matter. The fatwa to punish online gambling at any cost has lapsed, and essentially left town with the Bush administration.” HR 2267 HR 2267, the Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection, and Enforcement Act is the heart of the matter. A rewrite of the Internet Gambling Regulation and Enforcement Act of 2007 (the old HR 2046), it improves on its predecessor in some ways but in others, aggravates the existing contradictions. The UIGEA ends at 31 U.S.C. 5380. This new bill picks up at proposed section 5381 with “findings” that are essentially a slap at the “findings” section that begins the UIGEA. Where the UIGEA talked of the need to prohibit wire transfers altogether and iGaming as a “debt collection problem”, the new bill notes that millions of Americans have been gambling online for years, and says what’s really needed is a nationwide system of licensing, to protect consumers and ensure fair play. The previous version of Frank’s bill gave licensing authority (applications, fees, background checks, etc.) specifically to the Financial Crimes Section of the Treasury Department; now the authority is given to Treasury generally. But the urge to micro-manage dies hard. The new bill fusses about operators deducting application fees from bettor accounts (which no sane operator would do anyway). It sets the amount of fines for administrative violations, and defines and penalizes cheating (both were better off left to the regulations later on). And it changes the renewal requirement of the Federal iGaming licenses from one to five years; too short a time, now made too long.
as satisfying national-grade Internet gaming requirements; but could also refuse them or even revoke its previous approval at will. Perhaps the single stickiest point is tribal gaming. The contest of American state Vs tribal authority (the so-called sovereignty question) is already a sore point. This bill would make a tribe’s iGaming decisions completely independent from those of that tribe’s home state. But unlike the old HR 2046, there is no language here that says “intermediate routing of electronic data does not determine the location of the bet”. So, suppose the tribe could say yes to iGaming, even if the state opts out: what about the Internet connection in and out of the reservation? (But since the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act only allows Indian gambling to take place on Indian land, will the gaming tribes be able to meaningfully participate online in the first place?) The question of sportsbetting leads to another tangle of legal reasoning. The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (26 USC 3701 et seq) has forbidden both states and tribes to 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: email@example.com.
authorize bets on most sporting events, except horse and dog racing, since 1992. Frank’s new bill would give pro sports leagues such as the NBA or NFL, plus NCAA college sports, the chance to opt out, which they don’t seem to need. Curiously, the bill’s language would also seem to give them the power to opt back in, but under PASPA they can’t – and the Frank bill specifies that it is not to be interpreted as cancelling PASPA. We return, essentially, to where we began. HR 2268 Lastly HR 2268, The Internet Gambling Regulation and Tax Enforcement Act of 2009 by Congressman McDermott of Washington, is a reprise of the bill he wrote in support of Barney Frank’s efforts last time. It would tax the licensees at 2% of their gross and impose various record keeping requirements. What are the Chances? Once again, Congressman Frank’s attempts to embarrass some commonsense into US government gambling policy seem foredoomed. As a practical matter, such reforms would come at too high a political price. While conservative politicians can always make points with their constituents by opposing gambling, iGaming especially, there is no counterbalancing bloc: very few seats in Congress are won on the progambling vote. Add to that the certain opposition of cash-strapped state governments who see no reason to share a potential jackpot with Uncle Sam, and it becomes clear that this effort is all uphill. True, Frank is Chairman of the powerful Financial Services Committee. But it is hard to imagine him trading away part of the economic reform package or government relief to crippled banks, in order to get his way on Internet gambling. His previous efforts here gathered only forty-odd supporters out of the 435 members of the House of Representatives. For them and for Barney Frank too, there are simply too many genuinely important matters at hand. If there were a priority list for national legislation, Internet gaming reform might squeeze in at the bottom of the first hundred or so. It is worth remembering that outside the iGaming industry, this legislation was barely noticed. So while Congressman Frank’s efforts in this direction continue to be interesting, and appreciated, odds are that the significant breakthroughs in America’s Internet gaming policy will happen at the state level, probably within the next 18 months. 1
For each formal sitting of Congress, the bills introduced are consecutively numbered. For each new session (109th, 110th, etc) the numbers are re-started at 1. In addition, the text of one bill may be absorbed into another during the political horse-trading process prior to passage. So it’s important to keep straight both the bill number AND in which session of Congress it was introduced.
June/July2009 l iGB Affiliate l 25
SHIFTING Changes to affiliate terms and conditions – permitted practice. It is clearly important for any kind of business relationship to be governed by a defined set of terms to ensure that all involved parties have clarity and legal certainty. In this sense, comprehensive terms and conditions between affiliates and operators are essential. While a degree of flexibility is also important in commercial agreements, affiliates are increasingly complaining of situations where operators that run affiliate programmes have unilaterally changed the terms and conditions of the relationship with the affiliate after the affiliate relationship commenced. In some cases these
their commercial relationship. While terms and conditions as written are not always watertight, particularly where a certain term is clearly unreasonable, such protection is generally limited to contracts between businesses and consumers, and tends to fall away in contracts between two commercial operators. Escaping altered terms – lack of permission or uncertainty It is an obvious point, but one worth emphasising: where an operator does not have the contractual permission to unilaterally alter the terms and
“A specific and frequent complaint amongst affiliates relates to affiliate programme operators altering the terms of ongoing payment that the affiliate initially signed up to.” revised terms have been imposed a number of months or even years after the affiliate signed up to the scheme. An altered relationship A specific and frequent complaint amongst affiliates relates to incidences of affiliate programme operators altering the terms of ongoing payment that the affiliate initially signed up to, such that the operator is no longer required to pay affiliates that do not continue to actively market the operator. In practice, this means that operators remove continuing obligation to pay commission on losses of customers an affiliate has referred to them in the past, if the affiliate does not continue to refer traffic to the operator’s site. Such practice has occurred despite the fact that the terms that both parties contracted to at the outset stated that the operator would pay commission for the lifetime of that player’s relationship with the operator. Contract law The legitimacy of such an approach is a fairly simple matter of contract law, and a good example of where it is necessary to “read the small print”. A set of terms and conditions in an affiliate relationship is no more than the contract that governs the rights and obligations of the two parties (namely the affiliate and the operator) in 26 ● iGB Affiliate ● June/July 2009
conditions, it cannot do so without the consent of the affiliate. Without such consent in these circumstances, the starting position is that the contract cannot be altered. However, where an operator does amend the contract without an express permission, the affiliate does need to ensure that it makes it very clear to the operator that such an amendment is not acceptable – any continuation of the business relationship after such a change has been made has the potential to amount to an affirmation of the amendment by the affiliate, such that it becomes legally enforceable. In addition, certainty is a key element of contract law, and is one area where even an express permission to alter the contract may not be sufficient to render it legitimate. In short, any term within a contract needs to be sufficiently certain, and if terms and conditions contain a very Tom Lippiett is a solicitor in the betting and gaming group at Berwin Leighton Paisner LLP, specialising in UK and international aspects of the law on gambling and skill gaming. Headed by Hilary Stewart-Jones and David Collins, the group offers a full service regulatory, commercial and corporate service to clients and has been ranked number one in the betting and gaming sector by the Legal 500 for the last six years.
wide right to alter the contract at any time, such as the operator reserving the right to “alter any of the terms and conditions at any time in the future”, such a provision may fail on the grounds of uncertainty. However, a more targeted right, such as a right to unilaterally amend the revenue streams paid to the affiliate during the term of the contract, is more likely to be deemed a sufficiently certain provision and, therefore, legally enforceable. On balance, therefore, there is a distinct possibility that unless manifestly uncertain, a right to unilaterally change elements of the terms and conditions contained within an agreed contract is likely to be legally enforceable. Accordingly, to the extent that the terms and conditions provide that the operator can alter elements of the affiliate programme without notice to, or the consent of, the affiliate, then such contractual terms are likely to be legally binding if the affiliate consented to them at the outset of the relationship (which it is most likely to do by signing up to these terms and conditions as they stand). Negotiation from the outset As a result, the essential requirement here is for affiliates to comprehensively review the terms and conditions that are provided to them at the outset of the affiliate/operator relationship. When presented with a pre-printed set of terms and conditions, it is all too easy to assume that they are non-negotiable, but it is precisely this kind of assumption that leads to affiliates being left with a contract heavily biased in favour of the operator who drafted it. As a result, affiliates should not be slow to mark up and amend contracts that they feel are unfavourable and attempt to redress any imbalance in the terms at the outset of their commercial relationship with the operator. Obviously, the extent to which affiliates can do this will, to a large degree, depend on the parties’ respective bargaining power, and an operator is under no obligation to accept any revised terms. Accordingly, smaller affiliates may, in some circumstances, need to swallow certain terms where it would jeopardise the business relationship. However, where an affiliate genuinely feels that terms presented to them are unacceptable or un-commercial, however “finalised” they may seem, they should begin the process of negotiation with the operator. ●
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casino supplement 2009
Is the Casino Vertical Still an Affiliate Cash Cow? iGaming Business Affiliate Magazine put this notion to Marvyn H, Program Manager at TwoLinx Affiliates, Joshua Krimberg, Affiliate Director at GaminGang and Martyn Beacon, Affiliate Manager, CWC Affiliates.com
Marvyn H, Manager, TwoLinx Affiliates. Having been involved with both casino and poker affiliates for some time, I’ve seen a few checks going out to affiliates for considerable amounts of money. There are a few out there making six figure sums on a monthly basis, some of them from each affiliate program that they promote. A big part to the success, whether you’re promoting casino or poker, is of course choosing the right place to send your traffic. Whoever you’re becoming a partner with has to have the right conversion, retention and customer support. Without these important factors working as they should, it doesn’t make a difference where you send your traffic – you will get less value out of it. I can confirm this though: you can make money much faster as a casino affiliate and that’s simply due to the difference in nature between the two beasts. To make your money as a poker affiliate, you need the players you refer to win – to make your money as a casino affiliate, your players have to lose. To state what some of you might think as the obvious: poker players are pitting their skills against those of other players. As an affiliate, you make money on the rake collected by the poker room and usually the rake is capped so you can only earn up to a certain amount per hand played. So for a player to earn you a decent sum of money in a day he has to be playing a lot of hands. Sponsored by
“Many affiliates think that because there is increasing competition in the casino industry that the margins associated with this vertical are going down, when in fact online casino affiliates enjoy the highest margins in the online industry.” On the other hand, you have casinos where a player can place a bet of $1,000 per wager, for example. If he loses, it takes a matter of seconds and you as an affiliate have already made some money as you are earning an uncapped amount per wager placed minus the winnings and a few other small deductions. The only risk with casino players is that if they win big enough then they could wipe out your commission for the month. If you are partnering with a program that carries forward negatives they could wipe your earnings out for more than one month as well. This is rare in most cases with poker. So for your poker player to make you a decent some of money in a short time, he/she has to be really good at what they do or be one of many players who are slightly above average at the
game. As a casino player, they simply need to have lots of money to spend or be one of many players with a little money to spend. At the end of the day, you as an affiliate decide what you enjoy more and stick to doing it properly. In the long run, with a lot of time spent in front of the PC, you stand the chance to build up a sizeable player base. If you’re partnered with the right affiliate program(s) for your traffic, no matter which of the markets you choose to promote you should be smiling all the way to the bank. Joshua Krimberg, Affiliate Director, GaminGang The online casino industry is an extremely well developed industry that offers affiliates a iGB Affiliate l June/July 2009 l 29
casino supplement 2009
geographically diverse portfolio of both highly educated and emerging markets. One of the benefits that come with promoting online casinos is that there is a global culture that is familiar with casino practices and games, thus, creating a relatively easy task of bringing a casino player into the realm of online gaming. The casino vertical is an affiliate’s dream, for the games are easy to play, easy to learn, there is no skill required and most importantly, this vertical is extremely easy to localize. On top of this, there are many operators and casino affiliate programs. The behavior of the average casino player is quite dynamic. This can be seen by the way casino players acted towards the recession that hit the US in 2008, thus creating a wave that affected US and European players. This stimulus led to changes in player behavior, specifically in choosing games, for example – many players started playing Keno because the amount of money they need to wager was less while the amount to be potentially won was larger than most games (much like the lottery). Yet there are also many other vectors such as new crowds, new competition and new regulation (for example: many European countries have started regulate online gaming within their jurisdiction). Many affiliates think that because there is increasing competition in the casino industry that the margins associated with this vertical are going down, since there is a higher possibility of player churn due to the fact the player can move from one casino to another, when in fact online casino affiliates enjoy the highest margins in the online industry. With these variables in place such as competition and the global market’s economic state, it is the casinos that focus on better service and revenue synergy that will enjoy higher player lifetime values, a better player affinity and stronger relationships with their affiliates. This is emphasized by the trend in affiliates who offer quality sites, info and user experience in order to better monetize their acquisition efforts. Casino affiliates still make the most money because there is no industry that offers the same margins as the casino industry. The player lifetime may be shorter, but the player value is much better in comparison to other gaming verticals and the affiliate sees the return very quickly. Martyn Beacon, Affiliate Manager, CWC Affiliates.com There is no right and wrong answer to this as there are too many variables involved to mention. There is a lot of money that can be earned online in various sectors; having also worked in another vertical (loans and finance) I have seen and dealt with affiliates that are earning very good sums of 30 l iGB Affiliate l June/July 2009
money each month but have seen larger sums of money earned by casino affiliates. I would say the earning potential in being a casino affiliate has its long term benefits based on the affiliate taking a revenue share as opposed to a CPA or a type of media spend. Those that take the CPA model for any vertical will only see the ‘one time payment’ when it’s likely that that user will spend more with the merchant going forward, but again, depending on the vertical. Given the percentage tiers available in online casino compared to that of such verticals as electronics, the benefit is easy to see for the affiliate. Taking a percentage of a $2,500 TV which would range from 2% to around 6%* compared to the percentage of $2,500 in casino losses by a player would see roughly the following differences...
$2,500 TV $2,500 Casino Losses Commission Level
30% (lowest tier at CWCAffiliates.com)
Marvyn H, is the Program Manager of TwoLinx Affiliates and has been in the iGaming affiliate business for over 5 years. He currently suffers from 2 disabilities: bad withdrawal symptoms from superbikes and being a workaholic. His 2 favourite (only) pastimes are working and riding superbikes. Joshua Krimberg, is the Affiliate Director for GaminGang. He has been in the online marketing field for over five years with experience as both an affiliate and an operator. Martyn Beacon, is the Affiliate Manager for CWC Affiliates.com. Martyn has been in the gaming industry for over four years having previous affiliate management experience in the financial sector. Martyn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
This is a very crude example but one that shows the immediate benefit of being a casino affiliate, not to mention the future commissions based on the life time of the player at any of the ClubWorld brands. Casino affiliates also have to deal with winning players, which will have an effect on their earnings sending them into a negative when big wins are hit. So it’s possible that affiliates promoting casinos may not earn any commissions in a month or a series of months as a result. Another factor that should be considered when pushing other verticals such as electronics or other types of online shopping, is the number of ‘Sales’ (discounted periods) that happen throughout the year. These can also negatively affect the earnings from the sale of that TV. A 10% sale would see a reduction in that affiliate’s commissions of $5 per unit sold, multiply this by the number of units sold in a month by a good affiliate and it mounts up to some decent cash. In answer to the question, it all depends whether or not the affiliate has the right type of traffic, the right amount of traffic, how well the casino converts, the deal offered by the casino and what deal the affiliate is on (to name a few). While being on a revenue share the affiliate certainly has the opportunity to earn a lot more in commissions when compared to other verticals, but the various factors that are out of their control can also prevent this from happening. Being in this industry for over four years, I have seen affiliates earn some crazy sums. So to reflect on my past experience in another vertical; business was good, but not this good! l * Figures based on limited research Sponsored by
ou in g to listen to yS in it a w rs e g a n wedish. a m d n te a a h ili ff is a n l a a p n S o , rs n e aria We have p , German, Hung h c n re F , h lis g n hinese, E
casino supplement 2009
Localisation in the Spanish Market iGaming Business Affiliate Magazine talks to José Cabrera y Charro, Affiliate Manager, Casino Claro and Casino La Sal. Firstly, what is the scope of the Spanish market in terms of market potential and consumer demand? We think there is huge potential in Spain. It’s key to remember that this launch is for Spain and its 40 million inhabitants – we’re not merely launching a Spanish language site. One of the biggest challenges in this region is that it’s impossible to cater for the whole population with one offering, like we did with Oranje Casino in Holland. We can’t assume each one of the 40 million people as ‘average’ Spanish people as almost every region has its own language or dialect. That’s why it was important for Casino La Sal to launch in Catalan, as there are over seven million Catalan speaking people in Spain, as well as launching in Spanish. Casino Claro will follow in the not too distant future in Catalan and Spanish. From a consumer perspective, one could say that people in Spain like to gamble. You only need to look at the main Lotteries and sportsbetting companies to see proof of this. The casino business is not yet on the same level, but we believe that Spain is in the same situation as Holland was several years ago, with regards to consumer spending and broadband penetration. Four years ago, most experts thought we were crazy to launch in Holland, considering the fact our competitors had already gained a foothold in that market. However, it took Oranje Casino less than a year to become market leader. What has previously been the stumbling block for affiliates trying to maximise their Spanish traffic? Until now, an affiliate with Spanish casino traffic had very limited options. There are almost no real Spanish Internet casinos aiming specifically at the Spanish market. In our opinion, this means there is a huge amount of potential players ready to be convinced to play for real money via trustworthy and fully localized websites like ours.
32 l iGB Affiliate l June/July 2009
Your two new casino launches are solely targeted at the Spanish market, with only Spanish and Catalan language options. Is a successful entry into the Spanish market dependant on such a localised product? Yes. We are confident that localization is ‘the key to success’ in most countries – and not just those in Southern European. In essence, the key-elements of the business we are in are the Internet, payments over the Internet and casino games. So, it’s all about trust. One can only reach that by understanding one another; the consumer and provider of the services. Indeed, during the pitches we conducted with several Spanish advertising and web agencies, we concluded that this localised aspect is even more important in Spain than what we expected. And we can go further than localization alone. The reason why we launched two different casinos lies in the fact that we don’t think we can reach all potential players with just one. Casino La Sal will be more Mediterranean, pleasant, fun and entertaining – serving a slightly younger target audience than Casino Claro. Casino Claro will be more accessible and straightforward. Can you adapt the same strategy across all markets – is localisation the key to unlocking the true potential of each specific region? We believe so, at least for the European markets. Different Internet surveys show that for most people, the key factor in not playing for real money at an Internet casino is the fear of paying money online, particularly to an unknown organization they do not feel comfortable with. We believe that localization can break this barrier. You mention Oranje Casino as being a blueprint for this localised product. What have you learnt from Oranje Casino that you can transfer to your new Spanish products? Oranje Casino is the best example of a localized casino product. It starts with the name ‘Oranje’
(orange in English) which is the Dutch national colour. Besides that, it’s only available in Dutch, uses special Dutch payment methods (i.e. Ideal), offers typical Dutch games, uses promotions that are typically Dutch and even the charities which are donated money to on a yearly bases are Dutch. We learnt that being a local player is the way to achieve trustworthiness. Another element is to be very personal. Besides that, Oranje Casino tries to be very close to its affiliate base. Events are organised on a bi-monthly basis, and affiliates can seek all manner of advice concerning legal issues, marketing and promotions amongst other things. We’ve taken all this experience across to our Spanish models. Looking long term, what level of growth do you anticipate for both your Spanish platforms, and also for the Spanish market itself? We believe there is a huge growth potential. The number of players will increase rapidly and so will the number of Spanish affiliates. We saw the same developments in The Netherlands a couple of years ago, and Spain is still very much an ongoing process. Our ambition is to become one of the top players in the Spanish market within 3 years, and we truly believe this is achievable. What can affiliates expect from you? Firstly, one thing is very important; an affiliate needs to have Spanish traffic and should be able to create Spanish content himself in order to get the right message across. After that, we offer some very competitive commission schemes based on gaming revenue as well as on new players. In marketing terms, we help affiliates with their activity by offering a few ‘local’ monthly promotions to the players, and also some quality promotions for affiliates. Last but not least, our product offering converts very well in Holland, so we are confident this will also apply for Spanish affiliates. l
A fully localised casino the key to success
• Genuinely Spanish • No software downloads required • Support for various payment methods widely used in Spain • Rapid payouts directly to a player’s bank account • Good and rapid Spanish and Catalan language support • Attractive bonuses and actions This leads to:
• extremely high conversion rates • extremely good returns per click
Contact affiliate manager José Javier Cabrera y Charro email@example.com Tel. 0031-653952422
www.casinoclaro.com/afiliado.html Euro Gaming NV is affiliate marketing partner for Casino Claro, Casino La Sal and Oranje Casino.
fOR THE OPERATOR
Does your provider think outside-of-the-box for you? Leveraging payment gateway relationships to be a core part of your business development strategies. In the global payments space, operators have several choices when it comes to payment gateway suppliers, most of which offer similar core services. So going beyond the commoditized gateway service to truly enhancing operator experience and improving operational efficiency is vital for payment gateway solution providers to compete. It’s not just the services they provide, but how well they are executed that can truly and positively impact an operator’s business. A good payment gateway is able, from the outset, to illustrate how they can seamlessly fit into existing operator systems, structures and business processes, thereby enabling operators to focus on their core business and particularly their valuable players, while the gateway focuses on the business of payments. If you are an operator looking for additional payment processing capacity, or have been tasked for the first-time to find a reliable provider, consider the following points, many of which may seem obvious, but are not always on offer. Payment Card Industry (PCI) Certified Payment Gateways You must ensure your payment gateway is PCI Certified. The PCI DSS is a multifaceted security standard that includes requirements for security management, policies, procedures, network architecture, software design and other critical protective measures. It requires merchants and service providers that store, process or transmit customer payment card data to adhere to information security controls and processes that ensure data integrity. In particular, all data should be encrypted, and intrusion detection, responses, and systems monitoring should go hand-in-hand with formalized security policies. Pricing and Settlement Most payment providers offer pricing and settlement in all the major currencies, but make sure you confirm settlement currencies as some do not offer like-for-like processing; instead they facilitate settlement to say, three main base currencies, normally USD, Euros and GBP. Be sure to confirm the exact currencies available and make sure these coincide with your business objectives for geographic expansion so you can offer your players the ability to pay in the currency of their own country. Also, consider long-term goals and adaptability – how easy will it be for you to add new currencies as you need
34 l iGB Affiliate l June/July 2009
them with this provider? A big issue for consideration is processing settlement times, which are dependent on the acquirer bank relationships you forge via your payment provider. Some payment providers only have the ability to settle weekly, which may create cash-flow issues. Again, ensure the services on offer support your business objectives. If not, look elsewhere. There are payment providers that can arrange to settle your funds daily (usually three days in arrears). Fraud Management Solutions A payment gateway provider should help protect operators from fraudulent transactions, chargebacks and unauthorized payments via a host of available fraud management solutions. At minimum, Address Verification Services (AVS) and Card Verification match checks (CVV2/CVC2), Amex CID match checks, 3-D Secure™ solutions (Verified by Visa and MasterCard® SecureCode™), and IP Geolocation services should be on offer from your payment provider. Merchants should automatically be able to screen and process transactions through their payment gateway platform in real-time. This allows them to react immediately, if need be, against potential card-notpresent fraud. AVS helps to screen fraudulent transactions by comparing the billing address provided by the purchaser to the billing address on the cardholder’s credit card statement. Card Verification validates the security code found on the back of the credit card, which can be used as a confirmation that the purchaser has the physical plastic in hand. 3-D Secure™ provides verification to the merchant that the buyer is the authorized owner of a card account, thereby reducing the number of unauthorized payments, resulting in fewer chargebacks. Also, both Visa and MasterCard offer chargeback liability shift for certain fraud related chargebacks, when transactions are authenticated through Verified by Visa or MasterCard® SecureCode™. IP Geolocation is another screening layer of fraud control that allows merchants to evaluate the risk of an online transaction based on the geography of the customer (country, state or province and city), and it can be used to automatically block customers from certain restricted countries, based on a merchant’s risk profile, with screening carried out before a deposit is taken. Alternative Payment Options Consistent research has shown that consumers want choice, and particularly in the gaming space, they want a range of options they can use to pay and play. Apart from
fOR THE OPERATOR
multi-currency credit and debit card payment processing, operators need to ensure that their provider can offer alternative payment options as part of a single integration. This might seem obvious in as much as it takes away the time and hassle of having to integrate directly with a variety of payment options. But the fact remains, time-to-market is critical and a single integration is less costly across a range of business considerations. In essence, a single integration, and one reporting interface, can (and should) mean several payment choices for your customers. Alternative payment solutions are not only convenient for consumers but can be far more flexible and inexpensive for operators. PayPal is a popular choice of payment for players and provides online merchants secure access to over 350 million worldwide PayPal consumer accounts – in local currencies. This is an important consideration if you are targeting South American markets, for example. Implementing PayPal to be able to receive real transactions is far simpler than trying to set up an acquiring solution in Brazil. Ukash is another alternative payment type that offers a unique combination of benefits to consumers. Players can get Ukash free from over 275,000 physical locations and it is easy to use at any site that accepts Ukash. Customer Service Customer Service is defined by Business Dictionary.com as “All interactions between a customer and a product provider at the time of sale, and thereafter. Customer service adds value to a product and builds enduring relationships.” However you define it, it is crucial to find a payment provider that truly believes in excellent customer service. Establish your core requirements, and create a ‘desirable’ list outlining where you think a payment provider could make a real difference to your business. Don’t give the game away – let them lead you to examples of where they have added tangible value. This might include examples of what you can expect in terms of ongoing communication, or solutions they have brought to the market ahead of anybody else. We find that a lot of online merchants that approach us are not getting the “after sale” care they require from their current gateway. Once they are signed up, they are often just pushed through an established and rigid system. But this is arguably the most important time in the provider/merchant relationship. This is the moment when those who truly believe in the value of strong business relationships will reach out, anticipate, provide direction, solve processing challenges – in essence, prove they have what it takes to be intrinsically involved in the success of your business. Customization is often a mission critical requirement for operators, and over time, their reporting needs change. All companies are different, and one size does not fit all. A payment gateway should be able to easily and quickly customize reconciliation reports, for example, or provide detailed reports and data mining to operators. Timely reports are key as the operator is relying on their payment provider to provide them with the data they need to solve their customer’s problems. Conclusion There are lots of payment gateways around the world collectively spending millions of dollars on advertising, marketing and conference attendance to win your business. As an operator your challenge is to find a provider (or providers) who can work in tandem with your teams towards a shared business vision. You need reliable, scalable, secure multi-currency processing solutions... yes... but what else do you need? The answer, put simply, is a blend of all of the above with a large dose of trust, integrity and innovation. Dig deep, and you will find. l
“We find that a lot of online merchants that approach us are not getting the ‘after sale’ care they require from their current gateway. Once they are signed up, they are often just pushed through an established and rigid system.”
Tricia Lines Hill is the VP of Marketing & Corporate Communications at First Atlantic Commerce, Ltd., a leading international, multi-currency payment gateway and fraud management solutions provider. She holds a Masters degree in International Business from Webster University, and has more than fifteen years of experience in global marketing and corporate communications, and seven years in the online credit card processing space.
June/July2009 l iGB Affiliate l 35
CASINO VIEW FROM SUPPLEMENT THE BOARDROOM 2009
Travelling Without a Map
Simon Burridge, CEO of Virgin Games, looks at the challenges facing a CEO trying to steer a company safely through an adolescent industry It is often said it is easier to run a company well when things are going badly. It forces a CEO to evaluate all elements of the business dispassionately, secure in the knowledge that there is no hiding place for inefficiencies. While the online gambling industry seems to be holding up well – and Virgin Games, thankfully, is continuing to grow – it would not be controversial to say that these are difficult times in which we are operating. In most industries, track records and the accumulated experience of the past provide a template for how to manage a business through a recession. iGaming, which did not exist in the last downturn, has no such luxury. Irrespective of how well or badly any of the operators are performing, we are all in uncharted waters. There are no precedents to fall back on, no unarguable certainties around which to organize one’s business. This is particularly the case for an Internet based sector when the parameters are changing and mutating constantly and the way people communicate, interact and live their lives is also in a major state of flux. For a CEO, the challenge of steering their company through the adolescent online gaming sector has implications for every aspect of their business, be it from an operational, marketing, licensing or financial point of view. What this requires is flexibility of thought, strategy and structure. As Einstein once said, “very few problems are solved in the same context in which they are created”. 36 ● iGB Affiliate ● June/July 2009
Essentially, there are four key areas in which this flexibility is required: new online behaviours, new markets, new models and new offers; be they promotions, games or products. Let’s look at each in terms of identifying the challenge a CEO might face. Rules of the Game The emergence of Internet Gaming as a sector has coincided with profound changes to the way people view media. Web 2.0 and social media have significantly changed the rules of the game; but just because something is new, does not necessarily mean it is better. It is only an answer to a problem if it solves it. Second Life attracted huge media interest a couple of years ago and all sorts of brands chose to jump on the bandwagon. There was a bank on the virtual site; indeed, there was even, I’m told, a brothel, although it’s hard to see a consumer benefit in paying not to have sex. The truth was, however, that the vast majority of so-called Second Life users only visited once, and I would be amazed if any business that got involved on Second Life saw any discernible difference to their bottom line. What is key for any online entertainer is to engage with its customers where they are spending their leisure time, whether this is in social media networks such as Facebook or Twitter, or just online indulging personal interests such as football. Engaging with them, particularly in a social setting, is to offer them a benefit and, whilst money always helps, the stickiness that any benefit can exert will be
greatly improved by enhancing their experience. For example, training videos for Poker, strategies for blackjack or even offers which are simply not available elsewhere and make use of the features the online platforms offer. A good example of this is Virgin Games Poker freeroll on Facebook – it’s the only one. Social media potentially has a big role to play in helping iGaming businesses to be able to ‘fish where the fish are’. It is a complex marketplace in a constant state of flux where the winners are often the companies who spotted a trend early enough and rode in on the wave, so to speak. Selfevidently, it is difficult to identify what the next ‘big thing’ that might appear will be, but media teams need to be permanently on the lookout for new trends to enable them to react quickly and leverage the best opportunities. The key to cracking this is, in fact, the same as it has always been: knowing your customer and understanding what makes them tick. This helps you know what they react to, where they’ll be and what they’re looking for. Once you’ve done that, embarking on a social media strategy makes much more sense. The second key area is being able to anticipate – and adapt to – new markets. While Virgin Games has never taken a bet from any jurisdiction unless the transaction was unequivocally legal, the regulatory and legal landscape for the world is rapidly changing. The needs of government for income during this credit crunch, coupled with the relative impossibility of preventing the public
VIEW FROM THE BOARDROOM
from playing online, has caused a number of jurisdictions to review their attitudes to online gaming. Italy has recently launched its own online Poker market and is looking at Bingo. France, Denmark, South Africa, Australia and Switzerland have all featured in the news recently as taking steps towards regulation. Testing the Water However, with the timing and the terms and conditions of each new market being uncertain and subject to fluctuation, it can be difficult for a CEO to allocate his resources appropriately. Each new market will require a licence – either as an operator or as a white label – will need marketing budgets and, depending on the jurisdiction, possibly even its own business, staff and servers. Added to that, with new markets opening up, it seems to be very much the case that it is the early bird that catches the worm. Nevertheless, for the hard pressed CEO, it still becomes an analysis of risk and reward both for an individual territory and, possibly, between different territories. That is, of course, why affiliate marketing is so important. At the very least, it becomes a good way to test the waters as it allows an operator, at a controlled cost, to assess both the viability of the offer and the perception of the brand. Thirdly, at the heart of any online gaming business is the need to attract and retain
customers. Flexibility in marketing techniques and media is only part of the issue. Equally important is the need to be flexible when it comes to commercial terms. It is, for example, no longer the case that media buys, revenue share or CPA/CPM deals prevail. The nature of online advertising has metamorphosed dramatically since its infancy and, as a consequence, media buyers and affiliate
for affiliates. We take care of updating the offers on the banners and, whenever changes occur, they are automatically reflected on our affiliate partner’s websites. The same principle, applies to new game releases. For every new game (such as ‘Dungeons and Dragons’, which Virgin Games introduced last week), a new set of banners and creative is
“Irrespective of how well or badly any of the operators are performing, we are all in uncharted waters. iGaming did not exist in the last downturn.” teams must approach their partners with an open mind. Each acquisition source has its model of choice and, increasingly, it is down to the operator to allow for the flexibility without compromising its ROI. Continuous campaign performance monitoring is what’s needed, with acquisition activities continually refined and amended as necessary. Finally, there is the challenge of continually developing new promotions, games and products. As well as coming up with the ideas in the first place, the key here is to ensure anything new is advertised accurately, explained clearly and updated regularly. At Virgin Games, for example, we’re using a hosted banner system
automatically made available to our affiliates and media partners ahead of launch, so that they can integrate them prior to release and create maximum impact at the time of launch. How is all this to be achieved? Firstly, through good communication. It’s vital to monitor what’s going on, not just at the centre of the industry, but also around the fringes. Staff need time to keep up with developments and assess their potential contribution to the brand. The German General, Rommel, always believed in the value of knowing your enemy. As the market becomes ever more competitive and so, by definition, the number of enemies proliferate, the need to build sustainable differentiation becomes even more crucial. ●
June/July 2009 ● iGB Affiliate ● 37
The AffiliATe MArkeTplAce
– A TAlenT BATTleground
Despite the almost daily diet of employment doom and gloom dished up by the media, the phenomenal recent growth in the online gaming and betting sector means that, unlike most other sectors of employment, there is still very much a war for talent and nowhere is this more evident than in the online affiliate marketing arena. The regulatory framework is changing and with more and more countries having legalised online gambling – and the number of Internet users around the world continuing to grow, the sector has an ever expanding global customer base. Only recently, for example, Italy reported that online gambling revenues between January and April had increased more than ten percent when compared with the same period last year. A quick look at the Sunday Times Rich List gives a good indication of just how successful this sector is – even in a downturn, the founders of PartyPoker, husband and wife team Ruth Parasol and Russ De Leon are worth in the region of £700 million while another husband and wife team, Peter and Denise Coates – owners of Bet 365 – boast a fortune of £400 million, up £100 million from the previous year. International Scope With such explosive global growth, and the subsequent drive to secure growing market and revenue share, there has been a real surge in demand for affiliate marketing specialists who not only have the ability to manage an organisation’s affiliate program, but who are also fluent in more than one language. Affiliate programs are absolutely key to online gaming and betting organisations as they help to build revenue and profits, but a program is not enough without a team to manage the expectations and outcomes of what could be a very disparate and diverse group of people and organisations. These are roles with very specific skill sets. Not only will affiliate managers need to report on channel activity but they also need to be constantly prospecting and closing new partnerships. The sector may be growing but it is also fiercely competitive and the affiliate marketing programme is absolutely key to business growth. Additionally, we are not just talking about a domestic market. The globalisation of the sector means that gaming organisations are spreading their focus far more internationally. Cross-border marketing campaigns need cross-border affiliate programs and so these specialists not only need advanced foreign language skills but also an appreciation of different business cultures. We are handling an increasing number of vacancies in the iGaming sector, and I’d say the requirement has increased at least five fold since this time last year. Most of the roles are London-based with some in major gaming hubs such as Malta and Gibraltar and the main languages in demand tend to be Italian, French, Spanish, Hungarian and 38 l iGB Affiliate l June/July 2009
Flemish. Dutch (native language) is also in high demand but is notoriously difficult to source. Multilingualvacancies.com, Euro London’s job board partner has also seen a significant increase in the iGaming sector.“We have been approached by more and more advertisers who are now specialising in the iGaming sector,” states Associate Director Miranda Reid,“and have found that where previously the concentration was in the localisation/QA tester areas, we are now advertising a wider range of roles such as customer service reps, community managers and so on.” Increasingly, clients are looking for an eclectic mix of skills which will include at least two languages (one of which will usually be English as many of the
Wayne Tritton is a consultant within the dedicated Betting and iGaming division at specialist language recruiter Euro London Appointments. Euro London Appointments is the largest independent language recruitment consultancy in Europe. Its specialist Betting and iGaming division recruits across a whole range of positions from marketing and business analysts through to affiliate managers, web developers, odds compilers and sales.
roles are London based). Additionally, candidates will typically need to be steeped in online marketing knowledge and have a good working knowledge of the gaming and betting sector – whether that be poker, sports or casino products. They will also need affiliate marketing knowledge and the skills to not only manage existing programs but also to develop new ones and measure the success of each. Not stopping there they are also likely to need experience of specific Internet software products such as Dreamweaver. Needles in Haystacks However, these people are not easy to find. First, the experience needed is often so specific that the only way to source the talent required is to target ‘passive candidates’ i.e. those who may not necessarily be looking for a move, but who may consider moving should the opportunity arise. Consequently, it’s important for employers to remember that they are ‘selling’ as well as ‘buying’ as often the best candidates will need to be tempted. Salary levels, because of the shortage of suitable people, are obviously bucking the economic trend. Affiliate marketers with one to two years experience could be looking at upwards of £30K, while more senior candidates can command up to £50K. However, it is important to appreciate that money isn’t the only motivator and it is worth employers partnering with a recruiter who knows both the industry and the candidates. This way the employer can be briefed on what will really motivate the candidate, ‘press the right buttons’ and tempt someone to join. Secondly, in the UK, a mix of marketing, online expertise and language ability is very difficult to achieve and that may mean casting the net outside domestic borders, or targeting foreign nationals in the UK. It’s a sad but true fact that there is a dearth of UK nationals who speak a foreign language fluently, mainly because UK nationals only tend to speak another language if they have chosen to study it. But if you take a landlocked country like Luxembourg for example, you will find individuals who will speak three or four languages including English – it’s just part of their culture. With the online betting and gaming sector continuing to evolve and the regulatory framework opening up the sector to more countries all the time, we are likely to see even further international growth. Sourcing the best multilingual marketing talent is consequently likely to be the key differentiator in terms of securing future competitive advantage in this multi-billion pound sector. l
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A2B Marketing Strategy A Strategic Role Reversal meaning Affiliates show Operators the way to market. Affiliate conferences are always rife with a murmuring undercurrent of speculation on the state of the online gambling industry. The recent Amsterdam Affiliate Conference was no different, but from my point of view, there was a heightened mood of optimism in most every conversation I had in Western Europe’s Sin City. Has a corner been turned in the iGaming affiliate world? Well, if the two days I spent at the RAI Centre were anything to go by, I would have to say yes. The key word has to be progression. Full marks to the guys at iGaming Business for this in my eyes. Having the conference outside of the city centre brought a more relaxed atmosphere and marginally fewer hangovers – in fact all my meetings happened on time! One thing I have taken away from the latest conference – my first as an independent consultant – is the notion of an increasingly irrevocable role reversal in iGaming affiliate marketing. This touches on something that, in a roundabout way, I’ve been drumming up support for over the past year; essentially how affiliate marketing can dictate the course of gambling’s public reputation in sceptical markets. At this stage I should probably elaborate on what I mean by a role reversal. What I’m beginning to see is a tangible education of the operator/ affiliate program by, largely, super affiliates. Don’t get me wrong; there has always been a flow of information from affiliate to affiliate manager 40 ● iGB Affiliate ● June/July 2009
through to the operator’s board level, but in the past this has been somewhat transient and taken rather too sparsely by gaming operations, meaning that marketing strategies have not deviated from the accepted norm because of it. Public conscience Following a conversation with the guys at PokerStrategy.com, whose system is essentially ideal for operators looking to develop lapsed customer databases or wishing to cross sell to a poker product, my opinion is fixed that affiliates have the power not only to drive traffic and spark lapsed players in to helping the bottom line, but to change the focus of the bonus driven marketing that does so little to endear online gaming to the global public’s conscience. All that being said, the PokerStrategy.com system allows speedy profit for both affiliate and poker room. Building the brand reputation of ‘online gambling’ using more critic friendly marketing strategies for most affiliates and programs will, generally speaking, not provide such immediate returns as this formula, or indeed existing practices, but will work to ensure the longevity of online gaming and establish an extended pattern of growth in the years to come. And it is the affiliate who can lead this. The core focus of the site is on educating the player, and the outbound link formats reflect this. This is something a lot of affiliate portals focus on,
but at the end of the day, most banners and links on these sites focus on selling the product to a prospective customer using a bonus offer, normally with as yet unspecified wagering requirements. The aim of this piece is not to confront the possible deceit in this marketing tactic, but to address what the affiliate community can do to get away from this approach, which at some stage will stop being sustainable. Bonuses At present there are a lot of people making a shed load of money using bonuses to sell gaming products. The operators themselves are reaping the rewards, which goes a long way to substantiate why this strategy remains so popular. It’s been fantastic up until now, and will undoubtedly be so for another couple of years. With this debate in mind, affiliates have taken the view that profit sharing deals offer their business sustainability in the long term and that CPA payment options are very much the short term measures. Certainly, this is a more than understandable approach to have taken, but the potential for affiliate marketing lies way beyond the prominent revenue share package available at almost every affiliate program. To hark back to my ongoing case study, the relationship that PokerStrategy. com has built with operators and poker networks puts this particular affiliate in a dominant position
“For the concept of A2B marketing to be successful, affiliates simply have to work together.” to mediate between operators encouraging them to demonstrate and promote a spirit of healthy competition, and to work to establish a balance in poker network ecology. In my eyes, PokerStrategy is working A2B (A=Affiliate!) to ensure that, along with their business, the future of B2C marketing is a bright one. To define A2B marketing, the affiliate (or affiliate community) leads the operator (or operator community) to develop marketing strategy, encourage healthy competition and work on balancing market positions behind these strategies and ensuring they are interlinked rather than on top of one another. This will provide players with plenty of playing options to suit their needs and reduce the necessity for casinos and poker rooms to compete aggressively on bonus offers, if eventually at all. This would allow us to arrive at a position where the industry can ecologically grow as an entity and the affiliates can then promote differentiating products, selling them on a far more experiential level than a bonus-orientated flash banner ever could. So how do affiliates construct this position? It’s all well and good lauding the direction that affiliates such as PokerStrategy and Casinomeister provide to operators. These are two of the most highly successful affiliate operations around, so naturally they’re more likely to be listened to than the average affiliate. On the immediate face of it, how would it be in the operator’s best interests to listen to every run of the mill affiliate and follow their lead? Product focus As an initial step, affiliates need to focus more on their product and system. Many will have already taken the step to ensure that their site is differentiable from the next, but what they may not have done is focus on a new way to sell the products they are promoting. Writing page after page of content for players is all well and good, but if you’re simply going to sell a casino through a banner placement or listing its bonus offer, are you really providing the differentiation that many players are looking for? To be fair to you, players know what they know, and many are now well tuned in to the ‘fact’ that the poker room with the best bonus offer is the best choice for them. Selling a product like this doesn’t appeal to every player who hits an affiliate site, but more importantly, and with longevity in mind, the thought of even visiting the site doesn’t appeal to a hell of a lot more people thanks to the reputation online gambling commands, partly courtesy of this approach. So what do you do as an affiliate? Pull down all those juicy bonus offer banners and remove those promo codes, no doubt reducing your next month’s revenue and causing you to drop down an affiliate program’s wine and dine list? As A2B marketing takes shape, the thought of doing precisely that may not be so farcical. However,
this gradual thought development is the tricky bit and unquestionably requires some good old fashioned union work. Naturally, I’m referring to our old friend, the affiliate community. This is also why the effects of the recent upheaval in and around the major affiliate forums and the eruption of new communities must be overcome. For the concept of A2B marketing to be successful, affiliates simply have to work together. If they are conversing on different forums and meeting at different trade shows, it will be nigh on impossible for a common goal to be agreed on, or even for a need for that goal to be realised. Gospel of information Moreover, a unified affiliate community, brimmed full of super affiliates through to newbies, united by cohesive and constructive ideas is going to get the attention of a major operator, and subsequently the gaming community as a whole. And if a bandwagon is fully loaded, there is no reason why it shouldn’t ride roughshod over wider public notions of online gambling and change the way our industry is perceived internationally, meaning we can all continue to grow! With the power that search engines give and courtesy of their SEO efforts, affiliates hold the gospel of information to spread to players, no matter the arguments and figures poker rooms, casinos and sportsbooks may front up. Affiliates must, as a community, look beyond what will eventually be unsustainable growth and step up as agents of change to lead operators (who let’s face it, have set-ups that would change direction like an cargo ship if left to their own devices – largely down to pure staff numbers and their insistence on pointing to past success) towards less self-consuming marketing strategies and a well-balanced industry that can grow in more diverse directions than promotional oneupmanship. At some point in time, there will have to be an event that is stringently focused on formalising and carrying out this thought transition. It will, of course, be essential that the major players are singing from the same hymn sheet, which will never be easy to achieve, but why not give it a go?
Tom Galanis is an Affiliate Marketing Consultant at GameOn Affiliates, the recently launched division of GameOn Marketing Limited. GameOn Affiliates works alongside clients to develop new or emerging product and regional markets, utilising and growing affiliate networks within them. Previously, Tom was Marketing Manager at bet365 and managed the affiliate program at Victor Chandler. To find out more about GameOn Affiliates, you can reach Tom at tom@ gameon-marketing.com or on +44 (0)7805 638742.
June/July2009 ● iGB Affiliate ● 41
Affiliate Marketing – Retention Vs Acquisition Strategies Many people writing about the subject of affiliate marketing in the current economic climate have hailed this marketing medium and spoken about the online potential it offers for all sorts of companies. However, the question that companies who already use affiliate marketing as an integral part of their marketing strategy ask is ‘how to optimise the use of this medium: should they focus their limited resources on acquiring more affiliates or should they focus on strengthening what they already have? This situation resembles the classical ‘leaky bucket’ scenario, where one faces the problem of having a bucket which is full of holes and losing water (revenues). In this case, one has to decide either to put more water into the bucket (hence acquiring more resources) or else fix the bucket to retain as much water as possible inside. As more companies, even from industries which were previously considered as immune to the recession, such as iGaming, start feeling the pinch of the economic downturn, the question of how to build a solid affiliate base has become vital.
Choosing a Retention Strategy Given the current limitations on marketing budgets, retaining, growing and recruiting quality affiliates would be the best way to generate profitable affiliate marketing growth. Most medium to large online companies, especially iGaming operators, have a large number of affiliates reaching into the thousands, but how many of these are actually resulting in a good profit to the business? It has been widely documented that only a small fraction of the affiliate base of a company (usually around 10% to 20%) account for most of the revenue generated (about 80% to 90%). Thus, it is important to profile and categorise affiliates into different groups as different affiliates have different current and future earnings potential and hence, require different strategies. The diagram below presents a model (the Affiliate Lifetime Worth Model) which puts forward nine basic retention strategies that a company could adopt depending on the current and future expected affiliate profitability.
Choosing to Acquire More Affiliates Many companies facing the question of acquisition Vs retention strategies have chosen to fix their impeding problem by reverting to an acquisition strategy. However, as in the case of customers, it is widely accepted that it is significantly cheaper to retain and strengthen relationships with existing business partners (affiliates) compared to acquiring and developing new ones. Acquiring new affiliates entails higher administrative and promotional costs as companies need to spend more time dealing with new promotional campaigns and affiliate queries. Moreover, companies that focus on aggressive affiliate acquisition strategies, usually offer very aggressive promotions so as to attract the maximum number of affiliates and meet short term acquisition targets. This strategy is usually undertaken without considering future implications and tends to make the affiliate market more promotion-conscious, possibly reducing the loyalty of the affiliate base. This happens as affiliates seek better deals and try to partner with those companies offering the best promotions and eventually ditching those that offer comparatively cheaper deals. Additionally, existing affiliates would eventually start asking for the same kind of promotions that are being offered to new affiliates and subsequently seek to renegotiate their existing deals. This strategy will eventually lead to an increase in marketing expenditure (but not in effectiveness) as companies need to keep offering competitive deals to acquire new affiliates while at the same time retain current ones.
The Affiliate Lifetime Worth Model This Affiliate Lifetime Worth Model enables companies to devise strategies aimed at weeding out affiliates that generate low current and potential future earnings and focus more on growing and retaining those affiliates that have both current and future earnings potential. One might ask, ‘how come it is being suggested that we weed out some of the existing affiliates when our aim is to grow the affiliate business?’ Although it is true that the ultimate aim is to grow the affiliate business, what remains imperative is the need for it to be done strategically. One needs to grow those affiliates that are either already generating acceptable returns for the business or those that have the potential to become good affiliates in the near future. Sticking with low value affiliates will just continue to consume valuable resources, both in terms of time and marketing expenditure, that could be utilized more efficiently and effectively by focusing on higher-potential affiliates. Referring back to the model, companies will need to focus on the strategic growth of affiliates
42 l iGB Affiliate l June/July 2009
Current Affiliate Profit-
Retain and seek ways to
that fall in the green quadrant and aim to retain and grow affiliates in the blue regions. Some of these affiliates, if adequately looked after, could eventually move into the green region and become highly profitable affiliates, while others will continue to generate high return (at least in the short term) and can be used as cash cows that will finance investment into growing other potential affiliates. On the other hand, affiliates in the grey region are question marks – companies should put these affiliates on a probationary period and see how they perform over a period of time. Those affiliates that react positively to purposelydesigned promotional programs and generate adequate returns should be considered for growth, while others that remain question marks should be reconsidered. The use of a strategic retention, growth and acquisition strategy enables companies to generate a solid affiliate base that is loyal to the business as it is strategically looked after. At the same time, information that is gathered about what makes up a good affiliate, gives useful insight into how to acquire affiliates that have high profitability potential. Adopting such a strategy can, in the long run, significantly improve your company returns by 10% – 40% as it enables the efficient and effective investment of resource into affiliates that generate the highest returns. Choosing the right strategy in the current economic climate is not easy due to internal pressure and market challenges, but the right strategy choice will guarantee short-term returns and position the company strongly for future growth. Matthew Castillo is an MSc International Marketing graduate from the University of Strathclyde (Glasgow). Having gained experience in International Marketing and the iGaming industry, he is now working as Key Client Account Manager at NetRefer. His main duties involve the management of key client accounts and liaising with clients to ensure they make the best use of their Affiliate Management System in growing a strong affiliate base. Matthew can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Aim to Develop
increase future potential Medium
Retain with minimal effort
Nurture for Growth
Aim at Growing and Maintaining
Potential Future Affiliate Profitability
Wh ile all th e hyp e about pending US regulatio n and acceptance of on lin e po ker has th e indust ry excited th ere is a negativ e sid e that no bo dy is ta lki ng about.
At a recent affiliate conference in Amsterdam the talk of pending US regulation was a hot topic of discussion. Every person I talked to was quivering with excitement about how great this was for the industry, and the fantastic opportunities that would arise. I disagree completely. Market Position The transparent bed-sharing of Harrah’s and PartyPoker, and the slightly more subtle relationship between MGM Mirage and Full Tilt clearly illustrate that the big boys are making sure that they are ready to not only play in this market, but own it.Add Harrah’s disclosure that they have spent over $400,000 in cash during the first quarter of the year as a registered lobbyist to build support for Rep. Barney Frank’s “Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection and Enforcement Act of 2009”, and their position is clear. It is no secret that Harrah’s and the others are looking for a way out of their recession woes. Rumors of bankruptcies are rife on the Vegas scene, and the income that would be generated by entering the online poker market would provide much needed cash relief, and do so almost overnight. But here’s the thing; where will that leave everyone else? Do you really think that Harrah’s and their brethren are throwing their considerable lobbying efforts behind bills that
would legalize online poker out of the goodness of their hearts so that we can all play in their sandbox? Not a chance! MGM’s statement that they support the legalization, regulation and taxation of Internet gambling is very telling as like Harrah’s, they are already legal, regulated and taxed. It is a much shorter road to travel for these companies to find a legal status for providing online poker than it will be for a company that is not already holding a US gaming license. State by State The prevailing opinion is that online poker will become available in the state of California first, as their state legislature has reportedly already reached positive decisions in this regard. If that happens you can bet that Nevada will soon follow, and then New Jersey. Regardless of how they fall, or even if it is a federal legalization, it would make sense that currently licensed operations (and their bed-fellows) will have the first crack at the market, and it seems equally reasonable to assume that those operations will then take steps to ensure that they have market protection. Providing online gaming licenses to non-US gaming operators, regardless of their “white label” status in other jurisdictions, is something that could take years to implement, if at all. Even pressure from the generally ignored WTO is unlikely to make a difference. The US made their
“Do you really think that Harrah’s and their brethren are throwing their considerable weight behind legalizing online poker out of the goodness of their hearts?” opinion of the WTO’s rulings very clear when they stripped gambling from its WTO obligations several years ago. It is obvious that they are going to conveniently continue to ignore them. So where will that leave the established, reputable gaming companies that are operating in legal, regulated environs? Without a passport to the US market for sure. And for those that continue to operate in the US without a US license, they can be sure that at the bequest of the ‘Harrah’s of this world’ that they will be forced out by whatever means are necessary. The US government will finally be armed with laws to do so. As for the players themselves, and the large number of prospective players that have not yet played online because of trust issues, it will also be an easier decision for them to play with a brand that they recognize from down the road. There is still no specific law that prohibits online gambling in the United States, and for those operators that are currently accepting US player action, this is the scenario in which they will remain the most successful. Unfortunately, in my opinion, change is inevitable. l
Gian Perroni is the President of CanAffco.com, a Vancouver based marketing and affiliate management group focused on the online gaming sector.
June/July 2009 l iGB Affiliate l 43
MASTERS OF THE INTERNET
IT’S LIFE, JIM… iGaming Business Affiliate magazine sat down with Linden Lab CEO Philip Rosedale – the man in charge of the world’s preeminent virtual world, Second Life.
In terms of business usage, what types of industries are turning to Second Life to supplement their ‘first’ life business? Is it becoming an increasingly viable business tool? Businesses across the board are investing in Second Life real estate and engaging with the Second Life Grid more than ever before. Perhaps it’s easier to characterize the types of use, which include meetings and collaboration, classes and training, data visualization, prototyping, marketing, retail, advertising, video creation, machinima (the use of 3D graphics rendering engines to create CGI for animated films) especially for training, simulation, recruiting and events. Organisations like the BBC, BT, Cisco, Orange, Unilever and Vodafone all have a presence in Second Life and are realising these benefits. A fantastic example of the business impact of Second Life can be seen in the work of IBM. In late 2008, the organization held a Virtual World Conference and then an Annual Meeting, hosted in a secure Second Life environment with a conference space specially designed by IBM for keynotes, breakout sessions, a simulated Green Data Center, a library and various areas for community gathering. The 200-plus participants were offered preconference training on the basics of Second Life to make them comfortable communicating and navigating within the environment. IBM estimates the ROI for the Virtual World Conference was roughly $320,000 and that the Annual Meeting was executed at one-fifth the cost of a real world event. This is clearly a massive cost saving for any business – especially in today’s economic context. And this comes as no surprise. Gartner recently predicted that the global economic downturn will boost videoconferencing technology, and virtual meetings will replace more than two million airline seats per year by 2012. We have already seen this trend, and expect that over the next few years it will accelerate further. What’s more, virtual meetings offer businesses a greener alternative to business travel. What is the Second Life Grid and of what value can it be to businesses? The Second Life Grid is a powerful technology platform that is fuelling the development of the virtual world’s ecosystem. It provides dedicated and sophisticated content creation, land
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management and transactional tools. Ultimately, the platform enables other technology leaders, developers and solution providers to create and utilise new applications. Again, the IBM Academy for Technology and its recent Annual Meeting are excellent examples of the Grid’s benefits. By holding its Annual Meeting in-world, IBM was able to significantly cut costs and interact in a rich and immersive environment – something a traditional conference call just couldn’t replicate. Travel is increasingly becoming a burden for businesses as they seek to cut costs and go green. With the current economic downturn, companies are looking at every way they can improve collaboration while reducing costs. The Second Life Grid provides a platform that enables enterprises to achieve this and reduce their carbon footprints as the same.
“Second Life was created to be a world bound only by the limits of imagination, where anything is possible.” How much of this is down to users generating their own content? Do they ultimately drive the technology and growth of the site/world? Second Life is the only virtual world where 99% of content is user-created. Giving people licence to develop – to build, is incredibly empowering and the root of real innovation. The great thing about Second Life is its nearly infinite scope and potential - Residents’ creations are really only limited by their imaginations. Since its inception, Linden Lab has worked very hard to foster this creativity and we continue to lead the virtual world industry through constant innovation to expand the capabilities of Second Life. The continuing growth of Second Life is driven both by the Residents, who are constantly
Second Life 2008 Usage Results • Land owned by Residents increased 82%, compared with 2007 • Exchange Volume increased 33%, compared with 2007 • User-to-user transactions in Q4 increased 54%, compared with the same period in 2007 • In Q4, Residents spent more than $100 million US on virtual goods and services • Q4 user hours grew 47% from the same quarter last year User Demographics • Average age is about 36 • 43.2% of users are female Population Indicators • Total number of registrations over 17.1M • UK ranked third in terms of Residents active for at least an hour on a monthly basis in Second Life (behind US and Germany) • European countries dominate the top twenty highest users (over two thirds) • To date, UK Residents have clocked up 2,424,987.37 in-world hours Virtual World Economic Indicators • Virtual goods are a fundamental driver of the Second Life economy, which was $360M USD in 2008 • 2008 peak concurrent users were up 31% over 2007; our peak concurrency is now over 84,000 • 2008 land owned by Residents increased 82% over 2007 • 2008 volume on the LindeX (our exchange where Residents can buy and sell Linden dollars for USD) increased 33% over 2007 • 2008 user-to-user transactions in Q4 increased 54% over Q4 of 2007 creating new compelling content in-world, and by Linden Lab, as we continue to innovate to provide new capabilities and to enhance the experience for both existing Residents and new users. How does the ailing financial climate affect the Second Life economy, and in-turn, your business? Financially, 2008 was an outstanding year for Linden Lab from a profitability and cash flow perspective, and we are in a strong position to weather the economic downturn while
MASTERS OF THE INTERNET
continuing to invest in the Second Life platform. As a testament to this success, we recently acquired two popular virtual e-commerce marketplaces. If you look back at other economic downturns, there are certain things that people continue to do for entertainment: often times it means staying at home and going online. We’ve seen a significant growth rate in user engagement – Residents are spending an increasing amount of time in-world, reaching 112 million hours in the last few months of last year alone, and we’re seeing new peak concurrencies, surpassing 84,000 people in Second Life at one time. Another trend we see during an economic downturn is people looking for extra ways to make money. Residents can create and sell unique content in Second Life, and there are currently more than 18 thousand active merchants selling virtual goods in our e-commerce marketplace, XstreetSL. As businesses tighten their belts, they are also looking for ways to cut costs. Second Life enables businesses to conduct virtual meetings in-world, thus cutting unnecessary travel time and expenses. At a time like this, every little bit helps, and we expect that the real world economic troubles may well be the making of a Second Life boom. Indeed, you’ve also been on something of a recruitment drive of late… Very true – Linden Lab has been profitable for some time, and the company is growing. We’ve added more than 100 employees in the past year, including several new executives, and we are in a very strong position with an experienced and knowledgeable team. We also recently made two strategic acquisitions to enable us to provide enhanced e-commerce for virtual goods, and we are continuing to expand internationally. In what regions are you looking to develop a presence and why is China, considering its population of Internet users, not a priority at the moment? There are active Second Life Residents in every country where citizens are allowed to use Second Life, and we are continuing to develop our global markets. China presents a complex proposition, and our current strategic focus is on markets where we have significant traction and see the best opportunity for immediate growth – speciﬁcally, the US, the UK, Germany, France and Japan. Has the emergence of social networking sites such as MySpace, Facebook and Bebo affected you in any way? Not directly; these websites aren’t competitive with Second Life, but they can be complementary. For example, one thing you see on those sites now is an increasing interest in virtual goods. Virtual goods are immensely popular in Second Life, and a pillar of the vibrant
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MASTERS OF THE INTERNET
in-world economy. In the last three months of 2008, Second Life Residents spent over $100 million on virtual goods and services. If social networking websites help people to become familiar with virtual goods, it can only help us. Also, these sites can help our community to share their in-world experiences – for example, a snapshot from a party in Second Life – with friends who will then be inspired to become Residents themselves. UK Labour politician Peter Mandelson recently created a Second Life avatar to push Labour’s message to a wider, and one would think, younger audience. Is this something you have seen previously with American politicians, and do you think Second Life is a medium that will attract more governmental activity like this? Second Life provides an immersive and interactive space in which personal relationships can be built globally and nationally, so it’s no surprise that politicians and other governmental organisations have begun to realize its potential. In addition to Peter Mandleson’s presence in Second Life, we’ve also seen Second Life used by other politicians and their supporters. One great example is Representative Edward Markey in the US, who was unable to attend a UN climate change summit in Bali, so instead attended the summit in Second Life. In addition, the power of Second Life was harnessed during last year’s US Presidential election campaign. An ‘Obama for President’ group was created by his supporters in 2007 and ‘Obama Fest’, a global gathering of his followers took place in-world last October. The virtual festival was part of a drive to register some of the more than 50 million Americans who failed to register in 2004. The event was also a great example of how web content can be integrated in the virtual world, as virtual registration computers were set up, with links to online voter registration sites. In addition to political activity in-world, government organisations are also using Second Life to connect with their audiences. For example, the US Army has embraced Second Life, creating virtual islands for recruitment and simulation purposes; not only can you speak to a live recruiter, but you can even simulate jumping from a helicopter or rappelling from a building. Another example is the American Center for Disease Control (CDC), which has an outpost in Second Life that is used to promote public health. The very concept of virtual reality has long had its detractors and the launch of Second Life prompted much debate as to the potential ill effects it could have on an already computer obsessed society. Are people right to worry about the emergence of secondary existences, or are
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“We could never have predicted all the ways in which Residents would use Second Life, but it’s immensely gratifying to see how the virtual world has become such an invaluable part of so many people’s lives.” they just offering new and unique ways to communicate and interact? For years, advancements in technology for communication have been met with scepticism and fear that they would degrade society and harm real world relationships. What this doesn’t take into account are the hundreds of ways in which the Internet and virtual worlds in particular improve and enrich people’s lives with valuable experiences and new ways to communicate and interact. Second Life allows people around the globe to create, communicate, and interact with one another in compelling and immersive ways. The virtual world enables Residents to have valuable experiences that aren’t necessarily possible in real life, but have a very real and positive impact on it. What level of (public) scrutiny did you find yourselves under at the beginning? With any innovative technology, the public will question what its impact will be and how long it will last. I think we all saw this with some of the cynicism that met the growth of the Internet in the early 1990s, and we saw some of the same questions raised about Second Life. However, we continue to see very positive growth in areas that really matter for our future. Our Resident numbers are continuing to grow, as are user hours spent in-world, virtual transactions, and several other key metrics. We see an incredible number of new and innovative use cases for Second Life on a regular basis – the sheer volume of exciting projects is staggering. We could never have predicted all the ways in which Residents would use Second Life, but it’s immensely gratifying
to see how the virtual world has become such an invaluable part of so many people’s lives. As we continue to grow and Second Life becomes a part of everyday life and work for even more people, its value will become increasingly evident to the world at large. With the evolutionary spread of technology showing no signs of relenting, is there a danger that the technology behind Second Life could very soon be seen as outdated? If we were standing still, there might be a danger in becoming outdated, but that’s not what Linden Lab as a company or Second Life as a community are doing. Since first opening to the public in 2003, Second Life has pioneered the virtual worlds industry. Innovation is at the core of our business, and we continue to prove this to our Resident community and the industry as a whole through non-stop product development and enhancement. You mentioned in a recent interview with The Industry Standard that the “in-world experience still takes too long for new users to master, an issue that will require significant amounts of technological work to rectify.” What are the behaviour patterns of new users and how do you go about addressing their ‘teething’ problems? We’ve seen that a number of new users turn away from Second Life because they find it too challenging to get started. Making that first hour a delightful one really draws new users into the experience and makes them much more likely to return and become active Second Life Residents, and this is a real focus for us. We recently redesigned our homepage to better show off the range of compelling activities that new users can get involved with in-world, and we dramatically simplified the registration process. There’s more work to be done to improve the first hour experience, but these first steps have already helped us to increase new user retention. Finally, there seems to be scope to do anything and everything in a virtual world, from hosting conferences to playing live gigs and selling your music. Is the future limitless, or is it dependant on technology? I think it’s both – limitless but also dependent on technology. Second Life was created to be a world bound only by the limits of imagination, where anything is possible. The use cases of the virtual world are continually expanding, and the future really is limitless. That said, it’s technology that makes it possible, and Linden Lab is dedicated to continuing to lead the virtual worlds industry with innovative technology to support the expanding uses of Second Life. Combine that with the creativity of the Second Life community, and that’s the real power of our model. It would be really easy to underestimate just what can be achieved in one year, five years or ten years. But it should be great fun finding out.
Affiliate Conference Gallery
Memories of Amsterdam Amsterdam played the perfect host for the first of this yearâ€™s iGaming Business Affiliate Conferences, and here, we look back at some of the picture book highlights from a hugely successful event.
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Affiliate Conference Gallery
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Affiliate Conference Gallery
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Affiliate Conference Gallery
A F F I L I AT E S
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Facebook: The NexT GeNeraTioN GamiNG PlaTform? As we all know Facebook has become the de facto standard for sharing our lives and wasting 20 minutes a day. Looking at a selection of countries around the world is quite shocking. The UK has 11 million users, or 80 percent of the 16 million broadband-ready homes. In countries where Facebook does not enjoy the same level of dominance, there exist other local social networking sites with equally impressive penetration. The big question is what can we do with this monster? Facebook, founder, Mark Zuckerberg envisions Facebook being the main Internet destination site for organising our lives – planning the event, sending invites, managing it and then waking up the next day to see a physical record. With virtually every business conference having a Facebook group, he is closer to achieving his goal than we think. With the addition of applications and games, Zuckerberg is now working towards Facebook also becoming our entertainment destination. This is similar to mobile phones which initially had limited corporate use yet, slowly crept into our lives to become indispensable to almost all aspects of daily life. Similarly, I see social networking becoming a vital way to organise events, manage memories, be the first point of contact between friends/business colleagues etc. Facebook currently has a ‘No Gaming’ policy. This is similar to Apple’s iPhone policy but many providers have successfully added a ‘play for real’ button onto popular applications.
David Wainwright was the founder of TelecomsTV, NetplayTV and HollywoodTV. He has 10 years experience delivering high profile Television shows around the world including BigBox Bingo, Live Roulette, Supercasino.com and National Lottery shows. David is the founder of Live Gaming Technology, a white label gaming business focusing on live streaming formats.
Generations Apart? Interestingly, when analysing Facebook statistics, it’s clear that the older generation is getting into social networking quicker than you’d expect. The ‘silver surfer’ bracket is the fastest growing market on the site. Since we are talking about the long play, I would say most people are going to be surprised at how vital social networking becomes to people of all ages.
Industry Threat? With Facebook rumoured to be introducing a global payment system – probably called Zits or something equally trendy – will they become a threat to the gaming industry? I personally think so. They have 200 million eyeballs that like to play, a global currency and an army of bedroom based developers that work on a revenue share basis. Established brands such
“Mark Zuckerberg envisions Facebook being the main Internet destination site for organising our lives – he is closer to achieving his goal than we think.” Equally, if you dig a little deeper you also discover that with all the application statistics offered publicly, the number one application is Texas Hold’em, with 7.2 million monthly active users. The application developer, Zynga, has been generating healthy revenue from advertising, pay for real clicks and leveraging the database. The 25 top games on Facebook attract an estimated 60 million unique users per month, which is shockingly 30 percent of the total 200 million users on the site. In the end, we have a vast user base that loves tagging people in orange feather boas, playing games and explaining to their boss that it’s a “business networking tool”. But is anyone making money from all this? According to Business Week, Zynga is expected to generate $100 million in revenues this year.
as 888 and PartyGaming will become sub brands on the platform and will have to sign revenue share deals with Facebook to accept payments from players. Five years from now, expect Facebook to become the world’s largest payment platform. As I see it, the opportunity right now is for smaller developers who should be investing some of their time producing some funky apps – market them slowly and build a monthly active user base over the next 12 months in anticipation of Facebook potentially opening up in legal jurisdictions. Texas Hold’em has shown us that the platform is a great instant marketing tool to quickly distribute applications to millions. Add a payment platform and the opportunity is immense. l
No. of Facebook Users
% Facebook penetration
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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. WhAT ArE ThE BASICS BEhInD A BETTEr rAnKIng? Q. I understand that SEO is a science, but are there any SEO basics an affiliate should know to help them rank better? Samuel
65 characters. It appears in two places that can affect how well users convert into player sign-ups: 1. As the title of a search engine result. 2. At the top of a browser window.
A. In addition to getting backlinks from other sites, there are three sets of “on-page” SEO basics that every webmaster should know to help their sites perform better on search engines. First, there is the “meta info” of your web pages; secondly, there is actual page content; and finally, there should be consistency between the two.
There are two negative implications when your title doesn’t actually reflect the page that it is for: (1) you rank less effectively in the SERPs, and (2) users can become suspicious when they land on a page that does not meet their expectations.
Meta Info Meta information is used to categorize and label web pages, and is very important because it determines how site listings appear on the search engine result pages (SERPs). When your affiliate pages have the proper meta information attached to them, you are likely to get more organic traffic because your pages, (1) show up in relevant search results, (2) have the appropriate listing information when they do, and as a result, (3) experience higher clickthrough-rates (CTRs). Title Tag This piece of information is simply the title of a webpage. The title tag should be used to describe the page it is actually for and should not exceed
Meta Description The meta description is what generates the description in the SERPs and should not exceed 200 characters. However, search engines only display the first 150 characters, so it’s important to include the punchiest, most relevant description of a page in only 150 characters. Think of it as a sales pitch: there should be descriptive information, product highlights and anything else to encourage users to click through. Meta Keywords This set of meta info pertains to keywords that are pertinent to the page. Traditionally, here you would’ve included the search queries that you believe are most common for users that might be looking for the page you’re tagging. However, the major search engines stopped indexing this field several years ago, so there is no benefit to filling
in this field. In fact, many SEOs regard it as doing keyword research for your competition. Content On-page content is the most important part of on-page SEO. After all, this is what search engines assume your users are looking for. It’s important, then, that all your pages have actual content for both search engines and users to consume, and that the content contains the keywords you’re trying to rank for. You should never, however, compromise the usability/readability of page content for a higher keywords density. To avoid doing so, try focusing on one keyword per page. Consistent SEO Since search engines are using your meta-info and page content to index and rank your affiliate pages, it’s imperative that there is consistency between the two. So make sure that the keywords you’re targeting appear in the title, page description and on the page. Organic traffic should comprise the majority of your traffic. So your on-page SEO is integral to the success of your affiliate site. Although advanced SEO is a delicate science, basic SEO is fairly straightforward and is often sufficient to generate relevant traffic. Olland, SEM Specialist
DO I nEED A LICEnSE fOr USIng gOOgLE ADWOrDS fOr gAMBLIng ADS? Q. Is it true that I need a license to use Google Adwords for gambling ads? If so, how do I get one? Jason A. It is not true that you need a license to use Google Adwords for gambling ads, because Google sees affiliates as aggregators of content rather than gambling portals. However, there are some stipulations. First, you can only use Google Adwords to promote operators in certain jurisdictions. Secondly, you can only use Adwords to promote operators who are licensed to advertise in those jurisdictions. Finally, as an affiliate, you have to get white-listed by Google to run gambling ads on Adwords. Google only permits Adwords for online gambling in three jurisdictions: the UK, Ireland and Austria. Consequently, such ads won’t be 52 l iGB Affiliate l June/July 2009
displayed in other countries. What this means is that unless a user is in the one of these jurisdictions and has an IP address from that country, they won’t see gambling-related ads on their search engine results pages (SERPs). The stipulations don’t stop at jurisdictions. Google will also only let you promote sites that have a license to advertise in those jurisdictions. So you can only promote to certain pre-approved, white-listed sites. Google enforces these caveats through their application process. If you want to promote online gambling through Adwords, you have to set up a new and separate Adwords account just for your gambling ads. Once you have done that, you have to fill out an application and legal declaration. Getting approved by Google can take time,
but you can fast-track the process by working with a recognized partner such as Income Access. Essentially, by applying through certain recognized third-parties, you can fast-track the white-listing process because Google knows that the third-party has already made sure that the applicant meets certain guidelines. So while it is not necessary to have a license to use Adwords as an affiliate, you can only promote operators in certain jurisdictions, and those who have licenses to advertise in those jurisdictions. You also have to undergo a screening process to make sure that your affiliate site meets certain guidelines. And while that screening process can take weeks or months, you can also fast-track it down to mere days by working with a recognized third-party. Jamie, SEM Manager
WhAT DO I nEED TO KnOW ABOUT WOrDPrESS? Q. I’ve read a lot about affiliates using WordPress to power their sites. Isn’t WordPress just for blogging? Is there anything an affiliate should know about using WordPress? Macy A.WordPress is an incredibly powerful blogging platform that can also double as a CMS. And as an open-source platform (i.e. it’s free and you don’t need a license to modify it), there’s a worldwide community contributing to its development, keeping it at the forefront of content management. There are a few things that every webmaster should know about configuring and customizing WordPress before considering it as a platform for their site. Configuration When you install WordPress out of the box, it already does many of the things that you want it to do. But there are a few things that you can do to optimize it. First, you should go to the “permalinks” options under “settings”, and set up the URL structure of your posts. You have many options on how to do this, but the most important thing is to have the post-name included in the URL. Not only does this make your URL appear more user friendly, but it can also help your search ranking. Search engines
index the keywords in the URLs and use them to gauge page relevancy. Second, you’ll want to go to the “discussion” option under “settings”, and adjust the comment settings to your liking. Finally, you should head to “categories” under the “post” option, and create the different top-level categories that your content is going to fall into. There are plenty more nuanced settings that you’ll discover and want to tweak as you get familiar with WordPress, but these basic three will be sufficient to get you up and running. Customization Because WordPress is an open-source platform, there are thousands of developers and web designers creating free “themes” (i.e. skins) and plug-ins that you can use to enhance your WordPress site. However, it’s important that you know what to look for in a good WordPress skin or plug-in. A WordPress theme is so much more than a mere “skin” because it often features additional functionality, which requires additional code. Similarly, a plug-in adds functionality to your WordPress site by adding code to it. Because this code changes the way your site functions, you should always verify the integrity of any theme or plug-in you install on your WordPress site. The
reason this is important is because some themes and plug-ins feature poor quality code that can hinder site performance, others can feature malicious malware scripts that attack your users and can get your site banned by the major search engines. The surest way to ensure the integrity of a theme/plug-in is by only selecting those featured in the theme and plug-in directories on WordPress.org. But since many developers never bother submitting their themes/plug-ins to those directories, many great themes/plug-ins are available only through the developer’s own site. In this case, you may want to do some research about both the popularity of the theme/plug-in and the reputation of its developer. Open-Source Potential Insofar as WordPress is an open-source technology, it offers a lot of versatility because there is an international community of developers contributing to its development. A drawback of this, however, is that there are many amateurs and hackers creating add-ons for it. So as long as you know how to avoid poor quality themes and plug-ins, you can safely tap into one of the most powerful publishing platforms ever released, and it won’t cost you a single Euro. CT Moore, Communications Strategist
A leading provider of affiliate marketing solutions, since 2002, Income Access offers four types of services: (1) an affiliate network of over 18,000 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. More questions? Send them to email@example.com.
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Betfair Challenges Dutch Payment Blocking in Court Betfair, one of the world’s leading online betting companies, has started legal action against the Dutch government in a court case which could result in a claim for damages running into millions of Euros. Aernout Kraaijeveld and Justin Franssen of Dutch legal firm Van Mens & Wisselink NV, investigate for iGaming Business Affiliate Magazine. Betfair’s decision follows a letter from the Dutch Ministry of Justice urging Dutch banks to terminate their relationships with online gaming operators. The letter implies that facilitating transactions between Dutch residents and online operators is illegal. If the banks comply with the Ministry’s request, this would block access to the services of Betfair and many other gaming operators licensed in other EU-Member States. Background of the payment blocking The payment blocking is one of the latest battlefields for remote operators in the Netherlands. The first battle revolved around
The Ministry decided not to follow the demands of the European Commission. Instead, the Ministry of Justice decided to put its foot down and announced several measures to counteract online operators, amongst which the transaction blocking. Boards of banks and payment service providers are told that their institutions commit illegal activities by facilitating transactions to online operators. In its letters to the financial institutions, the Ministry asks them to make sure that the relationships with the industry are terminated: this has resulted in at least one bank ceasing to provide transactions to the industry. It must
“It will depend on the next Commission – especially on the Commissioner for the internal market – whether or not the Netherlands will be dragged before the ECJ.” injunction proceedings instigated by the Dutch sportsbetting and casino monopolists (De Lotto and Holland Casino) against several online operators. These operators were ordered to cease offering gaming to Dutch residents. The operators all claimed that the Dutch gaming policy violates European law, and in the main proceedings between De Lotto and British bookmaker Ladbrokes, the highest court for civil matters referred questions to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in June 2008. The second battle took place in the administrative courts, following rejected applications for Dutch gaming licences. Before the highest administrative court, Betfair already gained a preliminary referral to the ECJ in May 2008. Other measures that were announced in the wake of the transaction blocking are a media blocking and the announcement that the Ministry filed reports against at least three online operators with the Prosecution Department, which may eventually lead to criminal proceedings. Online gaming operators are not alone in their fight against the Dutch gaming policy: the European Commission asked the Dutch authorities in February 2008 in its Reasoned Opinion to alter several provisions of the Gaming Act, because it considers the sportsbetting monopoly to violate European law. 54 l iGB Affiliate l June/July 2009
be noted that the authorities did not introduce new regulations to implement this payment blocking: instead, the general prohibition on the ‘promotion of illegal gambling’ is said to include a prohibition on providing financial transactions to (illegal) operators. Critique on Payment Blocking Besides the European Commission’s critique on the sportsbetting monopoly and the referrals from Dutch courts to the ECJ, signs are appearing in other EU-Member States that these payment blockings themselves are incompatible with European law. In the national arena, the farstretching interpretation of the Dutch regulations to also include the prohibition on providing transactions is criticized by lawyers and bankers alike. We elaborate more on these arguments hereunder. European critique on similar measures France received a detailed opinion from the European Commission in 2007 following a draft decree that contains a payment blocking. Germany implemented the Inter State Gambling Treaty in January 2008, which contains (amongst other things) a payment blocking. This treaty (a federal law) was subsequently criticized by the European Commission in a Letter of Formal
Notice, inter alia for being a restriction to the free movement of capital, guaranteed by article 56 of the EC Treaty. Although the critique against the German and French payment blockings was a direct result of new (draft) regulations, the European Commission can also take actions against the Dutch payment blocking, even though it is the result of a new interpretation of the existing regulations. The European Commissioner for the Internal Market, Charlie McCreevy, was quoted in the largest Dutch newspaper ‘de Telegraaf’ as stating that this measure violates the European Treaty. According to Commission spokesman Oliver Drewes, McCreevy requested the services involved to carry out an investigation into the bank embargo. Drewes also stated that the bank embargo will be included in the currently pending infringement proceedings. Critique on the interpretation of the Gaming Act to include a transaction blocking In legal literature, the Ministry’s position that the current regulations forbid providing transactions is criticized: the parliamentary history of the Gaming Act does not mention financial transactions, and from the explanatory memorandum to the Gaming Act, it is clear that the provisions were actually intended for, inter alia, intermediaries that sold participation slips in foreign lotteries. It does not seem to include a prohibition to facilitate payment transactions. The Dutch Banking Association (NVB) stated that it does not agree with the Ministry’s position. It considers the interpretation of the Gaming Act wrong, and stated the Ministry should first obtain a criminal conviction before banks could be asked to implement the payment blocking. The NVB also stated that banks fear claims if they cease servicing these particular clients. Nevertheless, at least one bank has complied with the Ministry’s demands. The Minister himself even made statements in parliament that can be quoted as saying that the current regulations indeed do not forbid the provision of financial transactions. He stated that if his letters to the banks do not have the desired effect, he will introduce legislation similar to the American UIGEA. If the current regulations would already prohibit financial transactions to operators, such new legislation would obviously be redundant.
Betfair’s Actions Betfair is arguing that the Dutch Ministry of Justice commits a tort (civil wrongdoing), under Dutch law, by making the request contained in its letter. Betfair is arguing in these proceedings that the Dutch government, by taking such a step, is acting in breach of European law (i.e. in breach of the principles of the freedom to provide services in the EU and the free movement of capital in the EU). This civil action is aimed at obtaining a declaratory judgment to the effect that the recent actions of the Ministry of Justice (financial blocking by calling for a boycott by financial institutions) and the underlying policy are unlawful. Betfair may then continue the proceedings with a claim for damages. In addition, as European law is relevant to this case, Betfair has also made an official complaint to the European Commission, which may lead to separate infringement proceedings against the Netherlands. Betfair also urged the Commission to go ahead with its current infringement proceedings against the Netherlands relating to the sportsbetting monopoly.
investigation into the regulation of online gaming and its possible licensing procedure is announced. The outcome of this investigation may lead to licensing opportunities for the industry. The Complaint If the European Commission acts upon this complaint, it is possible that the complaint will boost the infringement procedure against the Netherlands, which will – according to EC spokesman Oliver Drewes – also include the payment blocking. It is generally expected that the current Commission will not action the infringement proceedings. It will depend on the next Commission – especially on the Commissioner for the internal market – whether or not the Netherlands will be dragged before the ECJ. l
What’s in the Crystal Ball? Betfair is betting on two horses: the law suit against the State and the complaint with the European Commission. It will be an interesting race that may end with one or both of these horses ending up in the highest European Courtroom in Luxembourg. The Lawsuit It will be hard for the civil courts to ignore the Dutch referrals that are currently pending before the ECJ. If the judges are unsure on the effects of European law on the payment blocking, this may lead to a third set of preliminary questions that specifically target the lawfulness of the payment blocking. If the payment blocking is considered unlawful by a civil court, this will strike at the roots of the gaming policy. This may lead the Ministry to go for an ‘all or nothing’ strategy, which will encompass criminal prosecution. Another option might be an increase of the Ministry’s current efforts to create legal online gaming opportunities: an
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SEO Software – WEB CEO
The varying degree of SEO tools available to webmasters today can get a little mystifying, yet having the right software is always a recommended starting point in the pursuit of mastering the difficult art of SEO. Dan Wellman explores SEO software from Web CEO. Successful SEO is a demanding practice, with the best rankings coming at the price of thorough research, critical analysis and plain hard work. SEO can be a full-time job, so if you already have one of those in the form of managing your company, it can be difficult to consistently do all that is required to make your online business succeed. This is where SEO software can come into play; there is no magic bullet solution that can instantly do this job for you, but anything that can reduce the amount of work that needs to be done can only be a good thing – provided it actually works.
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Web CEO is a complete suite of tools that helps you centrally manage all of your SEO activities, reducing the amount of time that you need to invest in your SEO strategy. You still need to work of course, but you work with the software, which automates many of the common, time-consuming activities that must be carried out. Features Web CEO comes in several different packages, and one of the things that separates it from the multitude of SEO software that’s available is the
fact that it offers a comprehensive, fully featured free version. It isn’t a time-limited trial and its functionality isn’t severely reduced as you can see from the following list of tools that are packed into the free version: l An extensive keyword tool for researching keywords in order to explore a niche, get keyword suggestions and view competitor’s keywords. You can enter a keyword and instantly see which pages rank the best and what their Google PageRank scores are. l An optimisation suite for single pages or
entire sites which provides detailed analysis of its SEO effectiveness and advises on how to optimise the page/site. It can also look at things like keyword density, stop words and a comprehensive search engine visibility report. l A fully featured code editor that helps you to implement the improvements that it suggests and manage the pages of your site effectively. An FTP application for uploading edited pages is also included. l Tools to help you automatically or manually submit sites to search engines, and to view and manage the results of these submissions. l A link trading system that helps you to locate potential link trading partners and manage your relationships with them. l A PPC tool that assists you in setting up new PPC accounts and centrally monitor and access them. l A set of ranking tools that allow you to check your own and your competitors’ ranking, the pages that appear in a search engine’s indices, and how well you or your competitors are performing. l A link tool that checks to see how many sites are linking to yours and your competitors. l A comprehensive auditing tool that checks your entire site for errors and broken links and can even tell you which pages may load slowly. The software is intuitive to use but if you do get stuck, each pane in the application features a ‘teach me’ button that downloads a video tutorial to assist you. In total, there are twelve different components to the application and although you need a paid version or subscription to access all of them, you can still get up to ten components completely free. The start screen is organised into different categories of tools, making it very easy to access each function and begin working with a minimum of fuss. Each tool features a series of tabs which guide you through the process of using the tool; you’ll start off on the first tab, enter the required information and then move on to the next tab to use the information you selected. It’s simple and very quick to progress through the application and complete the tasks that need to be done to improve your SEO strategy. Prices As well as the free version, several other packages are also available; the SmallBiz and Professional editions. SmallBiz costs £132 ($199) and is aimed at small business owners doing in-house SEO, while Professional, aimed at the serious fulltime consultant, will set you back £258 ($389). Compared to the free version, these two provide additional tools such as in-depth keyword analysis of your competitors and advanced site monitoring services. Each of the SmallBiz and Professional versions also come in an ‘unleashed’ version which costs slightly more but also includes the professional certification that the company offers. These versions cost £222 ($339) and £315 ($479)
respectively, although there are often offers and special discounts for registered users of the free version of the software. Certification In addition to the feature packed application, Web CEO also provides a training service offering two levels of certification; Competent Internet Marketer (CIM), and Professional Internet Marketer (PIM). The first level is free at the moment, although it does cost £64 ($97) when it’s not on offer. The second level costs £194 ($295), but is available free of charge when either of the ‘unleashed’ software packages are purchased. To attain certification you can follow an online course that covers every important aspect of SEO. Even the free course contains a wealth of information and like the software itself, the free
that compiles comprehensive statistics and information about the visitors to your site and what they do once they arrive. It can tell you where visitors came from, how long they spend on the site and whether or not they make a purchase. It can provide extremely insightful information for your PPC campaigns as well, giving you crossreferenced reports that can not only tell you the most popular keywords used to find your site, but also the most popular keywords that resulted in a sale. The Hitlens service also comes in several different versions; a power plan and an ecommerce plan. The basic package gives you the real-time tracking and reporting service, but if you require the additional feature of tracking purchases, then you will need the more advanced ecommerce plan.
“There is no magic bullet solution that can manage your SEO operations for you, but anything that can reduce the amount of work that needs to be done can only be a good thing.” version gives you practically everything you need, with the paid version simply adding a finer degree of detail and understanding. The courses are split into logical sections which are primarily article based but also feature instructional videos to balance the learning. At the end of each section comes a test where you can put the knowledge that you’ve gained into practice before moving on to the next section. This is a great way of filling in any gaps in your existing SEO knowledge, or even giving you a solid foundation if you’re new to the field. By working through the courses as you familiarise yourself with the application, you can gain experience and confidence to make SEO work for you. You can work through the online courses at your own pace; there are no time limits or prerequisite requirements and no pressure. Additional Extras Several additional, subscription-based services are offered by the company, these include the Hitlens statistics service and a knowledge base subscription which provides frequent updates to the software to keep up with changes in search engine ranking algorithms. Hitlens is a real-time visitor tracking system
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.
Because this package will be tailored to your individual requirements, a fixed price for either service is not provided; instead, Web CEO will charge you between £65 ($100) and £118 ($180) for the power plan, or between £158 ($240) and £198 ($300) for the ecommerce plan. The actual amount will depend on various factors such as the CMS that is used to host your site and what other server technology is in use. Web CEO provides many other related services on its website including an extensive questions and answers section, a facility to request live help or email support including full technical support for the application. Once registered, you’re also automatically assigned a support angel that can provide you with assistance, answer your queries or even give advice. One more thing that users of the software can benefit from is the bi-weekly newsletter; each one gives you an in-depth article focusing on a specific SEO related topic, keeping you up to date with the latest SEO news, tips and tricks to build on and reinforce your existing SEO knowledge. It’s a great way of keeping yourself up to date and in the game. Summary There are many, many SEO applications available, ranging in price from just a few pounds, right up to the same kind of level as Web CEO. Some offer similar functionality, others provide perhaps a slightly more specialised functionality for a particular SEO function, but no one offers as many tools in the same place. Additionally, Web CEO supplemental support updates and certification service get the most out of the application you’ve invested in. l
June/July 2009 l iGB Affiliate l 57
To Tweet or not to Tweet …is that the question? Dominique, Founder, GamesandCasino.com finds out. So what’s all the talk about twitter? Are there just a bunch of twits tweeting about nonissues like which cereal they had for breakfast or that they stubbed their toe? Well, yes, there is that. There are also a lot of celebrities tweeting, and hundreds of thousands of people following them. Last count, twitter was visited by 14 million Americans. There are 6 million registered twitter users. This is expected to double by the end of the year. These are not all American by a long shot; one survey captured: Country USA: Japan: Spain: UK: Brazil: Canada: France: Germany: Italy: Netherlands: Taiwan:
Users 363,153 354,074 99,867 90,788 63,551 63,551 54,473 54,473 45,394 45,394 36,315
Nielsen Online reported that twitter has now surpassed Facebook and others to become the fastest-growing site in the “Member Communities” category for the month of February. Although Facebook is still the world’s most popular social network, twitter by far outdoes it in growth. Nielsen also said that the largest age group on twitter is adults between the ages of 35 and 49. This group comprises nearly 42 percent of the site’s audience at three million unique visitors. Business Sense How can you use twitter for business? Well, if you tweet about the things you have to offer, and you locate people that want to follow your tweets, you can create quite a large audience – for free. One thing a lot of people do initially is to follow as many people as they can, hoping they will follow them back. However, twitter stops you when you reach either 1,500 or 2,000 people that you are following. Reports on this vary; I followed 2,001 before I hit the wall. So now you have to go back and delete all the ones who didn’t follow you in return, and so on and so forth. Once you have 2,000 people following you, twitter allows you to follow another 200. Some people tweet about services that add followers to your account, but really, if they are never going to look at your tweets, what good are they to you? 58 l iGB Affiliate l June/July 2009
Features Twitter doesn’t really have too many features. There are a few backgrounds for your page and one image upload. What is new is a list of “trendy topics”, things that are most mentioned on any given day. Also new is a search function – search the topic that interests you and find people talking about it in real time. You can direct message people who are following you, or you can direct public statements at both your followers and the people you follow. If people don’t like your tweets, they can block you. So twitter functions are rudimentary, hence the sprouting of a ton of supporting services: l Of course, TinyURL is an important tool; twitter allows only 140 characters per tweet. l Twitterfeed is also an important tool if you want to use twitter for business – it allows you to feed your blog into twitter. l Tweetdeck is a more comprehensive tool; you can manage your twitter account, as well as Facebook, right on your desktop. l Tweetlater lets you pre-write your tweets and sends them out at your chosen time intervals. l Twitter Karma lets you manage your followers in bulk. You can bulk follow, unfollow or block. Sounds convenient but there is an issue – the twitter api sometimes encounters ‘problems’, and you may end up deleting all your real followers, so caution there! l Twitteranalyser is sort of a Google Analytics for twitter. It will show you what was retweeted, the audience you reached and many other things. l Twellow is a Yellow pages site for twitter users. l Twitbacks lets you generate and upload a background for your twitter page quickly. It has some issues defining the space... There are dozens of other sites that supplement twitter in one way or another. They make it possible to use twitter for business by making things a little easier. Still, managing a twitter account well is time consuming. You can also use twitter to follow people that tweet about items of interest to you, such as Matt Cutts and many others. There is lots of info on twitter that you won’t find elsewhere. Twitter Issues There are all kinds of issues at twitter, too. Twitter will close your account if it sees the following: l User name squatting. l An account containing links pointing to phishing sites, malware, or other harmful material. l An account identified as belonging to a group of spam accounts. l A large number of people blocking the profile in question.
l A large number of people writing in with spam
complaints for a specific profile. l Aggressive following (a large number of people
are followed in a short amount of time). l Extremely imbalanced follower/following ratio. l Updates consisting of duplicate or repeating
links and/or text. l Updates consisting mainly of links and not
personal updates. l Links in updates disguise the real content of a
link given in a misleading or deceptive way. l Unauthorized “re-tweets” (poaching and posting
other users’ updates) passed off as original content. There are also trademark and copyright infringements, and some ‘nasties’ like extorting money for a name registered on twitter (twitter says accounts cannot be sold). Anyone can open a twitter account under your business name and wait for people to follow you, without actively pursuing followers. Now they have a lot of people who are super targeted since they signed up for your business tweets. The imposter can now directly mail them spam. So, whether you are going to tweet or not, do get a free account at twitter for your domain.
Appendix: Twitter has developed its own language. Here are some examples: Twexting the act of tweeting via text messaging. Tweskank someone who twitters while on a date. Twidium watching a game and twitting each play. Twaffic Twitter traffic. Twaggle a gaggle of followers. Twaigslist To sell something via twitter. Also Twebay. Twaiting Twittering while waiting Twardware Twitter hardware. Twashdot News for twitterers. Stuff that doesnâ€™t matter. Twaunt To taunt someone over twitter. Twead To read a twitter. Tweekend Spending your entire Saturday and Sunday reading and posting via Twitter. Tweepish Feeling sheepish or regretful about something you tweeted. Tweeple Twitter people, Twitter members, Twitter users Tweeps Tweeple peeps / people (on Twitter) Tweetaholism The continued use of Twitter as an addiction that is difficult to control Tweetard A twitter retard. Tweet-back Bringing a previous tweet conversation or reference back into the current conversation, re-broadcasting someone elseâ€™s tweet.
GAMES AND CASINO Page after Page after Page Casino, Poker, Bingo and Skill Games We review every software, every property, every game With 8000 pages of content we are every online gambler's resource Are you listed yet?
June/July 2009 l iGB Affiliate l 59
Mobile Gaming Opportunities for Affiliates Nicky Senyard, CEO of Income Access, looks into affiliate prospects within mobile gaming. There is considerable opportunity for affiliates who start investing in mobile gaming. In the last year alone, mobile browsers have seen a usage increase of over 150 percent, and a rise of over 300 percent in data traffic. These figures suggest that it might be worth it for iGaming affiliates to invest 10 percent of their time in becoming familiar with the space, its players and promotional opportunities and strategies to engage them. To effectively target mobile players, affiliates must understand their habits, the products that are most compatible with a mobile experience and what incentives to offer these players. With these considerations in mind, affiliates can secure a share in a growing market by successfully recruiting mobile players, and referring them to operators who will maintain their interests and retain their accounts. The Potential of Mobile Players The portability of mobile devices allows players
60 â—? iGB Affiliate â—? June/July 2009
to increase the time they spend playing online. For affiliates, this means greater revenue share potential. As the mobile web proliferates, players will play with mobile games while doing other things, such as watching TV, commuting on public transit or waiting for friends. As a recent study from Motricity found, people tend to fit the mobile web in and around the other activities in their lives, such as when alone (49%), waiting in line (queuing) (46%), and taking a break from other activities (43%). The most popular use of the mobile web is overwhelmingly for entertainment purposes, with games as the top source of mobile web entertainment. That same study from Motricity found that 44 percent of mobile web users used their devices to download and/or play games. As technology continues to progress and bandwidth becomes more affordable, reliable and available, all users are increasingly seeing their mobile as an entertainment device. They
are downloading more and more content on the go, and are more likely to play more often and in more places. So the advantage of referring players to mobile games is that it allows affiliates to earn revenue off a player even when that player is not in front of their PC. Targeting Mobile Players There are three things that affiliates who are considering promoting mobile gaming products should know about the average mobile player. First, affiliates should understand how mobile players play mobile games. Second, affiliates should focus on the types of games that are most popular among mobile players. Finally, affiliates should look to partner with operators whose mobile offerings are most compatible with mobile playersâ€™ habits - and begin building their player database around such offerings. Mobile Playing Habits A recent Juniper Research study commissioned
by Nokia found the average length of a mobile play session was 28 minutes; hardly a sufficient session for more serious, high-roller types who play mostly for profit. As most mobile players fit their sessions around other daily activities, affiliates should focus more on the “fun gambler” who plays regularly but without the need for significant bonus incentives. After all, the players who are most likely to play mobile games and convert are those who are looking to kill time. Popular Mobile Products Due to the type of players currently playing mobile games, affiliates should focus on promoting mobile games that appeal to players who play regularly, and more for fun than for profit. There are three sets of games that appeal to this demographic of users: bingo, casual casino games and sportsbook. This is why mobile gaming operator Ladyslucks. co.uk focuses on offering bingo, slots and casino games. Even its poker products have been designed for quicker play-sessions, with more of an emphasis on entertainment and fun. The nature of the online bingo market makes it an opportune niche for mobile affiliates. First, the length of a bingo session is optimal for online bingo, about five minutes. Secondly, bingo rooms have much more of a community feel than other gaming verticals. Third, the game itself is a lot closer to lottery-based games, so players feel more like they are participating in something together rather than against one another. Mobile bingo products allow these sociable, fun-seeking players to dip in and out of the bingo hall at different times of the day. Generally, this will mean they will play more frequently because they’ll be able to get a refreshing, social experience any time they’re away from their PC. Other casual casino games, such as blackjack and roulette, are also well-suited for mobile player habits. As each session is quick and non-committal, these kinds of games are ideal for fitting into other daytime activities, such as waiting in line or a daily commute. Mobile sportsbooks are an opportune niche because of the nature of the market. Mobile sportsbooks allow sports betters to make and adjust wagers as sports events unfold. This demographic fits the pattern of “playing regularly” and fitting their play time around “other activities in their lives” because these players tend to play when sports events are scheduled – they won’t necessarily be in front of their PC when they’re watching the game. Choosing What Brands to Promote When it comes to actually targeting mobile players, affiliates should also look to partner with operators whose products are optimized for the mobile space. So before deciding whether to promote an operator, affiliates should consider (1) how often new games are offered, (2) whether their offerings are competitive with the normal web, and (3) the registration and payment options offered to players. To successfully engage mobile players, operators need to maintain a continual flow
of new games. Players can only store a limited number of applications on their phone at a time, so old games tend to be deleted very quickly if the player gets bored. Affiliates should then look to partner with operators who update their mobile offerings regularly. This will help ensure that the players they refer maintain an active account with the operator, and continue to generate revenue for both the operators and its affiliates. Affiliates should also consider how competitive the mobile offering is with its regular web counterparts. This will help increase both conversions and stickiness. Such offerings will include free plays so that players can try the product, and jackpots and bonuses. Although mobile players are more interested in casual fun than incentives, they are still interested in a return on their wagers. So promoting mobile products that are competitive will help increase conversions. Ladyslucks.co.uk, for example, offers both free games and first deposit matches. Free games help players get accustomed to the mobile experience and build up confidence, and deposit matches are a great incentive to start betting. Finally, affiliates should consider the userexperience that an operator offers mobile players, from registration through to payment options. While a poor registration process will hinder conversions, inconvenient payment options will hurt the value of each referral. Ideally, affiliates should seek out operators who provide players an option to be billed directly to their phone bill, through a pre-funded account, via credit card, or through a mobile shopping cart. For instance, to support its players, Ladyslucks. co.uk offers a variety of payment options. First, it is partnered with several service providers so that players can be billed directly on their phone bill. Players at Ladyslucks.co.uk can also choose to pay via credit card, or through prepaid options such as Ukash. Each of these methods has its advantages, and when you are able to identify your player preferences, they are more likely to convert.
games that provide a break from other daily activities, affiliates should also look to partner with operators who keep players stimulated by regularly updating their mobile offerings. Although the mobile web is part of the natural evolution of online technologies, it is only part of the larger online picture. While the mobile web will prove ideal for certain activities, for other activities, users will still enjoy a better experience through other online technologies. So it’s important that affiliates interested in the mobile gaming space understand what products are most suitable for the mobile web and, therefore, most opportune to promote. ●
Mobile Revenue The mobile market is still new, and the nature of consumer interest is still unclear. What is certain about mobile gaming is that it will continue to grow. The mobile web promised to be part of the natural evolution of ecommerce, so affiliates should keep their eye on this vertical and make an effort to become familiar with it. Mobile gaming represents an opportunity because it allows players to find entertainment wherever they are. To that extent, affiliates should consider promoting products that players can use in their free time, between other activities. And insofar as mobile players tend to look for
Nicky Senyard is the CEO of Income Access, overseeing their independent iGaming affiliate network, market-leading affiliate software, and expert affiliate management services.
June/July 2009 ● iGB Affiliate ● 61
AFFILIATE PROGRAM CERTIFICATION WITHOUT SUBSTANCE HAS LITTLE VALUE By Andrew Beveridge, CEO, eCOGRA. The start of 2009 has witnessed a revitalised interest in certification, which would appear to have stemmed from the surprising revelations in the affiliate and player sectors of the industry that suggested that some ‘certifications’ were, in reality, not audited by independent professionals and were, therefore, of unquantifiable value. This has meant that the spotlight is now focused on the importance of genuine program certification and the real benefits that can flow from an independent third-party approach to this important business and marketing element. This comes at a propitious time for eCOGRA. The organisation recently completed work on a meaningful affiliate certification initiative following a year of expert international consultation with both business and academia. The project has already seen the establishment of best practice standards, and the in-depth assessment and audit of four major affiliate programs leading to the award of eCOGRA’s new Affiliate Trust Seal. At the heart of certification lies the principle that any system set up to award certificates must have substance, and should preferably be through an independent third-party. As seen in other business sectors; handing over large sums of money or advertising fees on a regular basis in return for an endorsement that is not achieved via a thorough professional inspection to defined standards, does not amount to a certification of any real value. The public is increasingly aware of this, in the wake of attempts in other industries to pass off 62 ● iGB Affiliate ● June/July 2009
mere marketing ‘gimmick’ seals or kitemarks as legitimate indicators of superior performance, safety and efficiency. In eCOGRA’s independent Affiliate Trust Seal service, the inspections and reviews are in-depth and carried out on-site by appropriately qualified business professionals, armed with a set of requirements and standards that necessitate a full assessment of the program and all of its systems. Several program operators have been
To display the new seal, affiliate programs must demonstrate that their program establishes, enforces and monitors best practice standards. Specifically, they must show that they calculate affiliate revenue accurately and make payments promptly, and that they have controls in place to accurately link players to affiliates. eCOGRA provides a structured and formal approach to certification and ensures adherence to consistent standards through regular
“As the industry continues to mature and becomes ever more professional, the need for genuine certification becomes ever more important.” complimentary regarding the improvements to business efficiency which can flow from the advice given by the eCOGRA compliance teams, who have extensive experience in the discipline and must submit a full report to eCOGRA’s independent directors before they approve the award of any certificate. Like eCOGRA’s accreditation process for gambling site operators, the Affiliate Trust service introduces detailed best business practice standards for affiliate program companies, backed by a strict inspection and monitoring regime and the display of the new eCOGRA Affiliate Trust Seal.
monitoring and full annual reviews – again carried out by inspection and auditing compliance teams. The eCOGRA Affiliate Trust is about physically visiting the management and operations of affiliate programs and gaining direct access to systems to check relevant player and affiliate data to ensure that affiliate members are being treated fairly. As the industry continues to mature and becomes ever more professional, and the growing number of affiliate programs interested in this very real business enhancement underlines its value. ●
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