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dec/jan 2010/11

Social Networker: an interview with Michael Birch, Founder, Bebo The Affiliate and Webmaster Marketing Guide The Great SEO Question: In-House Vs Agency dec/jan 2010/11

Tough Times Ahead for Affiliates? A Legal Exploration

The Wild, Wild East The risk and reward of iGaming in Asia

INFORMATION, INSIGHT AND ANALYSIS FOR THE BUSINESS OF INTERACTIVE GAMING


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Come and visit us on stand 5660 at ICE 2011. 25th-27th January – Earls Court, London. www.microgaming.com

CASINO | POKER | BINGO | NETWORK GAMING | MOBILE


CONTENTS 06 Affiliate Events Calendar 08 Webmaster News 12 The Wild, Wild East: Risk and Reward for iGaming in Asia 15 The Big SEO Question: In-House Vs Agency 18 Using Internal Linking Strategies 21 Could Search History Repeat Itself? 22 SEO for the Spanish Market 24 Link Pyramids 27 Google Insights: ‘Suggest’ and ‘Previews’ 28 Interview: Michael Birch, Founder, Bebo It’s December, and I am gearing up for the holidays and a chance to recharge my batteries. In the past eight weeks, I was at the Budapest, Monaco and Copenhagen iGaming conferences, and then popped over to Las Vegas for G2E. Following all that, I skipped up to Stockholm for the affiliate conference before finally settling into my desk to get back to some serious business. During this conference season, I had the chance to talk to many of iGB Affiliate’s readers and find out their concerns for the future, and what they are planning in 2011. Almost universally, everyone is excited about the US market opening up, and especially about the huge progress being made in New Jersey. However, the looming question has been ‘what will happen to affiliates when the US regulates iGaming?’ This issue is addressed to some degree in this edition, but the reality is that it’s anyone’s guess. However, the smart money says that every major online industry relies on affiliates, and a regulated US iGaming market shouldn’t prove any different. The fact is, those that use affiliate marketing to grow their businesses succeed and outperform companies that don’t – so don’t lose any sleep over being an iGaming affiliate in a changing world. What you do need to worry about as an affiliate is staying on the cutting edge. I hope this issue will help you do just that. This month we discuss recent Google changes, internal site linking tips, SEO in the Spanish market and much, much more. Finally, this issue is published for December/January – which means it’s time for me to invite you all to our annual Fire&Ice party on January 26. If you’re in town, you simply have to come! www.FireAndIceParty.com. Michael Caselli, Editor in Chief

http://tinyurl.com/igbaffiliate @igbaffiliate

31 Casino Supplement 43 Tough Times Ahead for Affiliates? A Legal Exploration 46 What Happens When the US Opens its Doors to Gaming? 47 A New Hope in New Jersey? 49 Affiliate Marketing and Web 2.0 50 The Four Pillars of Online Trust 52 Binary Betting 55 Fluid Mechanics: Rain, Kettles and Conversions 56 The Rise of Mobile Gaming PPC 59 The Net Neutrality Debate 60 The Role of Trust, Personalisation and Context 62 Does Social Media Work for Online Gaming? 64 Search Marketing Report from Greenlight 68 Improving your Conversions 70 The Affiliate and Webmaster Marketing Guide 73 The K.I.S.S. Principle 77 Word-of-Mouth Marketing 80 Powering your Affiliate Business for the Next Decade 82 Behind the Scenes at Streak Gaming 84 Market Place 86 Consistent Mobile Web Performance in the Smartphone Age

Editor in Chief: Michael Caselli

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Published by: iGaming Business,

Printed in the UK by: Pensord Press, www.pensord.co.uk

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published by iGaming Business Limited of 33-41Dallington Street, correspondents are their own. Editorial opinions expressed in this The Publisher does not accept responsibility for advertising content. Cover image: istockphoto.com ISSN: 2041-6954

iGB Affiliate DECEMBER/JANUARY 2010/11

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

Fire and Ice Gilgamesh, Camden, London January 26, 2011

ICE Totally Gaming Earl’s Court, London January 25 – 27, 2011

Summary: The largest annual industry party thrown by Lyceum Media is now in its tenth year. This year’s theme is: unmask your imagination. Gilgamesh, Chalk Farm, Stables Market, Camden Town, London, NW1 8AH. www.fireandiceparty.com

Summary: The ICE conference and expo brings together both the online and terrestrial gaming worlds for the calendar’s biggest and best attended trade show. The 2010 event saw just over 18,500 attendees and the 2011 show is forecasted to further build on its previous successes.

London Affiliate Conference (LAC) Old Billingsgate, London January 28 – 31, 2011 Summary: An event that needs no introduction due to the huge success of previous years, the LAC has been the flagship event on the affiliate conference circuit since its inception in 2007 (then as CAP Euro). An all-encompassing expo and conference delving into the very latest issues affecting all aspects of the iGaming and affiliate market sectors, LAC 2010 promises to be the best attended and best prepared event to date. www.LondonAffiliateConference.com

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iGB Affiliate december/january 2010/11

iGB Affiliate Awards The Brewery, London January 27, 2011 Summary: Every year over 500 people from the iGaming affiliate community gather to honour ongoing success stories within the industry at the iGB Affiliate Awards, which announces the best and brightest stars at an extravagant black tie event. www.iGBAffiliateAwards.com

iGaming France courtyard mariott neuily hotel, paris March 17 – 19, 2011 Summary: The iGB Affiliate events team will be working in partnership with iGamingFrance.com to host the first event designed specifically for the French market since it regulated online gambling in 2010. This event will look at and offer insight into the key factors for success in this marketplace and provide the best networking opportunities for executives working in or thinking of entering the French gaming sector.


WEBMASTER NEWS

SPORTSBETTING ON THE CARDS IN NEW JERSEY AMID CLAIMS THAT it is losing out on hundreds of millions of dollars a year to casinos in other jurisdictions, New York's neighbouring state of New Jersey could soon become the next in line to allow sportsbetting. Currently, it is only legal to place a wager on a sporting event in Nevada and Delaware; but legislation proposed by New Jersey State Senator, Raymond Lesniak, would, if successful, change the state’s Constitution to permit sportsbetting at its casinos and horseracing tracks. The proposed legislation, known as SCR132, passed its first hurdle after getting through the state’s Senate Economic

Growth Committee by a vote of six to one. The changes will now go before both legislative houses and could, if approved, be up before voters as early as next November. “SCR132 will amend the Constitution of the State of New Jersey, if approved by the voters, to authorise the legislature to enact laws allowing sportsbetting at Atlantic City’s casinos and current and former horserace tracks,” said Lesniak, a Democrat that represents the state’s 20th legislative district. “Betting on out-of-state amateur games involving any New Jersey teams or on any amateur games played in the state will not be allowed. I have filed a lawsuit in

Federal District Court to overturn the ban on sportsbetting, which gives an unfair and unconstitutional advantage to Nevada and Delaware at the expense of New Jersey and other states. Constitutional law authorities at George Washington, Vanderbilt, Willamette and Whittier Law Schools agree that the Federal law, the Professional And Amateur Sports Protection Act, violates the Fifth, Tenth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution and its Commerce Clause. Even the United States Justice Department in a letter to then-Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Joseph Biden, questioned its Constitutional validity.”

IGT LAUNCHES NEW INTERACTIVE DIVISION INTERNATIONAL GAME TECHNOLOGY (IGT) has announced the creation of a single interactive division dedicated to building upon its strengths in the online and mobile gaming markets. The Reno-based firm revealed that the formation will see its WagerWorks and Million-2-1 subsidiaries consumed back into a single global division headquartered in San Francisco, California, and led by Gideon Bierer, Executive Vice-President for IGT. IGT stated that its new merged subsidiary will serve customers around the world from offices in eight locations across

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iGB Affiliate DECEMBER/JANUARY 2010/11

North America, Europe and Asia. “Merging our online and mobile business units under the IGT brand will solidify our position as a leader in interactive gaming,” said Bierer. “In the last five years in the UK alone, we have handled more than $10 billion in online wagers and are currently processing more than 1.5 billion online transactions each year. As technology advances and markets evolve, we look forward to accelerating our product innovation and significantly growing our interactive business. We already work with the largest online operators in many European countries and look forward to doing the

same in new territories.” WagerWorks has been active in the interactive market for ten years and is “widely recognised as the premier provider of regulatory-compliant casino games content” including an array of over 100 titles and its wide area progressive MegaJackpots series. For its part, IGT revealed that Million-2-1 has an eight-year pedigree in the mobile gaming sector and features a “unique and broad product portfolio including mobile slot, table and SMS games, mobile marketing and platform and lottery products across all major mobile technologies.”


Sportingbet in Russian Joint Venture Sportingbet has announced the signing of an agreement that will see it launch an online sportsbetting joint venture for the Russian market in partnership with First International Bookmakers Company. Russia’s second largest bookmaking firm, First International Bookmakers Company operates 256 licensed betting outlets in 67 cities across the nation under the Liga Stavok brand. Sportingbet stated that the five-year deal will see it serve as the sole provider of online services to a new Russian Internet sportsbook branded under the name, ‘Liga Stavok Powered by Sportingbet’. “Liga Stavok has unparalleled access to the Russian sportsbetting market as a result of its exclusive betting partnerships with the Russian Football Premier League,” read a statement from Sportingbet. “As one of only 18 license holders, Liga Stavok is one of the country’s most recognised betting brands. The fast growing Russian sportsbetting industry has an estimated turnover of $1.8 billion a year.” “I am delighted that Liga Stavok has chosen to partner with Sportingbet,” added

Andrew McIver, Chief Executive Officer for Sportingbet. “This partnership is a perfect fit with Sportingbet’s strategy to build geographical diversity through new markets while working with the highest quality partners where appropriate.” Meanwhile, Sportingbet has moved to head off speculation of a merger with Swedish gaming rival, Unibet, after announcing that preliminary talks have ended without a deal in place. Reuters was the first to report in mid-November that Sportingbet was in discussions with Unibet about the possibility of combining their businesses and stated that there were still “lots of hoops to go through” with any announcement on a deal not likely “until well into next year”. However, the news service later reported that Sportingbet had announced that Unibet had pulled out of negotiations while it remained in talks ‘with several other parties over potential deals’. “Unibet informed the company today that it has withdrawn from those talks,” read a statement from Sportingbet.

Playtech Receives AIM Honour As we enter awards season in the iGaming industry, Playtech has announced that it took home the International Company of the Year prize at the recent 2010 AIM Awards. This year’s AIM Awards took place on October 15 at London’s Old Billingsgate Market and saw Playtech beat fellow nominees African Minerals Limited, Hutchison China Meditech Limited and Petra Diamonds Limited to win the coveted prize. “We are delighted to have been recognised with this prestigious award,” said Mor

Weizer, Chief Executive Officer for Playtech. “It is a testament to the exceptional level of work by Playtech’s employees and partners that we have received such an important accolade and continue to be a market leader in the gaming industry.” A selection committee made up of noted entrepreneurs including David Snell from PwC and Zeus Capital’s Ross Andrews based their decision, in part, on nominees’ business performance from August of 2009 through to the end of July 2001, which was a period that saw Playtech’s market capitalisation grow to in excess of £1 billion.

Google Faces EU Probe The European Commission has launched an investigation into Google after rival search engines made complaints that the firm had abused its dominant position by penalising them in its SERPs. According to widespread reports, the probe follows complaints by firms including price comparison site Foundem and legal search engine ejustice.fr. However, the investigation does not imply any wrongdoing on Google’s part, and the search giant confirmed that it would work with the

Commission to “address any concerns”. The European Commission released a statement confirming that it had “decided to open an antitrust investigation into allegations that Google has abused a dominant position in online search,” over complaints by rival search providers about “unfavourable treatment of their services in Google’s unpaid and sponsored search results coupled with an alleged preferential placement of Google’s own services.” The case continues…

ChiliGaming to Launch US Poker Subscription Service Online gambling operator, ChiliGaming, has announced plans to launch a subscription online poker operation in the United States in 2011 that will complement its existing businesses while helping to drive expansion into new markets. ChiliGaming was founded in 2006 and operates the popular ChiliPoker. com, ChiliCasino.com and ChiliBet. com domains and stated that the move is part of its “push towards establishing media, telecommunications and casino partnerships in regulated and new markets that will encompass both traditional online gaming and more casual gaming models”. “ChiliGaming does not take and has never taken US bets and this latest move is expected to position the company well in the event of a regulated US online poker market,” read a statement from ChiliGaming. “ChiliPoker.fr was among the first wave of license-holders when the French online poker market was regulated in June of 2010 and has scheduled its first post-regulation land-based casino event in Paris next month.” ChiliGaming estimates that less than 15 percent of the United States’ 60 million poker players have ever competed online and stated that subscription services such as it is planning are legal in a majority of states. “We are very excited about this new dimension to our business,” said Alexandre Dreyfus, ChiliGaming CEO. “Our economies of scale will help this to be a strong mechanism for further growth and it will help fill the void that exists in markets where online gaming is restricted and consumers want to play poker. In markets where we operate online gaming, this new product will provide consumers with more choice.”

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webmaster news

Tipp24 Victorious in Germany Hamburg-based online gaming operator Tipp24 AG was celebrating in November after a Halle administrative court found in its favour in declaring the central restrictions of the German State Treaty on Games of Chance to be inapplicable. The German firm stated that according to the court, it required no special permission to broker lotteries, in particular the Lotto 6 Aus 49, over the Internet while finding the German State Treaty on Games of Chance to be inapplicable ‘due to a lack of coherence and consistency’. “This is a very positive decision for Tipp24,” said Hans Cornehl, Chief Executive Officer for Tipp24. “The court not only fully upheld our suit, it also shares our repeatedly expressed view that lottery addiction simply does not exist. With this initial essential decision by a German court, after the most recent decisions of the European Court of Justice on the German gaming laws, we see ourselves confirmed in our plan to resume business in Germany as soon as possible.” Tipp24 stated that it had originally sued in order to “establish freedom from procuring permission for the online brokerage of lotteries in the German state of Saxony-Anhalt”. It revealed that the administrative court in Halle, in passing its decision, followed the guidelines of the European Court of Justice and “referred in its arguments to the inconsistent regulation of the various gaming sectors”.

GTECH Signs Ten-Year China Deal Italian lottery and gaming giant Gruppo Lottomatica SpA has announced that its GTECH Global Services Corporation Limited has signed a ten-year contract that will see it upgrade the existing keno system of a leading Chinese operator. The deal with Shenzhen Welfare Lottery Center will also see GTECH Global Services begin selling online lottery games beginning in May 2011 while increasing the operator’s terminal base and providing it with ongoing software, operations and marketing services. “We are pleased to have this opportunity to increase the range of lottery solutions and services we provide to Shenzhen Welfare Lottery Center,” said Jaymin Patel, President and Chief Executive Officer for GTECH Global Services. “This deeper relationship in Shenzhen

Bwin and PartyGaming Merger 'On Track' Bwin Interactive Entertainment AG and PartyGaming have released a joint statement regarding their ongoing merger and have confirmed that the process is ‘on track’. The two firms announced at the end of July that they would be merging to create the world’s largest listed online gambling company and realise annualised synergies of around 55 million. However, they stated late last week that they had ‘become aware of some speculation in the market’ regarding the slow speed of the merger and revealed that

iGB Affiliate december/january 2010/11

they expect the process to be completed by the first quarter of 2011. The proposed agreement would see the assets and liabilities of Bwin transferred to PartyGaming to create a European joint stock company incorporated in Gibraltar. Jim Ryan, Chief Executive Officer for PartyGaming, is set to serve alongside Norbert Teufelberger, Co-Chief Executive Officer for Bwin, as Co-Chief Executive Officers for the new business with Bwin shareholders receiving 12.23 new PartyGaming shares for each share that they hold in the Austrian firm.

Bet-At-Home.com Unveils Revenue Increase Bet-At-Home.com has released its financial results for the third quarter of 2010 showing a 57 percent year-on-year increase in gross profits to 16.78 million. A subsidiary of Mangas Gaming Group, Bet-At-Home.com stated that its net profits for the three-month period came in at 7.16 million compared to a deficit of 3.14 million for the third quarter of 2009. For the first three quarters of 2010, Bet-At-Home.com revealed that its gross profits rose 74.3 percent year-on-year to 48.14 million while its net profits climbed to 6.58 million from a deficit of 320,000 for the initial nine months of 2009. Bet-At-Home.com announced that betting and gaming turnover for the third

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is strategically important for GTECH as we look to further expand our footprint in China.” The contract will see GTECH replace Shenzhen Welfare Lottery Center’s current operating system with its own Enterprise Series solution while also replacing and growing the terminal base by providing 1,500 Altura GT1200 units. The Providence-based firm stated that it will also implement its Enterprise Series Connect business-to-business solution, which will enable the central system to interface with third-party vendors. Shenzhen Welfare Lottery Center administers and operates lottery games in the city of Shenzhen, one of China’s richest, and the initial ten-year deal with GTECH Global Services contains a pair of 18-month extensions.

quarter of 2010 increased by almost 58 percent year-on-year to 356.02 million while it currently holds assets of 23.07 million, which is up from the 20.68 million it reported at the end of 2009. “I strongly believe that not only we will sustain our current market position but also continue to grow within the next few years,” read a statement released by Jochen Dickinger, Chief Executive Officer for BetAt-Home.com, on the occasion of the site’s tenth anniversary. “Ever since its foundation in the year 2000, the company has experienced double-digit growth on a yearly basis and we would like to continue this dynamic in the future.”


traffic

Everything is up for grabs in Asia, says online marketing and SEO sage, Bob Rains, but gaming’s next and, arguably, final frontier is laden with risk; the rewards from which will only be on Eastern terms, as Kipling so aptly observes at this article’s end. Just about any evening in Macau, the poker and game tables in the many Vegas-style casinos are packed with people, a massive crowd that makes the current human traffic in Las Vegas look like a church bingo game. A couple of new casino hotel resort properties in Singapore are regularly filled with the locals willing to pay a $100 admission for the privilege of losing their money. While Zenyatta may not be a draw in Hong Kong, for the last six years of Breeders’ Cup races, a simulcast that starts at 3:10 a.m. local time in Hong Kong, produced a total handle of about $38.4 million in HKD, approximately $5 million in USD. On a typical day at Happy Valley or Sha Tin racetracks in Hong Kong, more money is risked on every race than is wagered on an entire Saturday program at Saratoga. A crowd of 100,000 at Tokyo Race Course is business as usual. The reality is that Asian countries love to gamble, and the sleeping giant as we most commonly refer to it is about hear an alarm clock. Exactly what this arousal of a behemoth means to iGaming on a global scale is still very much a mystery, but only the foolhearted among us fails to see the importance.

As with anything, it’s essentially a numbers game The population of Mainland China is about 1.4 billion. This is the world’s largest and most promising untapped market for all forms of gambling, old and new. PricewaterhouseCoopers forecasted that revenue from casinos and other gambling venues in Asia will grow by 14 percent a year by 2010 — making it the fastest-

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“Asia is not going to be civilized after the methods of the West. There is too much Asia and she is too old.” Rudyard Kipling growing gaming market in the world. In a recently released report by leading Asian video game market intelligence firm, Niko Partners, even Southeast Asia is following China’s lead in regards to online gaming growth. As part of a regional market size estimate and forecast of seven individual market reports, Niko predicts that the Southeast Asian market (including the region of Taiwan) will reach $917 million by the end of 2010, and will grow to $1.7 billion by 2014. This figure represents a 14 percent compound annual growth rate over a four-year period. Asian lands spanning from South Korea to Singapore are opening casinos, or considering legal gambling as their envy over the success of nearby Macau grows. The former Portuguese colony, now a province of China, is considered the ‘Las Vegas’ of the Far East. While difficulties in moving money in and out of many Asian gaming destinations and a lack of reliable telecommunications infrastructure and access to the Internet by potential customers have in the past prevented ground breaking brands to develop, things are starting to change. For example, Tianjin is the largest industrial city in Northern China; a port city of 11.2 million people close to Beijing, itself a city of 22 million. As the modern version of urban China, this is the epicentre of a new and growing consumer class, enthusiastic participants in one of history’s great economic expansions. Gambling’s

potential in Mainland China is incalculable. The burgeoning economy is evident in almost every aspect of international commerce and it is a market the surface of which has been no more than scratched. Although several online casinos and gaming operators are already in China, most operators have failed to have real breakthrough success combating the technical manipulation and consistent approach to stay ahead of censors and aggressive in-land affiliates. The level of difficulty faced by Asian gaming marketers is painfully obvious to anyone watching this key developing market. Potential for the growth of this industry in China is enormous if one takes into consideration the direct economic impact that the iGaming industry has had on the national economies of the United States, United Kingdom, and key European markets. Make no mistake about it, these are dangerous waters; the Chinese government – big, influential and already owning a mountain of US debt – will soon be a major shareholder in General Motors. Already underway in the horseracing space in China, an economic force far greater than Japan and with a new need for an acquisition position in the international bloodstock market, will, in time, dwarf the world’s leaders and the inevitable development of a companion breeding industry will impact North America, Europe and Australia – and not in a good way. The


“Make no mistake about it, these are dangerous waters; the Chinese government – big, influential and already owning a mountain of US debt – will soon be a major shareholder in General Motors.” Chinese government has at hand, access to a deep pool of operational expertise in Hong Kong, which is the blueprint for racing management and execution at its highest level.

Lack of traction Why hasn’t the online gaming space blown up in Asia like it has in the rest of the world, especially given the expansions in Macau and Hong Kong? To Quote Tom Hall, chief executive of gaming firm Asian Logic: “The big operators are really good at mainstream marketing and in general, that doesn’t work in Asia. You can’t just come in and spend money and expect that to work. In fact, it’s hard to spend money on mainstream marketing, as poker on television is banned in nearly all Asian countries and print media advertising is also heavily restricted.” On-the-ground marketing efforts have also had very little penetration as Asia is a pre-existing relationship-driven environment, where you need to be super firm and close with your big affiliates, as well as media and land-based gaming operators. Navigating the waters as a fresh fish, where relationships between payment processors and regulators are never clearly defined, is also more challenging in the East. To date, there are only a handful of influencers in the market who have these relationships and forging new friendships is a risky proposition for both parties. Don’t get me wrong, money talks and it speaks both Mandarin and Cantonese, but don’t make the mistake of thinking you can spend your way into the hearts and minds of the Asian population. Even the search landscape is more treacherous than any other market and at the same time, the search engines are more vulnerable to old school SEO tactics than anywhere else in the world. The risk/reward value proposition is totally different in Asia. If you have a great

ranking site, and you’ve used brute force optimisation tactics to get it there in North America, UK and Europe, you risk being banned in Google, and may have to apply for re-inclusion where your website could be out of the SERPs for up to 90 days. In Asia, if the Chinese Regulatory or Censors get wind of something they find offensive you go away for good, and potentially, end up on the keyword-based blacklist. Steven Fisher, deputy secretary of Hong Kong’s Home Affairs Bureau, was quoted saying “while authorities have sought to promote international respect for individual jurisdictions’ gambling laws, they have no ability to go after offshore entities that don’t willingly comply. We cannot entirely stamp out Internet gambling, but we can make it very difficult for them. We ban the use of credit cards for making bets and opening accounts, so anyone must make deposits and withdrawals through very complicated methods, making it very inconvenient and adding to their risk.” Slightly West in the neighbouring Chinese special administrative region of Macau, authorities and gambling operators have a very different response to the new market conditions. The former Portuguese colony has set in stone its reputation as the Las Vegas of the Orient by licensing additional land-based casinos. Among the licensees are partnerships that include companies led by top US gambling executives. In the Macau legal system, gaming law is not considered as a branch of law in the traditional sense. Instead, it’s more of a range of legal topics more or less directly related to gaming, including constitutional law, administrative law, tax law, company law, contract law and criminal law.

So what has worked? In the poker space, Asian Logic and PokerStars have been successful in integrating and supporting the land-based

poker tours like APT, and most of what has been successful in mainstream marketing has some land-based or pro-player connection. From the ‘Poker Pack’ to combining Asianfacing pro poker teams composed of a mix of Asian and Asian Americans, many different advocate tactics can be used. International sport games have become more popular in Asia, and many operators see increased activity when a popular figure is playing. You can bet that if Yao Ming, Chien-Ming Wang, Shunsuke Nakamura, or Park Ji-Sung are playing you will have increased interest from the Asian Markets. The cultural crossover potential on the popularity of Kobe, and the NBA Asian games, as well as Barclays and Premiership support provide tremendous opportunities for books from around the globe. Casino games such as pachinko, mahjong, and pachislo as well as traditional blackjack offer tremendous potential for operators and affiliates wanting to capture some of the action from the active community of casual and regular machine game players looking for fun away from the land-based scene. As many Chinese and other developing nations spend much of their online time in cyber cafés and coffee shops, stories abound of successes with land-based online secret player leagues and cyber café partnerships producing fruitful businesses. So for the time being in Asia, everything’s up for grabs, everything is in an evolutionary state and in many ways, as people have been saying for years, it’s the Wild West, only in the East; a new frontier for all forms of gaming on and offline. Can it be cracked? Is this lock pick-able? Will any one brand be truly dominant online in Asia with the risky environment and potential reward? To quote Rudyard Kipling: “Asia is not going to be civilized after the methods of the West. There is too much Asia and she is too old.”

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traffic

Having built the world’s largest,

Betting

fastest growing, and to my knowledge, most technologically advanced specialist iGaming SEO team, it’s fair to say that there are a few things I know about the topic. Now I am no longer in that role and have moved on, I find myself in a unique position to offer an entirely unbiased opinion on the pros and cons of in-house Vs agency. First of all, what does it take to compete in competitive iGaming SEO? Well, it depends of which products you’re promoting.

Globally, betting is a huge market, but cannot be measured in popularity on a handful of keywords. From an SEO perspective, sportsbetting requires an entirely different skill set and approach by comparison to casino, poker and bingo. Sportsbetting is a very different type of animal. One could argue that from an SEO perspective, sportsbetting is more closely related to a typical travel SEO campaign, such as travel. ●● Sportsbetting is seasonal. ●● Sportsbetting is event driven (e.g. World Cup, Cheltenham, etc). ●● Sportsbetting has a long-tail (teams, players, courses, odds etc). ●● Sportsbetting is news and PR friendly.

A different kind of animal Let’s look and some of the key differences in the four core iGaming products.

Casino Regarded as the most competitive market due to it being the most ‘monetisable’, with significant search volume and huge lifetime value. ●● Casino isn’t naturally a social product. ●● Casino isn’t news or blog friendly. ●● Casino doesn’t have a long-tail. ●● Casino drives the biggest revenues through the biggest player losses over the shortest time.

Note the predictable patterns in the trend data in table 1. The same, annual trends cannot be seen in the examples in table 2. Table 1

Table 2

Poker While the revenue is generated on the rake, and average player lifetime values are notably lower, the global appeal is huge. ●● Poker is more social than casino but less social than bingo. ●● Poker is news friendly (within its niche). ●● Poker has a longer tail than casino, but nowhere near as long as betting. ●● Poker pays back over a longer period of time.

Bingo Globally, bingo is still comparatively young; however in the UK, this soft gambling product is mainstream, has a predominantly female audience and requires a different approach to casino, poker and sportsbetting SEO. ●● Bingo is incredibly social. Sociability is a key part of its appeal and retention. ●● Bingo is news friendly and is mainstream (particularly in the UK). ●● Bingo doesn’t have a long-tail. ●● Bingo pays back smaller revenues than poker but over similarly long average periods of time.

While the SEO approach, scale and strategy required for all four products is slightly different, sportsbetting is entirely different. Regardless of whether you out-source or run your SEO inhouse, these differences should be taken into account in the recruitment or contracting phase. “Don’t hire a casino, poker or bingo specialist to run your sportsbetting SEO or visa versa.”

Understanding the SEO function There are a number of component parts to a successful SEO function, let’s look at the two options (agency and inhouse) separately and examine the basic requirements for each option. The SEO function can be split into the

following component parts:

Agency 1) On-site technical optimisation 2) Off-site optimisation (link building, PR, social media, off-site content, link baiting) 3) Content creation (copy, video, audio, infographics, etc) 4) Data and competitor analysis (ranking data, off-site competitor data) 5) Operational and infrastructure (office space, network, servers, storage) 6) Account management and client services 7) Accounting and payroll 8) Sales and business development

In-house 1) On-site technical optimisation 2) Off-site optimisation (link building, PR, social media, off-site content, link baiting) 3) Data and competitor analysis 4) Operational and infrastructure 5) Project management In simple terms, your wider business functions, accounting and payroll, are already covered and, therefore, you immediately enjoy economy of scale by running with the in-house function. Client services and business development are not required in the context of an SEO department; they are purely an agency function required to satisfy an agency’s business objectives. In addition to staff costs, there’s agency margin to consider. Perhaps you’ll be thinking that this article is painting the picture that in-house is the better option. Well, if you are purely considering cost then yes. In-house is certainly the most cost-effective solution, but in many (but not all) cases, this isn’t the best option and has been known to lead to disastrous outcomes. This includes entire teams being laid off due to poor performance or worse.

Motivating your head of acquisition – Russian mob style! I recall one meeting with a Russian casino operator. This marketing guy was tasked with generating natural search traffic – and to pile on the pressure, this operation appeared to be backed by mob money. While we didn’t ask the question directly, my colleague and I could sense the fear in not only his voice but also his mannerisms. I couldn’t help but think that should this guy fail to deliver, there would be more than his job on the line. When the stakes are this high, buying cheap and cutting

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corners isn’t necessarily the best route. Let’s look at some of the motivational differences between in-house and agency.

Motivational differences The in-house SEO strives primarily to: 1) Achieve targets and earn the bonus by driving active players. 2) Career progression through sustainable success and team growth. The agency SEO strives primarily to: 1) Generate revenue and profit and grow as a business. 2) Grow client accounts and cross-sell ancillary products and services. 3) Retain the client by achieving expectations and targets. So far, from a commercial and motivational standpoint, the in-house option looks much more favourable, but this is only part of the picture. The massive advantage in working with a large external agency, is the cross campaign and cross market shared ‘learnings’ – this, in my experience, proved time and time again to be priceless.

The in-house/agency dilemma continued So a big question still remains... should a company build an in-house team, or outsource to an agency? When answering this crucial question, it cannot and should not be treated as a simple cost analysis, and if done so, you risk putting your results in jeopardy. There are a number of factors that need to be thought about in detail before taking action, but most importantly, “A successful search marketing campaign is completely measurable and, therefore, all about your return on investment”. So when comparing agencies and in-house teams it can be easy to compare the annual salary cost of your employees with that of the agency to draw a basic conclusion, however, the main challenge is that the number of soft costs associated with an in-house team, including recruiting, training and most importantly, retaining. Unless you are recruiting a large team, it can be very difficult to attract and retain experienced SEO professionals in an inhouse team, as they soon become orphans within a company that usually doesn’t understand or value their expertise.

Listen carefully to the head cheese… The role of your in-house Head of Search will not only be to steer strategy and find the right people, but also to champion SEO at the highest level within your company.

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They need to be outspoken and have the gravitas and character to derail a runaway train as required. A subservient yes-man will cost you in the long run. No front-end web activity should happen without the sign-off of your Head of Search (whether they are in-house or agency). Regardless of how big or small your operation, this function is vital in your SEO team or agency. If you’re currently working with an agency and you’re only hearing good news and spin, it’s time to change agency. Frank and honest dialogue is critical.

high staff turnover rates at many agencies (particularly London-based agencies), there may be only one person working on your site with little support from the rest of the team. Staff turnover is also an issue on smaller scale affiliate operations, particularly when you are seeing success. The only way to head this off is through an equity deal with your key talent. Losing key staff is not an option. Note: Your key staff will increase in value based on the aggregate of their success – head hunters will be sniffing round them like sharks in a chum-fest!

Other SEO working dynamics to consider!

Mixing it all up – the hybrid team

Unless you’re building a large team, you can be stuck with one person’s experience and perspective. SEOs tend to bounce off each other. The value that two harmonious SEOs will add to your company is usually greater than the sum of its parts. A good SEO agency will have its finger on the pulse and be ahead of current social, mobile, app and search practices. I was fortunate enough to have been part of building what I consider to be one of the world’s most effective and technologically advanced SEO departments – if you’re lucky enough to be working with the world’s best, there will be a few advantages you will enjoy over your competition. These advantages are almost (but not entirely) impossible for an in-house operation to replicate. I’m talking about three key areas: 1. Data, competitive intelligence and crawling infrastructure. 2. Economies of scale in link and webmaster contacts accrued over years. 3. Specialist knowledge and platform experience.

Agency and in-house both offer advantages of their own; in my humble opinion, the best combination is to take the best from each camp and structure your team with your objectives in mind. You need talent, competitor intelligence, raw manpower and strategy in order to succeed. Hiring an agency or building a team in-house requires experience in knowing what is actually needed.

And remember... Always seek professional advice before hiring an SEO agency or building an inhouse team. ●● Picking a keyword is picking a fight. ●● Don’t pick a fight unless you’re sure you can win. If you have any specific questions email me directly at paul@mediaskunkworks.com or follow me on http://twitter.com/paulreilly or stalk me on http://foursquare.com/user/ paulreilly

Owning the SERPs – we’re going to need a bigger boat! Some agencies specialise in particular verticals, which is great. The client benefits massively from the shared vertical knowledge, economy of scale and vertical expertise. However, what happens when five clients want the number one spot for ‘bingo’? As a wise Irishman once said: “Arrr now! There are ten positions on page one...” However, I know from years of iGaming SEO activity and analytics data that there is a fold and it’s important that you rank above it. The commercial reality is that if you want to rank top, you’re going to need a bigger boat!

Mileage may vary - as may your day-to-day point of contact Unless stated in the contract, you may not have an account manager meaning it is unclear who is working on your site. With

Paul Reilly has worked in search marketing for over 12 years and has earned multiple awards and honours. Today, Paul is regarded by as one of the UK’s most Influential SEOs, and is the first port of call for most iGaming brands. He is widely known in the iGaming and SEO industry for his previous work in building the world’s most effective and technologically advanced SEO department. He is the founder of mediaskunkworks.com, a new generation service provider which has built its reputation on innovation and optimised methodologies which dissect the traditional agency model, replicating success, building world class, in-house teams and providing outsourced think tank and creative problem solving services.


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Using your internal linking strategies to control your link power.

When we talk about SEO, we usually talk about two different topics: Onside SEO and Offside SEO. Offside SEO is what is done to rank better on other pages than your own, mostly link building, and Onside SEO is what is done on your own website, the influence of which is usually underestimated. Naturally, the Onside SEO factors are far easier to influence than the Offside SEO factors, and this article discusses one of the most important factors on your website – your internal linking structure.

Former ‘Google PageRank sculpting’ I do not want to talk much about PageRank because we want to emphasis on ranking and internal linking strategies which help your website to rank better, but it is a good way to explain how the link juice flows through your website. The case: Imagine you have five links on your homepage which are each pointing to another sub page. One is pointing to your imprint and because you do not want to lose link power to this sub page, you decided to add the rel=”nofollow” attribute. For the sake of simplifying this case, we do not implement the decay factor of each link. Old way the link power is distributed: Let’s say your homepage has a link power

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of ten, so each ‘dofollow’ link will distribute 2.5 of link power to each sub page and zero to the ‘nofollow’ sub page. How link power is distributed today: Your homepage has a link power of ten and each link will distribute two points of link power, but because the imprint has the ‘nofollow’ attribute, this power will not be submitted. Lessons: Knowing that each link counts is the most important lesson we should take from these changes (which came into force a year ago). If you add a link to a page you are discounting each former link – keep this in mind each time you want to put a link on a page to decide if it is really necessary. Basic linking rules: There are some basic rules that apply for nearly all of the links you use: First link counts: If you have two or more links pointing to the same sub page, the attributes of the first link, in terms of source code position, counts. This also includes the rel=”nofollow” attribute. Think of the necessity of using more than one link to a sub page and the order before taking them live. Link text/anchor: These are often used as synonyms – an issue I see over and over again on websites.

Because a designer likes a ‘more’ button, or something similar, a possibility to link using a keyword is wasted. You decide where and how to link on your site and you need to make the link juice flow to your important sub pages using the keywords, or at least phrases containing the keywords, for these pages. Link title-attribute: Sometimes, it is not possible to use the whole keyword or all keywords in the anchor. The link title-attribute has been made to explain the link target in a bit more detail. Make use of it, but do not overuse it and bombard every link you have with keywords. Images and links: A lot of images are used as style elements to link to sub pages. Search engines need your help to see what is on the image. The use of the title-attribute of the link as well as the alt-attribute of the image are not only commonsense, but also a way to implement keywords. Excursion CSS cloaking: Be sure not to hide text or links behind images. I have seen a lot of designers who use CSS to implement the logo in the background and not as an ‘img tag’ in the actual source code. This might be seen as cloaking as the user and the search engine are seeing two different things. To be on the safe side, implement the images as what they are.


Nofollow attribute: Nofollow is a method (introduced in 2005 and supported by multiple search engines) to annotate a link to tell search engines “I do not vote for this link”. In Google, links with the rel=”nofollow” attribute do not pass Google’s PageRank and do not pass anchor text.

Choose your links wisely: Do not link to each and every page you have from your homepage because this might be the strongest page you have and you want all sub pages to profit from it. When you focus on the important ones you will get better results.

Quick link checklist: ●● Has the anchor keyword of the targeted page been included? (Usually, ‘click here’ is not a keyword). ●● Does the link have a title-attribute? ●● Is it a follow link? ●● Is it the only link to this page? If not, is it the first?

Get the crawler to your deepest secrets: Opening the search engine crawlers is an easy way to reach even your deepest pages by having some linked from your homepage. You could, for example, link directly to some of your ‘Casino Reviews’. This is a good way to show your users and the spiders your content. By linking deep into your page structure, you give them more ‘starting points’. Crawlers only follow links to a certain level; by giving them a direct link to your deep content you shorten their route, which is a good measurement for better indexation of your content.

Building up a good internal link structure After understanding the basics for using links the right way, we can focus on a good structure for our website. Keep in mind that each link counts and the following things should be taken into consideration when building up a website structure: ●● Flat navigation structure. ●● Focus on your money pages and get the link juice to them. ●● Ensure that the crawlers also find your deeper pages. ●● Make sure your homepage is linked with your main keywords.

Tell the crawler what to index: Use the robot’s meta tag ‘noindex, follow’ to avoid duplicate content problems and keep the link juice flowing. A good example for this are ‘tag’ pages from blogs. The tagging system is good for users and search engines, but they always produce the same list, which could be considered duplicate content by some search engines. By using the robot’s

meta tag ‘noindex, follow’, you tell the search engines to keep following the links (including the juice) but not indexing the page with the possible duplicate content.

Conclusion When you are using these principles to build up or pimp up your website, you gain more control of your internal flow of link juice. By controlling and optimising it, you have an instrument to target specific pages which might be the finishing touch in getting into the top rankings which leads to more traffic, which should lead to more sales and more money.

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

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Image 1

THE HISTORY OF search has taught us many things, like “not upsetting people called Matt” or buying massive amounts of links off the same broker. If you’re going to create something so great that it becomes so incredibly popular that people depend on it, as if it was the oxygen that they breath every day, you have to make sure that you stand by the principals that made you great in the first place, or you will start struggling under the weight of the high expectations of your users. Maybe it’s because I have been in this industry so long. I still remember the search industry when we had no Google, and a search engine by the name of AltaVista held the search crown. One of the lead guys on that project was Don Dodge – if you haven’t heard of him, I urge you to read his blog or at least read this one post from October 2005 http://bro.gs/trem when he said: “AltaVista spent hundreds of millions on acquisitions that never worked, and spent $100m on a brand advertising campaign. They spent NOTHING to improve core search. That was the undoing of AltaVista.” Until recently, I felt that Google was just shoehorning products into its organic search result pages in the form of ‘News One boxes’ or ‘Google Base/Shopping results’, and we have seen slight tweaks in the way that it handled sites selling and buying links to influence PageRank. But in essence, nothing major has really changed over the years. Some would say you can’t improve on perfection while others still maintain you can simply buy your way to the number one slot in Google, which, in a funny way, is actually what Google wants you to do – only, Google wants you to pay Google, and not a search marketing agency like mine. I believe that the biggest threat to people in my industry is ‘Paid Placement’, and when Google recently announced a little product called ‘Local Boost’ that allows business owners to create an AdWords-style listing from inside Google Places, I felt the writing was on the wall. So far, all the reports I’ve read have talked about the paid local listing sitting in the normal PPC ad boxes, with the added exception that you get a blue map marker and a star-rated review section. The advert is clearly a paid placement (this may have changed since the writing of this article in November 2010). (Image 1) We shouldn’t worry too much really, as Google has to keep a balance between paid advertisers, webmasters and its own

users. When you read Google’s philosophy (http://bro.gs/rewq), everything looks pretty normal to keep everything in balance, but there are a couple of points that hit home with me.

Firstly: Democracy on the web works “Google search works because it relies on the millions of individuals posting links on websites to help determine which other sites offer content of value. We assess the importance of every web page using more than 200 signals and a variety of techniques, including our patented PageRank™ algorithm.” This confirms that Google still needs webmasters to link to each other.

Image 2

Secondly: You can make money without doing evil “We don’t allow ads to be displayed on our results pages unless they are relevant where they are shown. And we firmly believe that ads can provide useful information if, and only if, they are relevant to what you wish to find – so it‘s possible that certain searches won’t lead to any ads at all.” This also confirms that Google is committed to providing good and relevant information to its users. But when I see these adverts, like the ones in image 2, I can’t seriously believe that this is still in the best interests of anyone other than Google lining its pockets. There is only one organic listing – so much for the “Democracy on the web works” – and why are there adverts for Dentistry in Poland for a Chicago search? Correct me if I’m wrong here but if you live in Chicago would you really travel the 4,725.55 miles to see a dentist? What happened to the “We don’t allow ads to be displayed on our results pages unless they are relevant”? (Image 2) But how long before we start to see the whole results page with Paid listings? Only recently, Danny Sullivan reported (http:// bro.gs/bzlc) that Google was testing a block of three ads with a small icon, which when clicked, added another eight advert listings which pushed the organic (free listings) down further. So to date, we have seen Google offer us the ability to advertise on most Google Products from YouTube to Gmail. Google’s business model stays the same; it provides Internet users the ability to browse and search its products while wrapping advertisements around what you would

normally call ‘mixed media results’ – a mixed blend of free organic listings and the inclusion of several one boxes (News, Images, Video, Shopping or Maps). The one thing that slightly concerns me is “Local Boost”, not because it impacts Google Maps and Local Listings but because it maybe shows us a glimpse into the future. What if we next get “Google News Boost” and “Google Product Boost” where I can have a paid placement for a news story or one of my products? Of course, there will always be a need for search marketing and the search engines may turn left when you expect them to right turn, but it’s your job to stay ahead of the game. Imagine if you worked at Google – what would you do next? The chances are Google has already thought about it and is working on it as we read this article. What if you searched for a Panasonic TV and you didn’t get organics but you got a mixture of Google Local results and Google products? Is your business ready for that day? Or if you search for a movie or a book and Google offered you the chance to pay to store it on Google Cloud so you can read it or watch it later on your Android tablet? The future has so many possibilities, but as long as we have a button labelled ‘Search’, we will have search marketers.

DAVID NAYLOR, industry leader in Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Online Search Marketing.

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Greig Holbrook of Oban Multilingual: International SEO, imparts some strategic advice in maximising your SEO activity in the Spanish market. SPANIARDS REPORTEDLY spend twice as much on gambling as consumers in the UK, and with new laws surrounding online gambling operations set to come into play anytime soon, the market is ready to grow and become an appealing place for foreign operators to gain footing. By developing an SEO strategy localised to the Spanish market, gambling operators and affiliates can raise the stakes for their competitors and ensure they are more visible to the large Spanish gambling market. However, developing an SEO strategy for a foreign market can throw up obstacles, and it’s not as simple as translating a site from English. Here are OBAN’s top tips for effective multilingual SEO:

PPC laws in Spain Pay per click (PPC) advertising for all but state-run gambling operators is prohibited in Spain, where the biggest search engine is Google. This is commonplace in most international markets; however, in the UK, Italy and France, as well as a selection of other European markets, paid online advertising is legal. It’s important to know the paid advertising laws of each market you’re entering, as well as each search engine you’re optimising for, as individual search engines have specific laws surrounding PPC.

Ensure Spanish content is written from scratch By translating content directly from English to Spanish, you’ll miss specific language traits and nuances which are local to the region. Having a native Spanish speaker produce the content will mean avoiding embarrassing linguistic errors and ensure that elements such as colloquialisms and area-specific phrases are used.

Research Spanish keywords Keywords and phrases can differ from country to country. A search term that is popular in the UK may not be so popular in Spain, and visa versa. Like the content, local keywords and phrases should be researched rather than directly translated. Slot machine games are hugely popular in Spain, and the most common search phrase for ‘slot machine’ is ‘tragaperras’, with 90,500

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searches conducted on them per month. However, this is a word specific to the region of Spain, whereas in Latin American countries, the word ‘tragamonedas’ is more commonly used. Choosing local popular keywords rather than translating from English will help draw the most relevant traffic to your site.

Build good links Google is by far the biggest search engine in Spain in terms of market share, therefore, the links that are built to a website need to be of good quality and relevant in order to work effectively in contributing to the ranking of a site. There are numerous ways to build links to online gambling websites in Spain, such as gambling forums, article submission sites, blogs, and related (but not competitor) websites. By selecting Spanish sites to build links on, marketers will manage to draw in the most relevant traffic and appeal to the correct market. Irrelevant or ‘spammy’ links could lead to your site being penalised by Google.

Know the market For any marketer, knowing the online gambling landscape of a new market is vital. Online gambling services are utilised differently in every market. Search volumes in Spain show that the state lottery is the most popular form of online gambling (the Spanish lotto is one of the biggest in the world), with over 1.8 million searches conducted on the keyword ‘loteria’ (meaning ‘lottery’) per month in Spain alone. Obviously, this isn’t much use to UK gambling operators who are entering the Spanish market, however, it does give affiliates an idea of the huge volume of people who gamble online in Spain. Search volumes reveal that bingo and poker are also hugely popular, as is sportsbetting.

Consider Spanish domains and hosting Local search engines tend to prefer local domain names, so for the Spanish market, this would be ‘.es’. Many UK online gambling operators who haven’t obtained full regional domain names use subdomains instead, so rather than ‘.es’, the

URL becomes .com/es. Sub-domains can be SEO-effective in some circumstances; however, many domestic search engines don’t recognise them as ‘local’ sites and this can have a negative effect on search engine rankings. There have been rumours of potential Spanish laws which would see online gambling operators needing to maintain presence in the country, and for them to all be connected to a ‘central game unit’ in order for them to be monitored by a governing body. If this law were to be implemented, it would mean that all foreign operators that wanted to offer services there would be hosted there, and this could have a positive effect on SEO.

Test ways in which the Spanish interact with your site Website colours, text size, font, and graphic placement can all have an effect on how people interact with the site. Our cultural multivariate testing tool, GlobalMaxer, has discovered that in Spain, people have different preferences when it comes to web design than the people in the UK, particularly when it comes to the placement of the ‘call-to-action’ button. By testing a variety of elements on a website, you can determine which are best suited to the Spanish audience and which can be changed.

Think Local! Multilingual search engine optimisation is all about localisation. By continuously keeping in mind the Spanish market, their search habits and Internet trends, online gaming marketers will be able to develop a localised SEO strategy which can ultimately achieve the best results possible in the search engine ranking pages. The Spanish iGaming market is set to get highly competitive in 2011, and having a wellresearched and localised search marketing strategy will help your online gambling site stand out from the rest.

GREIG HOLBROOK is Managing Director of Oban Multilingual: International SEO. Tel: +44 (0) 1273 704434, www.obanmultilingual.com.


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SEO specialist, Christoph Cemper, opens the discussion on Link Pyramids and the theory that link building isn’t solely about bringing links to one’s site alone. When it comes to link building, I very often propose to only go after highest quality links. This is true today more than ever. However, in highly competitive industries bulk linking is part of the every day job. That’s the way it is, and it’s just like Tim Mayer of Yahoo! said in 2006 – “don’t bring a sword to a gunfight. Adapt or die.” The tactic of link pyramids for ‘link laundering’ has been around for a while, and channels link power through multiple stages to yield link juice without the problem of tripping link filters and penalties for both high link growth and anchor text.

What is a link pyramid? Assume we have quality links of type ‘persona links’ and ‘presell page’ to your money site. Not only do persona and presell links have the quality criteria in common, but they are also both directly linked to a money page. The quality criterion consists at least of the following: ●● In-content links ●● Relevant page topic ●● Juice (i.e. found Juicy by the Link Research Tool JUICE tool) ●● Follow links ●● Cached in Google Direct links come directly from a high quality source page and go directly to the money page. ‘Diagram 1’ displays the basics of direct linking. It can be seen

Diagram 1: Direct Linking with a little bit of indirection

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that the money page, in red, receives links from, for example, forums, in green, and presell pages, in blue. Also, to strengthen the presell pages, they are being supported by more content links, which is some indirect linking in lieu of a mini link pyramid already. The black dots stand for natural links that have not been specifically created. In comparison to that is a link pyramid, which is built differently and is far more complex. As can be seen in ‘Diagram 2’, the level one domain is the only one that directly links to the money page. This level one is supported by high quality persona and presell page links in level two. Level two can also be strengthened by linking to each other (don’t overdo that!). All level two domains are supported by further links in level three. Here again, they can reinforce each other by linking horizontally to one another. It can also occur that a level three domain can sometimes directly link to a ‘hub’ domain in level one or directly link to the money page. So, the number advantage of a link pyramid in comparison to direct linking is that it enhances and reinforces the effect of one direct link to the money page as it is supported by several other links. Diagram 2 only displays one domain in level one but, of course, level one can consist of many more domains that each has a pyramid link structure. ‘Diagram 3’ shows a link net from a bird’s-eye-view perspective to further visualise it.

Link pyramids in many structures

Diagram 2: Link Pyramid – Side View

Diagram 3: Link Pyramid – Bird’s-EyeView

The link pyramids got their name thanks to the general funnel of link juice or reverse pyramid shape. However, there are a lot of different ways to build up link pyramids to serve the purpose of funnelling link juice through a plethora of different domains.

Conclusion As you can see, there are multiple options and ways to structure link pyramids, and it doesn’t end here. I hope we could spark some interest and creativity in your mind to realise that link building is not just about getting links TO your site alone.

Christoph C. Cemper has been building links and affiliate sites since 2003 and is a well respected guru in the SEO industry, especially when it comes to getting real juicy links on trusted domains. Providing these advanced link building techniques to over 400 clients worldwide are the main focus of his company, in addition to selected consulting gigs for premium clients. Before starting his own business CEMPER.COM in the online marketing industry he’s been building large scale transaction platforms for online betting, production facility automation software and other e-commerce ventures for 15 years as a developer and project manager. Even earlier on in his teens Christoph has developed and published games for the Commodore C-64, which are still available on the web today.


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traffic

It seems 2010 was a year for numerous changes at Google, ones that many of us are still scrambling to fully understand and adapt to. So, I thought I would give an overview of a couple that I have found a few insights into and ways to possibly take advantage. Google Suggest To many, Google Suggest is an annoying addition to the Google search process. Companies that have had problems are seeing their name associated with scam, rip off and other terms linking to articles many would love to see buried. Then there are suggestions that are only going to show pages for terms that do not rank on the front page, so get very little traffic. The idea of Suggest may be a good one for the general user experience but how can we also make it one that helps us? Google Suggest terms are shown as a result of previous searches made using the starting keywords and the engine applies the most popular broad phrases associated with the keyword. Queries in autocomplete are algorithmically determined based on a number of objective factors (including search term popularity) without manual intervention. The search queries that you see as part of autocomplete are a reflection of the search activity of all web users. So, to manipulate what appears, you need to have searches done with associated terms that you rank well for.

How to do this? Well you can do a bunch of searches yourself, but the engine is a little smarter than that – how much of an impact a single IP address has is restricted. So unless you have access to an IP randomiser or have a large extended family you may want to hire some workers over at <a href=”https://requester.mturk.com/mturk/ resources”>Mechanical Turks</a> – Amazon’s army of cheap online workers. Amazon Mechanical Turk collects a ten percent commission on top of the amount you (the ‘Requester’) have paid someone to complete your Human Intelligence Tasks (‘HITs’). The minimum commission charge is $0.005 per HIT. The MT interface offers all types of assistance to get you the required actions.

You can get people from all over the globe and set a process of timed and specific searches they make building your keyword popularity. I am not going to explain how best to use them, but recommend ”http://mturk.s3.amazonaws.com/videos/ create_first_hit.swf”>this video to help you on your way. Figure out what it is worth to you to impact the results and work out your budget accordingly.

Google Previews The other new addition is that of Google Previews – being able to get a picture of the web pages in the listings. So how to take advantage of this new feature brings another set of parameters to address. I have found some points to consider when designing your pages that can help improve your click through rates. 1. Use large branding and logos at the top of your page. This will make sure people will see and remember your brand even if they don’t click the link. 2. Make your site structure as simple as possible so that in a smaller size, it will look easier to navigate. 3. Use large colourful images above the fold. Faces would work best. These will grab the attention and generate more click throughs. If you can, try to include large type that explains what the site is about and invites the user to click. 4. Make sure the site looks good even if the whole page is visible as a long column. Visual separation of content elements by background colour would work best. For example alternating background colour for blog posts would create a cool stripy effect. 5. The preview images tend not to have any white space on any sides. Artificially include elements that allow the page to look wider for Google, so in result the preview image generated has some space and looks neater.

6. Use backgrounds that look good in contrast against the white Google search page. Light shades of warm colours work well against the white and blue of Google’s colour scheme. 7. You may want to experiment with a design element that is not apparent when you open the site in a browser, but in preview, could communicate an unexpected message. In a browser, you can use a ‘z-index’ but an image may not hide as instructed, for example. 8. Be aware that red, purple and orange elements degrade in the preview image more than any other colours. This is due to a strange problem that is always present in all highly compressed jpeg images. A great asset for checking your work is offered by 3M - it <”http://solutions.3m.com/wps/ portal/3M/en_US/VisualAttentionService/ home/”>will give you a heat map of your page and with that information tweak your design etc. Hopefully this will give you some things to work with while Google is making more changes. Frank Watson is CEO of Kangamurra Media and has been involved with the web since it started. For five years, he headed SEM for FXCM, which was once one of the top 25 spenders with AdWords. He’s worked with most of the major analytics companies and pioneered the ability to tie online marketing with offline conversion. He has now started his own marketing agency, Kangamurra Media. This new venture will keep him busy when he’s not editing the Search Engine Watch forums, blogging at a number of authoritative sites, or developing some online community sites. Frank was one of the first 100 AdWords professionals, as well as a Yahoo! and Overture ambassador. He is on the Click Quality Council and has worked to diminish click fraud.

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FEATURE

The social networking space was brought to life in the early to mid-2000s, as a core batch of sites, which included MySpace and Facebook, began to flourish in earnest. One of those early forerunners, Bebo, became a major player in the race for dominance in this new social frontier and by 2007, had amassed over 450 million users making it one of the UK’s most popular websites. iGB Affiliate spent some time with Bebo’s founder and serial entrepreneur, Michael Birch, to assess the heady days of the social networking boom and what today’s business landscape holds for the entrepreneurs of tomorrow. Before we get to Bebo, tell us about your personal background, and that of your business, which included the ventures Birthday Alarm and Ringo.com. I did a degree in physics at Imperial College in London… didn’t really like physics, then worked for a number of insurance companies, mainly doing freelance IT stuff for about eight years… didn’t like that either. I liked the IT part but not the insurance part. And then the whole Internet bubble thing came up and I thought ‘finally, something entrepreneurial I can do that uses the skills that I have and so I jumped ship in 1999. I didn’t really know what I was going to do – I just started learning HTML thinking that was all I needed to know (I knew programming but I didn’t know websites). So I just started building ideas and eventually we built a site called Lemon Link – the first model we went live with. That didn’t really do too well, although the concept was a good one. It was then that we started Birthday Alarm but again, it didn’t work initially and it had got to the point where we were running out of cash. At the same time, we were working on another project called Friendly Wills, which allowed you to write your will online, and have it sent it to you for £30 or £60. It was a really well done site but quite a morbid subject and not a very easy business to grow. We’d advertise on Google and get one sale

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a day. So we spent £30 advertising and made £60 – we thought ‘great, we’re doubling our money’ (laughs). One sale a day isn’t going to make it into the big time and we couldn’t get more people to write wills advertising on Google. However, Birthday Alarm was now starting to take off. I remember waking up one morning and finding that we had over 300 new members in an eight hour period from nowhere. These weren’t people we knew… we’d run out of friends by this point (laughs). That was like the Eureka moment; that we’d achieved something after two years of slogging at it. We concentrated on the site and got it up to around three million members inside a year and a half, making around $10,000 a month, which allowed my wife (and business partner) and I to move to the US, renting a pokey little apartment in San Francisco and a 120 square foot office space where we worked from. Then we did Ringo.com, which was an early social network, inspired by Friendster. Friendster was a new hot, super-cool thing in Silicon Valley. It hadn’t really broken out of Silicon Valley at the time but it was popular there and we jumped on the bandwagon along with a hundred other people and basically created a competitive site. We promoted it on Birthday Alarm and got 30,000 members, grew it to about 300-

400,000, and sold it three months after we’d started it. At the time, Friendster had one million members, we had 400,000 and the next after us was sub-100,000. We were by far the biggest in second place, not quite realising that this was a market space that would one day be worth tens of billions of dollars. I knew it would potentially be big but we were in an awkward space where I didn’t feel we had any credibility. It would be hard to raise money, we couldn’t scale it and I felt a little out of my depth technically because I’d never had the fortune of actually creating a site was popular. So we either raised money or we sold it. That was the turning point for us. Soon after we sold Ringo, we started charging for Birthday Alarm e-cards. At the time, it had been free with ad revenue. We went from $10,000 a month to $10,000 a day in income ($300,000 a month) which is just ridiculous. So that was a massive turning point. If we’d done that before Ringo succeeded we could have afforded to fund it. It’s still at that point today, earning just under $300,000 a month, and in fairness we could have monetised it more but we’ve never really gone back to focus on it. Then, of course, you started Bebo, which is where things really started to take off for you. We started Bebo in 2005 and it was really


just an evolved version of Ringo. In fact, it wasn’t launched as a social network but as a daily address book that went all the way back to our first idea, Lemon Link. I did it more out of curiosity. I’d learnt so much since doing Lemon Link, and although it only had 2,000 members, I thought was quite close to being successful in some ways. So we launched Bebo as a self-updating address book. We had one million members by day nine and I think on the ninth day we added 350,000 new members, but no-one ever came back, it was a completely useless product. Out of that million about two people came back. It was a sort of hollow victory; the first idea we’d ever had was a good idea in that it was explosively viral, but there was no point to it. We thought that if our viral engine generates members for free, which in itself is worth a lot, then what can we do with it? We need to do something with it to get people to come back. So we spent a year not focussing on viral growth, for the first time since we started doing websites. We evolved it into a social network not dissimilar to Ringo, and then we finally got it. Engagement went sky high and we ended up being the most engaged social network at the time; the average user was spending more time on our site than on any of the competitors including MySpace and by then Facebook. What was the landscape like at that time? You were pioneering a new sort of business model alongside two of today’s best known social networks in Facebook and MySpace. Ringo itself was pioneering in early social

networking. By the time we launched Bebo, people thought we were mad because MySpace had just announced itself as the biggest site in the US by page use and time spent. People were saying ‘it’s game over dude, you’ve missed the boat the first time’. But, I don’t think MySpace has ever had many of these core viral things, so if you can build a technically better website than MySpace (which didn’t appear too hard as it wasn’t that great a site), lay on top of that some really great viral engines, then you’re in with a shot. That’s what we did and it worked, to a degree. I would say it was certainly a better website than MySpace, a better website than Facebook, but it wasn’t quite better enough than MySpace that we could beat them on their home turf in the US. We knew we could beat them outside the US and did so significantly in the UK, Ireland and New Zealand. MySpace was so entrenched in the US that the only way to beat them was to be not just better but be a significantly better website. We had some success in the US and we were a meaningful website by any normal measure but compared to MySpace, we were pretty much dwarfed. Facebook at that moment was about a year old when we launched, so they had a year head start on us. They were doing great but they were only in college networks but moved into high schools the month we launched. We weren’t really trying to be a young person’s website but we ended up being that with facebook competing with us in one of our core markets. They later opened up fully to everyone so whereas

when we launched, we didn’t consider them a huge competitor, they now were and had a big head start. They had a much more mature product, considerably more funding than we had and a much bigger engineering team. So they were ahead in many key areas. But it was fun to be growing a website to be successful in the countries that we were. I like the early stages of businesses better than the later stages. They’re a little less fun later on. Is that an entrepreneurial thing? Well, you end up being less creative later on. If you look at Facebook now, whenever they do anything, any little change or update, it’s headline news around the world. So everything that you launch has immediately got this massive audience and is immediately going to be reasonably successful no matter what. Whereas when you’re in the really early days of a website, you can launch the world’s most original and creative product but no-one gives a crap about it, no-one writes about it, no-one uses it because marketing is a totally different aspect to being a great product. So there is the frustration in the very early days of entrepreneurship, starting a new business where you think that the product is great but no-one’s using it and you need to hit that tipping point. As long as you can overcome that first tipping point where you’ve got people using and engaging with the thing that you’ve launched, it becomes really, really fun because you’ve got a relatively small community around it, often a very enthusiastic community. You can

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FEATURE

‘wing it’ a little bit more because there’s less of a high profile staring at everything you do. You can be truly creative and experimental and very fast in the things that you do. When you get big, you tend to get a little more deliberate and a little slower in the way that you develop stuff. You also have a lot more bureaucracy, more people in the company. You get to the point where you don’t quite know everyone in your own company which is a bit weird. When you’re a team of twenty sitting in one room cranking code out it’s fun. There’s something very rewarding about that environment. What was the exit point for you with Bebo? When did you think ‘okay, I’m ready to sell up now’? I think when we felt we were decent and the likelihood of continuing to compete effectively was becoming less likely. There’s a period where you can see it not going as well as you’d hope and it comes to the point where you think you’re a little too far behind and the other guys are way too well funded, have way too many engineers… critical mass is just too big. We’d pretty much maximised the value I could see out of the business at that time. It’s lots of fun riding a wave but I don’t think it’s much fun riding it on the way down. So it just made sense. And if I can sell it and go back and do the stuff we really enjoy doing, build something the way we want to build it, not need to get VC (venture capital investment), then all the better for it. What’s your emotional association with the Bebo brand since you sold it and its subsequent performance? I don’t actually get that emotional about a brand. It’s a lot more to do with the people around it and the experience. You become very close friends with a lot of people that you work with over such long hours and it’s slightly saddening to be leaving that environment and no longer be part of it. So it’s more the break up of that emotional tie. If I could choose for Bebo to have done really well after we’d sold it and for me to end up regretting selling it because it did even better, I would choose for it to do really well. Not that I’d want it to fail just so I could say that I’d sold it at the right time. I’d love to have seen it go on and succeed but at the same time, I think the emotional detachment was more to do with the people, the environment, the experience than it was necessarily to do with the brand. Ultimately, it’s just a brand.

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More recently, you invested in Punktilio. Tell us a little bit about that brand, and what stood out for you about the investment opportunity. Punktilio was founded by Hal Stokes, the head of music at Bebo, and his brother Sam. I normally invest in consumer Internet startups, so it was a little removed from my usual investment practice. It’s the only digital media agency business that I have invested in. It’s related to what I do because it was a social media agency, so it’s very much about leveraging Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and any form of social media to help brands establish on those platforms. The reason I did it was because of Hal. Hal was just a really great guy at Bebo, full of energy. He was pretty much a one-man-band – the only guy doing music apart from one admin person and he just had huge energy and made stuff happen. That’s exactly the sort of person you want to invest in; someone who’s smart, with a lot of energy who is a ‘doer’ and not a ‘sayer’. What’s the vision behind your latest venture, Monkey Inferno? We wanted to go back and recreate the fun times of entrepreneurship and starting businesses. We set up a parent company recently called Monkey Inferno (it’s just a parent company, it will never be a consumer brand) based in San Francisco. We’ve started on three projects at the moment. We’ve got Birthday Alarm (I’m not counting that as one of the projects), it still makes all that cash for us so in a way it pays for everything else. Then we’re doing a site called Zoono which we put live a while ago, which is really Birthday Alarm 2.0. On Birthday Alarm we own the rights to 4,000 greeting cards which have all been commissioned by us with freelance artists, so we have millions of dollars worth of this original content but it’s running on an old platform that’s neither that cool nor clear. We want it to synch to a new home, a new way of doing greeting cards on the web that’s relevant for today’s market. Zoono will be launching in January on the web and as an iPhone app and we’ll be doing an Android app post launch. The second project is Jolitics which is a political networking site that is currently live in Ireland (we’re planning on launching it in the UK before the end of the year). Instead of social and business networking, it’s political, and is very focussed on encouraging constructive political debate. It’s very experimental which is the fun part of it. Obviously, the danger of experimental

is that it may or may not work. There’s no certainty that it’s a good idea until you’ve tried it. We don’t necessarily want to jump in and do ‘me too’ ideas like GroupOn or 4 Square clone. We want to do things that are fun and creative. After that, we’re also doing a lot of work with ‘charity: water’ in New York, which is probably the project I’m most excited about. Going back to the social space as a whole and particularly where businesses are involved, what do brands and online marketers need to know to better understand the space and be a more effective force in social media? There’s no silver bullet. Part of the problem is that everyone uses social media in some way in their lives. Big brands feel that they have to implement a social media strategy, “are we on Facebook… are we on Twitter?” They feel that they must advertise on Facebook as that makes them a social media-connected company. So there’s this ‘must do it’ directive, often coming down from senior management and then people jump in feet first and so do it without really understanding what they’re trying to get out of it. Anyone can easily create a fan page but then you question to what end are you doing it. The most effective way to be successful in social media is to not be too brand driven. You need to try and fit in naturally with that social network and just be part of it. Advertising to it isn’t necessarily effective and won’t come across in the same way as a living part of that community. So doing things that people engage with, encourage them to post within postings that you’ve done within their own profiles is also a lot more successful. But it’s not an easy thing to do. You have to have some sort of strategy, some sort of game plan about how you’re going accomplish your goals. Finally, what advice would you give to anybody starting out in business at the moment? It’s really hard to raise money just based on an idea. In terms of the Internet, I think it helps if you can do all the programming yourself. So if you’ve got an idea, and you can develop it and you can afford to forego salary for a while then you can do it on your own, which is the great thing about the Internet; it is a great leveller. You literally need a laptop, someone who can programme and time, and you can create a business of great value. They’re literally the only ingredients you need.


Casino Supplement


CASINO SUPPLEMENT

By Roman Humpelstetter, Affiliate Manager, Intertops.

THE MORE THINGS change, the more they stay the same; this sentence is definitely true of the casino affiliate business. I think we all agree that the only way to make good money in the online casino affiliate area is to stick to the partners that you trust (this trust should be hard earned), to focus on core-strength without being afraid to experiment and to always have the customer in mind. This being said, as this publication targets the better-educated crowd in the affiliate area, I would like to look back at some of the many hypes that have been part of our industry. First, let us look at the channels used to talk to customers.

In addition, I have seen many affiliate programs enter the industry with this mindset, but I am certain nobody will miss those affiliate program adverts showing the affiliate sleeping on the beach because the promoted program was doing all the work. I am happy that these awful websites have now become more or less extinct. If you do some research on portals nowadays, most of them look very professional (unfortunately hosting is so cheap that some of the awful sites will stay forever), have quality content and you can find the information you need quickly and easily.

Review sites Communication channels This is a really funny one. In no other area you will find the wheel being re-invented as often. You know the phrase “you cannot compare this to anything that has gone before” and you know the “Messiahs” who are willing to share their knowledge – mostly for a whole lot of money. Let us start with some of the classics:

Portals Remember the times when websites looked like they were part of a contest? Who can make the ugliest website with the worst usability? The idea was to take a few casinos, take some nice pictures of them (or preferably download them from the affiliate back office), write some text (or preferably copy it from the affiliate back office), put them in order and there you go – you have built a money-machine and can retire. I have seen many affiliates coming into the industry with that mindset – and seen them leave again pretty quickly.

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In the bad old days, many new affiliates considered them to be very different to portals, as the affiliates had to do the work themselves (actually researching the casinos, their sign up offers, deposit methods, games, speed of withdrawal etc, and then putting them into some order). Affiliates who spent the time doing the work were able to evolve and are quite likely still around, whereas those who did not have hopefully found a new job outside of our space.

Forums This is another difficult one. Many affiliates who tried getting into this space did not realise that you need a ‘critical mass’ of posters to be of interest to new readers and to encourage them to post. Many people spent too much time focusing on technical aspects (remember eZboard before it was sold to Yuko?) and forgot that it is actually all about people and not technology. However, I think this hard selection

process created some of the best affiliates out there today.

Blogs The rise of Blogger (that Google eventually bought as well) and the massive amount of people using it, made it inevitable that affiliates would be one of the first groups to explore this tool to generate extra income.

Twitter You cannot say Blogger and not mention Twitter. These 145 characters were considered the ‘silver bullet’. Everyone who understood that this could be an aid for an existing website generated extra attention and made money.

Social networks Do you remember MySpace? I think the News Corporation and its endeavour to make money out of it, simply turned it into a dead fish in the water. But there is still Facebook and the hype that currently goes with it – even though I don’t know anybody who has actually made money with Facebook, including the company itself. There is no doubt that social networks can generate a lot of traffic, but converting this traffic into something that makes money is still a task to be solved.

Video In my opinion, this was one of the greatest and funniest hypes. YouTube made a lot of money (by being sold to Google) and therefore, everybody wanted to have this tool. In addition, you saved time by not having to type the text. Looking back, there are very few people who had the ability to


“Revenue share is the only way to go forward in fair cooperation. Both the affiliate and the operator take their fair share of the risks and rewards.” keep the videos interesting and bring out new and regular content.

the most obvious, because one of the most well-known companies in the world earns its money this way.

Mobile Various research companies published reports in 1999 claiming that the mobile market would be a billion-dollar market in two to three years. Since then, the same report (with a few slight modifications) has been coming out annually and the billiondollar market is still set to arrive in two to three years! This is one to watch, but I would not put too much effort and money into it right now. The return on the investment will happen, but a sufficient amount of suitable devices that are easy to handle need to be there first.

New markets This is not about how to talk to customers, but where to find them. Expanding into new markets was always an interesting one to watch. Operators, as well as affiliates, tried to make money in places they had never been to or knew anything about, and whose names they could not even pronounce. Some of them even failed to check the CIA World Fact Book to know how many people live in the targeted country and how high the gross domestic product is.

Commission structure Everybody is working hard, therefore, everybody should be paid well. The problem is that most people think they are not getting their fair share. Everybody else is rich, but it is only they who are doing the hard work. As a result, many amusing reward ideas sprang up. Let us start with

The rise of PPC I assume the only people who made really good money with PPC without much effort are those who bought Google shares at the IPO. Many others pretend to make good money with PPC, but actually, only have a lot of hard work on their hands. Others are able to find somebody stupid enough to pay their bills. Clearly, you can get a lot of traffic, and clearly, you can spend a lot of money there. Having seen people paying $20 per click for a term like ‘blackjack’ and knowing that if all goes well, 100 clicks generates one registration (and you need ten registrations to get a depositing customer), then one depositing customer costs $20,000. The fact that this value is in conflict with the average lifetime value of a casino customer did not seem to bother many. It certainly didn’t bother Google, which was able to act like a vacuum cleaner for companies using the cash it generated with PPC.

CPA deals Together with many under-funded media companies and short-sighted affiliates, CPA deals came into the game. The idea was not to wait for the customer to see if and how they liked the operator, but if they were convinced to make a deposit, to apply a formula and pay the affiliate a one-time fee. This might be good if you, the affiliate, need the cash now, or if the operator does not want to have any long-term commitment, but I am not too sure how it can work in the

short-term, especially when the terms of the agreement are wrong from the start – for example, when the affiliate is only able to motivate customers to fulfil the minimum requirements without any successive action.

Hybrid For many affiliates, the answer to the CPA dilemma was to go into so-called Hybrid deals – “give me some money as CPA and some as revenue share. Please operator, take all the risk, pay my bills and if things should unexpectedly go well, I will cash out big.”

Revenue share In my opinion, this is the only way to go forward in fair cooperation. Both the affiliate and the operator take their fair share of the risks and rewards. There is no doubt that there are some pitfalls, especially as there are simply too many fraudulent operators out there. But don’t worry; they are easy to spot. If an operator offers a percentage that does not allow it to pay its own bills, then there must be something wrong. Generally, when something seems too good to be true, it most likely is.

Future outlook I think we can and have to learn a lot from the past. The online casino affiliate space has certainly improved, has become more competitive than it used to be and is now hard to get into. Affiliates who are there now need to continue to learn and evolve, but must not forget the reason we are all there – to provide a better experience for the customer who is then able to pay the bills.

iGB Affiliate DECEMBER/JANUARY 2010/11

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CASINO SUPPLEMENT

Andrew Dymock, Head of Casino and Games at Victor Chandler, looks at how operators and affiliates should be moving away from the one-size-fits-all approach to game content to embrace a new, multiple supplier mentality. IF YOU’VE BEEN to any industry conference over the last two years, it would be difficult to miss the huge growth in online casino and games. The sector is on track for 79 percent growth between 2009 and 2014, but how can operators and affiliates capture their slice of this development? Historically, affiliates have prioritised or only promoted casino operators who offered either the Microgaming or the Playtech casino products because, on their own, they are arguably the strongest. With advances in technology and the ability to gain access to multiple casino suppliers, single supplier casino operators are becoming a thing of the past. Rather than operators and affiliates looking at the casino supplier, they should be looking at the gaming content and the uniqueness of the offering. The most competitive products will undoubtedly be host to hand-picked top content from a number of suppliers. In short, unique game lists, not just suppliers, are now in demand. From our own experience, Victor Chandler (VC) has enjoyed a long relationship with Chartwell who supplied casino products for over ten years; however, it became apparent that the company had been too reliant on one operator and had almost certainly fallen behind in certain areas. Both VC and Chartwell had quite

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“Players are attracted by well designed, well branded and well coded games and less concerned with who developed them, something the industry as a whole needs to take note of.” simply missed the huge and very profitable slots market by concentrating and relying on the table game business. To gain access to top slots content, it was evident that the single casino supplier strategy had to change. In response, more suppliers and content were sourced along with the ability to integrate these into a seamless wallet solution. This created the ‘Best of Breed’ style offering and the strategy so many operators are striving for nowadays. In response, VC brought in Net Entertainment along with the fantastic slot content it offers, WagerWorks (now IGT Interactive), Ash Gaming and OpenBet packaged releases, CryptoLogic, Fremantle and Endemol brands and more importantly than the range of suppliers, brought in top branded game content which can all sit alongside each other across casino, games and slots. With exclusive deals becoming as rare as hens teeth, suppliers have to deal with the way the industry is moving by making their content as easily accessible to as many casino and games operators as possible.

With Microgaming’s Quickfire Casino, WagerWorks’ RGS (Remote Gaming Server) or the OpenBet RGI (Remote Gaming Interface) all allowing for quick and seamless integration, it is enabling the operators to grow their products by bringing in multiple suppliers without having to deal with large scale and high maintenance integrations. Also, with OpenBet integrating the top ‘boutique’ style supplier content from the likes of Blueprint, Endemol and Ash Gaming for example, the FOG platform and the regular packaged releases help keep site content up-to-date and fresh. Affiliates also need to fully embrace the multiple supplier mentality and promote a mix of operators to help cater for as much of the market as possible. Rather than looking at which supplier the operator is working with, affiliates should focus on content and the uniqueness of the firm’s products. Ultimately, players are attracted by well designed, well branded and well coded games and less concerned with who developed them, something the industry as a whole needs to take note of.


INTERVIEW

CASINO SUPPLEMENT

iGB Affiliate magazine puts its questions to James Jackson, Affiliate Manager at Gala Coral. If you could sum up the iGaming industry in a sentence, what would you say? Unpredictable, exhilarating, fast paced and profitable. Is there more emphasis on affiliate programs and the part they play in today’s market, with particular regard to driving quality and converting traffic to gaming sites? Yes, without a doubt. It hasn’t happened overnight, but I think affiliate marketing is now getting the focus it deserves particularly as the awareness of the benefits has increased. I believe senior management across the industry now regard affiliates as a high return channel when managed correctly. At Gala Coral Group, we have significantly invested in a new in-house program called GC Affiliates; this demonstrates the emphasis the group is placing on the channel. The platform (which is due to be launched shortly) will bring all of Gala Coral Group’s brands into one program with advanced audited tracking and payment tools. What was the impetus behind moving your affiliate business in-house? ‘Direct relationships’ and networks both have their place in a healthy affiliate program. Affiliate networks are an important channel and will remain so. After consultation with our affiliates (we want to get to know them to build trust, drive profits and ensure future growth), our response was not only to launch an in-house program but also professional ad-serving, tracking, retention, analysis and reporting tools. What’s the significance of the timing? Why now? The GC Affiliates program (gcaffiliates. galacoral.com) coincides with wider investment in our online channel as a whole, we know we can match our high street position online and we aim to achieve that within 18 months. We are very serious about the affiliate space.

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Gala Coral is a renowned, almost institutional high street brand in the UK. How is the brand perceived online? Is there a challenge in distancing yourselves from the rather ‘old-fashioned’ bingo hall association to fit with the modern digital generation and business landscape? Quite the opposite; it’s a huge advantage in the market place. Our brands (Coral, Gala Casino and Gala Bingo) are so established and have great heritage so we find that people trust us. Trust is the most precious commodity. To develop that trust, we have invested heavily in audited tracking, reporting and payment solutions to deliver total transparency to our affiliates. What types of commission structures do you offer your affiliate partners and which of them is the most popular? We offer a tiered structure for our three brands and 12 products, all with cross product revenue share in a single wallet. ● Bingo – our new program will offer up to 50% commission for bingo and up to 35% across all side games. ● Sport – up to 30% revenue share. ● Poker – up to 35% revenue share. ● Casino – up to 35% revenue share. ● All our products have no negative roll over. With our high lifetime player values, most of our affiliates prefer the revenue share option; however, we have the flexibility to offer more tailored deals if requested. What SEO advice would you offer to affiliates that are thinking of promoting your brand? Know the competition – pick your battles. There is little point aiming for number one on Google for terms like ‘online casino’ unless, of course, you have very deep pockets and an experienced team. Instead, look for new opportunities, stay up-to-date with all the latest iGaming news with iGB Affiliate, and look out for new product launches. The quicker you react the better you will rank.

“There is little point aiming for number one on Google for terms like ‘online casino’ unless, of course, you have very deep pockets and an experienced team.” New international markets are also a good opportunity. However, it is important to adopt a regional strategy, a common phrase/ term in one market maybe completely obsolete in another. Again, it is important to keep informed by keeping up-to-date on potential regulatory changes or rumours. Plan well in advance. It is essential that once you pick your niche, you plan well in advance to ensure you get the URLs you need, link build and create bespoke content to gain an early ‘indexable’ position that can be leveraged. We believe a pragmatic view is to have a 12 month strategy at a minimum. Use industry and web standards. Google’s ‘Search Engine Optimisation Starters Guide’ is a great place to start, and ensures you don’t make mistakes which might penalise your ranking (www.google.com/.../searchengine optimization-starter-guide.pdf). Helpful SEO tools Google Trends: great free tool to monitor trends on brands and the wider industry. Bing/Yahoo!/Google Webmaster tools: these tools provide free dashboard management for SEO. SEO Moz: provides online tools and tutorials for online marketing and SEO. What would be your advice to affiliates starting up in the gaming industry for the first time? I know it is a cliché but I would say ‘content is King’. Specialise in an area you are knowledgeable/passionate about. Fresh content ranks well on search engines and gives reasons for people to return to a site. Know that affiliate managers are there to help; they can provide affiliates with great unique content.


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Professional poker player, John Tabatabai, is a timely example of the new generation of business men and women who are piloting new and innovative routes to market in the iGaming industry. THE DEBATE SURROUNDING the ‘saturation’ of the casino and poker industries continues apace as we enter 2011, with many questioning how to invent new value propositions that will be competitive in an overcrowded, yet blossoming marketplace. As with any development in the gaming industry, innovation lies at the heart of progress and in seeking new avenues to explore and vehicles in which to explore them, entrepreneurs and savvy businesspeople are inching the parameters of the sector’s product base ever outwards. John Tabatabai is a professional poker player who famously got down to heads-up with Annette Obrestad at the inaugural World Series of Poker Europe in 2007, and is now pioneering a new business venture in the gaming space in the form of Bidibot.com – an online penny auction site dedicated to casino and poker players. It represents a bold move into a new area of business, the potential of which is so far unexplored with regards to gaming. Outside influences may be at work here, with the recent prominence of more generic auction sites such as MadBid.com and Swoopo.co.ok both proliferating during the recession, and, perhaps, offering a plausible blueprint for a more considered model. Indeed, Bidibot’s declaration that the site is “built by poker players, for poker players” certainly lends to that theory; intent to establish a unique selling proposition for an industry and, more importantly, a demographic that demands specificity. However, this boldness isn’t without its perils. The poker and casino market is hugely competitive, both for operators and for affiliates, and introducing an entirely new business concept would appear to represent a significant leap of faith. Yet, it is a market that bends to change; that doesn’t

and can’t stand still, and that actively seeks out the drivers of business for the future. As Tabatabai alludes, going up against the incumbent players in the market with the same business model puts market entrants at a massive disadvantage. “It’s similar to going tête-à-tête with Facebook and trying to outdo them – creating a better social networking site. They have the user-base, the experience, the knowledge and the brand; it’s an uphill struggle with a very low chance of success,” he explained. Indeed, he has a point. This time last year, Harrah’s announced its entry into the online poker market to a mixed reception, with many believing that even they, with a colossal offline brand, would struggle to make an imprint on the existing market leaders. “PokerStars and Full Tilt have complete control of the market. Poker players are settled where they are – they play where they are comfortable and the guaranteed tournament schedules of PokerStars and Full Tilt can’t be competed with unless a site is willing to invest at least a hundred million dollars. Then again, if anyone can, it’s Harrah’s, but I think they will struggle. “Instead of trying to compete in a traditional sense with this market, we decided to create something that is unique to the industry and will also help the poker and casino sites by providing new players to their rooms and from other niches too, not just gaming.” There is a lesson for affiliates here too, in diversity of business model and making your affiliate site more than just a means to an end. The auction lots on John’s site include credits and packages from the likes of 888, PokerStars and Betfair, and also electrical goods from Sony, Apple and Nintendo.

So either as an affiliate, or as a new gaming business, Bidibot.com provides a fascinating insight into just what can be done in this space that hasn’t be attempted before. But the landscape is changing and it is changing to cater for a more learned and demanding consumer who has become just as accomplished at seeking the future as the industry itself. The online casino and poker market is saturated, but not to the extent that new business can’t still capitalise on this vast and profitable sector. Innovation has always been the lifeblood of the industry’s evolution, and today’s new business models tell us that this will remain the case for as long as iGaming exists.

JOHN TABATABAI ON POKER How do you play jacks? I always look three times at them for good luck, then I close my eyes and keep betting. My favourite is when the flop comes A-Q-4, because then I turn my jacks into a bluff and bet as much as possible. Sometimes, I even throw in a cheeky river check-raise. What’s your favourite tournament? World Series of Poker Europe (WSOPE). Who’s the best Hold’em cash game player in the world? The one who has won the most money: Phil Ivey What poker ‘jargon’ annoys you the most? mbn Which five people would you have at your dream poker table? Steve Jobs, Robert Kiyosaki, Rachel Bilson, Donald Trump and Eva Mendez.

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CASE STUDY

After a period of heightened activity on the TV airways with innovative and humorous ad campaigns that have helped boost its own brand profile, Paddy Power suggests how affiliates could be making the most of these commercial opportunities. Anthony Wong, Affiliate Manager at Paddy Power, explores how affiliates could catch their commercial break.

HAVING CONQUERED RETAIL, phones, mobile and online, one of the only mediums left to explore in 2009 for Paddy Power was TV and we did so, in true Paddy Power-style, during peak periods over the past two years. The two years achieved two different goals and took two different approaches to get there. The first run of ads aired on UK TV utilising various recognisable sporting celebrities in compromising positions, paying particular attention to our renowned ‘Money-Back Specials’. Setting the standard was a pre-Ascot 2009 ad featuring Richard Dunwoody, astride a horse, eating cereal in a punter’s kitchen. To the shock of the weary-eyed punter, he explained that his losing bet still won him money in the previous day’s race. On top of the TV viewers, 18,000 people viewed this ad online. A succession of ads along these lines featured the likes of Des Walker in the closet (12,000 online views), Carlton Palmer in the bath (78,000 views) and Bruce Grobbelaar in the fridge (188,000 views). The results of these ads were phenomenal. Not only were they popular and entertaining, they’re also informative and provoked mass discussion both on and off-line. They were all available to affiliates to feature onsite in a branded-up unit to further spread the message.

Changing habits It is well known that TV viewing habits are changing – there is a strong and growing trend where people surf the Internet and watch TV at the same time. This means a viewer who sees a TV ad that interests them can quickly search for an online review of that brand, directly enter ‘www.paddypower.com’ or Google ‘Paddy Power’ via their Laptop, Smartphone or on their iPad. Apart from this direct response, viewers who see a TV ad and then see an online banner ad for the same company

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in a similar design are more likely to recognise the banner and the offer, making conversion a far more likely outcome and in some cases, given the brand association, customers even switch allegiance from their usual provider. The Ascot campaign of 2009 was our most heavily supported advertising drive incorporating both online and offline channels. The creative we supplied our affiliates mirrored the TV ad which was also issued to them as a YouTube video for embedding on their site. We also identified that using strong and compelling offers during the campaign would have a positive impact on conversion rates and ensure the first experience of our brand was a positive one. We’ve found that, if communicated, timed and planned effectively, TV ads are a great medium for informing the audience about a brand they’ve never experienced before and sharing new information on a brand they have heard of but not crossed the line of building a relationship with. Likewise, they also re-affirm the strength of a brand to an existing customer. Our affiliates benefited from all-of-the-above as the ads prompted increased searches for, and higher recognition of our brand, enabling them to drive more targeted traffic thus, helping us recruit valuable new customers. Once the potential customers encounter our ads online, the affiliates and partners are able to provide the users with critical information such as odds, our ‘Money Back Specials’, enhanced odds (pushing England out to 10/1 during World Cup), free bets and other services that we provide in order to influence the user to become a customer. Moreover, the benefits for our affiliates and partners are very simple. The campaigns increase the number of people searching for reviews or information about Paddy Power, increase the number of new referred customers an affiliate can send and will increase the activity of existing

customers an affiliate has referred. Obviously, none of this would have been successfully executed without a well planned affiliate marketing strategy. It is important to inform affiliates as early as possible as well as getting placements arranged in advance so that affiliates can assign the appropriate coverage for the campaign.

Affiliate takeaway So how can affiliates prosper from the commercial media campaigns of the operators they promote? As we’ve shown with the TV ads mentioned in this article, operators running extensive ad campaigns for TV audiences are likely to provide their affiliates with the relevant copy and tools to reflect the branding of the new campaigns in their own marketing literature and on their own sites. Affiliates will also benefit from the breadth of the exposure of such campaigns – aligning your affiliate marketing efforts to that of a well exposed and well received commercial campaign which has had the added boost of being a viral hit in the online space, will add weight to the scope of your promotions and credence for the players coming through your site that you are officially in-league with the promoted operator. If you are already affiliated to a company such as Paddy Power, you will be only too aware of the tools available to you to piggyback onto successful TV and even viral campaigns. The heightened brand awareness amongst catchment demographics and within emerging customer sets that this sort of advertising attracts, opens new avenues of opportunity for affiliates to maximise their relationships with their partners. And with more and more ads becoming more and more innovative in the way they address their audience, affiliates not yet taking advantage of these campaigns will have much to miss out on as we enter a new year of commercial opportunity.


The Campaign Trail As is consistent with Paddy Power’s advertising methodology, the blind football TV campaign pushes certain boundaries; it contains blind footballers rather than actors including several of the players set to represent England in the World Blind Football Championships. The commercial’s main protagonist, Ajmal Ahmed, is the England captain. The advert has proven massively popular, demonstrated by the 357,000 views it has received on YouTube. The advert sees a blind football team playing in an enclosed five-a-side pitch using a ball with a bell inside to aid players in detecting where it is at any given time. When the ball is kicked out of the enclosed area, a cat strays onto the pitch, unfortunately wearing a bell on its collar causing the players to chase the cat instead. Ultimately, this results in the cat being unintentionally kicked up into a tree, unharmed, to the horror of an able-sighted referee.

Away from from direct online and TV traffic, during Cheltenham 2010, Paddy Power also unveiled the world’s largest billboard which attracted significant attention from online and offline media. The colossal Paddy Power sign is 270ft long eclipsing the previous world record holder which stood at 160ft and also dwarfs the iconic Hollywood sign in Los Angeles. The sign, which was originally unveiled last March on Cleeve Hill to coincide with the annual running of the Cheltenham Festival, was intended to add some sparkle to this year’s Ryder Cup, which was scheduled to take place a mere stone’s throw away from where the sign is located. In a related promotion, Paddy Power paid out on Europe to win the Ryder Cup before the travelling American team had even touched down on Welsh soil. The video attracted 418,000 views on YouTube – even the online BBC news coverage also attracted 11,000 views.

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FEATURE

Compared to gambling operators, iGaming affiliates have been able to build and develop their businesses free from the dead hand of regulation. Generally speaking, as affiliates are not providing gambling services, they do not need gambling licenses, are not the main target of consumer legislation, do not have the same level of money laundering compliance obligations and are not obliged to put in place social responsibility policies. THE MAIN CHALLENGES have been commercial, including balancing aggressive search engine optimisation with keeping on the right side of Google and other engines; building and protecting customer databases from predators; and, trying to resist the downward pressure on commission rates in an ever crowded market. One of the essential tools in the affiliate’s armoury is the ubiquitous cookie, without which, an affiliate would struggle to survive. It is the affiliate’s unique identifier in the cookie, sent by the customer’s computer when it requests a gambling web page, that tells the gambling operator that the customer has been referred by a particular affiliate, regardless of whether the customer is subsequently clicking through from that affiliate’s site or not. Without the cookie or other means for the affiliate to tag the customer’s website usage, the affiliate may not get his full commission. With this in mind, affiliates should be keeping a close eye on prospective developments in the regulation of cookies at EU level. In particular, there will be new

legislation across Europe to implement the e-Privacy Amendment Directive by June 2011 and on November 4, 2010, the European Commission (‘EC’) published its proposal for the strengthening of data protection regulation with new laws proposed for some time next year.

Personal data The collection, retention, and use of personal data has been harmonised in Europe since the 1995 Data Protection Directive (implemented in the UK by means of the Data Protection Act 1998). The 2002 e-Privacy Directive dealt with the processing of personal data in the electronic communications sector. This Directive was concerned that, “spyware, web bugs, hidden identifiers and other similar devices can enter the user’s terminal without their knowledge in order to gain access to information, to store hidden information or to trace the activities of the use and may seriously intrude upon the privacy of these user” (recital 24). Some would argue that in practice,

cookies are also placed on a website user’s computer without their knowledge and consent; that they are also used to store hidden information and can be used to trace the websites visited and browsing preferences of the user. However, unlike spyware and other malware, cookies (so far as I know) are merely non executable text files to store data and do not cause any harmful changes to a user’s computer. Indeed, it was accepted in the e-Privacy Directive that cookies could be a “legitimate and useful tool, for example, in analysing the effectiveness of website design and advertising, and in verifying the identity of users engaged in online transactions.” The principle stated in Article 5(3) of that Directive was that before a website (data controller) could store information on a user’s computer and later access it, the user should be given “clear and comprehensive information” about the purposes of the processing and “is offered the right to refuse such processing by the data controller”; in other words, an informed opt out. It became accepted practice that if

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FEATURE

a user did not set his browser to prohibit or delete cookies then he could be taken to have consented to them. This seemed to be in accordance with the Directive which also said, “Information and the right to refuse may be offered once for the use of various devices to be installed on the user’s terminal equipment during the same connection and also covering any further use that may be made of those devices during subsequent connections.” It seemed, therefore, that provided a website had a privacy policy that told the user that they could set their browser to prohibit cookies then they most probably complied with the Directive. Certainly, when the Directive was transposed into UK law in the “Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003”, the provision of information and the opportunity to refuse cookies need only be offered on initial use of the website. One might say that a lack of clarity meant that there was little attention paid to the use of cookies which by their very nature are not transparent.

Information storing and access In view of advances in technology, the 2002 e-Privacy Directive was amended by the 2009 e-Privacy Directive and there are some potentially very serious ramifications for affiliates and other online advertisers. Article 5(3) has been amended and now says that the storing of information, or the gaining of access to information already stored on the user’s computer is only allowed on condition that the user concerned, “has given his or her consent, having been provided with clear and comprehensive information, in accordance with Directive 95/46/EC, inter alia about the purposes of the processing.” The 1995 Data Protection Directive says that “the data subject’s consent” “shall mean any freely given specific and informed indication of his wishes ...” Does this mean that once the 2009 Directive is implemented in EU Member

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States’ national laws next June, a user has to be asked for his consent every time a website he visits wants to send him a cookie? Since it has to be informed consent, such a request would also have to tell him the purpose of the cookie and deal with any third-party cookies (e.g. deals with ad servers such as Doubleclick). Obviously, the need to obtain informed consent to cookies on every occasion could be very cumbersome and undermine the ability of affiliates to earn revenue. Users might not want their gambling tracked by anyone and the way consent is obtained could be out of the affiliate’s control after the initial visit to the affiliate’s site. Further, since the above mentioned provisions refer to the storing or access of “information”, you could not get around the obligations by using so-called Flash cookies or other software as it is the placing and retrieval of the information that is regulated, not the software format by which it is done. Some comfort can be taken from the recitals to the 2009 Directive (which although do not have legal effect in themselves are aids to interpretation) as there is continued recognition that the use of cookies is legitimate (recital 66), and that, “where it is technically possible and effective ... the user’s consent to processing may be expressed by using the appropriate settings of a browser or other application.” So will anything change on the regulation of cookies? We will not know until the various Member States publish their proposed legislation for implementing the Directive which they are supposed to do by May 25, 2011.

Privacy of consumers Earlier this month, the European Commission published its plans to strengthen and revise data protection regulation in the EU with its report called, “A comprehensive approach to personal data protection in the European Union”.

The clear indication is that the tide is shifting towards greater protection of the privacy of consumers. EU regulation on data protection aims to meet two objectives that can sometimes be in conflict: (a) the fundamental right to privacy including how personal data is collected, retained, used and transferred; and (b) the free movement of information with the EU free trade area of the internal market. The report addresses the collection of personal data across different media and for different purposes, and says it is, “essential that individuals are well and clearly informed, in a transparent way, by data controllers about how and by whom their data are collected and processed, for what reasons, for how long and what their rights are if they want to access, rectify or delete their data.” It is still early days, although the report lists a number of areas where the EC proposes to introduce new laws. They include considerable changes to current data collection and sharing practices so that they become much more transparent. For example, privacy policies may be subject to specific requirements and/or notices in particular formats given about the data collected and used by a website. There may be an obligatory requirement to appoint an independent Data Protection Officer and if personal data is lost, destroyed or unlawfully accessed, individuals would have to be informed. “Data minimisation” would be strengthened so that data controllers could only process personal data for their own purposes and not collect it for ancillary purposes. Giving an individual much greater control over the use of his personal data is a key objective and this would include better rights of access, rectification and deletion. It is this latter point, the so called “right to be forgotten”, that has moved to the top of the agenda with the huge growth of social networking. There is a worrying trend in the willingness of (often young)


people to provide all sorts of personal data in the form of still and moving images for the world to see, only to have difficulties having it removed from websites should they subsequently change their mind. The EC report refers to the question of whether Internet browser settings can constitute “freely given, specific and informed consent to data processing” and there is greater emphasis on making sure that data processing is in line with Article 8 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights (which gives everyone the right to protection over their personal data, fair processing on the basis of consent, access and rectification). Depending on how data about a person’s web browsing preferences are obtained and used, there may even be a breach of a person’s human rights under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (respect for a person’s private and family life, his home and his correspondence) particularly if a user’s unique identifier is linked to the disclosure on a website of his real identity. This is not a fanciful suggestion, as the UK is currently facing infringement proceedings by the EC in the European Court of Justice (‘ECJ’) for failing to properly implement the Data Protection

and e-Privacy Directives. The case concerns behavioural advertising and the use of a programme called ‘Phorm’ that constantly analyses users’ web surfing preferences and then to deliver targeted advertising to them when they visit certain websites. BT had been using the technology, initially without informing customers. It is alleged that there was an unlawful interception in communications and that the UK was not in compliance with EU law that does not allow consent to interception to be assumed and it must be freely given, specific and informed. The case continues. In October 2010, the Information Commissioner’s Office (‘ICO’) in the UK published a consultation paper, “Data Sharing Code of Practice”. When implemented, the code can be taken into account in any enforcement action to assist in deciding whether anyone is in breach of the Data Protection Act. The proposed Code also focuses on the rights of the individual to ensure that he is more informed about what personal data is being collected, retained and shared and for what purposes. There is obviously growing concern in the EC about an inconsistent application of EU rules amongst Member States and the lack of effective control over the use

of personal data obtained electronically and without transparency. The EC’s report refers to the issues that arise with hundreds of millions of people providing personal data to social networking sites, and the lack of control of information in the context of cloud computing. There is no doubt that the trend in EU law making is towards greater rights for the individual and more restrictive and controlled use of personal data including cookies and other means of gaining and monetising user data. The EU report discussed above is open for consultation until January 15, 2011 and it is envisaged that amended data protection legislation will be introduced during 2011. This is one area of regulation that the affiliate industry must face head on. This article does not constitute legal advice on which you can rely and you should seek independent legal advice on your specific situation before deciding to act or not act in relation to any matter.

PETER WILSON Partner, Memery Crystal LLP pwilson@memerycrystal.com

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FEATURE

Founder of Games and Casino, Dominique, asks ‘what will happen if and when the US opens its doors to online gambling?’ THIS HAS BEEN a point of discussion among operators and affiliates for some time now. With both Harrah’s and the NFL pushing for legalisation now, it won’t be too long before online gambling will become legal and regulated in the US. So how will this affect affiliates? Opinions on this differ widely. Some maintain that the Vegas casinos will not need or want affiliates when they are ready to enter the market. Hence, there will be no affiliates in the US. Really? Just about everyone doing business online uses affiliates. Affiliates are like online billboards. Every business would love to have their name shouted out at every street corner. It’s a no brainer – Vegas will want as much publicity as it can get. Some Vegas properties have affiliate programs already, such as MGM Mirage and Wynn. However, at this time they don’t pay for players, only for hotel stays. Also, Harrah’s has hired PartyGaming’s ex CEO, Mitch Garber, to head up Harrah’s Interactive Entertainment, the online branch of its business currently exploiting the iGaming space. So, it sure doesn’t look like affiliates will be bypassed by Vegas. But, how will they be paid? Rev share? CPA? Impressions? Clicks? Will it still be profitable? Back in the day, everyone got paid by impressions or clicks. I would assume everyone starts at the same price per click, but if you send good quality traffic you’ll likely be able to negotiate a better rate. This business model generally does require high volume traffic. It’s how Google AdSense pays. Another business model along these lines is a site that allows bidding on ad spots. This was successfully done by the Wizard of Odds site until Bodog stepped up and bought all the spots. Bidding makes sure that you get the best possible price for your advertising real estate. Then, of course, there is CPA. Today, CPA is the payment method that causes the most issues. One party always loses in CPA – the casino or the affiliate. Lots of ‘affiliates’ attempt fraud with this method. It’s all too easy to have a bunch of friends sign up and deposit minimal amounts,

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“I think it’s time our industry grew up and formed a proper affiliate association, not a bunch of splintered groups who vie for dominance over each other.” collect the CPA and pay the friends back. Of course, the casino will put its foot down and then we have complaint after complaint in the forums. As an honest affiliate, you may just have sold a player that is worth thousands upon thousands for $100. Now the casino wins. And with a watchful eye on fraud, the casino usually wins with this proposition. So, as long as there is rev share available, CPA certainly doesn’t present the better choice. However, CPA seems a logical choice for the new Vegas properties when they first come online. So, rev share is still the most profitable for both parties. It is pay by performance; the casino only pays a percentage of the money the affiliate generates. But will the Vegas casinos pay like this? Most likely not. Vegas casinos will spend a lot more on retention. There will likely be comps for the land-based casinos and trips to Vegas as prizes and rewards. They already spend a fortune on pretty sophisticated retention mailings and I am sure they will introduce some mind boggling comps online. This is advertising spend, and will come out of the same budget as affiliate pay. Maybe they can do a CPA/rev share combo. They are now set up to do rev share on hotel bookings. It shouldn’t be that hard to extend this to other items, such as wagering, although wagering isn’t commonly used online today (the only place I can think of that uses it is Casino Rewards). You get paid a percentage of monies wagered – whether the players win or lose is irrelevant. Another possibility is payment for referral of the player to both the online casino and the land-based casino if (s)he chooses to go there at a later date. That would mean CPA for online acquisition, and rev share for the hotel stay. One thing is pretty certain; earnings per player will be smaller. But is that really going to be so bad? In July 2009, the US reported an adult gambling population of almost 209 million

people (and they didn’t count people above 65 in this number… people above 65 do play). The University of Michigan conducted a survey and concluded the following: About 88 percent of sample respondents report having gambled at some point in their lifetime, and 69 percent report gambling in the year prior to the survey. Do the math – this is huge. How much profit per player do we really need when the number of players increases so dramatically? Still, there is eventually going to be a finite number of players, so, sooner or later, on CPA there will be an end to the profitability for affiliates. But wait – do we even know that we need to promote the Vegas casinos at all? How about we stick with our trusted partners, who pay us properly? Lots of US players are playing now, and they like the software they are using. I doubt that the casinos we promote now will just curl up in a corner and wait to die. Some will pursue licensing in the US, and some will just continue to operate as they have always done. Another question is whether it will be possible to promote Vegas casinos side by side with other online casinos on the same site. Perhaps we end up keeping our existing sites the way they are (all that content!) and launch new sites for Vegas. So, while we don’t know what Vegas has in mind for affiliates, it is pretty much a given that they will want affiliates. It is up to us to accept the offers or not. We can choose to go with the new casinos, or stick with the ones we have now. It would be very good if we could ever manage a united affiliate association that can have representatives negotiate with the casinos for us. Many bricks and mortar professions have such associations. But, trying to form a solid group consisting of, and going to bat for, online affiliates has always been like herding feral cats. I think it’s time our industry grew up and formed a proper affiliate association, not a bunch of splintered groups who vie for dominance over each other.


Why the New Jersey Senate’s vote is the starting gun for multi-billion dollar race. ON NOVEMBER 22, 2010, the New Jersey Senate passed the bill to legalise online gambling by an overwhelming 29 votes to five. The New Jersey (NJ) bill has not even formally passed but it triggers a frenzy of a race of arms proportions. If the bill passes the NJ Assembly, a presidentialaspirant Governor Christie faces a dilemma – money for the state or national prospects with the GOP. Interesting as that scenario is, frankly, it does not matter if the New Jersey law does come through – the states have crossed a line. It is New York, Pennsylvania, California or one of several states with working proposals in the pipeline, the ones at the front end of a sweeping tide of online gambling legalization, will hold an advantage. All states passing the laws are set to take their share in taxes on what is estimated to be $42 billion in tax receipts over the next ten years, but profits will repatriate to headquarters and service providers. Those who build a hub of talent, technology, infrastructure and skills within online gambling will double down on the opportunity.

‘Deep Throat’ from ‘All The President’s Men’ famously said “Follow the money”. In New Jersey, not only is the horseracing industry under pressure, but land-based casinos who opposed online gaming are being besieged by international players setting up on their borders. Large, international firms provide jobs – and jobs and tax receipts are enough to ensure that laws pass in due course. However, the states who want the trail of profits and support industries to be based in their states will need to be first movers, which creates a competitive tension that is frankly enjoyable to watch after years of talk and legalese that was reminiscent of watching paint dry. European gaming infrastructure companies – online platforms, marketing agencies who want to get involved in this new arms race, will need to build relationships and visibility in the earlymoving states to cash-in on their experience base – once US leadership has been established there, it will roll into the rest of the nation.

Stating the obvious, seeing the impact on Google from lifting its self-imposed ban last October in the UK, other inevitable winners will be the search engines and a new frontier of prospecting for affiliates. With the contribution of US online gambling, iGaming Business predicts, the entire online casino industry is expected to increase by 80 percent by 2014. There is no doubt that legalised online gambling means big business for the digital marketing and advertising community. A changing tide on the legalisation of online gambling is not just sweeping through America, but is picking up pace all around the world. The question of this coming digital gaming revolution now is not if, nor even when, but rather, ‘what are you doing about the fact that online gambling will be legalised?’

ALEX HOYE, CEO, Latitude Digital Marketing.

iGB Affiliate DECEMBER/JANUARY 2010/11

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insight

How to take the relationship forward. Military strategist and Chinese general, Sun Tzu, once said that “Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” Needless to say that this also applies to the business world, where strategies are essential and initiatives are important in helping us achieve our strategies. However, the initiative alone, without any coordination whatsoever or without it being linked with a final aim or vision could spell disaster both in terms of ROI and dilution of the overall company message.

Social media During the last year or so, we have seen a transformation of the affiliate marketing industry – companies are working hard to consolidate what they have and even acquire competitors or other affiliates in different product verticals to increase their customer base. As social media is increasing in popularity, affiliates and operators alike are now actively looking at this medium as a realistic acquisition channel and considering appropriate ways of coupling social media and affiliate marketing… but how can it be effectively done?

Establish your aims/main goals Before engaging in any new marketing activity and especially using new media, it is important to start setting your aims and objectives. This step is essential as it will set your key performance indicators upon which the performance of this medium can be monitored, in addition to helping you shape the right initiatives to target the right objectives.

Listen to what your potential customers are saying Customers are spending more time online as the Internet has become an integral part of our working life and our social/ recreational time. Customers are actively using social media channels to learn about new products, trends, tips and new tricks while engaging with communities that share their interests. It is, thus, essential to start by identifying who your target customer is and where he/she hangs out

“During the last year or so, we have seen a transformation of the affiliate marketing industry – companies are working hard to consolidate what they have and even acquire competitors or affiliates in different product verticals to increase their customer base.” online. Look at which channels they use, which Facebook groups they join, who they follow on Twitter and which YouTube channels they subscribe to. Use applications such as Google Alerts or Social Mention to get updates on what is being said where. Collate all the information and start profiling your social customer.

Engage Having identified your customer, where they hang out online and what their needs are, it is important to devise an engagement strategy. Identify the channels that you intend to use and start building your social presence. Interact with your target market by commenting on their posts, posting new content on blogs and give recommendations. When building your own community consider integrating various social media channels so that you offer the best user experience. A good idea, for example, would be to set challenges or competitions to your community on Facebook, that require your followers to share links or add a ‘like’. A prize could then be awarded to the user who gets the most hits. Such activities help the community to grow as your contacts spread the word for you. This strategy was adopted wisely by sportsbook operators and affiliates during the run up to the World Cup. They made predictor game widgets available to their connections and these were, in turn, encouraged to grow the community by inviting friends and challenging them online. The results were very encouraging as communities grew in the tens of thousands on single predictor games. Another good example of the power of social media and affiliate marketing was shown earlier this year by Domino’s Pizza. It enabled everyone to become an affiliate and to earn money by uploading an online widget that enabled users to order pizzas

online onto their website. Friends naturally shared links and earned commission along the way. In return, Domino earned higher sales and free PR from the innovative campaign.

Monitor and adjust Social media is not a free advertising medium as it requires a lot of time and resources in monitoring the activity of the community online. If you leave your community alone, the community will sooner or later leave you. For social media to be used effectively, campaigns could be micro-targeted making it possible to achieve higher return on investment. At this stage, make sure that you collect the right statistics and monitor the results. If your aim was to grow your customer base, check the increase in the rate of new depositing customers, the number of referrals through social media sites and adjust your strategy accordingly. Focus on the channels that are sending you the most traffic and analyse other lagging channels to see how these can be improved. Technically, social media is not different from any conventional media in terms of ROI, it is simply an investment that has to be maximised. The only difference is that you cannot adopt a fire and forget strategy; the key lies in the constant engagement and interaction with your community.

Matthew Castillo is an iGaming and Affiliate Marketing specialist who has experience working for a leading affiliate software provider, providing affiliate marketing consultancy services to a number of leading iGaming operators. Matthew can be contacted on matthew@actifusion.com

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INSIGHT

Human beings are social creatures

Appearance

that seek out companionship and relationships. Our map of reality can be viewed as a series of concentric circles which include the most trusted relationships and those who are in our hearts at the very centre. We crave trust. Without it, we would be consigned to a world where we must examine everyone’s actions with suspicion and assume that they are working only for their purposes and not ours. Because of the sheer number of social interactions that we have with complete strangers, we must at least extend some trust. Otherwise many acts, both small and momentous, simply could not happen at all. Even with total strangers in the ‘real world’, we at least have their appearance and body language to go by. But what do you do online? Almost anyone can quickly create a website or landing page and masquerade as a wide variety of businesses. Many of these enterprises are untrustworthy. We are often barraged in the media about various scams perpetrated online and have our guard up. As an online marketer, your job is very difficult compared to your bricks-andmortar marketing counterpart. You must not only overcome anxieties, but do so in the most challenging of circumstances. Online trust must be developed without any face-to-face contact, and it must be created instantly in the few precious seconds it takes a website visitor to evaluate your value proposition.

First impressions matter. We do judge a book by its cover. Recent research indicates that people will form an initial impression of your landing page or website within fifty milliseconds. This is almost as fast as visual processing happens in the brain, and can be considered as an instantaneous and automatic response. In other words, we subliminally decide where the page falls on our ‘cheesy’ to ‘professional’ continuum. And this initial reaction extends to a more considered review of the page, and will impact out any likelihood of taking the desired conversion action. Don’t get disqualified based solely on how you look! We prefer well-dressed and groomed job-candidates. We try to put our best foot forward on first dates. The same should be done online. ●●Professionalism of design: Regardless of the intended audience or your business purpose, the visual design should be professionally executed. It should hang together and function as a single unified whole. Fonts, colours, and graphical elements must combine into a single visual ‘look’. ●●Sparseness and neatness: Clutter can be your worst enemy, whether it is visual embellishments or dense longwinded text. Less is more. Ruthlessly edit everything on the page until it is pared to its essence and has a natural and unforced feel. Give your page room to breathe. ●●Organisation and clarity: Too many choices as to courses of action on one page can be paralysing. Similarly, a disorganised page increases the visitor’s ‘cognitive load’ and forces them to spend

So how can you build instant trust online? The following pillars of trust can be employed with great effectiveness.

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time simply trying to figure out in what order they should digest the information that you have presented. As the title of Steve Krug’s excellent book on web usability so elegantly puts it, “Don’t Make Me Think”.

Transactional assurances Will we be spammed if we enter our email in a form? Will the goods promised ever be delivered after we order from an online catalogue? Will our very identity be stolen? Such questions are always in the background when we navigate around the web. Relieve point-of-action anxieties before they arise. The mechanics of the conversion action matter. Whether you are trying to collect an email for an online newsletter or have someone purchase an expensive item or service, reassurances are needed about the transaction. ●●Forms of payment and delivery: Many ecommerce catalogues only show acceptable forms of payment and return policies after the checkout process has been started. In fact, they must be seen before they are needed and prominently displayed above the fold on every page. The same is true of well-known delivery and shipping methods. ●●Data security and privacy: The site that you transact with must be certified as safe by outside experts in terms of its ability to protect your data. Having privacy policies and computer security trust marks from well-known vendors will instantly show someone that you have safeguarded their data properly. ●●Policies and guarantees: Often, the transaction is not at issue. It is what happens afterwards that concerns


“First impressions matter. Recent research indicates that people will form an initial impression of your landing page or website within fifty milliseconds.” people. By prominently featuring your warranties, return policies and guarantees, you can assuage these anxieties. Often, a visual seal can be created to draw the eye to these important elements.

Experts and media Your visitors are not likely to have heard of you. Unless you represent a truly world-class consumer company, people are unlikely to know your brand promise. They do not know what you stand for. Borrow trust from better-known brands ●●Reviews and awards: Many services and products have won awards or at least been reviewed by relevant industry publications. Using the award seals or ‘reviewed by’ language can be very effective. ●●Paid endorsements and spokespeople: Paid endorsements can transfer the trust or at least the celebrity of the spokesperson to the product or service in  question. ●●Marquee clients: Using client logos with permission or at least prominently featuring a written list of clients (unless specifically prohibited from doing so by contract language) will create powerful visual proof of your legitimacy. They confer an implicit halo effect – if you have worked with large companies, of course you can handle smaller ‘regular’ ones. ●●Media Mentions: Media companies are experts at self-promotion and drumming

their brands into our consciousness. Any association with them confers a notoriety and solidity to your landing page. Often, ‘media’ outlets can also be broadly defined as bloggers or authoritative voices in your specific niche. There are several caveats to the use of expert and media logos. They must appear above the fold and be seen at the same time as the call-to-action (not below or after it) in order to provide the context for the content on the page. On the other hand, they must be displayed subtly, so they do not dominate the visual conversation. The logos are often well designed, distinctive and instantly recognisable. So you may have to actually de-emphasise their impact by reducing size, decreasing colour saturation (possibly using grayscale), and decreasing contrast with the background colour chosen to display the logos.

Consensus of peers We often follow the lead of people like ourselves. If we see many friends driving a particular make of car, we are more prone to consider it for ourselves. If our circle of acquaintances turns us on to a new musical group, we are more likely to pay attention. Regardless of the actual cultural ‘tribes’ that we belong to, our peers exert a very strong influence on us. Support automatic compliance by demonstrating ‘social proof’. There are two important preconditions for ‘social proof’ to be effective: 1) there has

to be many people who are taking similar action, and 2) they must be as much like us as possible. ●●Objective numbers: ‘The many’ can be demonstrated by showing how many people have bought, downloaded, or started a free trial. The amount should be cumulative since the inception of the business or product. Spell out the digits of each number (e.g. “over 1,000,000 downloads”), and use larger fonts to draw additional attention. ●●Likeness: Create affinity by demonstrating that the people taking action are similar to your website visitors. This can be done by picking appropriate colours, editorial tone and graphics to make your visitors feel at home. You can also have a large number of detailed testimonials that discuss common situations faced by similar people. If you build on the four pillars of trust above, you should have a solid foundation for improved conversions.

Tim Ash is the CEO of SiteTuners.com, a landing page optimization firm that offers conversion consulting, full-service guaranteed-improvement tests, and tools to improve conversion. SiteTuners’ interactive Express Review of a landing page can quickly identify major conversion issues. Tim is a highly-regarded speaker at Internet marketing conferences including CapEuro London 2009. He is a contributing columnist to several online marketing industry publications and is the author of the bestselling book Landing Page Optimization.

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INSIGHT

PRODUCT FOCUS

Financial trading platforms have been the source of much discussion in affiliate circles at the recent iGaming conferences and here, Marc BenEzra, Director at Aff Europe, runs the rule over binary betting. APPROXIMATELY FIVE MILLION years ago (give or take), the human species diverged from that of chimpanzees. According to evolutional theory, the exact turning point can be traced back to the moment when some bright spark realised that walking across the ground on two feet, rather than swinging through trees, would free up the hands. In an instant, all sorts of opportunities arose, opening up the possibility for waving to friends, fighting enemies, and most importantly, carrying food. Over the next few thousands of years, strolling about became commonplace – the modern human being had begun to evolve. Luckily enough, since the advent of the Internet, human behaviour now evolves slightly quicker. Over the last fifteen years, our attention spans have shortened (you’re probably bored of this article already), we have realised the photographic consequence of a misplaced night out, and above all, our hunger for the next big thing has become insatiable. We have barely got to grips with one technological gadget before we want the next one. Jack Wilshere is the next Theo Walcott (both young Arsenal footballers), before the current Theo Walcott is old enough to go on a funfair ride. Websites have learnt the capricious nature of the modern human being the

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hard way. If the Internet business has taught us one thing, it has taught us that the present is only that – the present. Historically, huge websites have come and gone as subtly as ships in the night. Dotcom booms have been followed by dotcom busts. Even a media mogul like Rupert Murdoch can end up with egg on his face, paying $580 million for MySpace, when he should, of course, have purchased Facebook. It is clear that online, standing still is simply not an option – and never more so than in the world of online gaming. Castiron hits have become fads (think poker,) whilst the great expected booms have sunk without trace (anyone for backgammon?). Many industry experts predict the next big thing in gaming will be binary betting – for those unfamiliar with the concept, allow me the very briefest of introductions. Binary betting combines the buzz of action from sportsbetting, the skill and strategy of poker and the simplicity and fun of casino. There is no big outlay, no big risk, and pretty decent margins. Binary betting sees a punter able to place a wager on any stock, commodity or forex. A price is offered and it can either be backed to come in higher after a fixed time (a Call), or lower (a Put). There is also the ability to trade out after half the

offered time has elapsed. Growth has been excellent – in fact, it could be argued that binary betting is no longer a niche or a cute add-on. It is fast becoming a regular part of the betting product suite, with the figures certainly backing this up. From an affiliate perspective, binary betting looks like a no-brainer. As mentioned, it appeals across the board to all types of gamers – certainly, the early market trends that I am seeing at affeurope.com appear to dictate that this is the case.

The cross-sell Sports bettors are a good source of traffic for this market. In the same way IG Index has a tremendous overlap of sports/financial spread betting, with customers as happy punting on the price of Grain as well as the goals of Wayne Rooney, there is a fastemerging mix of sports punters having a binary bet. Having seen at first-hand whilst working for Ladbrokes and William Hill, the cross-sell from poker to sportsbetting and vice versa, I am now seeing poker players (and other skill games) move over to binary options too. The skill element attracts the poker players, whilst the simplicity and quick-fire buzz of the product means it is also a natural destination for casino gamers.


“If the Internet business has taught us one thing, it has taught us that the present is only that – the present. It is clear that standing still is simply not an option – and never more so than in the world of online gaming.” Traffic In terms of keywords, binary betting also has a strong upside. With Mr Google unhappy about the use of casino affiliates on ‘make money’ keywords (although less bothered about filming and locating the outside of your house for the benefit of the entire world), financial betting terms i.e. binary options, are now filling most positions across search engines for those inputted words. This same traffic (which brought in tens of thousands of casino players up until a few months ago) is now bringing in players to binary options, but with a very different customer profile to the low-value customer who was typically getting pulled in. So far in binary betting, these have generated good player value and high quality players. There is large potential for growth too. Unlike poker in particular, the market is far from saturated. We live in remarkable economic times, when events in the City can dominate the front pages. There are millions of people who take an enormous

interest in stocks and shares, reading publications such as the Economist and watching Bloomberg News. Every radio bulletin will finish with the latest from the FTSE index. The only newspapers currently making profits from their online editions are financial-focused ones – notably the FT and the Wall Street Journal. There is no reason why gaming shouldn’t feed off on this online success.

A bright future? If the TV show, ‘The Apprentice’, has taught us one thing, it is that everyone likes chatting about business as if they know what they are talking about. The simplicity of a binary bet opens up options for them to wager a few quid on it too, and prove that they really do. Or really don’t, as the case would be for many of those contestants. The future looks bright too. The gaming industry is forever battling a changing legal situation. Within two years, online casino could become an endangered species, with

France and the United States closing their doors, Italy following suit, and there are nasty rumours of Germany amongst others doing likewise. Players in South Africa and Norway are also having difficulties depositing at casinos online. But binary betting is ready to step up to fill the void. There are no issues legally with the French, and it is currently accepting US players to most networks including tradologic.com, who provide the software used for the platform of affeurope. com’s brands. Affiliates yet to get involved have no time to lose. In the same way they added casino tabs to their poker sites, and poker was added to casino sites, binary betting is a must for all affiliates whatever the core product is. Pushing the cross-sell from casino, poker and sports is a no-brainer. The future may well be binary betting, and unlike us homosapiens, it isn’t going to take thousands of years to stand on its own two feet.

MARC BENEZRA has almost ten years experience in the world of gaming affiliates. Having worked for Ladbrokes, William Hill and Inside Edge, he is currently the Director of Aff Europe.

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iGB Affiliate DECEMBER/JANUARY 2010/11

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INSIGHT

MRS SMITH JUST got back home. It’s been raining outside, and water drips from her umbrella onto the carpet. She hangs her coat, walks to the kitchen and turns the kettle on. Opening her laptop, she browses your affiliate website for online casino reviews, and decides to open an account at ‘XYZ Casino’. Behind her, steam escapes upwards from the kettle with a familiar hissing sound.

Disconnected events? Not quite. The path of least resistance is a direct consequence of the laws of physics ruling our universe. Raindrops falling downwards? Gravity at work. Vaporized water molecules rising up from a kettle? Thermodynamics. More on topic, the path of least resistance can also be used to describe certain human behaviour. In these cases, resistance is often used as a metaphor for personal effort or confrontation; a person taking the path of least resistance avoids these. Assuming that no external factors contributed to Mrs Smith’s decision to open an account at XYZ Casino, an optimised conversion path from online advertising to sign-up, leads her on a path of least resistance towards registration, and she is won over.

“If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.” Abraham Maslow Inform Without a wide range of marketing tools at your disposal, you will address your visitors as a crowd. In this era of aggregation, one must not forget the indivisible premise of trade: a buyer, a seller, an agreement. Your visitors are a group of individuals you want to have a one-to-one conversation with. All of them will be browsing information, but each of them will do it differently. A single banner on your affiliate website would do the job for her husband, the aptly named Mr Smith. He’s heard/read a lot about XYZ Casino before, and all you need to sign him up is display a banner in front of him at the right time. Mrs Smith, however, is not familiar with the brand. She’s never played online before. But she has a Paypal account, and is a MacBook user. Both the affiliate and the

affiliate program need to make sure that she is catered for, because the Mr Smiths are getting scarce these days. If you don’t want to dig for it yourself, make sure your affiliate program provides you with editorial content in the form of recyclable news, product and game reviews, dynamic winners/tournaments/next game feeds, product specifications (supported browsers, blacklisted jurisdictions, withdrawal timeframes, etc…) and much more. Buried in this mass of information is something that will be of particular interest to the likes of Mrs Smith. Informing her that XYZ Casino is both Mac compatible and Paypal friendly will alleviate her concerns and reduce her resistance. This is information she won’t have to look for later on. Graphical elements provided by your affiliate program must also be plentiful, varied, and frequently updated. Minimum requirements include gif banners (all shapes and sizes), logos and screenshots. However, an optimised affiliate website bursting with informative editorial and graphic content is not enough. It only signals that the affiliate has fulfilled their part of the contract. The operator now has a duty to ensure that they fulfil theirs too.

– either secondary pages accessible from the website’s main navigation menu, or standalone splash pages. Landing pages allow for flexible, contextual, call-to-action messaging. Both help your visitors make the connection between the ad or editorial content they’ve seen on your site and the offer on the operator’s website. Making both features available in their affiliate program shows the operator’s commitment to facilitating the path of least resistance for your visitors. If all the above boxes are ticked, do not forget to test. An affiliate tracking system must be robust and comprehensive enough to record any interaction scenarios: navigating out of splash pages, multiple secondary pages navigations, closing browsers/tabs… your tracking parameters should always follow from the first page hit by your visitor. Open an account to be sure, and check that it’s tracked in your affiliate reports. If the path from your affiliate website to the operator’s site has been smooth and relevant so far, conversions will follow. With contextual content, a strong, optimised call-to-action on the destination page as well as a usability tested registration form, the last hurdles are easily overcome, and the customer is yours.

Map The best online advertising in the world is ineffective if the hyperlinking – the map to the shop – is inaccurate, incomplete or irrelevant. Driving traffic from ‘A’ (affiliate site) to ‘B’ (operator homepage) is a bare minimum. Optimising the path to conversion – reducing resistance – will only be achieved through contextual linking. Mrs Smith actually signed up to xyzcasino. com because she was sent from A to ‘C’. ‘C’, in this case, is a splash page specifically built for Mac users, but C can be many other things: co-branded splash pages, promotion landing pages, tied-in registration pages, etc… It doesn’t matter, as long as C is contextually linked to A. An affiliate sign-up bonus list links to an operator bonus detail page. A game review page goes to the operator game details page. A bonus code offer redirects to a custom co-branded bonus code splash page. Look out for deep-linking and landing page systems in your affiliate program. Deep-linking allows you to point your targeted content to relevant destinations

The affiliate path of least resistance By serving and pushing all of the above, an affiliate program is actually providing you – the affiliate – with a path of least resistance, in turn, allowing you to do the same for your visitors. In an increasingly saturated gaming market, conversion strategies are of paramount importance. If both the affiliate and the affiliate program understand it and work together towards minimising visitor’s resistance, everyone benefits from it. Mrs Smith included. Think about it next time you put the kettle on. PIERRICK LEVEQUE is Head of Acquisition at Virgin Games, managing the in-house affiliate program as part of the overall acquisition strategy. Virgin Games Affiliates was voted ‘Affiliate Program of the Year’ at the 5th annual EGR Awards 2009 ceremony, ‘Best Casino and Gaming Affiliate Program’ at the A4U awards 2008. Pierrick also received the ‘Best Bingo Affiliate manager’ award at CAP Awards 2009.

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feature

Gaming clicks on mobile are up by 46 percent quarter on quarter, but what does this mean for gaming affiliates? Experts and agencies alike have been talking to bookmakers and affiliates about the emergence of mobile gambling for the last few years, but it never seemed to evolve and there has been little substance to back up these claims... until now. After three quarters of 2010, Latitude Digital Marketing’s research in mobile search has irrefutably proven that this is to become the year for mobile marketing to take precedence across all bookmaker and affiliate marketing plans and spend over the coming months. The growth rates quarter on quarter (mobile PPC on gaming saw a 97 percent increase in clicks from Q1 to Q3) alone would be impressive if they are year-on-year and saturation is certainly not imminent, but early adoption is critical. Evidence is also visible that the landscape is shifting, as we have now seen market share for Google mobile PPC activity in the UK overtake that of Bing (76 percent per quarter) with its sights very much set on the once successful and market dominating (for gambling in the UK), but now dwindling Yahoo! Search. In summary, the key point for all gaming affiliates out there is to take advantage of a market that offers lower PPC costs (in some areas of gaming) compared to direct computer targeted PPC activity. This means that one should begin targeting bookmakers that offer decent mobile sites and ‘trackable’ click-to-action/account tracking to drive players through. There has to be a realisation that due to

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flash issues with many sites/games, there is a need to be cautious with the bookmakers affiliates choose to promote. This will help ensure that the players have a valuable and easy to use experience when they sign up. A further suggestion is for affiliates to experience it for themselves and also push bookmakers for increased incentives for driving mobile applications, as our very own experience indicates that these Smartphone users (especially the iPhone) are notoriously high value players. Some quick stats and data to further enhance these findings from our research include: ●●11 million Smartphone users in the UK ●●Gaming clicks on mobile at 4.25 percent of total PPC volume on Google (up 46 percent Quarter on Quarter) ●●Mobile PPC on gaming saw an eight percent increase in impressions and 97 percent increase in clicks from Q1 to Q3. ●●Gaming spend on mobile at 2.35 percent of total PPC volume on Google (up four percent Quarter on Quarter) ●●CTR at 11.16 percent for mobile Vs 9.14 percent for PCs on Google ●●Costs-per-click (CPCs) are an average of six percent lower on mobile across the gaming sector.

What’s changed? A combination of increased advertising options and the continued deployment of Smartphones within the market will have driven this growth. Interestingly, the

Table 1

Google Mobile Vs Bing - PPC Clicks 350000 300000 250000 200000 150000 100000 50000 0

Mobile

Q1

Q2

Q3

Bing

Table 2

2010 Mobile Search as % Total 4.00% 3.50% 3.00% 2.50% 2.00% 1.50% 1.00% 0.50% 0.00%

Clicks

Q1

Q2

Q3

Cost

Growth of Mobile PPC QoQ Q1-Q2

Q2-Q3

Average

3.50%

89%

44%

67%

3.00%

41%

7%

24%

incremental rise in click volume has not been matched by costs, highlighting that mobile can indeed be more efficient than PC search for driving additional traffic. This offers more evidence for affiliates/ bookmakers to concentrate on this channel (if not already doing so) – although as I noted


earlier, affiliates should ensure that their bookmakers’ sites are compatible in order not to drive traffic that won’t turn into revenue.

market in order to take advantage of incremental volume and the potential for higher valued players (great for those higher percentage value revenue share deals).

Why should affiliates listen? As mobile evolves, continued downward pressure on CPCs will be driven by campaign optimisation by advertisers and increased volume, but this will ultimately be offset by saturation and limited real estate. The message for affiliates now is – get in and establish yourself while the arbitrage is good. When comparing the opportunity (as per the graph below) against a nominalised search engine such as Bing, whose traffic share has remained fairly static throughout 2010, it can be seen that the rebranded Microsoft search engine has not really had a significant impact on the PPC market within the UK. Mobile PPC traffic, on the other hand, has risen sharply quarter on quarter to exceed Bing with more than 50 percent extra click volume. (Table 1) Therefore, for those affiliates sourcing direct traffic from the nominalised search engines in the UK, affiliates now need to start thinking about targeting the mobile

How can affiliates take advantage? Mobile PPC All affiliates out there are now aware of the size and growth of the market and that they have a great opportunity to take advantage of it. But, how would Latitude recommend doing this and what are the best practices for mobile advertising through Paid Search? Latitude’s top three tips would be: 1. One to three keyword search terms, keep it short. 2. Use broad match terms to capture maximum amount of traffic. 3. Higher uptake on Google suggest on mobile devices – use Google Suggest for keyword research.

Predictions for the market Continued Quarter on Quarter Growth is most certainly going to be the case (similar to the trends and data plotted in table 2).

Although more players are entering the mobile market for gaming, there are still a lot of advertisers yet to take advantage of mobile search. Seeing the above growth trends, there is an expectation that we will start to see CPCs rise again initially for gaming advertisers as the traffic rises with a more competitive landscape develops. Affiliates should be looking to agree the best performance deals with their bookmakers and discuss further incentive options for targeting and driving more mobile consumers to deposit and sign up online. Affiliates should start to see a greater number of bookmakers introducing more enhanced and sophisticated mobile sites over the coming months which should, in turn, increase conversions and, therefore, allow them to push more of their marketing budget across their own advertising and affiliate activity.

How to get in touch To take the next step to success and receive a FREE audit of your mobile paid search campaign, contact neil. fairweather@latitudegroup.com now.

iGB Affiliate december/january 2010/11

57


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11/17/10 10:45 AM


INSIGHT

By David Flower, VP EMEA, Gomez, the web performance division of Compuware.

THE NET NEUTRALITY debate looks set to run and run. The main argument for net neutrality is that without it Internet operators – the ISPs – could seek out a commercial advantage by prioritising certain ‘paid for’ content over other data creating a two-tier market for Internet data. Why should you care? A recent Gomez survey of consumers showed nearly a third of visitors will abandon a website after waiting somewhere between one and five seconds, with 27 percent saying they would then be more likely to visit a competitor’s site. The business impact of the Net Neutrality issue should not be underestimated.

Competitive environment With rare exception, most websites are in heated competition for traffic and simply can’t afford to make visitors wait. But what actions do people take if they’re made to wait? In a tally of over 500 million real website interactions, data measured by Gomez revealed that an extra two seconds of wait time results in visitor abandonment rates rising by eight percent. For an extra eight seconds of wait time, abandonment rises by 38 percent. Those are big numbers in today’s highly competitive online world. Of course, a visitor’s willingness to wait varies based on the content. Search engines measure success in milliseconds, while gaming customers might wait longer for a detailed list of poker games to appear. In each case, leading companies know at which point business is being lost due to slow performing sites. Millions of pounds are at stake – for some companies, billions – if new regulations allow certain sites to have a speed advantage. So it’s not surprising that major players are jockeying to influence the outcome of Net Neutrality regulations. Yet while there will always be regulatory considerations, it’s important for

businesses to understand the broader picture of the ‘neutrality’ issue: today’s Internet is far from neutral and the smarter companies are already getting preferential treatment and ensuring their websites or web-enabled applications are in the ‘fast lane’. Those companies are paying for a faster Internet with investments across the complex set of services called the web application delivery chain (http://dev. gomez.com/why-gomez/why-you-needgomez/the-web-application-deliverychain/). From the data centre (first mile) to the end-user (last mile), they’re taking steps to make certain the playing field is tipped in their favour. It starts with well-designed web applications to ensure speed and compatibility with all available browsers. It continues with content delivery networks or other hardware options that can replicate content across many servers or optimise the way content is delivered. There are also private network access points, which ensure a faster handoff of data between network providers, and a variety of software vendors in the business of web application acceleration. In fact, an entire industry has been created specifically designed to monitor, analyse, optimise and propel data for some companies faster than others.

Taking advantage The Internet is a mash-up of many smaller networks, nodes, data centres and access points. Just as your private network might deal with this complexity by prioritizing one data type over another, what steps should you take to make certain your content has an advantage in the broader Internet? And what steps will you take to game the system to your advantage if new regulations are enacted? The answer will be different for each company, but it’s vital to ask the

question in an era when web visitors, now fully accustomed to broadband speeds, get increasingly impatient with slow websites (at a time when they’re also wanting richer content and more complex applications). That’s why more companies are implementing speed-enhancing solutions in a highly focused and competitive manner; many designed to not simply make their content move faster, but to have the net impact of making a competitor’s site seem to move more slowly. For example, any large businessto-business company can easily target the customers of its largest competitor by placing data centres or content delivery solutions within the geography of those customers. Geographic targeting is a common practice in business-to-consumer planning as well. Even if ‘neutrality’ is maintained at the network level, the game will move even further to the application level where there’s a huge market for enterprises willing to pay for speed. So what would your company pay to be in the fast lane? Are you already paying for faster, better execution? How much more would you be willing to pay for, say, an extra two seconds of response time advantage? The lesson here is clear: every second counts and the more competitive businesses will continue to do all they can to ensure a faster web experience, regardless of the regulatory landscape. If it means efficient application development, third-party content acceleration, or access points in critical geographies, they’ll invest there as well. The businesses that don’t measure their success in seconds, or even milliseconds, will lose customers and revenue. The competition will speed past them, and they’ll find themselves truly stuck in neutral.

iGB Affiliate DECEMBER/JANUARY 2010/11

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INSIGHT

The role of trust, personalisation and context. UNTIL RECENTLY, there appeared to be a commonly held perception that consumers viewed the Internet as an information gathering tool rather than a place to spend money. The explosive growth in online gambling shows this is no longer true. Historically, the two things that have had the power to drive any new consumer technology were pornography and gambling. These activities have helped satellite and cable television, video, and then the Internet. For me, the interesting question is how online gaming companies use as many ways as possible to get punters to log onto their website and how they are going to target new punters in the future. Let’s look at it from an individual level. A gambler has logged on to the Internet and they are in the process of deciding which online gambling site to make a beeline for. What kinds of things influence their decision? A recommendation from one of their friends? Advice from a gambling magazine or forum? An advert they saw online? Information provided by an affiliate? From a psychological perspective, research on how and why people access particular commercial websites indicates that one of the most important factors is trust. If people know and trust the name, they are more likely to use that service. Reliability is also a related key factor. Research shows that some punters still have concerns about Internet security and may not be happy about putting their personal details online. But if there is a reliable offline branch nearby (e.g., a Gala casino), it gives them an added sense of security and what I would call a ‘psychological safety net’. For some people, trust and security issues will continue to be important inhibitors of online gambling. Punters need assurance and compelling value propositions from trusted gaming operators to overcome these concerns.

Putting the punter first One of the growth areas in e-commerce has been personalisation and most online

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iGB Affiliate DECEMBER/JANUARY 2010/11

ventures (including affiliates) now have a personalisation strategy as part of its business plan. However, this practice is a double-edged sword that can prove to be a large logistical problem for some companies. Tracking every move for marketing purposes is one thing. Using these data for personalisation purposes can prove troublesome. The amount of data is potentially enormous. Producing personalised pages for everyone is also logistically difficult and may even turn punters away. The key is knowing what to ask the punter. Affiliates have to think intelligently and creatively about what to ask people who visit their sites in a way that the information gained can be used effectively. Attracting and providing customers with useful information relies on the affiliates putting punters first. Integration can also be a factor here. Online gambling companies are going to have to think of creative ways to make the gaming experience more personal and match it more closely to the real gaming experience – something that has worked well for online poker sites. Companies may also need special pricing for online customers. Price is just one of the many considerations a punter weighs up. It is more about a complete service than price alone (although in the gambling world, offering competitive odds and bonuses will obviously make websites attractive to gamblers).

Imprinting One of the most important marketing strategies that online companies engage in is ‘imprinting’ new customers. Online punters quickly adopt predictable Internet usage patterns and evidence suggests that they don’t switch online allegiances easily. Smart online gambling affiliates will work at becoming a starting point for the novice gambler and capitalise on this opportunity for capturing player loyalty. The emerging post-teenage market is a key consideration. There is a whole Internet generation coming

through who have a positive outlook on online commercial activities. They may be happier to enter credit card details and/or meet others online. This has the potential to lead to major changes in clientele as the profiles of these people will be radically different from previous punters. The problem is that the young don’t tend to have much disposable income and are less likely to own credit cards. Therefore, another market segment that those in the online gambling business (including affiliates) will start to target is the over-50s, who are starting to use the Internet for shopping and entertainment use. Early retirees have both time and money, which is why online companies will target the ‘grey’ Pound, Euro or Dollar.

So what’s coming next? Contextual commerce may be one avenue that the online gaming affiliate industry uses more and more. In most retail outlets, shoppers notice what other people are buying and this may influence the purchaser’s choice. Companies are now working on software that allows customers to do this online including interacting with other shoppers. Seeing what everyone else is buying (or betting on) may again influence the decision process. There is also the potential to bring in techniques used on home television shopping channels. Presenters tell viewers how much of a product has been sold with viewers to instil a sense of urgency into the buying process, along with an element of peer review. This could be applied in some online gambling situations if people are gambling as part of a community such as online poker tournaments. Watch this space!

PROFESSOR MARK GRIFFITHS is Professor of Gambling Studies at the International Gaming Research Unit at Nottingham Trent University.


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INSIGHT

Does Social Media Work for Online Gaming? A question that has been the subject of much debate and controversy is how social media can be used for player acquisition for real money online gaming. There has also been plenty of speculation regarding Zynga Poker entering the world of real money online poker. Admittedly, Zynga Poker has a high number of underage players and strictly fun players, but with a database of over 27 million and growing, even with a conversion rate as low as 0.01 percent, the number of real players could potentially be around 2,700. As any affiliate manager or affiliate marketer knows, that’s worth quite a nice sum in either CPA or revenue share. But the point is far deeper than this. The strategy that Zynga uses can be used as a case study on its own. Firstly, it is the most successful ‘social’ gaming application developer on Facebook. Secondly, it has managed to build its brand and the profile of all of its games solely using social media. And finally, it now has millions of fans, players and onlookers that are just out there waiting to be marketed to and potentially monetised.

Strategy, engagement and interaction Take a very close look at how this has been achieved. Poker is a social game, but anyone can build an application whereby strangers can sit around a table playing poker. Zynga, using every social feature available on Facebook, and then some, managed to captivate 27 million people across the world and introduce them to social online poker. Social gaming may be very different to real money online gaming, but marketing is marketing and there are many things that Zynga has done right, whether intentionally or not, to attract and retain such a huge player database. But how could it work and be successful for real money online gaming? The answer

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iGB Affiliate december/january 2010/11

is strategy, engagement and interaction. Any business creating a brand has to have a plan and a strategy before the start of a marketing campaign. Social media is no different. It’s a lot more difficult than just setting up a fan page, group or profile, posting a few comments and hoping that people will see their friends are participating and decide to join in too. The strategy has to encompass knowing who the target audience is and what will ultimately get them to like, trust and spend money with your brand and to continue to do so. Adding the elements of social media, what could possibly get someone to recommend your brand to their 200 or so friends? Starting from scratch with a good social media campaign based around Facebook encompasses an additional hurdle – that Facebook does not allow advertising for real money gaming. So concentrate firstly on what is permitted within the boundaries of the site. Advertising a group or fan page on Facebook is allowed. Additionally, the fan page administrator controls the tab that people land on when they arrive at your fan page for the first time. Therefore, customise the landing tab of your Facebook fan page to attract and entice. This is no different than every meeting that has ever taken place when a company launches a new website or redesign. So much thought and planning goes into the presentation and design for a website, but companies are so quick to launch a Facebook fan page that looks exactly the same as every other Facebook page already in existence and just allow fans to go to the fan page wall which contains nothing but boring text. It just doesn’t make any sense. And remember, the text contained in the ‘Info’ tab of our fan page is indexed by the search engines, so think keywords and put in as much relevant information about your brand that will increase your online

visibility. As soon as you have at least 25 fans, you’ll also be able to customise the URL that links directly to your fan page. That’s when the link to your fan page will look something like this – www.facebook.com/casino.

Invention, creativity, appeal Once momentum begins and your fan page attracts a following, interact with your fans. Depending on the number of fans and how inventive you can be, this alone could be a full-time job. It’s definitely more than updating a status or making a wall post with ‘Casino X offers a 20 percent deposit bonus’. Write real news, allow player interaction, publicly resolve player disputes… the list is endless. The key is to be inventive, creative, appealing and never stop. A Facebook fan page can be used to ask your fans questions, run polls, competitions, and interactive promotions and persuade your fans to ‘refer their friends’. Nothing is better than the sharing functionality on Facebook to run a ‘refer a friend’ promotion. Think about your fan base and who they are. Set up a human profile as the visible face of your brand and let your fans know who to add as a friend. This increases the trust between you and your fans and also then allows you to send personal emails to your fans through Facebook which is also within the Facebook guidelines. If you have a poker room and you want to retain players, run competitions through your Facebook page for the best bad beat story, final table showdown story, trash talking story; interact with the content that your Fans provide you with. Updating your fan page status will show on your fans’ news feed. The more fans who ‘like’ your status, the higher your status update will be shown in your fans’ newsfeed. Take advantage of this by writing status updates that are relevant to your fan base.


For sportsbetting, this kind of traction is even easier. Offer information about horseraces, football matches, fixture lists and results, combine it in a live feed application in Facebook and even offer it through a custom mobile application for iPhone, iPad and Android. Watch your user base grow as you interact with your target audience whenever and wherever they are. Let them opt in for notifications from their mobile devices and add mobile ads to your mobile applications that contain colourful graphics showing promotions for all of the products that your brand offers. Even online casino brands can use the same methodology. Incorporate applications to enhance seasonal promotions, such as an advent calendar treasure hunt where winners get free credits for the online casino (terms and conditions apply, of course). Interact with trivia questions about your brand which will give your Facebook fans a reason to interact with you. Create a winners’ testimonial section and allow winners to share the information with their friends. Show video clips of big winners being presented with real cheques. Treat your Facebook fan page as an extension of all aspects of your business, from your website to your customer support.

Retain, nurture, acquire Bring your affiliate interaction into Facebook to retain, nurture and acquire affiliates. One positive example of this is the way that Lyora Chikli, an affiliate manager at 888, is managing her ‘professional’ Facebook profile. Back in February, Lyora created a new profile on Facebook and named it Lyora888Casino. Since February, using her ‘professional’ profile which displays a cute picture of herself, Lyora has managed to accumulate 1,454 friends and between 30 to 50 new affiliates. She uses the space to post pictures of new casino developments and let affiliates know what promotions are running and in which countries. Enhancing this would mean affiliate managers could interact with their affiliates in local languages from their own ‘professional’ profile page and even allow affiliates to download new banners from your brand’s fan page. Yet another step in adding a human face to the people who are at the forefront of representing your brand. Going into social media is so much more than assigning a task to your content team to write something on the wall of the brand’s Facebook page. It takes resources, time, investment and a great deal of thought to do it in a way that will

bring positive results. In the run up to launching a social media campaign, read examples of case studies and how big brands are conquering the social media space. All of the resources are online and at your disposal. Additionally, once you’ve made the decision to spend, bring in the services of a social media expert. Someone that can offer ideas and execution and has the resources to make your social media marketing plan come to fruition.

MICHAEL KATZ entered the world of iGaming as a Brand Manager focusing on retention activities for a number of Microgaming online casinos back in 2001, while working at Spiral Solutions. After seven years of working in the online casino and poker industry and two years in the online Forex industry, Michael saw a need for a specialised recruitment agency based in Israel, to handle these specific niche markets and opened Netwise Personnel, to specialise in recruitment and placement in the Israeli job market. Additionally, Michael acts as a consultant for companies looking to increase brand exposure using online social media.

iGB Affiliate december/january 2010/11

63


FEATURE

Greenlight, the leading search marketing specialist and technology firm, provides iGB Affiliate Magazine with an exclusive snapshot into its most recent Gaming Report which was released at the end of October. The quarterly gaming report Greenlight’s quarterly gaming reports use industry data to classify 700 of the most popular search terms that UK consumers use to find gaming websites for bingo, casino, poker and sportsbetting. Totalling the number of times each term is used gives an indication of the size of the audience and profiles how Google users go about their searches for gaming websites in a given quarter. The reports analyse natural search rankings on Google to see which websites and brands are positioned on page one for each term. This gives an aggregate view of the most commonly appearing and prominent websites, as well as the respective size of the audience they are reaching as a result of having that keywordspecific visibility. For paid search, advertisers appearing in the sponsored links for the top 120 of the 700 terms analysed are monitored. Data is retrieved from Google at regular intervals on a daily basis to ensure a fair assessment of the paid search space, and to take into account the ad rotation system employed by Google. It is then collated and league tables of the most visible websites in both natural and paid search are created for the gaming sector.

iGaming exclusive Exclusive to iGB Affiliate Magazine, Greenlight has provided this snapshot from its forthcoming Gaming Report which will be out at the end of October 2010. Since Greenlight’s previous instalment in the magazine, there has been a significant development with regards to Google AdWords. During September, Google fully rolled-out its new AdWords keyword tool now calculating searches purely on Google.co.uk searches alone. Previously, Google released UK search volumes that took into account searches on its .co.uk search engine and its search partner engines, including Ask.com. As Google presented data across a number of search engines, search volumes for many

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iGB Affiliate DECEMBER/JANUARY 2010/11

keywords were greater than they appeared in September. Therefore, this change in the Google AdWords interface accounts for comparably lower search volumes for many of the gaming keywords analysed. For example, ‘poker’ and ‘bingo’ were the two most searched-for terms in September 2010, totalling 40,500 searches each. However, compared to August volumes, both terms saw a considerable decrease (‘poker’: 84 percent and ‘bingo’: 80 percent). What this general decrease in searches may demonstrate, perhaps, is that gaming consumers look to ‘branch out’ from the Google.co.uk search engine, searching via other engines to view a more diverse range of available gaming websites. Moreover, due to Google’s reconfiguration of its AdWords tool, September’s search volumes suggest that consumers utilise a wider variety of keywords when searching for gaming sites. For instance, the term ‘online casino’ (searched for 33,100 times) was, in fact, more popular than ‘casino’ (searched for 27,100 times) in September. This would indeed reflect reality, since many gaming consumers are more likely to utilise the term ‘online casino’ to return more relevant results, therefore, avoiding web pages focusing on other topics, such as the film “Casino”. Although the online gaming market has a finite number of keywords that consumers actually use regularly, these search volumes reinforce the importance of targeting longer tailed keywords in conjunction with the ‘core’ keywords: ‘casino’, ‘poker’ and ‘bingo’. In September 2010, there were 1.2 million searches made for gaming terms on google.co.uk alone. This compares to 2.3 million in June across Google’s search partner engines, including Ask.com. Searches for sportsbetting-related keywords decreased proportionally, compared to other segments, representing 20 percent of searches in September, having accounted for 23 percent of searches in July. This is further evidence that

many UK-based consumers looked to bet on various sporting events taking place in July, including the FIFA World Cup and Wimbledon. Ladbrokes replaced Betfair as the most visible sportsbetting website in natural search. In fact, Betfair saw an 11 percent decrease in share of voice in September, as it dropped in the Google rankings for the high volume driving terms. Bet365 replaced William Hill as the most visible sportsbetting advertiser in paid search, increasing its visibility by nine percent since July. Nevertheless, William Hill ranked consistently high in our paid search league tables; it featured in the top three advertisers for bingo, casino, poker and sportsbetting, signifying its dominance of the paid search space in terms of visibility.

GREENLIGHT is an independent, award winning search marketing specialist and technology firm, the largest and fastest growing of its kind in Europe. It is recognised worldwide for its commitment to delivering record ROI for its clients and investing in the future of search. Greenlight is considered the premier thought leader in the sector, publishing original research, widely read industry reports which cover 16 sectors, speaking at trade events, and delivering a highly respected search training programme in conjunction with the IDM. Greenlight was founded in 2001 and is headquartered in London, with offices in New York. www.greenlightsearch.com For further information about Greenlight Sector Reports contact: Krishna Rao E: krishna.rao@greenlighsearch.com T: +44 20 3326 6232


The top 50 most searched for gaming keywords Wordgroup

Keyword

Jul-09

Poker

Poker

301000 301000 301000 246000 301000 301000 301000 301000 301000 246000 246000 246000 246000 246000

40500

Bingo

Bingo

246000 201000 246000 201000 246000 201000 246000 246000 246000 246000 246000 246000 201000 201000

40500

Casino

Online casino

60500

74000

33100

Casino

Casino

135000 165000 135000 165000 201000 201000 246000 201000 301000 246000 246000 165000 246000 246000

27100

Sports betting Bet

110000

90500

90500

74000

90500

90500

90500

90500

110000 110000 110000 110000 110000 110000

22200

Poker

Online poker

60500

60500

74000

60500

60500

60500

74000

60500

60500

60500

49500

60500

49500

49500

22200

Bingo

Free bingo

49500

49500

49500

49500

49500

40500

49500

49500

60500

49500

49500

49500

49500

49500

22200

Bingo

Online Bingo

33100

33100

33100

27100

33100

33100

40500

33100

40500

40500

33100

33100

33100

33100

22200

Bingo

Bingo sites

22200

22200

27100

27100

27100

27100

40500

40500

40500

40500

40500

27100

27100

27100

18100

Sports betting Betting

60500

60500

60500

49500

49500

49500

60500

49500

74000

90500

60500

74000

60500

60500

14800

Poker

33100

27100

27100

27100

27100

27100

33100

27100

27100

22200

22200

27100

22200

22200

14800

22200

27100

27100

27100

27100

27100

27100

33100

40500

49500

40500

33100

40500

40500

12100

260

480

1300

1000

1300

4400

2400

1900

5400

12100

49500

90500

18100

18100

12100

Free poker

Sports betting Online betting Sports betting World Cup odds

Aug-09 Sep-09

60500

74000

Oct-09

74000

Nov-09 Dec-09

90500

110000

Jan-10

90500

Feb-10

60500

Mar-10

74000

Apr-10

74000

May-10 Jun-10

74000

74000

Jul-10

74000

Aug-10 Sep-10

Poker

Poker games

22200

22200

22200

22200

27100

27100

33100

27100

27100

27100

22200

22200

18100

18100

12100

Casino

Casino games

14800

12100

14800

14800

14800

18100

18100

14800

18100

14800

14800

18100

18100

18100

12100

Bingo

Bingo games

12100

12100

12100

12100

14800

14800

22200

18100

22200

22200

22200

12100

14800

14800

12100

Sports betting Sports betting

9900

12100

12100

9900

12100

9900

12100

12100

14800

18100

14800

12100

14800

14800

12100

Poker

How To Play Poker

18100

14800

14800

14800

14800

14800

14800

12100

12100

9900

9900

12100

12100

12100

12100

Bingo

Bingo online

9900

9900

9900

8100

9900

9900

12100

12100

14800

14800

14800

9900

12100

12100

12100

Casino

Online slots

14800

14800

18100

18100

22200

22200

27100

22200

33100

27100

27100

18100

33100

33100

9900

Poker

Poker Hands

22200

22200

18100

18100

18100

22200

27100

22200

22200

22200

22200

18100

22200

22200

9900

Poker

Free online poker

22200

18100

18100

14800

18100

14800

18100

18100

18100

14800

14800

18100

18100

18100

9900

Sports betting Football betting

9900

14800

12100

9900

9900

12100

14800

14800

18100

18100

14800

12100

14800

14800

9900

Bingo

Play bingo

6600

8100

6600

6600

8100

8100

12100

12100

14800

14800

14800

8100

12100

12100

9900

Bingo

Bingo game

6600

5400

6600

6600

12100

12100

12100

12100

14800

12100

12100

8100

9900

9900

9900

Bingo

No deposit bingo

9900

9900

9900

9900

12100

9900

14800

14800

18100

18100

18100

12100

14800

14800

8100

Poker

Poker rules

12100

12100

12100

9900

12100

14800

14800

12100

12100

12100

9900

12100

12100

12100

8100

Sports betting Free bet

5400

6600

6600

5400

6600

6600

9900

9900

14800

18100

12100

9900

12100

12100

8100

Bingo

Free online bingo

9900

9900

9900

9900

9900

8100

12100

12100

14800

12100

12100

9900

9900

9900

8100

Bingo

UK bingo

6600

5400

9900

8100

6600

8100

9900

9900

12100

12100

12100

6600

9900

9900

8100

Poker

Poker chips

49500

49500

49500

49500

60500

60500

60500

60500

60500

40500

40500

40500

49500

49500

6600

Poker

Play poker

18100

14800

14800

14800

18100

18100

22200

18100

18100

18100

14800

14800

14800

14800

6600

Poker

Internet poker

9900

14800

27100

14800

14800

14800

14800

9900

14800

9900

9900

9900

9900

9900

6600

Bingo

Free bingo games

6600

8100

8100

8100

8100

8100

12100

9900

9900

9900

9900

6600

9900

9900

6600

Sports betting Betting tips

6600

8100

8100

8100

8100

8100

9900

9900

12100

12100

9900

8100

8100

8100

6600

Poker

Texas holdem

8100

12100

14800

9900

9900

12100

12100

9900

9900

8100

8100

8100

8100

8100

6600

Poker

Poker Table

18100

22200

22200

22200

27100

22200

33100

33100

33100

27100

27100

22200

22200

22200

5400

Poker

Poker Tables

12100

14800

14800

14800

18100

18100

18100

12100

14800

12100

12100

12100

14800

14800

5400

Casino

Internet casino

12100

9900

12100

12100

12100

12100

14800

9900

9900

9900

9900

12100

12100

12100

5400

Sports betting Betting odds

4400

5400

8100

5400

6600

5400

8100

6600

9900

12100

9900

8100

9900

9900

5400

Poker

8100

9900

12100

8100

9900

8100

8100

8100

12100

12100

9900

9900

12100

12100

4400

Sports betting World Cup betting

480

320

720

720

1000

2900

1600

1900

2900

8100

22200

27100

9900

9900

4400

Poker

Video poker

9900

6600

9900

8100

8100

9900

14800

9900

12100

9900

9900

9900

8100

8100

4400

Sports betting Bets

Poker room

3600

4400

5400

6600

6600

6600

5400

5400

9900

18100

14800

8100

12100

12100

3600

Poker

12100

5400

6600

5400

9900

6600

6600

4400

5400

5400

4400

8100

6600

6600

3600

World series of poker

Sports betting Bookmakers

8100

9900

9900

8100

9900

18100

18100

18100

22200

27100

18100

12100

18100

18100

2900

Poker

Texas hold em poker

9900

12100

12100

9900

8100

8100

8100

8100

8100

6600

5400

8100

4400

4400

2900

Poker

High Stakes Poker

9900

8100

8100

8100

9900

9900

9900

8100

12100

9900

4400

8100

2900

2900

2900

Bingo

Bingo com

18100

18100

18100

14800

18100

18100

22200

18100

22200

18100

12100

12100

5400

5400

46

Poker

Poker Stars

14800

14800

14800

12100

14800

14800

18100

14800

14800

14800

14800

14800

12100

12100

0

Source: Google AdWords

iGB Affiliate DECEMBER/JANUARY 2010/11

65


FEATURE

The top three most searched for gaming keywords (July 2009 - September 2010) Jul-09

Aug-09

Sep-09

Oct-09

Nov-09

Dec-09

Jan-10

Feb-10

Mar-10

Apr-10

May-10

Jun-10

Jul-10

Aug-10

Sep-10

Poker

301000

301000

301000

246000

301000

301000

301000

301000

301000

246000

246000

246000

246000

246000

40500

Bingo

246000

201000

246000

201000

246000

201000

246000

246000

246000

246000

246000

246000

201000

201000

40500

Casino

135000

165000

135000

165000

201000

201000

246000

201000

301000

246000

246000

165000

246000

246000

27100

Nov 09

Dec 09

Jan 10

Feb 10

Mar 10

Apr 10

May 10

Jun 10

Jul 10

350000 300000 250000 200000 150000 100000 50000 0

Jul 09

Aug 09

Sep 09

Oct 09

Aug 10

Source: Greenlight

The most visible bingo websites in natural search (September 2010)

The most visible bingo websites in paid search (September 2010)

No.

Domain

Monthly Reached Volume

Monthly Missed Volume

Percentage Reached

Advertiser

Share of Voice

1

foxybingo.com

119,663

245,276

33%

Bingo.bet365.com

52%

2

bingoport.co.uk

107,407

257,532

29%

Bingo.WilliamHill.com

49%

3

cheekybingo.com

105,634

259,305

29%

MeccaBingo.com

43%

Source: Greenlight

The most visible casino websites in paid search (September 2010)

The most visible casino websites in natural search (September 2010) No.

Domain

Monthly Reached Volume

Monthly Missed Volume

Percentage Reached

Advertiser

Share of Voice

williamhillcasino.com

70%

1

888.com

99,758

201,809

33%

888.com

69%

2

wikipedia.org

92,688

208,879

31%

Casino.Ladbrokes.com

61%

3

intercasino.co.uk

78,286

223,281

26%

Source: Greenlight

The most visible poker websites in natural search (September 2010) No.

Domain

Monthly Reached Volume

Monthly Missed Volume

Percentage Reached

1

pokerlistings.com

154,320

211,071

42%

2

wikipedia.org

152,709

212,682

42%

3

pokerstars.com

85,401

279,990

23%

The most visible poker websites in paid search (September 2010) Advertiser

Share of Voice

SkyPoker.com

68%

Poker.WilliamHill.com

66%

FullTiltPoker.com

62%

The most visible sportsbetting websites in paid search (September 2010)

Source: Greenlight

Advertiser

Share of Voice

The most visible sportsbetting websites in natural search (September 2010)

bet365.com

82%

WilliamHill.com

78%

PaddyPower.com

64%

No. 1

Domain ladbrokes.com

Monthly Reached Volume

Monthly Missed Volume

Percentage Reached

158,293

100,529

61%

2

betfair.com

149,654

109,168

58%

3

williamhill.com

100,934

157,888

39%

Source: Greenlight

66

Sep 10

Poker Bing Casino

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The role of an affiliate is a varied one that requires an in-depth knowledge of all-things-gambling when it comes to promoting your chosen gaming partners.

NOT ONLY DOES the affiliate need to be competent with most aspects of design, coding and how to hit the dizzy heights of the lucrative number one spot on the world’s biggest search engines through best SEO practice, they also need to be fully aware of what kind of traffic your sites attract. Identifying the demographic, geographic locations and types of gamblers that your traffic produces will help you immensely when it comes to converting clicks into signups into depositors. The affiliate’s role as a partner to specific casinos is effectively a sales role; affiliate sites are often the first point of information for a player who is searching the Internet superhighway. This is where your knowledge of your partners and the industry can make the difference between just a click and a click followed by lifetime commissions. Research is key: what markets do your partners service? Do they take players from the USA? What deposit and withdrawal methods are available for these players that come from restricted areas such as North America? And also, which operators best fit the traffic that I can offer? Informing potential players of the options available to them before they click through will help them become familiar with the site before they even get to the casino. The more quality information you can provide helps to sell the casino, without being aggressive. If you send a player to a casino who already has the information they want, the chances of this player converting into a depositing player is greatly increased. Simply offering a banner is no longer the

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iGB Affiliate DECEMBER/JANUARY 2010/11

option that should be considered. Granted, this worked many moons ago but the average gambler has got a lot smarter now and is hungrier for information. You, as the affiliate, are required to plant the trust seed and build upon that with an honest view of the casinos that you promote. Arming a potential player with the information they need before they get to a casino will prepare them mentally so they know what to expect when they get there.

What information should you provide? Go into detail with regards to the casino’s offerings; if you know that you are attracting 60 percent traffic from the US to a particular site or pages of a site then optimise these pages for this traffic. Processing for the US is a tough but lucrative market. Find out from the casino what options are available to players from the US and educate your players accordingly. When they get to the site, they are less likely to try and deposit with a method that is likely to be declined so they won’t be disappointed. Delve deeper into your traffic; going from the above example of 60 percent US traffic, what keywords are they searching for? When they land at your site, are they being offered the right information when they get there, such as the right bonus information? Most casinos have a slots offer and an offer for other games that aren’t included in the main welcome offer. The more you get to know your traffic the higher the chance the casino will have of converting them. If a player is simply sent though from a banner or an email with no basic knowledge about the casino they

are heading to, then don’t expect too much in the way of returns. This isn’t about making the job easier for the casino, their customer support and retention teams. Far from it. It’s about providing a service to your traffic by offering the most relevant content, the most up-to-date information and creative to improve your chances of making maximum cash. Not only that, but the player will then respect your site and potentially become a repeat visitor generating you income at a number of casinos for life, for a lot less effort.

MARTYN BEACON is the Affiliate Director of AffiliateEdge (formally CWC Affiliates) and has been working in the online gambling sector since 2004 with a number of the Internet’s most trusted online casinos. Comments or enquiries to martyn@ affiliateedge.com. The AffiliateEdge.com affiliate program helps you identify your strongest markets, game types played and much more with our new in-depth reporting tools. From these, you can establish the best way forward when promoting our portfolio of multi-currency, USfriendly casinos. We have designed and built (with affiliate input) a new program that breaks down your traffic on many different levels to provide you with the intelligence to best promote our casinos. Give your bank balance a boost and promote one of the most respected online casino groups available today.


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FEATURE

The Affiliate and Webmaster Marketing Guide This article will focus on common mistakes that new webmasters and existing affiliates make. Rather than analyse and critique websites to demonstrate what they are doing wrong and repeating the same comments, I’d like to address most of the issues faced by affiliates. This article will be broken down into three main sections, first tackling design principles and design mistakes. Next on the list is Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) but truthfully, I’ll discuss SEM more where the ‘M’ stands for marketing. Last is a discussion of content and finding ways to be unique. Design principles

Design without Flash

Search engine optimisation (SEO)

Most affiliates are not designers in any form. Some might have Photoshop skills but usually, things stop at that point. When it comes to getting a designer to make a custom website for you, the likelihood is that they’re not marketers to boot. The majority of designers will design work to please their client but nobody has taken the time to understand what the user wants or needs. Design is very important, but many new webmasters put the wrong emphasis on design. Some common design problems include either poor logo design or an over the top logo that commands too much attention. Another problem lies with overcrowding pages without much thought towards the layout. These design types lack structure and if the user can’t get a good feel of the navigation then they will simply leave. As a marketer, your website should lead the user to help them find what they are truly looking for.

Flash media was cool and popular at some point in the early 2000s, but today, Flash technology is taking a beating with Apple being a significant part of the problem. Apple has publicly called out Adobe’s Flash Player saying it’s obsolete with security flaws and requires more processing power which, in theory, would drain power on mobile phones faster. There is some truth in that, but also keep in mind that Flash has become less friendly with users and more importantly, less friendly with search engines. Search engines can’t tell what messages or text you might have inside your Flash video. You can try to use Flash SEO plugins for your website but I doubt a search engine will fully trust the content you claim is inside. Flash video just isn’t as good for a search engine and it is losing its popularity with designers. If you need a few more reasons why not to use Flash, then think of Flash as like putting a TV commercial on your website. People see this and tune out, so let them do what they naturally want to do on your website and browse without being interrupted. Flash will also slow down the speed of your website which can hurt your search engine results and rankings. Flash isn’t supported on iPods, iPhones or iPads so if you think this might be the future of personal computers then it should be avoided for now. For an entertaining read about a webmaster who wanted a website for iPhone users designed in Flash, read this article: http://clientsfromhell.net/ post/392772921/client-indian-outsourcersays-he-can-do-this

SEO is one of the more popular buzzwords in today’s marketing, business, and indeed, iGaming fields. Any good webmaster coach should be able to help with quick fixes that will better optimise your website. A quick checklist of SEO fixes that seem to commonly be ignored by many webmasters include: ● Page titles: avoid keyword stuffing and that titles match the site content. ● URL structure: make a link structure that is readable and easy to follow. ● Descriptions: fill them in and keep them up to around 150 characters. Many sites have this blank! This is perhaps more a conversion discussion than SEO. ● Number of Links: keep this less than 100. Too many links are bad for the user and bad for SEO. ● Header Tags: use <h1>, <h2>, and <h3> header tags to organise your content and ensure it is congruent with your page title. ● Image file names: if you have a blackjack image called file002.jpg, change it to blackjack.jpg. ● Image Alt Text: all images should have alt text explaining what the image is. ● Anchor Text: most websites don’t make use of anchor text in their content linking to other parts of their website. ● Optimised Code: the code to content ratio is important. More code with less content will hurt your rankings so try to keep your code clean. ● Site Loading Speed: faster loading pages might help you rank higher and possibly help for conversions. Images can usually slow down a site’s load speeds and is an easy way to make a quick improvement. More banners and unnecessary graphics will also hurt.

Designing without banners The majority of affiliates will use banners on their website to promote other programs. If gambling programs are paying you money to put banners there then you can take the payments and let the results matter for someone else. However, as an affiliate, these conversion rates affect you the most as your income depends on commissions. Keep in mind that less than ten percent of affiliates will earn about 80 percent of what affiliate programs pay out to their affiliates. These super affiliates perceive banners much the same because their conversions are nowhere near as good as links, logos, images and buttons. Try to think of banners as a TV commercial where most people don’t like commercials and tune out when they interrupt a programme their trying to watch. You already have a user that’s interested in gambling on your website, you don’t need to throw on the sales pitches too heavily otherwise you risk the user leaving your site, which is a lost sale, and which could potentially hurt your search engine rankings.

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iGB Affiliate DECEMBER/JANUARY 2010/11

Search engine marketing (SEM) SEO is actually a subset of SEM where with search engine marketing, the overall goal is to increase your website visibility in search engines. Search engine advertising, like payper-click (PPC), is rarely done by affiliates or operators and there is a lot of opportunity to get more traffic to your website.

Link building management Link building is also very important for rankings on search engines and also a sensitive topic to discuss with many affiliates and SEO experts to ascertain a perfect solution. A higher volume of


quality links will help your rankings but where you get these links from becomes an almost never ending task, albeit with infinite opportunities. You can find out where your competition gets its links using Yahoo! Site Explorer at http://siteexplorer. search.yahoo.com. Be cautious about buying links or paying another company to take care of your link building as you could incur the wrath of Google and be penalised if you’re caught. You don’t want to copy the wrong person who has been penalised in the past. The recommendation is to do the link building yourself or consult an SEO specialist to help you with the work and with the link building strategies.

SEO and SEM recommendation If you need help with SEO and SEM, whether it’s optimising your website, reviewing content strategies or help with link building campaigns and research, there are a few SEO and SEM experts worth contacting that you can find attending the London Affiliate Conference. Christoph Cemper Cemper.com Bob Rains youcanjustcallmebob.com Kay Schaefer Ksom.es

Content management systems (CMS) Hopefully CMS isn’t a new acronym for you but there are many affiliates using no form of CMS at all. A good CMS will help you organise your website and automate your tasks. If you are a new webmaster then this is definitely the way to go to start your first website. Although Wordpress is the more popular product, it isn’t the only one with others like Joomla, Drupal and many more proving viable alternatives. An affiliate coach can walk you through some of these content management systems and they can help you get off the ground quicker and using the right plug-ins if needed. The ‘pros’ of using a CMS far outweigh the ‘cons’, but do understand both. Using a CMS will take care of a lot of basic SEO issues for you. The only downside is popular systems can be targets for hacking, however, even if you don’t use a CMS you will still face the same threat just in a different form.

Content writing and strategies Writing good content does take some skill and some care. If possible, unique content is also preferred and will give your site an edge for rankings. Producing more content is a great strategy for search engine marketing since more pages equals more opportunities to rank for more keywords. If you research the top ranking affiliates, they all seem to have thousands of pages. You can use Yahoo! Site Explorer to check how much content they have. Quality should always be preferred over quantity; ideally, you want both but never at the expense of quality content. Regarding copied content, this is probably the worst mistake any new affiliate could make. Copied content is a great way to ensure you’ll never rank for any keyword and you’ll make some enemies along the way.

LatestCasinoBonuses.com USP: Bonus directory. Players who are looking for casino bonuses find exactly what they want here and the people that work behind the site are always working and always have the site updated. Also, this site hardly features any banners at all and from a design perspective, this is certainly one of the better designs that many rookie affiliates are copying. Remember, if you’re being copied it means you’re doing something right. CasinoAnswers.org USP: Ask a question, get an answer. This is quality user generated content that ultimately aims to answer your casinorelated questions. This idea is certainly unique for casino affiliates and it is also a great example of an SEM strategy.

Conclusion Unique selling point (USP) Perhaps this should be at the start of the article but it was saved for last to try to put the above information into perspective. Most webmasters haven’t heard of this acronym before and will struggle to answer the question: what is your website’s unique selling proposition? Ironically enough, one great way to be unique is to work hard and top affiliates all share this characteristic. Value is judged differently by everyone, but if you can’t identify the value your website has then you’ll need to consider your marketing strategy.

Great examples of USPs Askgamblers.com USP: Casino complaints system. If you have a problem with a casino then you can submit a complaint where the website manager will contact you usually within 24 hours. The complaints idea is a great service to players but without the fast service this idea becomes less important. Combined, this wins player loyalty for the site. Also, the design is done well and the navigation is easy for the user to make a decision as to where to go. NoLuckNeeded.com USP: Casino forum. OK, so a casino forum isn’t exactly the most unique idea, however, what makes this forum unique over many others is its content, the value added to players and that the moderators never seem to take a day off. If you join and make a post expect a moderator to interact with you almost immediately.

Hopefully you have learnt something from this article. If you need assistance with design, SEO/SEM or content, then contact me at www.gamingaffiliatesguide.com and if I can’t answer your question directly, I’ll at least point you to the right people.

JOHN WRIGHT is a marketing consultant and works as an affiliate coach for GamingAffiliatesGuide.com. After obtaining a Bachelor of Applied Science in robotics at the University of Toronto he decided a career in gambling would be more fun and exciting. In 2002 he began playing poker, card counting and bonus hunting despite the requests from concerned friends and family members to pursue a real job. In 2003 he began creating his own affiliate sites teaching players the rules and strategies for online gaming. In 2005 he providing marketing services for 400affiliates.com and became the affiliate manager for ThisisVegas in 2007. In 2009 he helped launch the Rockbet casino brand and at the start of 2010 decided to work on his affiliate sites and become a consultant. In his spare time John enjoys traveling, reading, surfing, muay thai kickboxing and meeting new people. He can be reached at john@gamingaffiliatesguide.com.

iGB Affiliate DECEMBER/JANUARY 2010/11

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webmaster world

Chances are that you have heard the K.I.S.S. principle in the form above or in other slightly varied but equally effective forms. Keeping it simple is the objective behind many marketing campaigns. In order to effectively reach an audience, it is imperative to grab their attention quickly, and ensure that you have summed up what your product is and why they want to buy it in as short a time span as possible. ONE DOESN’T HAVE to look far for

Less is more

statistics that support how important it is to grab and hold people’s attention. One study from Logitech states that on average, computer users have six applications open on their computer at any one time, and the active window switches or a new window opens every 50 seconds. “To navigate the vast content at their disposal, people spin their mouse’s scroll wheel approximately 26 feet in an eight-hour day.” 1 Logitech was making the case for its wheel mouse, and yet, this seems to be an important fact for web developers to consider. A report published a few years ago claimed that users visiting shopping sites would wait a scant four seconds for the page to load before abandoning it and looking for another one. Difficult navigation or lengthy checkout processes were found to result in visitors never returning to the site. So, how does an affiliate go about grabbing and keeping people’s attention on the Internet?

With that in mind, designers should keep in mind that you can do a lot more with a lot less. A simple design should direct the user’s attention to the content that they are after immediately. Busy graphics, flashy banners and oodles of links take people’s focus away from the main content of the page. Limit your graphics to tasteful, relevant images, and, when using banner ads, make sure that they are positioned in such a way as to not distract your visitors from your purpose.

Speed relating We know that the Internet is a potentially caustic mix of short attention spans and overwhelming amounts of choice. When done right, all of these aspects can be used to the advantage of the individual who manages to understand and exploit the potentially fickle nature of the Internet surfer. To do this, speed is of the essence. Pages that are heavy with slow-loading graphics and overwhelming amounts of content load slowly, and are abandoned quickly.

Instant gratification One of the most successful Hollywood personalities of all time was director Billy Wilder. He wrote the ten commandments of scriptwriting. These are the first two: 1. The audience is fickle 2. Grab ‘em by the throat and never let ‘em go These principles can be applied just as easily to web pages. Knowing that your audience wants immediate gratification, it is very important that your pages offer them the goods immediately upon arrival. The information that they were looking for should be immediately available, the navigation must be simple, and there must be a clear path for users to follow to achieve their goal. Give them what they’re after right away, then, either give them a reason to stay, or lead them to the conversion page.

Keep it short If the goal is to merely obtain information, make it simple for them to find. Short sentences and paragraphs work best on the

Internet. I have read some studies that say that people will read as few as 26 words on a web page, so you don’t have much time to grab them to interest them to read further. When sentences and paragraphs are concise and compact, readers are more likely to give their attention to these snippets, and, if your copy is clear and concise, they are more likely to keep reading.

Make it relevant If you are in the market for a cooking knife, walk into a store called “Jerome’s Kitchen Knives” and, upon entering, do not see a single, solitary knife, you are likely to turn around and walk out the door. If your website is your store, and search engines are the street, what you have in your metadescription for your page is what is going to either convince people to come inside or move on. If you have gotten their attention and convinced them to come in, make sure that you are providing them with what they are looking for because, again, if they don’t get it right away, there is another store just a click away. Ask yourself what your users are searching for, what would you be searching under similar circumstances, and strive to provide that information.

Keeping them there There are techniques that can help to keep visitors on your pages for longer. Interesting graphics and audio are a couple of methods. One of the ways that web developers are having great success in is by providing video on sites. Video tutorials for

iGB Affiliate december/january 2010/11

73


webmaster world

“If your website is your store, and search engines are the street, what you have in your meta-description for your page is what is going to either convince people to come inside or move on.”

insight

games like poker and baccarat that provide tips to beginners is a great way to engage visitors. By keeping visitors on your site for longer, you increase your chance of a conversion, and if you have provided quality content, you increase your chance of having the visitor come again.

Get them mingling There is a reason why people spend more time on Facebook than any other site. Some estimates put Facebook’s ad revenue at between $1.2 billion and $1.6 billion. So, what can we take away from Facebook’s success? What makes this site so wildly popular is that, quite simply, it gives people the ability to communicate with other people. By allowing people to interact with each other on your site, you’re giving them a reason to stick around and continue the conversation. And, you’ll get them coming back as well.

Block the exits The classic beginner’s mistake is to provide too many options to surfers. If you provide a visitor with the means to leave a webpage, you have given them the opportunity to leave before you have reached them. This is especially true if you have placed great emphasis on these exits. Limiting the amount of exits gives you the chance to lead your visitors down the aisle to the checkout counter, which is where you want them to be.

What’s going on? The best way to find out the attention span of your users is in your analytics. Statistics on specific pages must be studied and compared to find out whether or not you are effectively reaching your audience.

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Your analytics can tell you how long people are staying on specific pages, but the goal is not necessarily to engage them for a specific amount of time. When the end game is conversions, it is important to set up ‘goals’ in your analytics programs to map the statistical efficacy of your pages. Understand where your users are bailing, and you’ll be that much closer to understand how to prevent them from doing so.

The goal The ultimate goal is to get people to come to your site, to keep them there, and to have them perform a transaction. With simple design and relevant content, you have the ability to achieve a desired outcome. Understand your audience and their needs and respect the fact that they want content that is relevant to them, that they don’t want to be assaulted by busy graphics and they want you to show them how to complete the transaction – when you have kept your site simple and focused, you will have given your audience what they want. http://ir.logitech.com/releasedetail. cfm?ReleaseID=208246

1

Jamie Fortunaso Originally from Australia, Jamie Fortunaso has been with the Income Access team since 2005. As the Head of Affiliates, Jamie works with his team of Affiliate Managers to help align iGaming operators with the right affiliates, negotiate deals and ensure marketing objectives are continually being met. www.incomeaccess.com


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WEBMASTER WORLD

WHEN I TELL our iGaming partners and prospective clients that Income Access doesn’t have a traditional sales team, people rarely believe me. Indeed, this is a very deliberate approach to building the business, based on the goal of providing solutions to operators and affiliates, and in turn, having them become brand ambassadors. Word-of-mouth marketing is based on the notion that your customers, suppliers and target market promote your business for you. They are ambassadors for your business, and the great thing is they don’t do this because they have to or because they are paid to, but because they want to. Players are far more likely to trust a recommendation from their friend than they are from an affiliate or an operator, so word-of-mouth marketing can be an incredibly powerful and effective sales tool that’s especially cost-efficient when done the right way. For iGaming affiliates, this translates to players talking about the games you are promoting, sharing information about exciting bonuses with other players and encouraging their friends to get in on the action. The question is: how do you get your players to help you promote the online

platforms you are marketing? Here are a couple of tips for affiliates to help get your brand ambassadors talking about you, and then how to go about measuring the success of your word-of-mouth marketing.

1. Give players something to talk about Whether it’s a new game, a rewards program, a welcome/reload/deposit bonus, a huge jackpot, a special tournament or other kinds of player promotions, the key to word-of-mouth marketing is first and foremost, getting the word out. Social media has become an important vehicle that allows you to do just that. Not only is this medium ideal because it is instant and very popular, but it also allows you to reach out to the masses, and then, have the masses pass your message along. Facebook, Twitter, emails and blogs are all about building an online community that can talk about the various brands that you are promoting, and then share the information. Getting the word out offline can create a strong synergy for what you are promoting online. Newspaper and TV ads displaying exclusive bonus codes, magazine articles that feature affiliate profiles, radio talk shows that are directly aimed at players are

all ideal locations for offline marketing. The more places you spread the word, the more likely you are to engage players and expand your reach.

2. Make your message easy to share Word-of-mouth marketing guru, Andy Sernovitz once quipped, “The best thing you can do is make sure people have a reason to talk about you. When they look at your listing, they see what you wrote, there should be some obvious thing where they say, ‘I’ve gotta tell a friend about this’. If your listing isn’t making people say, ‘I’ve gotta tell a friend’, add something, change it, spice it up, do something cool so that they absolutely have to forward it.” The more exciting your copy, the more descriptive your language and the more unique your content, the more likely players are going to want share your message. All too often, an affiliate will say that they knew their message was weak, but they were pressed for time and wanted to get the news out quickly. When you’re getting the word out in an email or a newsletter, ask yourself: are you excited by this? Are you interested by this? Does this prompt you to want to take action, share this with one of your friends? If the answer

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is no, you can be pretty sure that nobody else will either. Take the time, make it good and your message will be easier to share. The second key element to spreading your message is making it simple. Give your ambassadors the tools they need to share your information, with easy-to-use share buttons, for instance. With a click of a button, your buzz can go viral on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Digg and all the other social platforms. Not only does this give you the opportunity to reach millions in minutes, but it extends the shelf life of your marketing campaign. And finally, try asking your players to share your information. Affiliates are accustomed to using calls-to-action like ‘Click Here’ on their websites and this same strategy to get players to take immediate action can also be used across the board. Ask your Twitter followers to re-tweet your posts, your email subscribers to forward your email and your Facebook friends to share your posts. Again, asking your players to share your message will come back to the quality of the information that you are disseminating, so make sure it has value, and then, dare to ask your ambassadors to share!

3. Measuring the value The way to find out whether or not you are getting your money’s worth out of your marketing campaigns is to diligently track your return on investment (ROI). Without measuring certain campaign metrics, it is impossible to

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INSIGHT

know if you are achieving your goals. Just the same way as you measure the effectiveness of a marketing creative to see if it is helping you to convert players and compare metrics across your various sites to analyse what’s working for you, you want to keep a close eye on your word-of-mouth marketing efforts. One of the simplest ways of doing this is asking players how they heard about you and came to your site. Was it through search, a blog, an ad, a recommendation from a friend? This can be a simple way of seeing what marketing method is working best for you, before you begin to dig deeper into your conversion statistics. To track your offline marketing activities, one of the simplest approaches is to use exclusive vouchers or external codes that can then be attributed to your affiliate account. Run your reports often, so you can quickly tweak a campaign that is not showing results. If you’re getting the word out on Facebook, Twitter and other social networking platforms, the principle is the same. Maybe you will discover that your time is better spent in one specific area over another or that your investment of time in these avenues is far more fruitful than you thought. With PPC ads, you can actually use your software to establish the profitability of keywords. Based on your reports you can gather important evidence that will allow you to pause the usage of less-profitable keywords, and concentrate on those that are converting at higher rates.

In conclusion Overall, measuring the value of your marketing efforts is important because it allows you to see what marketing methods are enabling you to best reach players, and what, if anything needs to be changed for better results. Too many affiliates say they simply don’t track their marketing endeavours, which then makes it impossible to measure the value. Once you know what’s ensuing in the best results: repeat, repeat, repeat. Word-of-mouth marketing is about creating a buzz around the brands and products that you promote, thereby attracting new players to your programs and enabling ambassadors to share, and increase, your visibility and authority within the industry. Whether you are spreading the word online or offline, or a combination of both, measuring its effectiveness is critical to your success as an affiliate. Word-of-mouth marketing can be one of the most effective and cost-efficient methods available to you – so make sure you’re giving your players something to talk about.

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


webmaster world

B3y0nd the Numb3rs Three steps to powering your affiliate business for the next decade. With our traditional marketing based on SEO, PPC and occasional forays into online media, as an industry, our focus has been on traffic management. Who can blame us when all we see of the hard earned customers we acquire is their backs as they fly past our door and into the operators, earning us another conversion click? From thereon in, we wait with bated breath for that click to turn into an action or deposit or wager depending on the deal we have with the operator they have chosen. Our focus is spent on evaluating effective earnings per click, analysing traffic sources, the conversion numbers they generate, and the prominence we give to each operator on our sites. Sometimes, we go so far as to look at the design and branding on our site and the overall customer, but most of the time it’s the numbers that keep us busy and focused. This is sound business practice, but is this enough for an industry that’s now been doing the same thing for over a decade? In that decade, the dominance of www has been threatened by social media and Smartphones. Our target audiences, however, are still searching and looking for our operators’ products so we continue to battle it out amongst ourselves and with operators to grab a share of search and capture the click. In our industry, the focus is all about the metrics and the results they produce. A decade later, we find ourselves still unable to predict beyond six months of certainty. We confidently assert that this uncertainty is the nature of the Internet. After all, who knows what tomorrow brings in a Web 2.0 world? Our obsession with the platform of delivery, the metrics we use to measure our activity on the platform and our business model keeps us blind to the key ingredient in the mix: the customer. It’s partly a fault of our business model. We assume we have nothing of value to trade with the customer. We view the customer as a click; a number, a percentage that affects the metric that obsesses us. We lose sight of the motivation that drives the customer to search for, and then click on, our link and then onto the operator we recommend. We view the ad text and organic ranking position as the prime customer motivators and our battles centre around the race to the top. Unfortunately for us, it’s not a free race. Time and

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money are the key elements required to fuel the engines for the race. Working in small teams or even as individuals, these commodities are in scarce supply so we focus all our time and our money on this small area to stay in the race. So how do we evolve our business and have a plan for the future? The first step is an old marketing maxim:

Know thy customer You have a very limited window to start trading with your customer once they hit your site. The fear of disrupting the customer journey to the key objective: clicking to an operator, obsesses us. Have you considered the following basics? ●● Can you offer them an extra incentive to register with you? ●● Can you use this database to run incentivised surveys? The database should focus on the customer consumption patterns and lifestyle to help you segment your audience. Rather than build an ad-hoc survey that provides meaningless data, the recommendation would be to use the services of a cost effective consultant to analyse your business and create a customer strategy that suits the market you operate in, the customers you target and the operators you have relationships with. The consultants chosen ought to be gaming experienced but must have at least 10-15 years of classical consumer marketing experience to deliver an effective solution for you. Doing it yourself, if you do not have the background or skill set, may result in a fruitless exercise and distract you from your prime expertise in traffic management. Choosing your consultants poorly will result in a ‘me-too’ approach. The next step focuses on an area that we overlook: differentiation and stepping away from a me-too position.

Why would a customer choose me? In our race to the top, we depend on the customer picking one of the top three or five links on the page they are viewing to be sufficient enough to deliver us the click. However, if we have sufficient knowledge of our customer and even a database we can market to, our customer strategy activity will give us direction to turn ourselves from being hunted for, into

becoming the hunter of customers. To do this, we need to create a differentiated and relevant reason for customers to engage with our message and take us up on our suggestions. As the gaming industry matures, most customers have experience of affiliate portals and sites and when the brand names are taken away there is very little to differentiate the masses from each other. They just become a list of offers that are supported with some information ‘hooks’ to appear impartial and capture the customer click. We can only build relevant differentiation from our competitor sets once we know our customers, understand the motivation for their searches, understand their consumption patterns and create content that meets them at their point of need. This activity can only be driven once you have a clear strategy for understanding your customer. The last step is crucial and will crystallise the efforts in the above two steps into tangible revenue and profit. Our intrinsic belief is that if we have enough volume we will have operators at our beck and call vying for our attention. True, but as the operator gets more attuned to multiple sources of traffic, the emergence of social media and the power of TV advertising, our income tends to be derived from smaller operators who are very dependent on affiliate-driven traffic. When TV campaigns are run, we sometimes have to compromise on our revenue positions to accept lower deals for a slice of the halo effect, recognising that we are not the driver of traffic here. It’s not a two way relationship at play, and often, we stay away from the operator. When we hear the phone ring or get an email we think ‘here they go again’. We assume they are contacting us to either lower our commission or to ask us to divert more traffic unprofitably to them. Its time to get proactive.

Deal with your operator as you would have them deal with you Relationship management is a skill set that is vital to a successful affiliate business. We need to develop an effective relationship with affiliate managers and directors who often move from one operator to the next. This relationship must transcend the night at the bar, at a conference or an industry event.


With our operators and affiliate managers: ●● We need to focus on the elements that differentiate us from our competition. ●● We need to treat our customer strategy as an asset and educate operators on what we are doing and how it is relevant to their brand, product and content. ●● We need to align relevant parts of our strategy with their promotional activity. ●● We need to get to know their marketing planning process and their metrics and objectives. ●● We need to develop packages that we can deliver as added value sales to the operators from the work we do in customer strategy. This will increase our revenue line. ●● Lastly, we need to pick up the phone for a monthly chat: not to complain or celebrate, but rather, to conduct a

business conversation driven by a fixed agenda that reviews metrics, success of campaigns and asks the operator for their forthcoming promotional plan. Doing this consistently will build understanding, dialogue and a professional relationship. Ideally, keep the call focused on the agenda and aim for 45 minutes. Take notes and after the call send the operator your notes. Then, when you meet them in a bar or at a conference party, you can truly let your hair down and not worry about having to negotiate in the early hours. This will take some getting used to for both the affiliate manager and yourself but it will gain you and your business respect in the operator’s eyes and over time, will cut down on nasty surprises. None of this can be achieved overnight by small teams of people who have too few

hours in the day. At Motive, we recognise this and are cost effectively helping smaller businesses to adopt this practice by conducting the initial thinking and strategy piece and creating an implementable plan of action that they can easily incorporate into their daily lives.

Michael Braga is a Director of Motive Marketing Services, a consultancy offering iGaming businesses strategic marketing services spanning marketplace position, content development, retention and conversion enhancement, customer strategy, organisational and team structuring and marketing planning and can be contacted at mbraga@ motivemarketingservices.com.

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webmaster world

For this issue of iGB Affiliate, we have been granted exclusive access to the team behind the popular Streak Gaming business, to explore the nuts and bolts of a successful online gaming affiliate forum. Christine (Co-Owner), Marketing/ Networking When my business partner and I started out in this industry back in 2003, we were both moderators of a gaming community that was struggling to survive. We put our heads together and decided we wanted to run a forum that would work for ourselves as business model, but at the same time provide a community for the ‘lost and wandering souls of online gaming’. Streak Gaming was always designed to be a home away from home for our members, we always intended to put players before profit. Never losing our integrity or morals throughout the short but turbulent history of iGaming has been a key factor in our growth and survival in this industry. The advice I can give to any affiliate who decides they would like to open a forum is to be persistent and be prepared to sacrifice many hours to your business – a successful forum runs 24/7; you have to be willing to work long shifts. I thought it would be a good idea to get some of the Streak Gaming staff to explain their daily jobs and roles to help explain how a forum succeeds in such a challenging time within iGaming. I say a ‘challenging time’ because there are so many obstacles to contend with and overcome in today’s market place. The

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biggest is payment/deposit processing, so to conquer that challenge we decided to open a special room on our forum that is available to players to talk about the latest deposit methods that are working and those that are not (we have made this password protected because as we all know, it is not very smart to have search bots picking up this delicate information). Educating your members is a major component to success as an affiliate. I will start with my role in helping the forum to become one of the best known forums in the iGaming space. I am the person behind all the marketing and networking as well as ensuring that there are constant up-to-date promotions on the forum. I need to make sure the forum has several exclusive deposit offers for the forum members so that their dollars stretch a bit further (being an extrovert and staying in constant contact with my affiliate managers is essential). We also make sure there are plenty of free offers for new online gamblers to try out games before committing to a deposit. There is always a chance that the players will not return, but we have built the forum in such a way that two out of five will come back to us for more offers and eventually convert to depositing players. I stay in touch with my competitors and friends to make sure that I am not

promoting any rogue casinos to our members. Back in 2006, we decided to spread our wings and develop the forum to include players from around the world, so since then, I have been travelling to affiliate and industry conferences to build up our European player database. Geo-targeting is very important for affiliates in these hard times in iGaming; you need to expand and diversify your business.

Carolyn (Co-Owner), Technical/ SEO/Graphics/Forum Maintenance It is very important to keep your forum updated with the latest security modules to keep away unwanted human and bot spammers. We are always adding new security modifications which also help keep the forum user-friendly, after all, the members need to feel safe and secure in an online community. SEO (search engine optimisation) is a huge key for a thriving and successful forum. Installing and maintaining the latest modifications and plug-ins to enhance your SEO, and remaining diligent with all your SEO techniques is critical. Keeping a regular watch on keywords along with fresh and updated content is my biggest daily task. Consistently working on great SEO has helped Streak Gaming achieve higher search engine rankings.


We like to keep our forum friendly and colourful without being too loud or overbearing visually. It is important to have your members feel comfortable and at ease so they continue to return day after day. Offering a miscellany of emoticons, post icons and avatars will give forum members an opportunity to express how they are feeling about certain topics or issues. Keeping spammers at bay on a busy forum is an every day battle. We are always aware and watching new registrations to make sure they have not entered the forum to spam. Once we identify a spam sign-up, we ban them instantly. Forum owners can use modifications that will not allow users to post links or sigs until they have reached a certain amount of posts on the forum, we use this and several others to help us keep the spammers at check and virtually non existent.

Judy, Forum Administration Being a forum administrator is a very demanding role. Our job is to oversee and ensure the forum is running smoothly at all times, which means we need to make certain that all moderators are performing the duties they are assigned to do along with making sure the forum is constantly updated with slot reviews, casino reviews, promotions, contest entries along with addressing social networking tasks, and much more besides. Forum members are our number one priority on Streak Gaming. They need to feel they can voice their concerns at any time and not feel ridiculed for their thoughts and opinions. They need to know we are here and have a vested interest in

protecting and servicing their needs. There are many times when gamblers have issues and they need to turn to us for advice or help to resolve a problem. Quite often, we have affiliate managers come to the forum and get involved with certain issues; this makes the players feel wanted and important to the casinos. Streak Gaming also has a weekly newsletter that I put together and send out and I also make sure the banners around the forum are always current and show a variety of promotional offers from around the world.

Theresa, Social Networking Admin The social networking challenges facing your forum are not to be taken lightly! In order to get your site out there and noticed, you can no longer solely rely on SEO skills, so if you have not embraced the newest social networking craze, then you are already behind the times in terms of successful online marketing. Finding unique and interesting content for online players both new and old is another challenge, so we try to post regularly without overdoing it and annoying our recipients and Facebook friends. There are many ways to social network; twitter is another good avenue to get your sites out there on the web and noticed. You need to be creative and make sure to stay ahead of the rest, and therefore, it is important to always research and learn about the new techniques and trends in social networking.

Danielle, Administrator/ Graphic Design The graphical aspect of the forum

Streak Gaming Co-Owners, Carolyn (left) and Christine.

can be both challenging and time consuming. I found it a huge test to learn Paintshop Pro and other varied programs to stay up-to-date with the latest graphical trends. I am always working on delivering entertaining new graphics that I think will entice the members and encourage them to enter our contests and have some fun while they have the chance to win some money. It is very rewarding to make special banners to compliment exclusive slot tournaments or contests for the forum, it keeps the members coming back to see what our latest surprises are. Banners are essential in marketing certain promotions and at times, it is very challenging to continue to come up with new ideas.

Closing statement The staff at Streak Gaming all work together diligently and efficiently to make The Streak Gaming Online Gambling Forum the best forum it can be!

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marketplace

Welcome to the MarketPlace listings section in iGB Affiliate Magazine. All Listings below are from our iGB Affiliate Directory 2011 which is a 150 page directory of affiliate programs and services companies specifically for affiliates from translation to SEO services. To request a free copy of this publication or to have your company listed please contact Richard W on E: Richard@iGamingBusiness.com or T: +44 (0) 207 954 3437

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advertising & PR

BetOnline

PartnerLogic

Frontroom

www.affiliates.betonline.com

www.partnerlogic.com

www.frontroom.com

Betfair

Rich Club Affiliates

GameOn Marketing

www.betfair.com

www.richclubaffiliates.com

www.gameon-marketing.com

bwin

Slotland

Lyceum PR

www.bwin.org

www.slotlandaffiliates.com

www.lyceummedia.com

centrebet.com

StanJames

Market Handle

www.centrebetaffiliates.com

www.stanjamesaffiliates.com

www.markethandle.com

Chilli Casino

Star Games

McBoom

www.chilicasino.com

www.stargames.com

www.mcboom.com

ComeOn!

Star Partner

Bingo Affiliate Programs

www.comeon.com

www.starpartner.com

Affiliates United

Dragonfish

Wingate Affiliates

www.affutd.com

www.dragonfishaffiliates.com

www.wingateaffiliates.com

bet 365

EuroPartners

youwin.com

www.bet365.com

www.EuroPartmers.com

www.youwin.com

Dragonfish

Fortune Affiliates

Content & Translation

www.dragonfishaffiliates.com

www.fortuneaffiliates.eu

services

Gala Coral

Gala Coral

www.affiliates.galabingo.com

www.affiliates.galabingo.com

StarGames

Genesys Affiliates

www.stargames.com

www.genesysaffiliates.com

Casino Affiliate Programs

Grande Vegas Affiliates

AffiliateClub

www.grandvegasaffiliates.com

www.AffiliateClub.com

Guru gaming

Affiliates United

www.gururevenue.com

www.affutd.com

Intertops Casino

Bet365

www.intertops.com

www.bet365.com

Jackpot Capital www.jackpotcapital.com/affiliates

iGB Affiliate December/january 2010/11


Market Handle

youwin.com

EuroPartners

www.markethandle.com

www.youwin.com

www.EuroPartmers.com

Moniker & SnapNames

search marketing (organic)

ExtraBet

www.moniker.com

Market Handle

www.extrabet.com

Email Marketing

www.markethandle.com

Gala Coral

Market Handle

McBoom

www.affiliates.galabingo.com

www.markethandle.com

www.mcboom.com

Hollywood Sportsbook

Hosting & Managed services

Moniker & SnapNames

www.hollywoodpowerplayer.com

Moniker & SnapNames

www.moniker.com

Intertops

www.moniker.com

search marketing (paid)

www.intertops.com

poker affiliate programs

Market Handle

Invendium

AffiliateClub

www.markethandle.com

http://affiliates.valuechecker.co.uk

www.AffiliateClub.com

McBoom

Sportingbet

Affiliates United

www.mcboom.com

www.sportingbet.com

www.affutd.com

Moniker & SnapNames

StanJames

Bet365

www.moniker.com

www.stanjamesaffiliates.com

www.bet365.com

sKIll gaming affiliate

TOTE Sport

Betfair

Programs

www.totesportaffiliates.com

www.betfair.com

Affiliates United

Victor Chandler

bwin

www.affutd.com

www.victorchandler.com

www.bwin.org

bet 365

youwin.com

centrebet.com

www.bet365.com

www.youwin.com

www.centrebetaffiliates.com

bwin

webdesign

Chilli Poker

www.bwin.org

Market Handle

www.chilipoker.com

Gala Coral

www.markethandle.com

ComeOn!

www.affiliates.galabingo.com

Moniker & SnapNames

www.comeon.com

Rummy Royal

www.moniker.com

Dragonfish

www.rummyroyal.com

www.dragonfishaffiliates.com

StanJames

EuroPartners

www.stanjamesaffiliates.com

www.EuroPartmers.com

StarGames

Gala Coral

www.stargames.com

www.affiliates.galabingo.com

sports betting

Intertops Casino

Affiliates United

www.intertops.com

www.affutd.com

PartnerLogic

Bet365

www.partnerlogic.com

www.bet365.com

PKR

BetOnline

www.pkr.com

www.affiliates.betonline.com

Poker Pod

Betfair

www.pokerpodonline.com

www.betfair.com

StanJames

bwin

www.stanjamesaffiliates.com

www.bwin.org

Star Games

centrebet.com

www.stargames.com

www.centrebetaffiliates.com

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Nick Bond, mobile specialist at traffic management company Zeus Technology, discusses the importance of gaming brands and their affiliates maintaining excellent mobile web performance. Affiliate networks offer great opportunities for gaming brands to extend reach through a variety of publishers. The proliferation of new digital channels has been key to increasing this reach even further, where users can flock to a virtual gambling environment from a number of different channels at their convenience. To manage the additional web traffic and keep customer loyalty intact, gaming brands and their affiliates need to make sure they have all the technology in place to ensure that their digital performance is continuously stable. Furthermore, the mass uptake of Smartphones has meant that now more than ever, there is a need to make the management of mobile web performance as important as traditional web performance.

The growth of mobile gaming This growth has been demonstrated by an interesting piece of research that was released by Juniper Research. The report showed that annual wagers on mobile telephones are expected to reach nearly $12 billion by next year, mainly as a result of the increasing deployment of multiple mobile payment technologies and the liberalisation of remote gambling legislation. The report also stated that global gross wins from mobile gambling services would rise from $106 million this year to $3.2 billion by 2012 and that mobile lotteries would be the most popular service with more than 380 million users. The UK was found to be the biggest single market for mobile gambling, but this could be set to change following proposed amendments to existing legislation elsewhere in Europe and the potential growth of the US market.

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“The UK was found to be the biggest single market for mobile gambling, but this could be set to change following proposed amendments to existing legislation elsewhere in Europe and the potential growth of the US market.” Managing mobile traffic of gaming brands and their affiliates Such signs of rapid growth for the mobile gaming industry, together with amends to European legislation suggests that gambling brands should expect a further uplift in traffic. This means brands will need to have traffic management solutions in place, especially those that are using large affiliate networks to source additional traffic for their website. By the same token, the growth of Smartphone usage will mean that brands will be keen for the affiliates themselves to have the right technology in place. Where an affiliate’s mobile site isn’t working, the gaming brand will not be able to capitalise on the traffic it would typically provide.

Keeping mobile gaming sites simple Extravagant and media rich content may look great, but if an unexpected influx of visitors to a mobile site is going to make the site slow and inaccessible, it’s probably better to consider a more straightforward format. Gaming brands and their affiliates need to ensure that with simple branding in place, visitors will be able to recognise the companies they trust and then, most importantly, access the services and information they are looking for. Where affiliate marketing campaigns on desktop Internet channels often use clever and detailed creative banners, compatibility issues

with mobile sites may hamper the level of traffic the gaming companies receive if these are too complex.

Communication between brand and affiliate Once the right traffic management solutions are in place for both the affiliate and the gambling brand, a solid communications strategy is required so that both parties know when large waves of traffic or planned outages are around the corner. A good traffic reporting solution will show when spikes occur and help organisations to identify trends of when to expect a wave of mobile visitors. It is vitally important that both parties work as a team, by organising regular meetings to understand how they can best prevent mobile web performance issues for the customer and avoid unnecessary revenue losses.

Continuing to capitalise on the Smartphone revolution It does not matter whether users are accessing gaming sites via the Internet, their phone or their BlackBerry, they will expect the same level of service. With so much hype behind how gamers are using their Smartphones, those companies that are able to maintain consistent mobile web services will be best placed to keep customers loyal and revenue streams consistent.


IGB12.pdf 1 09-Dec-10 16:49:05

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